Anti-Gunners Selective About When Unfired Guns Count

In the debate about guns, gun control and gun rights, we throw a lot of numbers around. For many on the gun rights side of things, we use various sources for the number of defensive gun uses. Those numbers range from 100,000 or so at the low end and up to 2.5 million at the high end.


However, anti-gunners tend to count defensive gun uses differently. Instead, they only seem to want to count the number of times someone is killed by someone using a firearm defensively. They ignore all those who are shot but survived or who run off because their prey has teeth of their own.

It seems, though, that they actually do think an unfired gun counts for something, though.

Any discussion about gun violence in the United States cannot ignore the harsh reality of the violent epidemic: More than 300 Americans are shot every day with a firearm, 103 of them fatally. The toll of this violence on families and communities across the country is immeasurable and rightfully demands action from policymakers to prevent further acts of gun violence.

Far less discussed are the instances when a gun is used but never fired in the act of committing a crime. A new analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that between 2009 and 2018, more than 3.6 million violent crimes were perpetrated with a gun without gunfire, affecting more than 4 million victims. That means roughly 1,100 people survive the threat of gunfire by an armed perpetrator every day.

“Gun violence in this country is so much more than the shootings that make headlines. More than 1,100 people in this country are threatened with guns every day during assaults and robberies,” said Eugenio Weigend Vargas, associate director for Gun Violence Prevention at the Center for American Progress. “These incidents leave deep mental and emotional scars and deeply impact communities. This further supports the need for stronger gun laws.”


Of course, this “analysis” comes from a biased source, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but I applaud them for being among the first on the left to acknowledge that a firearm can be effective without being fired.

However, there are questions.

First, how many of those supposed 3.6 million violent crimes would still have been committed regardless of any firearm law? Well, since most of the perpetrators obtained their firearms unlawfully via black market or other illegal gun sales, I’d say pretty much all of them.

Further, how many could have been perpetrated with a knife or other weapon? Most of them, would be my guess. While it’s harder to hold up a convenience store with a knife, it’s not impossible. Here’s one that happened not too far from me a while back, for an example.

In other words, this analysis might be academically interesting, but it doesn’t actually tell us anything useful.

Meanwhile, armed criminals will continue to plague our cities and the best way to deal with it is to have armed citizens. The scourge of violent crime won’t disappear. If you look at other nations, nations with much lower rates of “gun crime,” you typically find lower rates of all other crime as well. They’re simply not as violent a culture as we are, for whatever reason, so disarming Americans is clearly not the answer.


But you know anti-gunners. They’re going to keep trying.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member