By: Teresa Mull
Americans love guns. The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution, and the tradition of gun culture – from hunting, to sport shooting, the self-defense – is a deeply rooted aspect of our heritage.
In a report published last week by CNN, the news outlet reports, “The United States is the only nation in the world where civilian guns outnumber people.” According to a Small Arms Survey, “There are 120 guns for every 100 Americans.”
Coming in at second place, RE: civilian guns per capita is the Falkland Islands, “with an estimated 62 guns per 100 people.”
“Americans own 393 million of the 857 million civilian guns available, which is around 46% of the world's civilian gun cache,” reports CNN. “About 44% of US adults live in a household with a gun, and about one-third own one personally, according to an October 2020 Gallup survey.”
That’s a lot of guns, and the reason, CNN claims, for gun violence in America being “ubiquitous.” At SHOT Show a couple years ago, an Englishman I met at one of the booths asked me why the streets of Las Vegas seemed so calm and safe. Surely, he told me, in a country as gun-ridden as America, there would be acts of gun violence happening every time a person stepped outside? He was surprised to find this was not the case at all.
Yet, this is the narrative the mainstream media would have the uninformed believe. In fact, of course, the opposite is true, and more guns do equal less crime.
Consider these findings from economist and crime prevention researcher, Dr. John Lott, of the Crime Prevention Research Center:
- About 92% of violent crimes in America do not involve firearms
- The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that around 100,000 defensive gun uses occur each year — an estimate that, though it may seem like a lot, is actually much lower than 17 other surveys. They find between 760,000 defensive handgun uses and 3.6 million defensive uses of any type of gun per year, with an average of about 2 million.
- The National Crime Victimization Survey, in the latest year that it is available, 2019, shows that firearms were used 440,830 incidents for rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults (Table 25). The FBI Uniform Crime Reports shows that firearms were used in 10,258 murders. Some put the number of gun in the US at around 400 million, if you assume that on average each criminal firearm is used in two different crimes, a definite underestimate, only about 0.056% of firearms are used in a crime in any given year.
Teresa Mull (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.