Gun Law Suits Off Target, Benefits Of Gun Ownership Exceed The Costs
March 23, 1999
Dallas - Despite a number of law suits filed against the gun industry, making similar arguments to the ones used successfully against the tobacco companies, a groundbreaking study by the National Center for Policy Analysis concludes that, unlike tobacco, the benefits of gun ownership exceed the cost.
"Cities have it backwards; guns are used more often by law-abiding citizens to prevent crimes than they are used to commit crimes," says H. Sterling Burnett, a policy analyst with the NCPA and author of the study. "Reduced to a matter of dollars and cents, the savings to cities from defensive gun uses dwarf the cost of gun violence."
According to the study, citizens use guns in self-defense about 2.5 million times each year. Violent crimes are prevented often by merely showing the weapon. For example:
- Women faced with assault are 2.5 times less likely to suffer serious injury if they respond with a firearm rather than try to defend themselves with a less effective weapon or offer no resistance.
- Only one-fifth of victims of violent crimes who defended themselves with firearms suffered injury, compared to almost half who defended themselves using other types of weapons or who had no weapon.
- About 3,000 criminals are lawfully killed each year by armed civilians - that's more than three times the number killed by police.
- As many as 17,000 additional criminals are wounded by civilians each year.
The study for the first time also analyzes the short term and the long term financial benefit to communities from defensive gun use:
- Using assumptions most favorable to gun opponents, the benefit from defensive gun use ranges from $90.7 million to $3.5 billion, every year.
- Using more credible assumptions, the net benefit from guns ranges from $1 billion to $38.8 billion per year.
Furthermore according to the study, the suits create bad law. One reason the overall rate of serious crime in the U.S. is at a 20-year low is that since 1987, 22 states have passed concealed carry laws. "There is no evidence that widespread gun-ownership increases crime," Burnett said. "In fact communities that have liberalized their gun laws have seen a marked drop in violent crime."