NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gun Control Advocates Spread Deadly Myths

November 11, 1998

"Myths about guns can threaten people's safety by frightening them and preventing them from using the most effective means to defend themselves," says John R. Lott, Jr., of the University of Chicago School of Law.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lott discusses the five most prevalent myths -- and says the reality is much different.

  • Acting passively when attacked is the safest approach -- actually, compared to offering resistance with a gun, the probability of serious injury from an attack is 2.5 times greater for women and 1.4 times greater for men who offer no resistance, according to National Crime Victimization Surveys.
  • Friends or relatives are one's most likely killers -- but just 17 percent of murder victims in Chicago from 1990 to 1995 were family members, friends, neighbors or roommates, and nationally the 53 percent of murders committed by acquaintances include such things as drug buyers killing dealers, gang killings and prostitutes killed by customers.
  • The U.S. murder rate is high because Americans own so many guns -- when in fact internationally, there is no correlation between murder rates and gun ownership rates, and states with the largest increases in gun ownership have had the greatest drops in violent crime rates.
  • People with concealed handgun permits will shoot each other after traffic accidents -- but only one permit holder has ever used a concealed handgun after a traffic accident and that was in self-defense.
  • A family gun is more likely to kill you or someone you know than to kill in self-defense -- but the 1993 study that claimed this assumed all gun murders in gun owning households used a family member's gun, when no more than 4 percent of the gun deaths in the study can be attributed to the homeowner's gun.

Source: John R. Lott, Jr., "Gun Control Advocates Purvey Deadly Myths," Wall Street Journal, November 11, 1998.


Browse more articles on Government Issues