NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 22, 2006

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' police announced that no one would be allowed to be armed and all guns would be taken, but law-abiding citizens with guns deter many criminals from committing a crime and possessing a gun is the safest way to confront a criminal if you are forced to, says John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

For example:

  • The United States has one of the world's lowest "hot" burglary rates -- burglaries committed while people are in the building -- at 13 percent, compared to the "gun-free" British rate of 59 percent.
  • Surveys of convicted burglars indicate American burglars spend at least twice as long as their British counterparts casing a house before breaking in; that explains why American burglars rarely break into homes when the residents are there: they are afraid of getting shot.
  • Even without a catastrophe like Katrina, it would have been a poor strategy for would-be victims in New Orleans merely to call 911 and wait for help; the average response time of police in New Orleans before the hurricane was eleven minutes.

Moreover, the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey has shown for decades that having a gun is the safest course of action when a criminal confronts you, far safer than behaving passively, says Lott.

Source: John R. Lott Jr., "Defenseless Decision," National Review, March 21, 2006.

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