NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Good News About Guns: They Save Lives

April 10, 2001

While the national news media cover every school shooting, when was the last time you head about a citizen saving a life with a gun? Since, according to national surveys, guns are used defensively about two million times a year -- five times more often than they are used to commit crimes -- there are plenty of examples, says researcher John R. Lott Jr.

In 98 percent of all cases, simply brandishing a gun is sufficient to stop a crime. Here are some of the 20 defensive gun use stories Lott found reported locally in a single week last month:

  • By firing one rifle shot, a 19-year old Little Rock, Ark., man defended himself against three armed men threatening to assault him.
  • A man in Detroit, Mich., with a concealed carry handgun permit fired shots that forced a mentally disturbed man who was firing at people in passing cars to run away.
  • A West Palm Beach, Fla., man who had been beaten during a home robbery just two days earlier began carrying a handgun in his pocket and was able to shoot and wound another robber who attacked him.
  • A Grand Junction, Colo., man who was feeding three hitchhikers in his home grabbed a gun -- fortunately with no trigger lock -- after they began stabbing him with kitchen knives, shooting one of the attackers.
  • And in Salt Lake City, Utah, two robbers began shooting as soon as they entered a pawnshop, but were met with return fire from the owner and his son, who wounded one.

Source: John R. Lott Jr. (Yale University Law School), "Tell About When Guns Save Lives," Dallas Morning News, April 10, 2001.


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