This is as serious as it gets. It is scandalous when millions of us are put at risk by bad government policy. Likewise, it is vitally important to recognize when we’re doing the right thing and saving thousands of lives every day. This is hard to understand because some of the problem is political, but some of the difficulty is simply the size of our virtue. How can we begin to understand that millions of us prevented serious injury and saved a huge number of lives every year?
Ordinary citizens like us legally use a firearm in self-defense about 2.8 million times a year. Sure, that is a number, but how big is that really?
This is a matter of life and death and society takes it very seriously. In the simplest terms, we are not allowed to use a firearm, or even threaten to use a firearm, unless an innocent victim faces the most serious threats. We are expected to use less violent tools when we face less dangerous threats. We’re only allowed to defend ourselves with a gun when it is the safest thing to do, yet we were forced to use a firearm in self-defense over 76 hundred times a day. That says a lot about how often ordinary citizens were thrown into very dangerous situations.
How frequent is armed defense?
As background information, the FBI said violent criminals committed these 1.2 million crimes in 2019
- Aggravated assaults- 821,182
- Robberies- 267,988
- Rapes- 139,815
- Murders- 16,425
When we look at armed defense, we can’t know everything the criminal wanted to do before the armed victim stopped him or scared him away. That makes sense since we don’t come close to capturing all the attackers. The criminals we are able to arrest certainly don’t tell us the truth about how violent they planned to be. We have a good estimate that honest citizens used a firearm in armed defense about 2.8 million times in 2021. Note that the number of armed defenses is larger than the number of violent crimes that were actually reported by the FBI. The self-defense incident is never reported to the FBI as a violent crime when the robber runs away because grandma was armed.
We need some perspective. Violent crimes change a few percent year to year, but those crimes are committed in similar proportions for years on end. For example, there are consistently more aggravated assaults than robberies. Violent robberies made up about 22% of violent crimes so it is a good starting point to assume that armed robberies were also about 22% of the crimes that were stopped by armed citizens.
|Estimated number of violent crimes prevented by armed defenders in 2021|
|Armed defense in 2021||2,800,000|
That is quite a pile of numbers, but what does it mean to stop over a million aggravated assaults or almost 37-thousand murders a year? There are 15 states with a smaller population than the number of times we defend ourselves with a gun every year. We defend ourselves more often than the combined population of the four smallest states. That sounds impressive, but if we’re going to understand the lives we save then we should compare them to the lives we lose.
I looked at the leading causes of deaths in the US in 2021. Now it isn’t true that saving yourself from an armed criminal is the same as preventing a heart attack. What is true is that I had to add up the 10 leading causes of death until they approached the frequency of armed defense. For perspective, we defended ourselves more than six times for every person who died of Covid-19 in 2021.
The ten leading causes of death are a really big deal, and so is armed defense.
In fact, armed defense is a bigger deal, or at least it should be. Comparing between the two of them, we see that armed defense happens about 8 percent more often than the ten leading causes of death in the US. That is a lot of injury and death that we prevented each year because honest citizens were armed. I think we could do even better.
The branch of the United States Center for Disease Control that studies chronic disease receives 1.3 billion dollars a year in tax money. In contrast, the federal government taxes gun owners who save lives to the tune of 1.1 billion dollars a year. States take much more from gun owners in taxes and fees. Does it make sense to tax gun owners who save lives?
Politicians tax things so we’ll do less of them, so who is costing lives here? Imagine if we had programs to promote armed defense and stop crime the same way we promoted good exercise and diet. Think of the lives we could improve if we tried to promote our virtues like protecting the people we love. Before we could ever do that, we’d have to admit that honest gun owners saved lives every day.
We haven’t talked about the hundred times that honest gun owners stopped mass murderers. If stopping hundreds of thousands of violent crimes a year if doesn’t move you, then I don’t know that saving a few hundred lives will change your mind.
With few exceptions, the mainstream media won’t talk about the lives we save with a gun every day. Armed defense frightens some anti-gun billionaires and politicians. It frightens some news editors too, so don’t hold your breath.
Spreading the truth is up to us.
I gave you 800 words. Please share them with a friend. RM
- Heart disease: 695,547
- Cancer: 605,213
- COVID-19: 416,893
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 224,935
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 162,890
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 142,342
- Alzheimer’s disease: 119,399
- Diabetes: 103,294
- Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: 56,585
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 54,358
2.6 million deaths per year