Defensive gun use is 4 times more common than violent gun crime, comprehensive survey shows

This survey once again proves that the right to bear arms in self-defense is a clear net positive for society.

If there’s one issue where the mainstream media and Democratic Party establishment are truly out of touch with the average American, it’s the Second Amendment. Journalists and elected officials alike routinely write off the idea of a “good guy with a gun” as a “myth” and otherwise dismiss self-defense as a valid justification for firearm ownership. But a new comprehensive survey shows once again that defensive gun use is far more common than violent gun crime. 

From polling firm Centiment, the new survey finds that more than 81 million American adults own guns. Of these Americans, more than 31% report having used their firearm in self-defense, including many who report having done so more than once. Extrapolating from this representative sample, the survey finds that guns are used in self-defense roughly 1.67 million times annually in the US.

Importantly, this survey includes instances where the gun was not actually fired, but rather brandished or revealed to scare away a would-be assailant. Sometimes, progressives will cite surveys that show very small amounts of defensive gun use, sometimes as low as 70,000 per year, but those often only count times where someone was ultimately wounded—a small fraction of self-defense cases. 

We have to put this information in context of whatever role the prevalence of guns might play in violent crime in America. Unfortunately, as John R. Lott Jr. has pointed out, Americans wildly overestimate the frequency with which guns are used in violent crime. Per federal data, only about 8% of violent crimes involve guns, but the public generally thinks the percentage is much higher.

In reality, Lott Jr. explains, guns are used in violent crimes about 370,000 times annually in the US. Yes, that means defensive gun use is roughly 4 times more common than violent crime involving guns. 

That’s an easy stat to pull out of a hat the next time a gun control proponent demands you justify our right to keep and bear arms. 

Yes, violent gun crime is indeed horrible and emotional arguments for gun control can pull at the heartstrings. But this survey once again proves that the right to bear arms in self-defense is a clear net positive for society—and actually makes us safer. 

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.