Fact Sheet: Guns Save Lives

GOA’s Fact sheet on guns do save lives

A. Guns save more lives than they take; prevent more injuries than they inflict

B. Concealed carry laws help reduce crime

C. Criminals avoid armed citizens


1 Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun,” 86 The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Northwestern University School of Law, 1 (Fall 1995):164.
Dr. Kleck is a professor in the school of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He has researched extensively and published several essays on the gun control issue. His book, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, has become a widely cited source in the gun control debate. In fact, this book earned Dr. Kleck the prestigious American Society of Criminology Michael J. Hindelang award for 1993. This award is given for the book published in the past two to three years that makes the most outstanding contribution to criminology.
Even those who don’t like the conclusions Dr. Kleck reaches, cannot argue with his impeccable research and methodology. In “A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed,” Marvin E. Wolfgang writes that, “What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator…. I have to admit my admiration for the care and caution expressed in this article and this research. Can it be true that about two million instances occur each year in which a gun was used as a defensive measure against crime? It is hard to believe. Yet, it is hard to challenge the data collected. We do not have contrary evidence.” Wolfgang, “A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed,” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, at 188.
Wolfgang says there is no “contrary evidence.” Indeed, there are more than a dozen national polls — one of which was conducted by The Los Angeles Times — that have found figures comparable to the Kleck-Gertz study. Even the Clinton Justice Department (through the National Institute of Justice) found there were as many as 1.5 million defensive users of firearms every year. See National Institute of Justice, “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” Research in Brief (May 1997).
As for Dr. Kleck, readers of his materials may be interested to know that he is a member of the ACLU, Amnesty International USA, and Common Cause. He is not and has never been a member of or contributor to any advocacy group on either side of the gun control debate.
2 According to the National Safety Council, the total number of gun deaths (by accidents, suicides and homicides) account for less than 30,000 deaths per year. See Injury Facts, published yearly by the National Safety Council, Itasca, Illinois.
3Kleck and Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime,” at 173, 185.
4Kleck and Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime,” at 185.
5 Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” NIJ Research in Brief (May 1997); available at http://www.ncjrs.org/txtfiles/165476.txt on the internet. The finding of 1.5 million yearly self-defense cases did not sit well with the anti-gun bias of the study’s authors, who attempted to explain why there could not possibly be one and a half million cases of self-defense every year. Nevertheless, the 1.5 million figure is consistent with a mountain of independent surveys showing similar figures. The sponsors of these studies — nearly a dozen — are quite varied, and include anti-gun organizations, news media organizations, governments and commercial polling firms. See also Kleck and Gertz, supra note 1, pp. 182-183.
6Kleck, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, (1991):111-116, 148.
7George F. Will, “Are We ‘a Nation of Cowards’?,” Newsweek (15 November 1993):93.
8Id. at 164, 185.
9Dr. Gary Kleck, interview with J. Neil Schulman, “Q and A: Guns, crime and self-defense,” The Orange County Register (19 September 1993). In the interview with Schulman, Dr. Kleck reports on findings from a national survey which he and Dr. Marc Gertz conducted in Spring, 1993 — a survey which findings were reported in Kleck and Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime.” br>10 One of the authors of the University of Chicago study reported on the study’s findings in John R. Lott, Jr., “More Guns, Less Violent Crime,” The Wall Street Journal (28 August 1996). See also John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard, “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns,” University of Chicago (15 August 1996); and Lott, More Guns, Less Crime (1998, 2000).
11Lott and Mustard, “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns.”
12Kathleen O’Leary Morgan, Scott Morgan and Neal Quitno, “Rankings of States in Most Dangerous/Safest State Awards 1994 to 2003,” Morgan Quitno Press (2004) at http://www.statestats.com/dang9403.htm. Morgan Quitno Press is an independent private research and publishing company which was founded in 1989. The company specializes in reference books and monthly reports that compare states and cities in several different subject areas. In the first 10 years in which they published their Safest State Award, Vermont has consistently remained one of the top five safest states.
13Memo by Jim Smith, Secretary of State, Florida Department of State, Division of Licensing, Concealed Weapons/Firearms License Statistical Report (October 1, 2002).
14Florida’s murder rate was 11.4 per 100,000 in 1987, but only 5.5 in 2002. Compare Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the United States,” Uniform Crime Reports, (1988): 7, 53; and FBI, (2003):19, 79.
15 John R. Lott, Jr., “Right to carry would disprove horror stories,” Kansas City Star, (July 12, 2003).
16Gary Kleck, “Crime Control Through the Private Use of Armed Force,” Social Problems 35 (February 1988):15.
17Compare Kleck, “Crime Control,” at 15, and Chief Dwaine L. Wilson, City of Kennesaw Police Department, “Month to Month Statistics: 1991.” (Residential burglary rates from 1981-1991 are based on statistics for the months of March – October.)
18Kleck, Point Blank, at 140.
19Kleck, “Crime Control,” at 13.
20U.S. Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Rape Victimization in 26 American Cities (1979), p. 31.
21U.S., Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, “The Armed Criminal in America: A Survey of Incarcerated Felons,” Research Report (July 1985): 27.
22Id.
23Id.
Fact Sheet, Statistics

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