Despite hanging out with the likes of Dan and RF and Tyler Kee, I still have some anti-gun friends. Every once in a while those hoplophobic folks decide to stir up a debate about gun control, and the arguments are the same every time. “Guns are designed only to kill! Why would we want to keep these evil things in society? Shouldn’t we do our best to reduce availability of these killing machines?” It’s an argument that may make sense if you start with the premise that guns are clearly evil and dangerous, but I look at things a little differently . . .
A woman was recently murdered on campus at the University of Texas at Austin. She was walking home alone when she was attacked by a much larger and more powerful male and beaten to death. Even if that woman had been a black belt in every martial art on earth, at a certain point there’s just an insurmountable physical difference between a young woman and a fully grown man that gives her almost no chance to survive. Personally I believe that we should be providing that woman with every opportunity to defend herself against the evil in the world, not further crippling her chances of survival. The best tool for that job: a handgun.
That said, I’m still a pragmatist. If there’s something that makes logical sense which would decrease the probability of death, I’m willing to give it a try. When I mention that openness to my anti-gun friends they usually jump on the opportunity to suggest that we just remove all the “evil killing machines” from the world, stating that people wouldn’t die if guns weren’t available. Again, if you’re only looking at the negative side of firearms that probably makes sense in some deluded way. But it also ignores all of the lives that guns save every year. Which begs the question: are guns used more often to save lives or take lives?
Numbers can vary significantly but the most conservative estimate of defensive gun uses per year comes to us from the Violence Policy Center, an anti-gun organization hell-bent on curtailing the civilian ownership of firearms. They estimate that there are 67,740 instances per year in which a firearm is used successfully to defend lives and stop crimes.
On the other side of the equation, the FBI compiles very accurate crime statistics every year and publishes them on their website. For the year 2013, the FBI recorded 8,454 murders involving firearms.
Naturally not every single defensive gun use is an instance where a life was saved. Similarly, not every single firearms enabled murder is an instance where gun control would have prevented it. But according to the numbers, for every murder in the United States there are an average of eight defensive gun uses. That’s a big enough ratio to conclude that guns are unquestionably a net benefit to society, not the scourge their so after painted to be.