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We have evaluated the veracity of the claim that the prevalence of gun ownership has declined in the U.S. However, rather than using gun ownership data, we relied on previously reported data drawn from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) regarding the percentage of completed burglaries and thefts resulting in a stolen gun. 

If the prevalence of households owning guns has decreased over time, one would naturally expect that the percentage of burglaries and thefts with a gun reported stolen would show a similar downward trend. 

Data from the NCVS show the relationship between the percentage of burglaries and other property crimes involving the theft of at least one firearm between 1994 and 2010.

An examination of these data shows little change in the percentage of burglaries and thefts with a firearm reported stolen. The findings cast some doubt on the assertion that the number of households owning guns in the U.S. has decreased over time. Otherwise, the percentage of burglarized households reporting a stolen gun would have also declined. 

Reducing gun violence while recognizing the constitutional right of a citizen to own a firearm has always been the central challenge confronting gun control advocates. 

Most gun control efforts have concentrated on restricting the acquisition of guns. It is argued that by decreasing the circulation of firearms in the population, fewer people will have the opportunity to use a gun for criminal purposes. However, based on our previous research and NCVS gun theft data, there should be a focus on gun theft rather than gun ownership to lessen gun violence. 

Gun owners can be encouraged to secure their weapons in their homes through various avenues, such as educational programs or the use of locked gun cases and safes. Although some argue that these approaches infringe on gun owners’ freedoms and independence, the consequences of such a policy regarding gun violence are apparent.

— Stewart J. D’Alessio, Lisa Stolzenberg in The Paradox of Gun Availability and Gun Violence

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37 COMMENTS

  1. The article in question is in error. Although there has been a surge in gun buying much of it was to households that already had guns. Its true many more women were buying guns but in many cases their husbands or live in partners already had a gun making the claim that many of the sales were to people who never had a gun in the house misleading to say the least.

    I might add that many people who have had their guns stolen were already known to the criminals as gun owners and often they were robbed by people who know them or knew of them.

    As I have said many times before what is needed is a mandatory Safe Storage Law. The paranoiac screaming of the Far Right that they could not defend themselves in a break in is pure lies and total bullshit. If a person feels truly threatened real or imagined (with the Far Right it’s usually 99% imagined) one can carry a gun on one’s person preventing children from finding an unattended gun laying around and shooting themselves with it or taking it to school and committing mass murder with it.

    And of course they make gun safes today with touch unlock buttons which enable you to open a safe is seconds. Before the modern electronic touch button safes those who were safety conscience kept a safe key on their person.

    Each year over 1,300 children are killed by leaving loaded guns laying around the house and guns left out unlocked are the guns that are stolen in smash and grab robberies. Safe Storage Laws only make perfect sense but the paranoid Far Right are as oblivious to the truth as they are to their lack of knowledge that the world is round not flat.

    • @dacian

      “The paranoiac screaming of the Far Right…”

      You almost made a rational non-delusional sounding post, something maybe almost worthy of a discussion with you … until you got to that and your non-rational screeching ranting delusion kicked in again.

    • Safe Storage procedures make perfect sense. For once (and maybe only once), I agree with you. Loaded firearms should not be left around unsupervised young children who haven’t yet been trained how to safely regard and/or handle them.

      Where we part ways, however, is the mandatory enforcement of such laws by Guv within my private household, and any declaration that I’m a “criminal” if I don’t follow your decrees. I’ll determine the storage of my own firearms in my own way I deem best, and you can remain outside my property.

      • I agree with Haz, “Loaded firearms should not be left around unsupervised young children who haven’t yet been trained how to safely regard and/or handle them.”
        There aren’t any children around my house,ever and I’ll do as I please in relation to storage of any of my firearms. Besides a stored firearm serves no purpose and at 80 I move too slow and a thug would be all over me before I retrieved any firearm. I ain’t ready to sacrifice my life to some gov mandate. It’s my home and I’ll do as I please inside and the gov with their mandatory nonsense can take a hike to you know where.

        • I agree with both of you that, “Loaded firearms should not be left around unsupervised young children who haven’t yet been trained how to safely regard and/or handle them.”

          dacian doesn’t think we care about these things, but we do.

        • dacian and co. don’t think about a lot of things, even self evident things. Shameless, even prideful, ignorance is not advisable.

      • to Haz

        quote———- Loaded firearms should not be left around unsupervised young children who haven’t yet been trained how to safely regard and/or handle them.———quote

        How many times have I heard this Far Right idiotic bullshit before. Kids will be kids and no matter how much training you give them when adults are not around the horseplay begins which more often than not results in a tragic death. The graveyards are full of children who shot and killed themselves or their playmates and many had so called gun training by their moron parents who said “my kid would never do that” Famous last words.

        There were some children who even played russian roulette, usually teenagers who should have known better but let’s face facts we cannot say for sure if they were just horsing around or if they were actually committing suicide. Either way they ended up dead because of their moron parents leaving loaded guns laying around the house. Every tragic shooting is different but the root cause is always guns laying around the house.

        • Actually, you’re the one spouting idiotic bullshit. I grew up in an NYPD household. Dad would come home and store his loaded .38 snub in a wooden box in the hall closet. A .38 4″ was the house gun, kept on the night table next to the bed in my parent’s room. The only time it was put away was when other neighborhood kids or my stupid cousins were in the house. Me and my two sisters were trained to shoot and safely handle firearms. We never touched either gun and never ventured into the gun room at the family farm in Maryland without permission. It all comes down to how you’re raised.

        • Dacey,

          My own sons were all excited about the notion of guns when they were young, as many boys are, so I gave them an opportunity to shoot live vermin in our back yard one day. Despite how they’re portrayed in Disney movies, feral ground squirrels, rats, rabbits, and raccoons are incredibly destructive, and often carry disease.

          Even the possums sometimes. Oh my.

          The act of terminating the life of a creature that was breathing only a moment earlier is a very sobering experience, despite being necessary in some circumstances such as pest control. We can quickly end life, but we cannot create it or restore what we’ve taken. That day marked the beginning of their training, and they never again argued over the importance of responsibility and maturity regarding gun handling.

          As Parnell mentions above, it all comes down to how you’re raised.

        • to Parnell
          quote————It all comes down to how you’re raised.——-quote

          And how many times have I read where other kids came over to play and found a loaded gun and grabbed it and shot someone.

          Or how about the people who were babysitting and the toddler crawled under a bed and found a handgun and snagged the trigger and killed himself.

          Only two incidents out of hundreds proving you cannot see past the nose on your face and if you can your hiding the truth about leaving loaded guns laying around the house.

        • “…very sobering experience…”

          Well done, Haz. I did similar with my daughter. Unless the kid is psychopathic, collecting dead and bloody starlings at the bird feeder is sobering. One day she told me that a couple of the boys in her class kept bowie knives in their cars’ glove compartments, for protection (17-18 year olds). I asked her what they thought they would accomplish, and then we discussed, and experimented with, the utility and danger of sharp knives. Again, sobering. She carries a pocket knife, but is well aware of her limitations.

        • And as for dacian’s comment to Parnell:

          “And how many times have I read where other kids came over to play and found a loaded gun and grabbed it and shot someone.”

          Well, there you go again, showing your hand. He already addressed your fears, in the same paragraph as the quote you posted. Feel free to read it again, but a mite slower this time. May help if you sound out the words.

        • @dacian

          “And how many times have I read where other kids came over to play and found a loaded gun and grabbed it and shot someone.”

          Don’t know.

          How many times have you read where other kids came over to play and found a loaded gun and grabbed it and shot someone?

          heck, we didn’t even know you could read because you frequently demonstrate that you can’t.

          Wanna know how many times I’ve read about ~90,000 kids (collectively) being seriously injured (leading to a permanent disability) or killed in car accidents annually?

    • “As I have said many times before what is needed is a mandatory Safe Storage Law. The paranoiac screaming of the Far Right that they could not defend themselves in a break in is pure lies and total bullshit.”

      is that because locking up the home securely keeps home invasions from happening?

      as someone who has experienced it, I can tell you that you are pure lies and total bullshit.

    • @dacian, “the paranoiac screaming of the Far Right that they could not defend themselves in a break in is pure lies and total bullshit.”
      The quote is 100% bullshit. Most on TTAG know where the bullshit lies and whom is the biggest producer.
      Some need to keep in mind that the “Far Right” is after all be it Far or Near……………….RIGHT!

    • How would the criminal gangster democrats and their operatives like dacian know if the guns were being sold to first time buyers or not? Unless they were breaking the law and keeping a gun registry.

    • “As I have said many times before what is needed is a mandatory Safe Storage Law. The paranoiac screaming of the Far Right that they could not defend themselves in a break in is pure lies and total bullshit.”

      According to actual proposed and desired, even stated, many times by anti-gun trying to push their ‘safe storage’ BS, their concept: Ask the home invader to wait while you go open your gun safe, take off the trigger lock, go get your ammo that’s stored in a different location, load, and aim.

      Yea…., well no, extensive studies show home invaders are unwilling to accommodate this request.

    • “As I have said many times before what is needed is a mandatory Safe Storage Law.”

      As you have said, as you have said…what a load of BS. Your anti-gun hero’s said and you copy-n-pasted.

      The anti-gun ‘Safe Storage Law’s’ are the home version of their ‘Gun Free Zone’ laws. They want to ensure by law defenseless prey for the predator.

    • Uh, Dacian, given that FBI stats show around 400 “children” are shot and killed on average (many being blacks who are victims of black gang bangers) how do you invent your 1400 number? Also, there are about 9700 deaths from shootings per year, with about 1/3 of them being “good guys”. The rest are good guys shooting bad guys, and bad guys shooting other bad guys (gang bangers, tribalism disputes). So about 3200 lives are lost that are meaningful.

      According to the FBI stats, in 2020 657 people were beaten to death, and 1732 stabbed to death. Or 2389, nearly as many as the 3200 I listed.

      Also, a large percentage of the firearms buyers since Biden was installed in office by fraud were new owners. Many were women, and many were Dems. Also, the stats report background checks, not numbers of firearms. One may buy up to 10 firearms per background check submission. Also, many background checks are for reasons other than firearms purchases (LEO hires, armed civilian jobs like Brinks crew and high value couriers, concealed carry license, apartment rental criminal checks, etc).

      BTW: When I leave home for several hours I always lock my gun and ammo safes. My collection is extensive and expensive, as are the large amounts of caliber matching ammo I keep. Home owners insurance is limited to a $2500 loss typically ($500 deductible). Firearms not stored in safes them are well hidden around the house.

      Maybe you should look at the home invasion robbery stats and actually read about the 2.5+ million times per year a good guy presents (or sometimes shoots) a perp who wishes to engage in a violent felony (and nearly always blacks or Hispanics – rarely whites or Asians). Your media suppresses all such stories – bad for the totalitarian narrative. Even the Dem infested CDC, when illegally (nothing to do with their mandate) ordered by Obama to run such a study to give the left their desired ammunition for propaganda, discovered to their collective horror that more than 2 million such confrontations DID occur each year. That study was shit canned as it upset the leftist narrative.

    • When people are buying firearms at the rate of 1,000,000 per month for at least the last 8 years it is highly unlikely that more than a million a year are being taken out of service. With women and first time buyers leading the pack it is not likely at all that the number of firearms or the number per family has diminished. Also, what makes you think that a gun safe or gun cabinet is the end all of stealing a firearm and that will impact the number of firearms stolen dramatically? Where’s the proof?

    • I don’t know where you came up with the idea that most of the new gun buys are to households where ownership already existed is incorrect. Numerous surveys and studies have shown the majority of new gun purchases in the last three years are first time buyers.
      As for Safe Storage Laws, the old maxim that “Locks only serve to keep honest people honest” holds true. When thieves can defeat most gun safes and cabinets currently on the market in as little as 90 seconds, all a safe really does is make it take a little more effort to steal the contents.
      I’ve no issue with keeping firearms loaded or unloaded, out of the reach of children. But I believe firmly in educating children as soon as they’re old enough to understand why in Firearms Safety and Handling. I don’t know any Firearm Owners that thinks it’s a good idea to leave guns unsecured around children. When a 5 year old can recite the Four Rules, and in their own words explain why each rule is important, you know you’re educating them correctly. Education though, must be ongoing throughout the child’s life, if one is to make sure they understand and know safe Firearm Safety and proper handling.

  2. Well this is one time I agree with the Far Right. The new Democratic bill is to keep track of who is buying ammunition. We had such a law back in 1968 and it was rescinded because it proved to be totally useless and a burden to everyone, including the gun stores and the ammo buyers.

    And before a bill is passed it could be amended to limit the amount of ammo one could buy which would be a backdoor way of limiting gun sales and running ammunition manufacturers out of business. As a matter of fact it was announced by the news media only yesterday that the U.S. has a limited amount of manufacturing capacity to make ammunition which is insufficient to even supply its own military.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/dem-reps-seek-to-restrict-ammunition-sales-to-americans/ar-AA17OpFW?ocid=U143DHP&pc=U143&cvid=da21156d8b8d4e979306236605aed081

    • In your world view, all gun owners must be “far right”. About 50% of Dems own firearms. I have personally met many of them here. Besides, far right means “absence of government”, while “far left” means “total (totalitarian) government” – as the various flavors of communism or fascism (Dems). When leftists like you spout your “far right” label, and most people are center or center-right, it merely shows how extremely far left the “left” actually is.

    • DACIAN “THE MARXIST” believes only his MARXIST buddies and allies should have guns!!

      Proves he is a devout support of a MARXIST Dictatorship

  3. The article by a couple of profs who have probably never lived in the real world is total bullshit from beginning to end.

  4. “If the prevalence of households owning guns has decreased over time, one would naturally expect that the percentage of burglaries and thefts with a gun reported stolen would show a similar downward trend.”

    It could be something else.

    As more areas (unconstitutionally) enact ‘mandatory background checks’, more criminals may be turning to gun theft to feed that market…

    • Example – Years ago, my local newspaper, like many local newspapers, had classified ads that sold guns, along with cars and beanie babies and whatnot.

      A few years ago, they stopped doing that… 🙁

  5. I’m out here well away from town. Anyone wanting to burglarize my home has to first find it. Not visible from the road. secondly, get too the house without alerting anyone, nor be noticed by the dogs. And then get into the vault, or storage lock ups. Even if someone just got into the kitchen and stole the ready weapons from the rack, they are not likely to also get away without someone, or the dogs noticing. So, I do have some advantage over my more urban counterparts. Yes, we do keep a selection of firearms available for immediate use. A varmint rifle, a shotgun, and a .22 rifle. With ammo very close at hand.
    At present, the youngest child around the homestead is recently turned 11. He has already had a little guidance and training with basic safety and firearm handling. And, like most rural kids, he already understands that firearms are dangerous and can never be treated as toys.
    As for some state mandate telling people what they have to do for storage etc. No. I do not support the idea. What I would support is offering anyone who is legally purchasing a firearm a discount on a safe or other locking storage device.

  6. “Most gun control efforts have concentrated on restricting the acquisition of guns. It is argued that by decreasing the circulation of firearms in the population, fewer people will have the opportunity to use a gun for criminal purposes.”

    Yes, this is argued and, it is a stupid argument. I know I’m a bit of a broken record on this point but, c’est la vie. There are fewer that 15,000 homicides (including justified) in this country each year. There are fewer than 150,000 people injured by a firearm each year. (These are generous numbers.) Given that there are 400,000,000 or more firearms, that means that if each and every firearm used to injure or kill each year were destroyed. Plus, 9 more, for each, were rounded up and destroyed as well, we would still have enough guns in this country to support the current level of misuse for 267 years. If we didn’t destroy the extra 9, 2667 years.

    The number of guns in the U.S. is *not* proportional to the gun-related crime in the U.S. For it to be, we would “need” to have two orders of magnitude more gun-related crime than we do.

    As has been said before: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

    • Oh, and, I failed to mention, no new firearms are ever manufactured again. So no new guns, only existing guns, destroy 10 for every 1 used to cause injury and 150 years from now, after everyone alive now is dead, there will still be more than a century’s worth of guns. (I always thought the left didn’t like supply-side economics – guess I was wrong)

    • There were 9300 killings using a firearm in 2021 (FBI stats, which lag by 2 years). Fewer than that in previous years (even though the population keeps growing, murder rate is still about 3.9 per 100,000). Around 2/3 were bad guys shot by good guys or by other bad guys (mostly blacks). No idea how many were wounded – that stat isn’t tracked by the FBI that I know if. About 400 of these were “children” (supposed to be 12 and under, but many studies like to include “under 18” or even “under 21”.

  7. Personally, I don’t agree with the method used in this article to determine that gun ownership is declining is not valid. You could have the same number of gun owners and simply more thefts because crime is on the rise. That not withstanding, when FBI stats show that for the past several years people have been buying firearms at a rate of over 1,000,000 per month it would not be likely that gun ownership has declined at all but increased dramatically. Women and first-time buyers lead the pack in buying new firearms. So it is clear to me that if you have added 24 million firearms in 2 years it is highly unlikely that over 24 million firearms have been taken out of circulation in that same period of time.

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