FACT: Guns Used More Often to Save Lives Than to Murder


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.


  1. avatar Ralph says:

    Given Haruka Weiser’s demographic (young girl, dance major focused on hip-hop, UT student), it’s extremely unlikely that she would have carried even if it was legal.

    It takes both willingness and ability to use a gun to protect life. Some people don’t have either. And as long as there are wolves among the fold, the sheep will be slaughtered.

    Sad. But it’s why logical arguments about saved lives versus lives taken will fall on deaf ears. The people you are arguing with will never tool up to protect themselves or their families. They expect others to save them. They are fools.

    1. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

      But the antigunners know who to turn to when the SHTF. When the Rodney King riots approached Beverly Hills all of Charlton Heston’s liberal antigun neighbors showed up as his door asking him if they could borrow something to defend their property.

      Antigunners are security freeloaders. Back in Arlington I had a couple of neighbors who were in favor of confiscation but they know that in a civil unrest situation that in order to secure my safety I and several other households would have to defend them.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I don’t see how helping your anti gun neighbors secures your safety in a shtf situation. If you arm these people you have non trained non skilled people with guns fucking about. And if they don’t trust themselves with guns in peaceful moments how can you trust them when the sky is falling?

        What about legal ramifications? Shtf isn’t permanent. Law and order will return.

        I would rather harden my site and let the looters/rioters know they have easier, non gun owning targets nearby. You can suffer gunshot wounds taking my place or harsh language at the neighbors.

        1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

          The neighbors might have supplies they’d be willing to share with you, in exchange for guns. Sure, in a SHTF scenario, you could just seize their stores yourself. Two things about that:

          First, SHTF doesn’t last forever. Even wars don’t last forever. There will be a reckoning at some point, during which you’d have to account for your actions during the crisis.

          Second, your neighbors might not have stores of goods to barter, but rather valuable skills. Could be a doctor or a machinist. You could compel their servitude, but that carries future consequences. (See above.) It could even carry immediate consequences. Would you really want an enslaved doctor operating on you or a machinist “repairing” your guns under durress?

          We can’t save everyone, of course, even if they all actually deserved saving; but generally speaking, in a SHTF scenario, I’d rather do what I could to ensure I have more allies than enemies.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Bartering is valid in a shtf scenario. On a case by case basis.

        3. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

          You have to protect them because you cannot let the looters into your neighborhood so you have to secure your immediate area. You cannot be secure of bad guys are looting your neighbors.

        4. avatar Accur81 says:


          Normally I agree with you, but I’ve got neighbors that I love. None that I know are virulently anti-gun, but no one is my neighborhood is as pro gun as me (maybe the whole county, but that’s another story). So if the neighbor who will loan me his lawn mower or his chainsaw in peacetime needs an AR-15 in a crisis, I’ve got ammo and gear to spare.

          And, as others have said, their tends to be a reckoning. When I use my guns against people, I use them against actual or suspected felons. I’ve also got dogs, pepper spray, Tasers, my mitts, and my moderately-developed negotiating skills.

          It’s always good to have recession-proof goods to trade in a SHTF scenario. Some of mine are guns and booze.

        5. avatar BDub says:

          Shtf isn’t permanent. Law and order will return. ”

          Human history shows you have this exactly backwards, but point made.

      2. avatar Ralph says:

        Antigunners are security freeloaders.


        1. avatar Accur81 says:

          That’s awesome. I’m hereby requesting permission to borrow that.

        2. avatar BDub says:

          Its called the “free-rider problem” – in this case regarding security, but could just as easily regard ant-vaccine proponents free-riding on the herd-immunity of others. These kinds of people seem to counter-intuitively prosecute the very people that buy them the luxury of their positions.

      3. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        I’m perfectly fine with defending the neighborhood and even anti’s within it.

        But if you aren’t standing a post, then you’re on b*tch detail – best get to washing those clothes and cooking supper.

      4. avatar CarlosT says:

        The geniuses in my state have made it illegal for me to lend guns to neighbors in such situations (no FFLs would be available to run background checks). So be it.

    2. avatar Robert Duchien says:

      Anti-gun folks who do not have a nice big “GUN FREE HOME” sign on their front door should be ashamed of themselves. They should make their sentiments known for all to see.

  2. avatar wright says:

    Cue Billy Bologna.

    1. avatar Rog Uinta says:

      14 minutes…good call.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      Billy can’t come out to play. He’s behind on his Remedial English homework.

  3. avatar Jack says:

    Preaching to the choir.

    1. avatar JohnF says:

      Of course, but I think these are helpful stats with which to make arguments. True anti-gunners won’t listen, but people in the middle will. I had not seen these numbers compared and I’m glad they were posted here.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Yup. I like having facts available to me. And the more current, the better.

  4. What a load of garbage…When you mean “DGU”s which statistically never happen.

    You must mean Deadly gun use which shows that firearms have been used more to harm innocent people then stop a crime.

    And like I said before including my proof from the boston journal of internal medicine, Your 50X more likely to turn your own gun on yourself or a loved one than stop a criminal attack.

    It’s even been proven that CCW holders tend to make situations among law enforcement even worse.

    And that permit holders are more like to cause spree shooters and murders than “saving the day.”

    And for the usual par…I still don’t see Europe, Australia or Japan turning into despotic dictatorships.

    Freedom isn’t how many guns you can own or people you can kill, It’s the constitutional right to be safe and live a peaceful prosperous life without the fear of Tyrants like the NRA and various other “Gun Reich” groups.

    1. avatar JohnF says:

      Don’t feed the troll!

      1. avatar wright says:

        Only bologna or tube steak

      2. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        If not, then how else will he be able to produce such a pant load of a post as that?

        Oh wait. OK, I get it now.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      Another paid troll spewing the same old garbage. Your masters should fire you, tubesteak. You’re lousy at your job.

    3. avatar wright says:

      Go back to cleaning your mom’s basement. Tube stake.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Not her basement. Her toilet.

    4. avatar wright says:

      Go home.

    5. avatar gs650g says:

      I hope willy tube steak doesn’t own a gun, he’s clearly unstable.

    6. avatar DrewN says:

      Can you point out where the Constitution guarantees you “a safe and prosperous life free from tyrants”? All I see here is a guarantee the Gov can’t remove the right to defend yourself, but I’m happy to be wrong.

    7. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      I’m not sure why everyone is calling you “tube steak”, buuuuut…

      Tube steak.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        That’s on me. In my yute tubesteak was a slang term for bolgna, a lunchmeat. Also a slang term for a johnson.

        Very first time he posted I dusted off the old memories and named him ‘tubesteak”. Seems to fit.

        1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          Ah. So, tube steak it is.

    8. avatar Boxilar says:

      This bait is stale. 1/10. I replied.

    9. avatar Stu in AZ says:

      Shit Willy, up til now I thought you were being serious! Go back to feigning ignorance more subtly, we’ll feed you more and the fun can continue longer.

    10. avatar ACP_arms says:

      Citation’s needed for your post Tubestake.

  5. avatar Howdy says:

    Healthcare and motor vehicles are specifically designed to be benign and to save lives, yet each kill more Americans than a subset of weapons. Aren’t motor vehicles and healthcare heavily regulated? Interesting.

    Ban reckless cars and murdering healthcare.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Just make murder illegal. That’ll solve all our problems.

  6. avatar bobmcd says:

    “…people wouldn’t die if guns weren’t available.”

    Sure. Homicide was totally unknown before the invention of gunpowder. /sarc

    1. avatar Timmy! says:

      That was my thought. I want to reply to them, “How many people have you know who have died? How many were shot? Wait, I thought you said ‘People wouldn’t die if guns were not available’?”

  7. avatar Dr Brainwash says:

    Keep up the good work. I know a few people who have used the information you provide, and data you cite, not only in arguments, but in research papers in upper education. Most of the information I have on hand here has been used to silence all, and even turn a few, anti gunners I know.

  8. avatar wright says:

    Speaking of trolls, anyone heard from 2ASux in awhile?

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Yes, he was here about a week ago, I have a feeling him and willy take turns.

    2. avatar Dr Brainwash says:

      Might be in Jail. I Worked with a cop today. Pulled over a chick for DUI around noon. Totally shitfaced. Apparently, because Donald Trump has secured the nomination, she said she just had to drink herself into a mindless stooper. From last night into today. With the sheer amount of liberal mourning an panic in recent days… I suspect it’s sure possible he went down a similar path.

      1. avatar wright says:

        Yeah, sounds about right. Probably eating some tube steak as we speak.

  9. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    This all comes down to what is seen and what is not seen. Not to sound all Hannibal Lecter-esque here, but read Frederic Bastiat. Learn to discern between sight and foresight, and never confine your understanding only to visible effects.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Good call. I just ordered “The Law” after hearing excerpts from it on the Levin show.

  10. avatar JasonM says:

    … that doesn’t gives her almost no chance to survive.
    When is TTAG going to start proofreading articles? As one of the leading, if not the leading pro-gun sites, TTAG represents the movement. Make us look like we care enough to get it right.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      that doesn’t gives her almost no chance to survive.

      And pray tell what’s that is wrong with the that sentence?

      1. avatar Timmy! says:

        Looks perfectly cromulent to me.

      2. avatar JasonM says:

        I’m guessing he meant to write “that doesn’t give her much of a chance”, then changed to “that gives her almost no chance”, but didn’t get the correction right.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “When is TTAG going to start proofreading articles?”

      JasonM, it’s your lucky day!

      TTAG has an open position for article proofreader!

      It’s a volunteer position with a weekly salary of $0.00, but that pay doubles after one month!

      1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        And quarterly bonus structure with a cap of up to 25% of your base salary.

  11. avatar Nick says:

    I like pro gun stats, but don’t really think this is a fair comparison – it’s apples and oranges. Just as every DGU doesn’t result in shots fired, or prevent a murder – neither is every criminal use of a firearm a murder. I think the fair comparison would be DGU vs any criminal use of a gun. I don’t know that it would necessarily provide compelling or useful information, but I think that would be apples to apples.

    1. avatar Stu in AZ says:

      By that metric, there’s really only two possible, viable conclusions:
      1. DGUs outnumber criminal firearm use, meaning that the free ownership of firearms has a net positive result.
      2. Or if criminal use somehow outnumbers lawful defensive use, then under the assumption that lawful citizens far outnumber criminals, more people should commit to defending themselves with firearms for the greater good.

  12. avatar Paul says:

    Queue the anal retentive grammar check on 3, 2, 1..

    “doesn’t gives her almost no chance to survive. ”

    How about:

    “doesn’t give her a reasonable chance to survive. “

  13. This is a fool’s game. Statistics are not relevant to the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It is not a matter of relative utility or crime trends involving firearms.

  14. avatar Stinkeye says:

    Nick, may I suggest you either:

    A) take your anti-gun friends to the range and bring them into the fold, or

    B) get a better class of friends.

    Statistics rarely ever convince anyone of anything.

  15. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    So, nobody will get killed if we get rid of the evil guns … in a conversation begun around a girl beat to death?

    “The girl was beat to death. That’s my whole point. You’re O K with whoever is bigger or stronger doing whatever they want to weaker folks?”

    So, your anti’s want to deny that bad people do bad things, sometimes, however they can. And they don’t want to grasp the power to influence the world themselves.

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