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Store owner Bren Brown, stands with a display of handguns at Frontier Justice in Lee's Summit, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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By Rob Morse

Lots of us own guns. Many of us carry those guns legally in public. That’s critically important because concealed carriers save a lot of lives. You knew most of that already, but there are a few you don’t hear about as often and they bear repeating.

Every day there are over 17 million of us legally carrying concealed in public. At least. Pay no attention to the “official” numbers or the number of permit holders. That doesn’t begin to tell the full story. And with the proliferation of constitutional carry states, the number of people carrying firearms every day continues to increase.

Millions of Americans carry seven days a week, with no days off, and we save thousands of lives a day.

You already know that using a firearm is serious business. The law says an innocent person can only defend themselves with lethal force if death or great bodily injury are imminent  and unavoidable.

In plain language that means someone might go to the hospital or the morgue unless you present your firearm to stop the bad guy…right now. If you didn’t know that legal justification, you probably assumed something very close to it.

The gun is a last resort, and we only threaten to take a life if an innocent person is about to lose theirs.

What you might not know is that one out of eleven adults alive in the US today have used a firearm in self-defense. You might not know that honest gun owners legally use their guns to save lives over 4500 times a day.

The great news is that they didn’t have to shoot 4500 people. Far from it. Most bad guys don’t want to be shot — strangely enough — and they tend to run away when armed defenders present a firearm.

In fact armed Americans discharge a gun in self-defense a little more than 800 times a day. Even then, bad guys are shot and killed only about once a day. That says that guns are almost always used to save lives rather than to take them.

That good news shouldn’t come as a surprise. That’s what we’d expect from our friends and neighbors who own guns.

What does it mean to save 4500 lives a day? Honest gun owners save more lives than are lost each day to heart disease, to cancer, and to all accidents…combined. Each year, gun owners save twice as many lives as are taken by chronic lower respiratory diseases (read: emphysema from smoking), by strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, flu and pneumonia, and by suicide.

That is an amazing number of lives saved by ordinary people like you. And it’s a story that those who want more restrictions on civilian firearm ownership never seem to tell.

The reason honest gun owners do so much good is that they are just like you. They’re just about everywhere and they frequently happen to be in the right place at the right time. They are also willing and able to stop a threat and save lives.

Concealed carry is common. The number of concealed carriers is comparable to the number of office and administrative support workers. There are more concealed carriers in public every day than there are healthcare, education, and library workers combined. On average, one out of every twelve adults is legally carrying in public every day.

Their guns may be hidden, but with that many armed citizens on the streets we would know — as gun prohibitionists claim — if lawful gun owners were a problem. In fact, they are a solution. Time after time they stop dangerous threats until the police arrive. That isn’t everything, but to 1.7 million of us a year, it was desperately important to be armed.

 

This article originally appeared at Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission. 

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Stranger: Why are you carrying a gun? Are you a cop?
    Me: Nope, not a cop. I carry a gun for protection.
    Stranger: So, you have feelings of insecurity. That does not mean you should carry a gun everywhere. It is not safe.
    Me: I do not perceive myself as insecure. I think of myself as prepared. Calling me insecure is insulting, but it does not make me fell less confident. Look, no one needs a gun…until they do. It happens more than a million times per year in this country. Guns save lives.
    Stranger: There are also a lot of mass-shootings and homicides. Guns kill people. You shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun in public. All you are really doing is intimidating people.
    Me: Well, the US Constitution protects my right to own and carry a gun.
    Stranger: But it interferes with my right to feel safe.
    Me: You do not feel safe around me?
    Stranger: No, I do not! You could decide to shoot me and there is nothing I would be able to do about it.
    Me: Why would I shoot you?
    Stranger: You could be a nut-job, for all I know.
    Me: So, me carrying a gun triggers feelings of insecurity in you. Maybe you should get a gun.
    Stranger: You’re an a$$hole. (Turns and walks away).

    • Don’t argue with fools. Normal people carry guns for protection and wish to be left alone. If you can’t respect that, they should at least acknowledge the power on your hip.

      Anyone who complains about you carrying has anger management issues, resorts to violence often, and/or a criminal or associates with one. Not everyone wants to be bothered by people who thinks getting into the most street fights makes you a man.

    • My own conversation with a stranger is a little shorter:

      Stranger: What’s the gun all about. Are you expecting trouble?
      Me: No. If I was expecting trouble I would take some steps to avoid it.
      Stranger: So, why the gun?
      Me: It’s for the trouble that I’m not expecting.
      Stranger: (long silence.)

    • Unless said “stranger” was somehow presenting a mortal danger to me or my wife, why would I even be letting him/her/it know I was carrying a gun in the first place??

      I pass thousands of people who have no clue as to my armed status while carrying on a daily basis. Why strike up such an idiotic “conversation”??

        • K, but this article seems to be speaking only to, or primarily of, concealed carry.
          (“ Every day there are over 17 million of us legally carrying concealed in public.” And read on… )

          Were I confronted while carrying openly in public, I’d most-likely choose to decline or ignore the invitation for a potential escalation.

          Everyone can choose how they would handle their own situation but personally, I’d be somewhat cautious about “debating” with someone unknown to me- someone who already knows I’m armed, and particularly if I can’t verify his/her/its defensive/offensive status.

          Although I carry pretty much 24/7, my daily prayer is that my little P365 remains in the holster at all times. YMMV.

          Best wishes.

        • Craig,

          Serious question, with no intent to cause a controversy. Just interested in your thought process. IF you are able to carry concealed today, why would you choose to open carry in this environment?

          Just want to understand.

    • Stranger: Why are you carrying a gun? Are you a cop?

      Me: Nope, not a cop. I carry a gun for protection.

      Stranger: So, you have feelings of insecurity. That does not mean you should carry a gun everywhere. It is not safe.

      Me: You’re not safe or prepared and are insecure, I am prepared to remain safe and secure or protect my safety and security. Did you know that before you get home today you will be targeted as a potential victim of a violent crime at the hands of violent criminals at least three times? Did you know that you have a chance of over 65% of being attacked and killed within 50 feet of the front door to your home by violent criminals? Did you know that statistically you are over 85% likely to be injured or killed by a car driving the streets and only less than 1% likely to be harmed in some way by a legal gun owner with a gun they carry? Did you know that you are literally safer around me right now than any place else you can be out in the general public among strangers? Did you know that when you walk away from me or I walk away from you, if you are not armed with a gun and know how to use it, that you will be 93% likely to die as a result of a violent crime if you are attacked after we separate?

      Stranger: But..

      Me: Good luck.

    • That looks like a gun store I could spend some time in, checking it out.

      Probably high-priced, but they could have screwed up and priced some under market.

      Cash talks in places like that…

  2. I don’t believe 800 defensive discharges a day, especially with only 1 fatality. That would mean that the average shooter is ridiculously inaccurate. I could believe 800 displays or discharges, but that seems a little low.

  3. I carry all day, every day. Even at home. Have for years. I haven’t needed to pull the firearm, let alone fire it in self-defense … yet.

    I open carry around my property and going about local errands. When I go into larger population areas, I conceal. No one knows it, or at least, no one has said anything about it. I don’t have “gun guy” stickers on my vehicle. I don’t “dress tactical.” I ​avoid stupid places, stupid times, stupid acts, and stupid people.

    Hoplophobes would be surprised, and probably have no idea, at how many of us there are, going about our business, aware, ready to act if need be. They would likewise be terrified as to how many criminals they encounter also carry. Ignorance is bliss.

    • Jimmy Beam is correct. What others don’t know will not hurt them. What they won’t accept relative to POTG might get them hurt or worse.

    • Jimmy,

      Perfectly stated, my friend. Exactly my modus operandi.

      My gun is a threat to you ONLY if you are a threat to me.

      Be safe!

    • I’ve been carrying every day, everywhere. If I can’t carry in a place legally, I don’t go. Many places in my former state provided lockers and armed guards for when I had to disarm: jury duty, etc.

      Concealed means concealed. I don’t want to attract a BG just because I’m armed. But I don’t want to go out unarmed. Concealed is the perfect solution. I even carry concealed at the gym. It’s all a matter of adapting lifestyle to carry.

      It’s part of my routine. When I dress, I put on the firearm. When I disrobe, it goes into the quick safe and I go between the covers. I suppose the only time I’m vulnerable is in the shower. At those times, my wife covers me.

      I’ve been carrying every day for 25 years. I’ve never fired my pistol in self defense, but I have unholstered it late night after work. Three BGs who had vectored toward me in the parking lot saw me take cover behind a concrete wall and prepare for self defense. Funny; they made a course correction and decided not to bother the grumpy guy with the Glock.

      I’m glad to hear there were 4,499 others that day, doing just about the same.

      PS: I carry two additional magazines. I also carry a second weapon in the same caliber and make as my EDC. Two is one; one is none.

  4. I question the numbers given, but, not the premise. I wear a gunbelt around the homestead and if I run into town locally. Concealed carry if going into more populated areas. I also carry a larger than average fire extinguisher and a full on medics bag in each vehicle. Not trying to be a cop, fire fighter or medic, but want to have the best tools available to handle any given situation until the professionals can arrive and take over. Of course I carry a bit more than a bumper jack and a pair of pliers in the tool box as well. Learned many years ago that it is better to have the tools and never need them, than to need a tool and not have it. In the case of the medics kit, fire extinguisher or side arm, if you need it and don’t have it, you or someone may very well never need anything again.

  5. “ Every day there are over 17 million of us legally carrying concealed in public.”

    And then, of course, there is probably an equal number of gangbangers, active felons out on no-bail and prohibited types packing as well- you know- the ones driving the crime stats in the first place.

  6. “Every day there are over 17 million of us legally carrying concealed in public.”

    This number changed dramatically in late 2000 – mid 2021 time frame. Today, accounting for constitutional carry states where no permit is needed, collectively, more than 30 million conceal carry.

    In the aggregated data from CDC, FBI, states reports:

    In 2019 to this beginning of 2022 other violent crimes either involving firearms or other weapons which did not result in immediate death to the victims continued to outpace all other types of crime. The number one first physical contact attack weapons employed by criminals in 2019 to this beginning of 2022 was either hands or some sort of clubbing object followed by use of a gun except in armed robberies of stores or home invasion where the gun was the criminal primary attack weapon.

    There were 6, 637 reported daily gun defense uses in the U.S. in 2019 (including scaring away burglars) and 15% of the victim defenders actually fired shots – criminals mostly ran away when realized victim was armed. In 2021 there were over 8,000 reported daily gun defense uses in the U.S. (including scaring away burglars) and 47% of the victim defenders actually fired shots – a majority of criminals stopped running away and became more aggressive forcing the victim to fire (and in most cases the criminal then ran away wounded.)

    The “immediate death” here means victim not killed first before the crime proceeded, during or after the main crime act completed was when the victim was either killed or injured. The use of “other violent crimes” means violent crimes other than, for example, simple hands on assaults without a weapon or attempted crimes for which the bad guy weapon was never used.

    In 2021; In 94% of cases the victim not complying and resisting criminals by defensive gun use was not injured. In over 87% of cases the victim complying and not resisting resulted in the victim being injured or killed.

    In other words violent crime in which the victims were either killed or severely injured continued to outpace all other types of crime.

    According to Kleck’s “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America” – the leading authority on the subject of compliance:

    1. Any form of resistance, except with firearm, carries with it an injury rate of 52%.

    2. Resistance with a firearm carried with it the risk of injury of 17%, but use of a firearm early in an encounter carries with it a risk of injury of 6%.

    Overall, in Kleck, you have a minimum of a 25% chance of being injured if you comply, but you are 4 time less likely to be injured if you have your firearm and are prepared to use it.

    Take away here summary: compliance may still result in injury (which includes death), resistance without a firearm carries a 52% chance of injury (which includes death), resistance with a firearm lowers chance of injury (which includes death) to 17%, resistance with a firearm early in the encounter further lowers risk of injury (which includes death) to 6%

    If you are armed are you willing to gamble that you are not in the 25%?
    if you are not armed are you willing to gamble that you are not in the 52%?

    Compliance or not, resistance or not – is not a decision one needs to make. The answer is already provided, non-compliance via firearms resistance offers the best chance of less injury. But if you want, you can roll the dice and take the chance of being a good-n-dead witness.

    • “In fact armed Americans discharge a gun in self-defense a little more than 800 times a day. Even then, bad guys are shot and killed only about once a day.”

      In the aggregated data from CDC, FBI, states reports – in the United States:

      In 2019 there were over 995 times daily when the victim defender had to actually fire having no other choice.

      In 2001 there were over 3,600 times daily when the victim defender had to actually fire having no other choice.

      Annually, less than 5% of self-defense gun use situations are reported in mainstream media.

      In the 2000 – 2021 time frame there were over 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes prevented by defensive gun use capability or ‘presence’. These are crimes that were stopped before going any further when the criminals realized the victim(s) were armed either by seeing the victim(s) gun or (in some cases) the gun being actively brandished by the would be victim(s).

      In 2019 gun-free zones were more than 58% likely to attract violent criminals.

      In 2021 gun-free zones were more than 73% likely to attract violent criminals.

      • In the FBI data for 2019; Four times as many people were killed with a knife than with any kind of rifle.

        However, despite the use of a gun being used in murders Americans as a whole are statistically at least as (or more) likely to die from being stabbed to death with a knife.

        Comparatively with other countries, the U.S. is not that different when it comes to the rate of use of a knife as a murder weapon. For example: The U.K. rate of fatal murder stabbings is 0.48 per 100,000 – The U.S. rate of fatal murder stabbings is 0.49 per 100,000.

        CDC data place the U.S. handgun murder rate at 0.31 per 100,000 (Alpers, Philip and Michael Picard 2022. ‘Guns in the United States: Rate of Handgun Homicide per 100,000 People (CDC)’. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney. GunPolicy.org) (note: A rate of 0.31 per 100,000 works out to ~ 4.7 people per 100,000).

      • Correction:

        “In 2001 there were over 3,600 times …”

        Typo… the 2001 should have been 2021

        Sorry ’bout that

    • .40 cal,

      I was JUST composing a comment on that very subject. The article is stupid BECAUSE (i) there are now 22 (soon to be 23, I hope) “constitutional carry” states, and (ii) there are a number of gun owners who, looking at their particular location, decide that the permitting isn’t designed to allow law abiding people to carry, and decide to just say “screw the state of [whatever], I’m going to carry, anyway!”.

      We basically have no frickin’ idea how many people are carrying, anywhere, legally or illegally.

      • Constitutional carry states still issue concealed carry permits for reciprocal reasons with other states. A lot of people, especially in tri state areas still get them even though they don’t need one in their home state. Those numbers are trackable. In addition millions of retired military have gotten the retired law enforcement concealed carry permits permitted under federal law.

        • Sorry, left some out…. not just retired military but in a lot of cases military discharged (not retired) as well as retired civilian law enforcement and associated law enforcement fields – millions of those, not just retired military … under the “Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act”

  7. Gotta call BS on the numbers here.

    “In fact armed Americans discharge a gun in self-defense a little more than 800 times a day. Even then, bad guys are shot and killed only about once a day.”

    If there are 799 live rounds out there every day that didn’t hit a bad guy, a whole bunch of them must have hit somebody and THAT would be front page news every day. The link in the article goes to a few stories that highlight armed citizens. Absolutely zero evidence that the “800” number is reasonable. Shame on you.

    Let me be clear, I’ve carried concealed for 35 years in six states. I know there are solid numbers for people who have used their firearms to dissuade bad acts, and a good case can be made that the number of “saves” is anywhere between 400,000 and a million a year. Those numbers can be substantiated. But 800 rounds A DAY fired in self-defense is a completely made-up, bullshite number without some serious back-up. And a dozen or so antidotes are not back-up.

    • here’s the thing about numbers like the 800. They aren’t necessarily made up for articles like this, they just aren’t ‘complete’. It depends on what they use for the source.

      For example; When aggregating CDC, FBI, and states reports – In 2019 there were 6, 637 reported daily gun defense uses in the U.S. (including scaring away burglars) and 15% of the victim defenders actually fired shots, that’s 995 cases where shots were actually fired. But less than 10% of daily gun defense uses were reported in 2019 as ‘shooting’ related (thus no clear indication of defensive gun use) in UCR because shots were not actually fired (e.g. the gun was brandished but not fired – brandishing is also defensive gun use if done legally) but if you begin surveying the states reports you find the victim warned for having a gun and/or brandished it and the bad guy ran away before the crime actually got started but in UCR it only shows up as an ‘attempted – what ever the crime was’ and not shooting related if it does make it into the UCR. Thus in 2019 there were 6, 637 reported daily gun defense uses in the U.S. – key word there is reported (as in UCR).

      If you see the bad guy coming and brandish the gun and they stop and leave, that was also defensive gun use. If it makes it into the UCR only if shots were fired, and in 37 states only if someone was actually shot.

      • “…key word there is reported (as in UCR).”

        Should have been…
        … key word there is reported (as in UCR and not in UCR).

    • And yes there are over 400,000.

      In the 2000 – 2021 time frame there were over 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes prevented by defensive gun use capability or ‘presence’. These are crimes that were stopped before going any further when the criminals realized the victim(s) were armed either by seeing the victim(s) gun or (in some cases) the gun being actively brandished by the would be victim(s).

      Actually. They are mostly stopped because the bad guys realized the victim was armed and left. Not all of them fired shots and not all made it to actual police reports because in some areas it can only rate a police blotter entry and not a report.

      But the 400,000 annually (or a 12 month period) has remained pretty much a minimum since about the mid to late 90’s.

  8. The older I get, will turn 71 in February, the more I carry concealed and have a handgun within arms reach at home.
    No way I’m going to open carry! I have some nice handguns, don’t need some young people decide to relieve me of one.
    I have a red laser sight on Ruger SL 22lr simply because it’s the easiest one to shoot for an elderly person!

  9. This is really a very good article that I really like and will definitely share it widely with my friends, wish you all good health and make more articles in the future. Thanks

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