That is the conclusion of Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use, a new study just release by the Violence Policy Center that is subtitled "An Analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Crime Victimization Survey Data."
The report analyzes national data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
In an email sent out by Josh Sugarman, executive director of the Violence Policy Center and co-author of the study, he quotes from the study that
“The idea that ordinary citizens need access to extraordinary firepower in order to adequately defend themselves against criminals has become the default argument against a federal assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines. This new data exposes the fallacy of such arguments and clearly demonstrates that the frequency with which guns are used in self-defense in the real world has nothing in common with pro-gun assertions that firearms are used millions of times each year to kill criminals or stop crimes. In fact, a gun is far more likely to be stolen than used in self-defense.”Please keep reading.
Since receiving the email from Sugarman, I have quickly read through the study, which is only 19 pages.
Let me first offer a bit of what he emphasizes in the email as "key finding" -
I will list the summaries of the findings first:
Firearm Justifiable Homicides by Private Citizens Occur Rarely
Firearms are Rarely Used in Self-Defense by Victims of Attempted or Completed Violent Crimes
Firearms are Rarely Used in Self-Defense by Victims of Attempted or Completed Property Crimes
Total Number of Actual Self-Defense Firearm Uses are Only a Small Fraction of Pro-Gun Claims
More than a Third of Persons Shot and Killed in Justifiable Homicides in 2010 Were Known to the Shooter
The study provides substantial detail to back up each of those assertions. Since the study is not all that long, I will not go through all of the details. But consider just this, from the email, for the first of the points listed above (copying from the email):
For victims of both attempted and completed violent crimes, for the five-year period 2007 through 2011 in only 0.8 percent of these instances did the intended victim in resistance to a criminal engage in a self-protective behavior that involved a firearm. For the five-year period 2007 through 2011, the National Crime Victimization Survey estimates that there were 29,618,300 victims of attempted or completed violent crimes. During this same five-year period, only 235,700 of the self-protective behaviors involved a firearm. Of this number, it is not known what type of firearm was used or whether it was fired or not. The number may also include off-duty law enforcement officers who use their firearms in self-defense.Remember, this study is based on FBI data.
It clearly gives the lie to the assertions made by the NRA and others on this subject in the attempt to foment fear to prevent meaningful regulations on guns.
Here is the conclusion, which is worth remembering:
The idea that firearms are frequently used in self-defense is the primary argument that the gun lobby and firearms industry use to expand the carrying of firearms into an ever-increasing number of public spaces and even to prevent the regulation of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Yet this argument is hollow and the assertions false. When analyzing the most reliable data available, what is most striking is that in a nation of more than 300 million guns, how rarely firearms are used in self-defense.