Like many of you, I've been watching closely the debate on gun control and the general discussion of the role guns play in our society. Inevitably in these debates, the role of 'defensive gun use' (DGU) is promoted as a net positive of gun ownership. In fact, specific studies were used in the Supreme Court decision Columbia vs. Heller, striking down the DC handgun ban, reinforcing the right to self-defense.
So, what number are we talking about? 2.5 million. That's the often quoted number of annual DGU, usually presented as is, without qualifications or error bars leading one to believe that this is an indication of lives saved, injuries avoided, or at the very least violent crimes prevented due to the presence of a gun by the potential victim.
This is a huge number. An unbelievably huge number. And yes, I find it unbelievable. Follow me below the squiggly as I attempt to sort out the various studies, claims, counter-studies and counter claims.