A new Cato study finds 5,000 incidents from 2003-2008 in which a gun was used in self defense. But the authors point out that even that figure likely low-balls the real number.
The data set supporting this paper is derived from a collection of news stories published betweenOctober 2003 and November 2011.There is a selection bias problem withthe method of gathering news stories. Many defensive gun uses never make the news.Sometimes that is because the person us-ing a gun in self-defense saw no need to callthe police—he or she scared off the bad guy.In some cases, the victim might not wantto explain to the police that he has a gun,perhaps because he is a felon, or perhapsbecause he lives in a jurisdiction with very restrictive gun control laws. Sometimes thepolice do get called, but the officers do notfind the circumstances sufficiently impor-tant to issue a press release. After all, “ManScares away Burglar, No Shots Fired” is notparticularly newsworthy, unless you live in a very small town.
I found this part interesting.
For a very long time, gun control propo-nents would insist that having a gun was a mistake, because many people (especially women) would not be willing to shoot a person who was attacking them—and thecriminal would then take away the victim’sgun and use it on the victim. Oddly enough,while the authors have recorded a large num-ber of incidents where someone has their guntaken away from them, it is usually the otherway around. In 227 incidents, a criminal’sgun was taken away from him by the victim.This does not necessarily mean that the victim shot the criminal, but it does mean thatthe victim successfully disarmed the crimi-nal and then threatened the criminal withit in order to make him leave, or make himremain on the scene until the police could arrive. Often, these were situations where the victim, at the start of the attack, did not have a gun . .
. . . By comparison, the data set contains only 11 stories out of 4,699 where a criminal tooka gun away from a defender; the reverse, aswe have seen, was reported more than 20times more often.