As I’ve said many times, one of the most glaring reasons why the anti-gunner lobby has had so much success up until now is because most of those favoring stricter gun laws know very little about guns or the overall issue of gun rights in America. The left preys on this ignorance to promote various lies about the efficacy of gun control and the supposed dangers of allowing law-abiding citizens to bear arms.
Slate published a piece in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen which did away with New York’s repressive gun licensing scheme; it required applicants to prove they had a valid need to carry a firearm outside of their homes. The article, written by author Alex Yablon, peddles much of the same falsehoods that the progressive left has used for decades. But his claims are not difficult to debunk.
The first argument Yablon makes is that allowing responsible citizens to carry guns increases gun violence by helping to supply the criminals who commit violent crimes. “While some research suggests that more permissive laws on carrying guns in public lead to more violence, the mechanism is subtler than a rise in shootouts as people take their safety into their own hands,” he writes.
He then makes the questionable claim that defensive gun uses (DGUs) are rare and that loosening laws on gun ownership foster “a proliferation of guns that then get lost or stolen, supplying a black market.”
He added: “So-called good guys with guns almost never have cause to actually use their weapons, and so they get careless, inadvertently supplying the ‘bad guys.’”
Yes, one of the ways criminals obtain their guns is by stealing them from careless people who leave them in the open at home or in their vehicles. However, the percentage who get their firearms in this matter is quite low, according to a study conducted by the Justice Department in 2019. From the report:
An estimated 287,400 prisoners had possessed a firearm during their offense. Among these, more than half (56%) had either stolen it (6%), found it at the scene of the crime (7%), or obtained it off the street or from the underground market (43%). Most of the remainder (25%) had obtained it from a family member or friend, or as a gift. Seven percent had purchased it under their own name from a licensed firearm dealer.
Only six percent of criminals in the study got their guns by stealing them, meaning that allowing more Americans to legally carry firearms is not likely to do much more to arm violent thugs than other methods. Indeed, the most common way these individuals procure weapons is through the underground market. When compared to the number of defensive gun uses that occur every year, it is easy to see that the possibility of one’s weapon being stolen is not nearly enough to justify disarming citizens. More on that later.
The author then contends that DGUs “remain very rare” because “[l]icensed gun owners simply don’t open fire in public very often.”
I’ll be blunt. This argument is about as misleading as it gets. DGUs occur when a person uses their firearm to defend themselves, another person, or property. But what folks like Yablon don’t want their audience to know is that a defensive gun use does not necessarily involve firing the weapon. Let’s say a thug approaches you with a knife and demands your wallet. You pull out your Glock, and the criminal runs away. This would count as a defensive gun use even though you did not pull the trigger.
There is plenty of data showing that DGUs occur far more often than the left would have you believe. Yablon partly acknowledges this later in his article. He writes:
Estimates range from an astounding 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually, according to a heavily criticized but oft-cited early 1990s survey by criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, down to a mere 70,040, according to more recent survey data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey.
Even at the lowest estimates, DGUs occur far more often than homicides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2020, there were 24,576 homicides, of which 19,384 involved firearms. How many more would there be if people like Yablon got their way and disarmed as many law-abiding citizens as possible?
The author goes on to cite a study claiming that despite the fact that a considerable number of DGUs occur each year, “it seems clear few gun owners use their weapons to protect themselves in public.” He continues:
A 2021 survey by Georgetown professor William English that estimated a relatively high number of DGUs still found that nearly 80 percent of these incidents occurred within the gun owner’s home or on their property, while only 9 percent happened in public. Meanwhile, the National Firearms Survey conducted in 2015 by scholars at Northeastern and Harvard found that only 6 percent of the minority of gun owners who carry a handgun in public had themselves actually been threatened with a gun—the sort of thing that would in theory cause them to draw their own.
Let’s take the study with the lowest estimate of annual DGUs, which is 70,040. If Professor English’s study is accurate, this means about 6,304 incidents in which one uses a firearm to defend themselves occur each year. This is no small number. If these individuals were not armed, it could be adding over 6,000 homicides to the annual total. Again, the study’s findings do not justify preventing people from bearing arms in public.
Moreover, the National Firearms Survey’s findings that only six percent of gun owners who conceal carry have been threatened with a gun is irrelevant. Despite what the author thinks, being threatened with a gun is not the only situation in which an individual might use a firearm to defend themselves. Threats do not just come in the form of firearms, right?
I’ll give credit to Yablon for actually trying to take on the DGU argument. Most on the left avoid it altogether because it is pretty much impossible to counter. If there are more instances in which people defend themselves with firearms than actual gun homicides, then it is not easy to make the case for disarming the citizenry. Indeed, I’d posit that they avoid responding to the DGU issue because they want to keep their audience ignorant of the fact that they occur more often than one would think–and annihilates the argument that “Good Guys With Guns” don’t exist.