The gun control vs. gun rights debate often seems to boil down to a simple question, "do guns do more harm than good?" The pro-gun crowd never tires of claiming that the frequent incidents of defensive gun use (DGU) more than make up for the gun violence, and further, they say if not for the many guns in the hands of good guys, there'd be far more gun violence.
I've never been convinced. In spite of all the so-called statistical proof, the research by Professors Lott and Kleck, the untiring repetition of gun rights apologists, I find their claims unconvincing. Here's why.
I read dozens of pro-gun blogs daily. The comments, predominately from like-minded writers, number in the hundreds, not on every post of course, but as a cumulative figure, hundreds. Over the last year that adds up to 70,000 or 100,000 communications from the pro-gun world. I can recall only one report of a DGU, which was the story Caleb shared about throwing his coffee at the mugger and drawing his gun.
Often the argument is that the typical DGU results in only the brandishing of the weapon, like in Caleb's story, and as a result it's difficult to gather accurate statistics. My question is why don't we read about them regularly on the blogs. The anonymity of the internet would allow any proud gun owner who's had the good fortune to fend off an assailant to tell his story. Yet, there's nothing or next to nothing.
The other argument is that Clayton Cramer runs a wonderful site dedicated to this very thing. Well, as I've pointed out before, he accounts for about a thousand a year, hardly the numbers required to justify private ownership of guns in America.
My conclusion is that true incidents of defensive gun use are quite rare. They're much rarer than the incidents of guns being stolen, sold to the wrong people privately or misused by the legal owner. In other words, guns do more harm than good, much more. I admit they're not quite as rare as meteorite strikes, but they're certainly not what the pro-gun crowd says.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.