Ordinary citizens are a lot more competent using guns to defend themselves than proponents of gun control give them credit for. That’s the takeaway from a new Cato Institute analysis of 4,699 news reports of Americans using guns in self defense gathered from 2003 to 2011. And that figure probably understates the number of times guns were used successfully in self defense. “After all, ‘Man Scares away Burglar, No Shots Fired’ is not particularly newsworthy,” note authors Clayton Cramer and David Burnett.
According to Cramer and Burnett’s tally, in 154 of those stories a woman defended herself, including 25 instances in which a rape was prevented; and in 201 of those stories a senior citizen defended himself. Among the nearly 5,000 stories, Cramer and Burnett identified only five accidental shootings, 210 instances of a defender being shot but not killed, and a further 36 cases of a defender being killed. Perhaps most surprising:
In 227 incidents, a criminal’s gun was taken away from him by the victim. This does not necessarily mean that the victim shot the criminal, but it does mean that the victim successfully disarmed the criminal and then threatened the criminal with it in order to make him leave, or make him remain 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 took a gun away from a defender […] .
Cramer and Burnett’s report is “Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens.”