Will banning all guns reduce the overall violent death rate in the US?
- 22% of Americans own one or more guns; America has 120.5 guns per 100 people, which amounts to about 393,347,000 guns - the highest per capita worldwide.
- A 2013 Pew Foundation report found that nearly 80% of both male and female gun owners reported that owning a firearm made them feel safer. Likewise, 64% of members living in a gun-owning household felt safer.
- Divided by party, 32% of Republicans, 59% of independents, and 91% of Democrats are in favor of stricter gun laws in America.
- In 2019, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that “6 in 10 Americans fear that a mass shooting will occur in their community.”
- 7 of the 50 states always require gun permits in order to obtain and carry a firearm: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin.
Lives saved by firearms far outnumber those lost. In 2019, the total number of gun violence deaths from all causes, including suicide, was 39,437. But broken down further, 15,347 were due to Homicide/Murder/Unintentional/DGU (Defensive Gun Use) and the remaining 24,090 was owed to suicide.
In a study ordered by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and conducted by The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, it was reported that “defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence.” Every year CDC-provided figures estimate that the range of total DGU's for the U.S. shows that a minimum of 1.1 million life-threatening violent crimes are prevented by the use of firearms each year.
Forbes Magazine believes that even those numbers are too conservative, stating 'almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.” So, think twice about banning all guns in America. The Federal government's own numbers prove that overwhelmingly, other than for hunting, most guns are purchased for the protection of life and property, and this is the actual occurrence with most eventual uses of firearms in our country.
Debates over the ethics of firearm bans rage on. However, such a ban will undoubtedly reduce the violent death rate in the U.S. According to Gallup, 43% of American adults live in gun households. A 2004 study found that the availability of guns staggeringly increases the chances that a victim of gun violence will end up dead.
Members of gun-owning households are three times as likely to die by suicide, though gun owners don't report being more suicidal than non-owners. The discrepancy makes sense considering a suicide attempt involving a gun has an 85% success rate while other methods average about 5% success. Unsurprisingly, medical experts report that gunshot survivors require an average of ten times more blood than survivors of different forms of violence.
Trends of higher death rates associated with gun ownership are everywhere. Gun access carries the risk of death by unintentional gun injury. It doubles the likelihood of being a victim of homicide; a victim of domestic violence is five times as likely to die if the abuser has access to a gun. Rather than deterring violence, the presence of a weapon often makes it more lethal.
Of violent offenders in state and federal prisons, about a quarter of prisoners reported intent to use a firearm during an armed offense, yet about half ended up discharging their weapons. Moreover, guns were equally as likely to be accessed through friends or family as through illegal 'street' means. In short, a firearm ban may not stop a violent crime; but it will save the lives of many of its victims.