Myth No. 3: Guns Are Of Little Help In Defending Criminals
Over the years, police and other experts have changed their recommendations about how to deal with criminals. In the early and middle 1970s, they advised cooperating with robbers and rapists to minimize chances of personal injury. Today, some who gave that advice tacitly admit that it was misguided. They now urge resistance in selected instances, especially for rape victims. Studies show that robbery and rape victims who resist with a gun are only half as likely to suffer injuries as those who put up no defense.28
Why Guns Deter CriminalsAdvocates of gun control have paid for several studies, hoping to prove that guns are not useful for self-defense. But every study has shown the opposite: Handguns are used at least as often in repelling crimes as in committing them and are particularly successful as weapons of defense.29 This is one reason why 88 percent of the nation's command-rank police officials disagree with the statement, " The banning of private ownership of firearms will result in fewer crimes from firearms."30
In the 1960s a New York-based antigun group printed signs for its members to post on their homes, "THERE ARE NO GUNS IN THIS HOUSE." But the signs came down and the organization withered after a large number of those homes were robbed or burglarized.31On the other hand, during a 1974 police strike in Albuquerque, N. M., armed citizens patrolled the streets - and felonies dropped sharply.32
" Criminals are three times more likely to be killed by their victims than by the police."
Criminals may not read statistical studies, but they are generally aware of the large number of firearms in existence and of the fact that law-abiding citizens own most of them. Although violent crime and total crime reported to the police is much higher in the United States than in Western Europe, U.S. burglary rates are about the same, or lower, probably because of the deterrent effect of civilian firearms.35 Burglars say they spend an average of two hours "casing" a house to establish that no one is at home.36 They avoid late-night burglaries because " that's the way to get shot."37 Interviews with convicted felons are especially revealing:38
Adverse Results are Rare.Despite stories of gun owners who mistake family members for intruders and shoot them, and of criminals harming victims with the victims' guns, the fact is that defending oneself with a firearm generally is safer than the alternatives:39
A nationwide comparative study conducted by Don B. Kates, Jr., at the St. Louis University School of Law found that armed citizens were quite responsible in using handguns.40 The vast majority of people are not violent and use firearms only as a last resort. When they do use them, firearms can be effective:41
" Defending oneself with a firearm generally is safer than the alternatives."
Of course, police must enter situations in which they are not personally involved, while the private citizen is likely to be under attack and unlikely to mistake the target, so there is a greater likelihood that police might make a misidentification.