America is marked by heated debates whether owning guns should be illegal, as it is in other countries. Research shows that many people believe gun laws should be stricter and guns banned altogether, as seen in all recent anti-gun rallies.
Gun self-defense statistics, meanwhile, show that gun-owning citizens were able to defend themselves. On the flip side, permissive gun laws allow criminals easy access as well.
To present you with a balanced view on gun ownership, we’ve prepared a list of essential stats and facts.
Guns Saving Lives Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- 43% of Americans thinks gun ownership rights should be limited
- 18 states have issued Constitutional Carry laws
- In the US, there were 1.3 million instances of violent crime in 2020
- On average, an American stops 2.3 deaths from a shooting rampage
- Every year, women use guns to defend themselves against sexual assault 200,000 times
- The highest number of homicides occurred in 2020
- There were 40 active shooter incidents in 2020
- In 2020, there were over 670 registered self-defense incidents in the US
Gun Ownership in the US
1. On average, 88.8 out of 100 Americans own a gun.
(American Gun Facts)
The most recent data about gun ownership, use, and self-defense statistics show that the US homicide rate per 100,000 residents is only 4.8. Similarly, there are only 466 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans.
By comparison, in the UK, a country where gun laws are much stricter, the number of violent crimes per 100,000 citizens is 2,034.
2. 42% of American households owned at least one gun in 2020.
Statista research shows that 45% of American males own a gun at this time, the majority of whom are white. Similarly, 36% of those aged 65 or older own or used to own a firearm.
Another 35% of college-educated US citizens are gun owners.
3. The majority of Americans own a gun for protection.
Defensive gun use stats show that nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans cite safety/protection as the reason why they own a gun. Another 40% of Americans own and use their firearms for hunting, while a minority of 15% use guns for target shooting and other general recreation activities.
Gun Ownership Rights Debate
There are ongoing animated discussions concerning Americans’ right to own guns. Some argue that the laws which make buying guns easy should change, arguing that they enable criminals. Proponents of gun ownership rights, meanwhile, often cite guns preventing crime statistics to support the status quo.
4. As of 2020, 57% of the United States residents thought that firearms sales laws should be stricter.
The number decreased by comparison to 2019, when 63% of people believed that laws should be stricter.
Only 9% of Americans believed that gun laws should be less strict, while 34% did not think the laws should change.
5. 43% of the United States population wants gun ownership rights to be limited.
This 2021 statistic shows that maintaining or limiting gun ownership rights in the US often varies based on the respondent’s political identification. 81% of Republicans, who often point to self-defense statistics, believe that protecting people’s rights to own guns is more important. In comparison, 72% of Democrats hold the opposite opinion.
This divide leads to an almost balanced overall public opinion, 43% for limiting gun ownership and 48% arguing that rights should be maintained.
6. 18 states have adopted constitutional carry legislation.
As of February 2021, Utah joined in the Constitutional Carry law, allowing residents to carry guns openly or concealed, even without a permit.
There are only seven states where the right to carry guns is still not issued yet.
Violent Crimes Statistics
There are many informative articles on US crime and the following FBI statistics suggest that many of these cases could be prevented and lives saved by citizens owning guns.
7. There were 1.3 million violent crimes in 2020 in the United States.
Violent crime’s primary offenses are murder and non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, rape and sexual assault, and aggravated assault. Even though the number of US violent crimes has significantly fallen in the last 20 years, it has actually increased in the last several years.
8. 2020 was the year with the highest number of homicides ever.
(Pew Research, NPR)
More specifically, FBI statistics show there were 21,570 homicides in the US that year. Compared to 2019, that represented a 30% (4,901) increase.
In other words, in 2020, there were 7.8 murders for every 100,000 people in the US, as opposed to 2019, when there were six murders per 100,000 people.
9. The US burglary rate was 314.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2020.
Burglary statistics show that the past several years mark an abrupt year-on-year decrease in the burglary offense counts numbers. In fact, in 2019, the burglary rate of all types was 340.5 cases per 100,000.
New Mexico held the record for highest US burglary rate in 2020, with 648.8 cases per 100,000 people, followed by Oklahoma, with 613.3 cases per 100,000 people.
Defensive Gun Use Statistics
The number of incidents, deaths, and shots fired on average in self-defense, is still worrying, even if lower than the previous years.
10. There are 673 registered self-defense incidents in the United States in 2020.
The US has statistics on how many defensive gun uses per year there are. The oldest data was from 2019, when there were 751 incidents.
The following year marks an almost insignificant fall, considering these 673 incidents happened in the pandemic times. In 2022, so far, there have been 16 gun self-defense incidents already. Self-defense is sometimes hard to prove, so people have to hire lawyers, which can be expensive. It brings on an interesting dilemma – is it better to be assaulted or broke?
11. There were 1,453 defensive gun use deaths in 2020.
(Gun Violence Archive)
However, the number of crimes prevented by guns is significantly lower than in the previous years. The statistics show that in 2019, 1,595 deaths were caused in self-defense. As for 2021, there were 1,244 deaths caused by defensive gun use.
12. Police reported six self-defense instances when people had to fire multiple shots in 2020.
Many gun-related violence articles and statistics show the average number of shots fired in self-defense. For example, in Voder, Colorado, hundreds of rounds were fired in property trespassing when a 59-year-old man had to defend himself and his wife against four armed intruders.
Similarly, self-defense facts mention an intruder was shot multiple times and severely wounded by a homeowner in Alabama.
13. There were four cases in 2019 when people had to fire ten or more shots in self-defense.
These CPRC facts reveal a number of home invasions or property theft stopped by guns. Four men forced their way into a house in Houston, Texas. The house owner shot all four in self-defense.
A 17-year-old boy was shot as he broke into a house in Tallahassee, Florida. The homeowner fired his gun about 25 times in his attempt to protect his life and property. Similarly, in LA, a business owner defended himself against a gang trying to extort money from him. Sadly, the conclusion is that store owners should keep tactical first aid kits in the store, because they contain items necessary to treat gunshot wounds.
14. On average, a US citizen stops 2.3 deaths from a shooting rampage.
(American Gun Facts)
Gun self-defense statistics show that armed citizens kill 1,527 criminals a year, while police officers kill 606.
Surprisingly, however, citizens have a significantly lower error rate than police officers. American residents have a 2% error rate, while US police officers have an 11% error rate.
15. Women use guns to defend against sexual assault 200,000 times a year.
(American Gun Facts)
FBI crimes stopped by concealed carry statistics show that this fact leads to a 5% decrease in rape cases. Similarly, concealed carry laws have also helped reduce murder cases by 8.5% and other violent assaults by 7%.
Mass Shooting Statistics
Mass shootings are one of the primary concerns of Americans when it comes to debating gun ownership laws. The statistics mirroring these debates, also show opposing views, as is tthe FBI report and the claims made by USA Today.
16. In 2020, the FBI reported 40 active shooter incidents.
That’s an increase from the year before when there were 30 such cases. In 2020, there were 164 casualties. Of them, 126 were wounded and 38 killed, including one law enforcement officer.
17. Statistics report 611 mass shootings, 298 kids killed, and 699 injured in 2020.
(Gun Violence Archive)
If the number of kids aged 0 to 11 appears high, the number of teens is even higher. In 2020 1,071 teens died, and about 3,000 were injured.
In comparison to 2019, these numbers are on the rise. If the year 2020 registered 611 mass shootings, there were nearly 200 fewer such incidents the previous year. The number of deaths among children is also significantly lower in 2019: 209 kids aged 0–11 and 778 teens (aged 12–17).
18. 90% of law enforcement officers believe that legally armed citizens could reduce the number of mass shootings.
There are multiple examples the police rely on when stating this. The most notable is that of a mass shooting stopped by an armed citizen. Another one is a Florida man who used his AR-15 to defend himself against no less than seven home intruders, firing 30 rounds at them. Like him, a Maryland mother fought three burglars off her property by merely loading her gun.
The report includes evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shows that guns are used 16 to 100 times more often to protect life than to take life.
Gun Self-Defense – Good or Bad?
Overall, gun self-defense statistics and facts point to American citizens’ different and often contradictory viewpoints, as well as law enforcement officers’ ones, regarding gun ownership rights. Research shows that the debate is closely connected to political affiliation.
However, US residents’ primary concern remains the mass shootings and active shooter cases that leave many victims. Most studies suggest that the ‘good guy’ with a gun very rarely responds quickly enough to stop an active shooter.
People Also Ask
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most studies on defensive gun use found that American residents use their firearms defensively between 500,000 and 3 million times every year.
There’s good reason to believe that most defensive gun uses are never reported to law enforcement. Thus, local, national, or international press and media pick up much fewer cases than the police may do.
There aren’t many cases of armed residents stepping in a mass shooting or active shooter incidents. Not even when they legally own weapons.
The cause is that active shootings happen in crowded areas, and it takes too long for people to respond. However, the press picked up a few compelling examples, such as a father who used his concealed gun to stop a mass shooting in a McDonald’s in Alabama or another who used his gun to stop a racist shooter outside a Kentucky Kroger.
Citizens manage to prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year. That is 6,849 every day! And in most cases, the gun is never fired, and no blood is shed. Every year, firearms help prevent 400,000 life-threatening crimes.
Convicted felons claim that they avoid committing crimes when they think that the victim might be armed. Similarly, they are less likely to enter a house where people are at home from fear of being shot.
Data shows that 63% of Americans own a gun for protection and are likely to use their firearms in self-defense. Experts have debated the actual use of firearms in self-defense instances for many years. Depending which expert you ask, the numbers per year may range from several million to hundreds of thousands of self-defense gun use cases.
The latest data show that people use guns in self-defense reasonably rarely. According to Harvard University research, people defended themselves using a firearm in as little as 0.9% of crimes.
Every year, firearm use prevents 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes, including aggravated assaults, sexual assault, and homicide attempts. Generally, Americans believe that gun ownership stops crime.
This belief drives laws that make concealed (and entirely legal) ownership easy. It’s unclear how many of the defensive gun uses involve carrying guns in public places by concealed-carry permit holders. Still, our records show that concealed carry permit holders can and do save lives.
The National Crime Victimization Surveys provide little evidence as to how many home invasions or property trespassing have been prevented by firearms used defensively. However, several examples are coming from the media.
For instance, in 2019, a 17-year-old boy was shot as he broke into a house in Tallahassee, Florida. The homeowner fired his gun about 25 times in his attempt to protect his life and property. Similarly, in LA, a business owner defended himself against a gang trying to extort money from him.
Studies indicate that there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides every time a gun was fired in a home in self-defence or in a legally justifiable shooting.
Over 38,000 people died in the US from use of firearms during 2019, according to a non-profit organization. Out of the total number of gun-related deaths, over 1,500 were caused in self-defense. In 2020, gun self-defense statistics showed 1,453 defensive gun use deaths.