Larry Elder

For a guaranteed blank stare, ask gun-control proponents how often Americans use guns to defend themselves. They can't tell you, because they don't ask.

Suppose a guy goes to a baseball game. "Honey," his wife asks afterward, "who won the game?" The husband says, "The Dodgers scored four runs." What's missing? Obviously, the wife still knows nothing about the outcome because she knows only one-half of the equation. Well, how can one responsibly discuss "how many people die because of guns" without discussing the other half of the equation -- how many people would not be alive without their defensive use of a gun?

So, how often do Americans use firearms for self-defense?

Criminologist Gary Kleck estimates that 2.5 million Americans use guns to defend themselves each year. Out of that number, 400,000 believe that but for their firearms, they would have been dead.

Professor Emeritus James Q. Wilson, the UCLA public policy expert, says: "We know from Census Bureau surveys that something beyond 100,000 uses of guns for self-defense occur every year. We know from smaller surveys of a commercial nature that the number may be as high as 2 1/2 or 3 million. We don't know what the right number is, but whatever the right number is, it's not a trivial number."

Former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney David P. Koppel studied gun control for the Cato Institute. Citing a 1979-1985 study by the National Crime Victimization Survey, Koppel found: "When a robbery victim does not defend himself, the robber succeeds 88 percent of the time, and the victim is injured 25 percent of the time. When a victim resists with a gun, the robbery success rate falls to 30 percent, and the victim injury rate falls to 17 percent. No other response to a robbery -- from drawing a knife to shouting for help to fleeing -- produces such low rates of victim injury and robbery success."

When asked if additional gun laws would be beneficial or have no effect, most Americans, like Ice-T, get it. They oppose shifting power to the criminal. And they don't need the National Rifle Association to tell them: The only people willing to abide by additional gun laws are the law-abiding.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.