Counting the Uncountable Lives Saved by Good Guys with Guns


by Rob Morse

We know your armed neighbor protected himself when he scared away the robber in the night. What we don’t know, and often can’t know, is how many other people your neighbor saved that night. It is devilishly hard to measure the good that armed citizens do as they stop violent crime. Sure, we have a pretty good idea how many people own guns. We have a very good idea how many times these gun owners save lives every year. What we don’t know very well is how many violent attacks they prevented. Sure, we can come up with a number, but this is why that simple question of lives saved is so difficult to answer.

The good news is that we are far better at this than we used to be. To begin, there was a nationwide survey in early 2021 that asked tens of thousands of people if they owned guns. The researchers came up with a figure of about 81 million people over the age of 18 who own firearms in the USA. That certainly tells us some of what we want to know, but it isn’t nearly enough. In the same way that you might have a driver’s license and drive regularly but still not be a car owner yourself, we don’t know how many people routinely have access to a firearm for self-defense but are not themselves a gun owner today. Maybe they owned guns yesterday, but not now. We know that about four-in-ten of us live in a household that owns guns.

To confuse matters even more, maybe your roommate owns a gun so you can defend yourself at night when you’re home, but it is much less likely that you could protect yourself when you’re away from your apartment. Does that mean you count as “half a gun owner” if you only have a firearm nearby for half of each day? Since this nationwide survey only questioned gun owners, that means the “armed roommates”, and the “armed family members” were ignored. They may have used a firearm in self-defense or they might not.

The survey researchers only asked gun owners if they defended themselves. Despite those conservative conditions, the survey found that over 25-million ordinary adults used a firearm for self-defense at some point in their lives. That alone is a significant number of lives that were saved from “death or grave bodily injury.” The researchers also came up with a figure of 1.67-million times each year when gun owners used a firearm in self-defense.

Those are very important numbers, but again we want to know more about what they imply. We know how many armed incidents we had, but we don’t know how many good guys were saved in each incident. Those numbers matter because armed defense is so common. We defend ourselves with a firearm over 4,600 times a day.

Was your neighbor alone in her home when she frightened away the robber last night? Shouldn’t we count her family members or roommates as being saved with a gun too? How about the passengers who were riding with you when you frightened away the carjacker by reaching for your handgun? Unfortunately, the firearms survey didn’t ask about the number of victims who were defended. The answer is neither obvious nor certain.

It is hard to know how many people were put at risk by the robbers who tried to rob the local restaurant. Were the cooks in the back room at risk to the same degree as the female clerk behind the cash register who had the criminal’s gun in her face? The defender knows much more about the number of attackers in front of him than the potential victims who were behind him. On average, the defender faced more than one attacker, but we don’t know how many people she defended.

We think there were a total of about 2.5 million attacks that were stopped by armed defenders. At a minimum, that means we saved about 3-million individuals during the attack.

While the number of victims who were saved that day is important, it is also important to count the much larger number of victims who were saved tomorrow.

Violent crime is localized. 52-percent of our counties won’t have even a single murder this year. In contrast, there are a few criminals who will commit most of our violent crimes each year. 56-percent, over half of our murders, are committed in the worst 2 percent of our counties. Stopping those few violent predators today can make all of us much safer for years to come.

They used to say that the average criminal committed 20 to 30 crimes before he was arrested and taken off the streets. That could mean that the gun owner who helps stop an armed criminal would save an additional 10 to 15 people from being injured in the next few weeks or months. That used to be true, but what if the criminals aren’t being arrested by law enforcement in your city? What if these violent predators are not prosecuted and then sentenced?

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Thanks to Democrats, we are becoming a wild west society. It’s worse in some places (where Democrats dominate) than others, but one can never know when there might be a random attack against those who disagree with their ideology. But, I live where I am allowed to own and carry a firearm, which means I live where Democrats are not in control and crime is not rampant and out of control. Those poor souls that live where Democrats call the shots, so to speak, where crime is totally out of control are not allowed to defend themselves. That is the Democrat vision of America and the fate they plan for the citizens: criminals are given the revolving door treatment and if a citizen defends themselves from a violent criminal, the VICTIM is prosecuted.

Democrats should not be allowed to buy guns because they have mental deficiencies.

Certainly, anyone involved in a violent protest should be prohibited, at least until they have served a sentence. But, we can’t have “red flag laws”, even if they would be useful, because Democrats would abuse them for political purposes, as they do everything else. It’s why we can’t have nice things.