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Defensive Gun Use in America

That’s the topic of a new white paper just released by the Cato Institute. The whole paper can be read here or you can listen to Clayton E. Cramer, one of the authors, discuss the report in a Cato podcast. The report concludes as follows:

Self-defense is one of our most basic rights. Strict gun control regulations interfere with that right because ordinary citizens abide by the regulations while criminals acquire guns from underground markets.That leaves honest, law-abiding people at a distinct disadvantage because it is not possible for the police to be at every scene wherethey are desperately needed.

Many people support gun control regulations because they are convinced that theaverage citizen is either incapable of using a gun in self-defense or will use the gun in a fit of anger over some petty matter. Those assumptions are false. The evidence on this point has grown so strong that even President Obama has had to chide gun safety advocates to accept the proposition that “almost all gun owners in America arehighly responsible.” And, as the scores of incidents described in this study show, gunowners stop a lot of criminal mayhem—at-tempted murders, rapes, assaults, robberies—every year.

Moreover, it is important to note thatwhen a gun owner kills an attacker or is able to hold a rapist or a burglar until the police arrive, it is very likely that more than one crime has been prevented because if the culprit had not been stopped, he could have targeted other citizens as well. Policy makers interested in harm reduction should thus refrain from treating ordinary gun owners as hoodlums or loose cannons and adopt policies that respect the ownership and carrying of arms by responsible individuals.

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