According to the authors of Cato Institute’s recently released study on how often guns are used by citizens to prevent crime, “tens of thousands of crimes are prevented each year by ordinary citizens with guns.” In a study of more than 5,000 news reports over an eight-year period, Clayton Cramer and David Burnett showed that the mere presence of an armed citizen thwarts many crimes, even beyond those that are reported by the police and subsequently printed in the newspaper.
Questions the study was designed to answer were, “When ordinary Americans use guns in self-defense, what is the nature of that use? How frequently do these events occur and what are the consequences?”
Of the 5,000 incidents reported between October 2003 and November 2011, 488 involved home burglaries along with another 1,227 incidents where intruders fled when confronted by armed inhabitants. Another 34 concerned pizza delivery drivers defending themselves, along with 172 animal attacks. Concerns about an attacker taking a gun away from an armed victim were proven invalid, with 227 incidents reported where the intended victim disarmed his attacker, while just 11 attackers disarmed his victim. Twenty-five rapes were avoided by armed victims. Two hundred and one attacks were neutralized by armed senior citizens (over age 65, according to the authors).
The study also put into perspective the number of accidental shootings that were reported to the papers in that eight-year period. Although the Centers for Disease Control reported 535 accidental shootings in 2006, the authors found only