Gun Control And The Calculation Problem

Dave Killion — December 19, 2012

Determining the number of lives saved by privately-owned firearms is not so easy a thing as totalling the number of those killed by gun-wielding criminals. For example, a gunman recently opened fire inside a theatre complex in San Antonio, only to be dropped by an off-duty sheriff. So how many lives were saved? Considering that the Aurora shooter killed 12 people and injured 58, maybe that’s how many.

Another recent example – a shooter in an Oregon shopping mall killed two people and injured one before turning the gun on himself. Why did he stop at three victims? Perhaps because he saw an armed citizen taking aim at him. How much worse could it have been? Well, George Hennard shot 50 people, killing 23 of them in the 1991 Luby’s massacre.

Are there 33 people alive now who would have been otherwise killed in San Antonio and Oregon? Maybe. You can’t say with the same sort of certainty that you can say 20 children were executed in Connecticut. But you probably hadn’t heard about the San Antonio shooting, nor the Oregon shooting, and they were both in one week. Multiply that by the 52 weeks there are in a year. Then add the countless other incidents that you don’t hear about, where people use arms to defend themselves. And of course you will never hear about the incidents that never even happened, just because a target simply brandished a firearm.

So can it be said, precisely, how many people are alive because of privately owned firearms? No. But it can be said beyond a reasonable doubt that they far outnumber the victims.


Antony says

Dave, here are some more examples to add to your point:

— December 21, 2012

Leave a Comment

Disclaimer: The articles and opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Libertarian Book Club.