How many American civilian gun-owners are out there, and can we be disarmed by our politicians?
By Paul Gallant, Alan J. Chwick, Sherry Gallant, and Joanne D. Eisen
New York --(Ammoland.com)- We believe in the strength of our Second Amendment, because we believe in the strength of American gun-owners, and we believe that there’s strength in numbers.
But we don’t know for certain how many of us there are, nor how we will act under pressure.
It is obvious that questions about firearms fall into this category. We find ourselves living in a politically charged, anti-gun climate, fueled by a mainstream media, and by most of our politicians, and designed to stampede ignorant Americans into demonizing peaceable gun-owners and their guns.
Two of the authors of this article (P.G., J.E.) carried out an anonymous survey of gun-owners in the U.S. Every other survey about gun-owners and their attitudes —especially those widely publicized in the media— rely on telephone calls or other personal survey instruments where the respondent can be ultimately identified. The ability of a respondent to be identified and possibly incriminated by his or her answers —especially when it comes to firearms— doesn’t sit well with many people.
The results of our survey were published in the October 2001 issue of Guns & Ammo Magazine. Anti-gun researcher Mark Duggan has suggested that readers of Guns & Ammo Magazine are “quite similar to typical gun owners.” One of the key questions of our survey was whether a gun-owner would deliberately lie to a pollster about his/her gun ownership.
We received nearly 7,000 replies, representing gun-owners from every state in the country. Just under 30% of respondents would lie about whether they owned a gun.
A National Institute of Justice study by anti-gun researchers Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig (1994), “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” relied on a telephone interview. They stated that just 35% of American households contain firearms. According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, that figure had risen to 47%.
However, because of the mistrust of gun-owners to telephone pollsters, one could reasonably assume that many of those polled by the Cook/Ludwig study, or by Gallup, would not admit to keeping a gun in the home. One could have good reason to expect that the percentage of U.S. homes with guns is actually much higher than such polls indicate—perhaps even 30% higher.
So that still leaves us wondering, how many of us are out there?
Peaceable American gun-owners are under attack from many sides: politicians, left wing media, ignorant frightened individuals who learn from a biased mass media, and most of the rest of the world’s people. In just a few short weeks, a global, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty will be debated in the UN and is expected to enter into force later this year.
People in power appear to be very concerned with our long guns—guns which are not generally used in most homicides. We believe that the ability of rifles to be accurate at long distances creates a risk that those in power would prefer to eliminate. But the surprise of a handgun attack is no less frightening to a tyrant. It is logical that global leaders, as well as our own, are therefore pulling out all the stops to completely disarm civilians.
The UN knows that disarmament attempts are rarely successful. But the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is their last hope for worldwide civilian disarmament, and it will also fail because people would rather access a black market for a gun, than leave their families at risk of street criminals or criminal governments.
In our 2001 anonymous poll, 81.3 per cent of respondents stated that their primary reason for firearm ownership was “self-defense.” That means defense of your wife and children, your home, and your livelihood. Firearms —whether they be rifles, shotguns or handguns— are the most effective means of self-defense, and Americans who wish to protect themselves and their families against criminal attack will not easily surrender those means. It is obvious to most knowledgeable gun-owners that a firearm in the hand now is much better than calling 9-1-1, and having the police arrive at the scene after the crime has been committed.
The UN is also aware of firearm polls done in at least 12 other countries, under its auspices (see Section 4 of hyperlink), where respondents clearly admitted a desire to keep firearms for self-defense.
Responsible gun-owners like us are far more informed and concerned about the costs and the benefits of private gun-ownership to society. Firearm-prohibitionists have repeatedly tried to warn us about the dangers of guns in the home, or at the ready, through many government-funded junk-science pseudostudies.
But we know that they are aware of Dr. Gary Kleck’s research with Marc Gertz that indicated approximately 2.5 million violent incidents are avoided, annually, by armed civilians. The response by the anti-gun lobby to the Kleck/Gertz findings is to minimize the figure to approximately 80,000 DGUs (Defensive Gun Uses) per year using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Then, they ask where those who were saved by a firearm are hiding. Kleck and Gertz respond to this anti-gun assertion by noting that “The strongest evidence that a measurement (the yearly NCVS figures) is inaccurate is that it is inconsistent with many other independent measurements or observations of the same phenomenon….” Kleck and Gertz tabulated the results of 13 other surveys concerning yearly DGUs conducted up to the time of their study, and the numbers ranged from a low of 764,036, to a high of 3,609,682.
Furthermore, those who protect themselves with a firearm are loathe to report such instances to the police out of fear they may be unjustly prosecuted by anti-gun district attorneys or other government officials.
Kleck and Gertz noted: “If we consider only the 15.7% [respondents from their study] who believed someone almost certainly would have been killed had they not used a gun…it yields national annual estimates of 340,000 to 400,000 DGUs of any kind, and 240,000 to 300,000 uses of handguns, where defenders stated, if asked, that they believed they almost certainly had saved a life by using the gun.”
And, even if the 80,000 defensive gun uses (DGUs) were the correct figure, rather than the Kleck/Gertz 2.5 million estimate, compare that figure to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report which tallied firearm-related deaths from all causes for the year 2011 —homicides, suicides, and accidents— at just under 32,000.
In plain English, the benefits of civilian firearm ownership far outweigh the costs of firearm-related deaths.
Civilian firearm ownership and carriage is a sign of individual sovereignty, and that is the key to Americans’ freedom. It is our culture, our “norm.” We believe that our norm protects our children, and we want to preserve our Second Amendment rights for them.
We believe we will prevail over those who want a disarmed society, and who will go to any lengths to achieve that goal.
There are a variety of TV reality shows that highlight our cultural norm. New shooting sports are becoming popular. Individuals and groups are becoming active in promoting our culture and teaching safe firearm-handling practices to new gun-owners.
We believe that present attacks on our natural right to self-defense will only make us stronger to resist the evil forces that plague every society. The facts speak volumes about the failure of restrictive firearm laws to make society safer: they only serve to make it easier for our government to disarm us.
James Jacobs, Director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice, at New York University School of Law, posed the question of whether U.S. citizens could be disarmed. In his 2002 book Can Gun Control Work?, Jacobs casts grave doubt on that possibility. He suggested that the “greatest practical obstacle…is the huge number of firearms already in private hands,” pointing out that the American gun stock, at the time his book was published, was nearly one per person (and is probably greater today).
Among other factors Jacobs noted were the certain rise of an already-present black market in firearms, and the likelihood of jury nullification tactics in court cases involving unpopular laws. Jacobs stated that the last thing the U.S. government needs is “endless conflict with a huge segment of the citizenry….”
Jacobs predicted the massive boom in firearm acquisition that would occur if civilians became concerned about a possible disarmament plan. In an article entitled “Why Gun Sales are Booming,” in MSN Money by Kim Peterson, the author notes: “Fears of crime, a potential crackdown on gun owners, a social collapse and even zombies have Americans loading up as never before. Here’s why gun sales—and gun stocks—have taken off.” Peterson even coins “The Obama Effect” as a reason for this boom in firearms, and her article was written before Obama’s re-election, and before his own revelation of his true intentions about the future of private firearm ownership.
We know that Obama and his extreme left-wing accomplices are leading us deeper into a cycle of poverty. It’s shocking that so many are willing to destroy America’s unique free market economy. There is a palpable air of fearfulness and uncertainty in our country today, and a deep concern about the security of our families. On November 17, 2011, John Fricke wrote in an article entitled Should I Buy a Gun?:
While most of us have been rightly concerned about attacks on our soil in this post-911 world, ‘Washington’ has done its ‘official public warning’ best to attempt to convince us that the real and immediate threat is internal.
At age 51, I have been around long enough to know the difference between unease and unrest. There are also levels of unrest. Right now, this is unrest that strongly threatens to grow into greater unrest…. these are unique times. Times when I consider something that I had not really thought of before. It might be time for me to arm myself.
Perhaps it would be wise for our politicians who wish to disarm us —like President Obama and Governor Cuomo— to carefully ponder the potential consequences of their attempts to gut our Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment, and disarm Americans.
About the authors:
Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practice optometry and dentistry, respectively, on Long Island, NY, and have collaborated on firearm politics for the past 20 years. They have also collaborated with David B. Kopel since 2000, and are Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute, where Kopel is Research Director. Most recently, Gallant and Eisen have also written with Alan J. Chwick. Sherry Gallant has been instrumental in the editing of virtually all of the authors’ writings, and is immensely knowledgeable in the area of firearm politics.
Almost all of the co-authored writings of Gallant, Eisen, Kopel and Chwick can be found athttp://gallanteisen.incnf.