Gun safety

Based on the NSPOF, an estimated 0.9 percent of all gun-owning households (269,000) experienced the theft of one or more firearms during 1994. About 211,000 handguns and 382,000 long guns were stolen in noncommercial thefts that year, for a total of 593,000 stolen firearms. Those estimates are subject to considerable sampling error but are consistent with earlier estimates of about half a million guns stolen annually.


Gun storage.

Of 1,356 accidental deaths by gunshot in 1994, 185 involved children 14 years old and younger. For each such fatality, there are several accidental shootings that cause serious injury. Guns were also the means of destruction in 19,590 suicides, 210 involving children 14 or younger. For these reasons, safe handling and storage of firearms have attracted the attention of the public health community.


Guns and Crime

Guns and Violence

“In the book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck analyzed suicide data for every America city with a population more than 100,000, and found no evidence that any form of gun control (including handgun prohibition) had an effect on the total suicide rate. Gun control did sometimes reduce gun suicide, but not overall suicide.”

“Notably, Japan, which prohibits handguns and rifles entirely, and regulates long guns very severely, has a suicide rate of more than twice the U.S. level. Many of the northern and central European nations also have very high suicide rates to accompany their strict gun laws. (Of course, if you have any suspicion that anybody in your home might be suicidal, it would hardly be a mistake for you to ensure that they do not have ready access to guns, tranquilizers, or other potentially lethal items.)

Putting aside the suicides, the Kellermann/Reay figures show 2.39 accidental or criminal deaths by firearm (in the home) for every justifiable fatal shooting. Now, 2 to 1 is a lot less dramatic than 43 to 1, but we still have more unjustifiable gun deaths than justifiable gun deaths in the home.

“Moreover, counting dead criminals to measure the efficacy of civilian handgun ownership is ridiculous. Do we measure the efficacy of our police forces by counting how many people the police lawfully kill every year? The benefits of the police — and of home handgun ownership — are not measured by the number of dead criminals, but by the number of crimes prevented. Simplistic counting of corpses tells us nothing about the real safety value of gun ownership for protection.”



There are approximately two million defensive gun uses (DGU's) per year by law abiding citizens. That was one of the findings in a national survey conducted by Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist in 1993.