"The bulk of the people who are shot with a weapon — other than these drug gangs taking on one another — end up being shot with their own weapon."
Vice President Joe Biden, on Face the Nation
Biden's office pointed us to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows that the majority of firearm deaths in the U.S. are by suicide, and most suicides are committed with the deceased's gun.
David Hemenway, a public health professor at Harvard University, looked at 2009 specifically and noted that the CDC figures show 18,735 firearm suicides, 11,493 firearm homicides and some 554 unintentional firearm deaths. "The large majority of firearm suicides use their own (or the family gun) while the large majority of firearm homicides are shot with someone else's gun," Hemenway said.
Statistics that include nonfatal shootings paint a different picture, with more resulting from assaults than from suicide attempts.
"The estimates of nonfatal shootings are very rough (estimated from under 100 emergency departments), but the CDC estimates from 2009 are only 3,000 plus nonfatal suicide shootings, compared to over 44,000 assault shootings," he said.
Including nonfatal shootings in the study group, Hemenway said, makes Biden's statement "very likely untrue" because people don't typically become the victim with their own guns.
Donald Braman, a law professor at George Washington University, also said the statement is "probably technically true but also misleading as most gun fatalities are suicides."
We agree that Biden did not seem to be talking about suicides. He was answering a question about self-defense laws and the danger of people putting themselves in harm's way.
"What Biden seems to be saying," Braman wrote, "is that the likelihood that you will shoot someone with a gun you buy in self-defense is smaller than the likelihood that you (or someone in your household) will be shot with that same gun. That is technically true unless you start excluding suicides, etc. — then I don't know."
Biden said "the bulk" of people who are shot with a weapon are shot with their own weapon. He cited a true statistic but left out the important detail and context that he was talking only about fatal shootings, which would include suicides. That meets our definition of Half True.
This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.