Re: Let us praise armed citizens (email to the editor, Feb. 21)
In his email, Bill King states that "lawful citizens in the U.S. use a firearm to protect themselves from violent criminals every 41 seconds on average," and that "lawful citizens shoot twice the number of violent criminals as do the police." I think those statements desperately need backup proof. I have not noticed any such information in the newspapers. They sound much like something the National Rifle Association would publish.
David Cox, Belleair Bluffs
Editor's note: A little research reveals that these statistics or similar ones are widely cited in letters to the editor, articles on the web, and elsewhere. And it also reveals they are quite inaccurate.
The most popular claim seems to be that Americans use guns in self-defense 2.5 million times a year, or once every 13 seconds. Such figures have been refuted by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. From 2007 through 2011, the NCVS reports there were 29.6 million victims of attempted or completed violent crime in the U.S. If the 2.5 million times a year claim were true, guns would have been used in 12.5 million of the incidents. In fact, the NCVS reports, victims used guns as protection in just 338,700 of the incidents (or a little more than 1 percent.)
As for how many criminals are shot by gun owners, the FBI reported an average of 213 justified firearm homicides a year from 2005 to 2010. If the figure of 2.5 million defensive gun uses were accurate, that would mean gun owners killed their attackers only 0.008 percent of the time, which would seem astonishingly low.