Gun Use in the United States: Results from Two National Surveys

Publication Date: January 2000

Publisher: Injury Prevention

Author(s): David Hemenway, PhD; Deborah Azrael, MS

Research Area: Social conditions

Keywords: gun violence; defensive gun-use; victims

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This study sought to determine the relative incidence of gun victimization versus self
defense gun use by civilians in the United States, and the circumstances and probable
legality of the self defense uses.

It found that even after excluding many reported firearm victimizations, far more
survey respondents reported having been threatened or intimidated with a gun than
having used a gun to protect themselves. A majority of the reported self defense gun
uses were rated as probably illegal by a majority of judges. This was so even under
the assumption that the respondent had a permit to own and carry the gun, and that
the respondent had described the event honestly.

The report concludes that guns are used to threaten and intimidate far more often than they are used in self defense. Most self reported self defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society.