As Gun Ownership Increases, Violent Crimes Decreases

Americans are arming themselves more than ever

Imagine that you awoke in the middle of the night to the sounds of someone trying to jimmy the lock on your door. The sounds gets louder and louder as the intruder gets frustrated and cares less about being heard than about getting inside your home.

Since grade school we’ve been taught to call for help, to reach for the phone and dial 911. The operators will keep us on the phone and talk us through the situation. But the operator isn’t there. He isn’t the one that the intruder will find when he enters the home uninvited. You are. Your kids are.

How long will it take for help to arrive? Will your door hold fast until the authorities can get there? Or will the police find a brutal and violent crime scene when the reach your home?

That seems to be a question that a lot of people are asking themselves.

Record Guns Sales in 2011

As preppers we like to be prepared for most any situation. We store for food to help with everything from a job loss to a killer storm. We store first aid supplies and learn new skills. And increasingly we are buying weapons.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Americans bought over 10 millions weapons in 2011. That’s up 14% from 2010 and is an increase of over 50% compared to 2001.

Were all of those sales to preppers? Doubtful. But data does suggest that many of those sales were to first-time buyers. Regardless of who is buying the weapons or the reasons for their purchases, more guns were sold last year than ever before.

Is that a problem? Many would think so. But I don’t think that the data would support their notion.

Reduced Crime Rates in 2011

As more guns entered the hands of law abiding citizens, the rate of violent crimes dropped by 4% according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ (FBI) Annual Crime Statistics for 2011. Violent crimes such as forcible rapes, aggravated assaults, and murder were down in all four regions across America.

Property crimes such as burglary and larceny were likewise down, but by a dramatically smaller number, only 0.8%. So, while thefts decreased slightly, crimes against people went down at a rate 5 times that figure.


Of course, we cannot safely assume that there is a causal effect in these two statistics. But it is very interesting to consider that as more Americans armed themselves with newly purchased guns than ever before, crimes against other people went down significantly. At the same time, crimes that didn’t involve a personal confrontation went down only slightly.

Again, interesting, wouldn’t you say?

Don’t Restrictive Gun Laws Help?

Some argue that reducing the number of the guns on the streets would help. Let’s consider Chicago as a case study. The most recent home of U.S. President Barak Obama boasts some of the nation’s most restrictive gun ownership laws.

While much of the rest of the nation saw a marked decrease in violent crimes in 2011, the murder rate in Chicago fell by only 0.7% according to the Chicago Police Department’s analysis. That’s 3 people fewer in 2011 than in 2010. To be fair though, that’s comparable to the NorthEast region of the U.S. which only experienced a 0.8% decrease in violent crimes according the the FBI report.

Unfortunately the downward trend of 2011 in Chicago seems to be an anomaly. In the first 3 months of 2012, Chicago saw 120 murders compared to 75 during the same period in 2010. According to David Knowles of The Daily living in Chicago is more dangerous than living in a war zone (his words, not mine).

The streets of Chicago are officially more dangerous than a war zone: Homicide victims in the Windy City outnumber U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year.

While 144 Americans have died in Afghanistan in 2012, a whopping 228 Chicago residents have been killed, and the murder rate is up a staggering 35 percent from last year. That’s a rash of homicides quadruple the rate of New York City’s, and police and crime experts fear it may only get worse.

Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune acknowledged the inconsistency in restrictive guns laws and violent crimes in an editorial last year, saying

The record of the past two decades demonstrates that you can strengthen the right of law-abiding adults to protect themselves against crime without making the world more dangerous. That knowledge is helpful in Illinois, to those willing to learn from experience.

An Experiment

I once heard the story of a man who disagreed with his neighbor about gun control. One man advocated strictly enforced control laws. He contended that if no one had weapons, no one would be able to commit crimes with them.

His neighbor, a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, was adamant that if owning guns was a crime, then only criminals would have guns. To support his position, the neighbor suggested an experiment: both men would put signs in their yards. One would say “This house is protected by Smith & Wesson”. The other would say “The owner of this house does not support gun ownership and does not have any on premises.”

The first man to get robbed would acknowledge that the other man was right. The gun control advocate declined to participate in the experiment.

The Right to Bear Arms

Maybe our founding fathers had it right. Maybe the right to keep and bare arms is essential for protecting our freedoms from a tyrannical and overzealous government.

There seems to be a secondary benefit as well. It also helps to protect us from those who have no regard for the law and who would do use harm to get our stuff. The police cannot be everywhere so being able to protect yourself is important.

From a purely logical perspective, legally owning fire arms seems to be a good idea. And now the data seems to support it.

Do you disagree? 

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12 Comments on “As Gun Ownership Increases, Violent Crimes Decreases”

  1. Stan Morris Says:

    So violent crime in Japan would decrease if they only armed themselves to the teeth. There is really no explaining gun control to gun advocates just as there is no explaining to anti-spanking advocates why a smack on a child’s butt is not child abuse. Neither group will look at the issue in a holistic manner, largely because their opponents will not look at the issue in a holistic manner. Like other advocacy groups such as anti-pollution advocates and civil liberty groups, they cannot conceive of issues being related to changes in social conditions such as population increases.


    • Joe Says:

      Hi Stan –

      Thanks for the comment. You make 3 really points.

      1) I spoke largely to only one culture, America. And while one could argue that, in itself, is more than one culture. When considered broadly across very diverse cultures around the world, the American culture is fairly homogenous. In the post, I limited the discussion to the one culture where the statistics were found. Any attempt to extrapolate those statistics to other cultures and draw conclusions about those cultures, such as the Japanese culture, would be flawed. I don’t think that’s what you intended, though.

      2) As with so many other divisive issues, those who have made up their mind about gun control are unlikely to be swayed by arguments for or against their position. However, there are many who have not given a great deal of thought to the matter. My point in this post was to draw attention to a data point that is rarely covered in the mainstream media: gun sales went up to an all time high and the sky didn’t fall; in fact violent crime went down.

      3) Societal issues such as gun control cannot simply be boiled down to a single and simple cause and effect relationship. There are likely a complex multitude of factors influencing the observed collective behavior. However it is very easy for one to attempt to make it simple and draw the conclusion that if there were no guns there would be no violence. I think you’d agree that it’s not that simple.

      Thanks again, Stan.



    • Fred Erikson Says:

      In 1989 Japan experienced 1.3 robberies per 100,000 population, compared with 48.6 for West Germany, 65.8 for United Kingdom, and 233.0 for the United States; and it experienced 1.1 murder per 100,000 population, compared with 3.9 for West Germany, 1.03 for England and Wales, and 8.7 for the United States that same year.[3] Japanese authorities also solve a high percentage of robbery cases (75.9%, compared with 43.8% for West Germany, 26.5% for Britain, and 26.0% for the United States) and homicide cases (95.9% , compared with 94.4% for Germany, 78.0% for U.K., and 68.3% for the United States

      Source; Wikipedia

      Draw your own conclusion


  2. Jim Says:

    Sorry, I don’t dial 911. First of all, I live in a rural area, by the time help arrives, I’m dead. Secondly, I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.


  3. rumcrook Says:

    ive had occasion twice in my 46 years to protect my life and others with a firearm. on both occasions the criminals fled rapidly when I produced a firearm.

    being unarmed as a philosophy is a recipe for personal disaster.

    by the way the guns used for those so interested were,

    a 12 gauge Remington 870 pump shotgun with a short deer slayer barrel and a mag tube extension to drive a a home invader out.

    and a glock 19 used to stop a thugs in a parking lot from robbing me and my wife.

    ive been a prepper for 20 years. preppin isnt just a preperation for some apocalypse of society, its a mind set for daily life also which says I and mine will not be sheep for someone elses slaughter amusement or reduction to helplessness, whos fate will be determined by the tender mercies of someone else.


  4. dave Says:

    Here is a harvard doc, from some time after 2004, which statistically and scientifically concludes that more guns leads to less murder and less suicide.

    Click to access Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf


  5. Devon Says:

    I agree with every word you just said. If we take guns from law abiding citizens then we will have a bunch of vunerable law abiding citizens with armed criminals. For proof of this look at drugs. We banned them so obviously there are no drug son the street. Duh. Any of you control advocates up to deny the truth of this? If Obama focused on solving our economic problem as much as he did on gun control, we’d all be happy and employed.



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