The Relative Frequency of Offensive and Defensive Gun Uses: Results From a National Survey


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Abstract

Some controversy exists about the relative frequency of criminal and self-defense gun use in the United States. Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of over 1900 adults conducted in 1996, we find that criminal gun use is far more common than self-defense gun use. This result is consistent with findings from other private surveys and the National Crime Victimization Surveys. In this survey, all reported cases of criminal gun use and many cases of self-defense gun use appear to be socially undesirable. There are many instances of gun use, often for intimidation, that are not reported to the police and may not appear in official crime statistics.

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