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Am J Public Health. 1994 Dec;84(12):1982-4.

The incidence of defensive firearm use by US crime victims, 1987 through 1990.

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  • 1Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park 20742-8235.


It is well known that many crimes in the United States are committed with firearms. Less adequately documented is the frequency with which victims use guns in self-defense. We used National Crime Victimization Survey data to examine incidents where victims employed guns against offenders. Between 1987 and 1990 there were an estimated 258,460 incidents of firearm defense, an annual mean of 64,615. Victims used firearms in 0.18% of all crimes recorded by the survey and in 0.83% of violent offenses. Firearm self-defense is rare compared with gun crimes.

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