NRA Firearms Fact card - NRA
Firearms Fact card - 1995
SECOND AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security
of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,
shall not be infringed."
Like all rights protected by the Bill of Rights, the right to keep and
bear arms is individually possessed by the American people. The recent
concept of a "collective right" is fraudulent because the Framers
understood the concept of a "right" to apply only to individuals and used
the word "states" when collective meanings were intended.
* In 1990, the Supreme Court observed in U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez,
that the right to keep and bear arms, like rights protected by the First,
Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments, is an individual right held by "the
people," which the court defined as all "persons who are a part of a
* The National Guard, established in 1903 and subject to federal
control, could not have been the type of body envisioned by the framers,
even if the goal were to protect only an organized state militia. Under
federal law, the militia consists of all able-bodied males of an age to
serve, and some females and older men. (10 U.S.C. 311 and 32 U.S.C. 313)
* All five relevant Supreme Court decisions have recognized that the
Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms.
No Supreme Court decision has ever held this right to be "collective."
Lower federal courts have been divided on the question.
FIREARMS FACTS: GENERAL
NUMBER OF Approx. 200 million firearms,
GUNS IN U.S.: including 65-70 million handguns
GUN OWNERS IN U.S.: 60-65 million,
30-35 million own handguns
FIREARMS USED 11% of firearms owners
FOR PROTECTION: 13% of handgun owners
CRIMINAL MISUSE OF Less than 0.2% of firearms,
FIREARMS YEARLY: Less than 0.4% of handguns
Over 99.8% of U.S. firearms and 99.6% of U.S. handguns will not be involved
in criminal activity in any given year.
NRA voluntary firearm safety programs have helped reduce the accidental
firearm fatality rate 67% over the last 50 years, while firearms
ownership has risen 140%, and handgun ownership has risen 200%.
WHY AMERICANS OWN FIREARMS
(Based on 1978
Decision Making Information surveys, with handgun data
confirmed by 1978 Caddell survey.)
Primary Reasons to Own/Use Firearms, Projected Number of Americans
(Approx. 60-65 million owners of 200,000,000 or more firearms)
HUNTING: 51% 33,000,000 Americans
PROTECTION: 32% 21,000,000 "
Used Gun for Protection: 11% 7,000,000 "
TARGET SHOOTING: 13% 8,500,000 "
COLLECTING: 4% 2,600.000 "
Primary Reasons to Own/Use Handguns Projected Number of Americans
(30-35 million owners of 65,000,000 handguns)
HUNTING: 10% 3,500,000 Americans
PROTECTION: 58% 21,000,000 "
Used Gun For Protection: 13% 4,600,666 "
TARGET SHOOTING: 18% 6,300,000 "
COLLECTING: 14% 5,000,000 "
FIREARMS AND SELF-DEFENSE
Survey research indicates that there are more than 2.1 million
protective uses of firearms each year, far more than the number of violent
criminal gun uses reported by the FBI. Most self-defense uses do not
involve discharge of a firearm. In only 0.1% of defensive gun uses is a
criminal killed, and in only 1% is a criminal wounded. A Department of
Justice-sponsored survey found that 40% of felons had chosen not to
commit at least one specific crime for fear their victims were armed, and
34% admitted being scared off or shot at by armed victims.
U. S. Department of Justice victimization surveys show that the
protective use of a firearm lessens the chance that a rape, robbery or
assault attempt will be successfully completed and also reduces the
chance of injury to the intended victim.
CRIME RATES LOWER IN STATES THAT ALLOW
LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS TO CARRY FIREARMS
States with favorable concealed carry laws have lower rates of
crime than states with restrictive concealed carry laws. Overall, the
homicide rate for states with favorable carry laws is 31% lower, and the
robbery rate is 36% lower, than for states with restrictive concealed
States which have recently changed their laws have experienced
reductions in homicide rates. Since 1987, when Florida enacted a
favorable CCW law, its homicide rate has dropped 22%, even while the
national rate has risen 15%. Only .007% of Florida CCW permits have been
revoked because of a crime after licensure.
BIASED MEDIA POLLS DON'T TELL THE REAL STORY
Media polls conducted by national polling firms frequently use
biased questions and also limit the responses of those questioned. A Luntz
Weber Research & Strategic Services poll reflects an accurate view of
public opinion, using open ended questions which allow respondents to
express their real opinions, rather than be directed toward a desired
result. When given the opportunity to freely express themselves,
Americans reveal that they do not believe that "gun control" is effective
at fighting crime; they prefer criminal justice reform, stiffer penalties,
better enforcement and solutions aimed at the core causes of crime. Some
of the significant findings of the Luntz Weber survey are:
Which of the following proposals do you believe would be more likely to
reduce the number of violent crimes?
Mandatory Prison 70%
More Gun Control 25%
What do you think is the most important cause of violent crime in the
United States today?
Breakdown of Family Values 13%
Judicial System 5%
In your opinion, what do you think is the single most important thing that
can be done to help reduce violent crime in the United States today?
Preventative programs 30%
Stronger Values 16%
Better Enforcement 16%
Gun Control 9%
Other than for the police and military, all guns should be outlawed.
Total Disagree 78% Total Agree 21%
Strongly 58% Strongly 14%
Somewhat 20% Somewhat 7%
12 LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH IN U.S.
National Center for Health Statistics (latest data)
ALL CAUSES 2,169,518
Heart Disease 720,862
Motor Vehicle 43,536
Poisoning (solid, liquid, gas) 6,434
Drowning (incl. water transport drownings) 4,685
Suffocation (mechanical, ingestion) 4,195
Fires and flames 4,120
Surgical/Medical misadventures* 2,473
Other Transportation (excl. drownings) 2,086
Natural/Environmental factors 1,453
Chronic pulmonary diseases 90,650
Pneumonia and influenza 77,860
HIV Infections (AIDS) 29,555
Homicide and legal intervention*** 26,513
Cirrhosis and other liver diseases 25,429
* A Harvard University study suggests 93,000 deaths annually related
to medical negligence, excluding tens of thousands more deaths from non-
hospital medical office/lab mistakes and thousands of hospital caused
** Approximately 60% involve firearms.
*** Approximately 60% involve firearms. Florida State University
criminologist Gary Kleck estimates 1,500-2,800 self-defense and
justifiable homicides by civilians and 300-600 by police annually.
THE REAL CAUSE OF CRIME - AND REAL SOLUTIONS
America fails to incarcerate violent criminals. In 1960, 738
criminals were sent to prison for every 1,000 violent crimes, but by 1980,
the number of criminals sent to prison per 1,000 violent crimes dropped
to 227, and the crime rate tripled. Over 60,000 criminals convicted of
violent crime every year _ murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault _
are not sent to prison. Of America's 4.3 million convicted criminals, only
26% are in prison. The remaining 74% are serving "sentences" of parole or
probation, free on the streets.
Since lower incarceration rates are mostly due to prison overcrowding,
CrimeStrike lobbied successfully to increase prison capacity in Texas,
Mississippi, Virginia and nearly tripled the funds allocated for state
prison construction in the 1994 Federal Crime Bill.
Criminals who are incarcerated are freed too early, serving on
average only one-third of their sentences. The average time served is: for
murder, 7.7 years; rape, 4.6 years; robbery 3.3 years; and aggravated
assault,1.9 years. Every day in America, 14 people will be murdered, 48
women raped and 578 robbed by convicted criminals on parole or early
release from prison.
CrimeStrike helped win passage of Truth-In-Sentencing laws in Arizona,
Mississippi and Virginia, preventing early release by requiring violent
criminals to serve 85% of their sentences. Additionally, CrimeStrike
blocked the paroles of individual murderers in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri,
Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and West Virginia.
Juvenile crime has reached crisis proportions: Between 1980 and
1990, the number of juveniles arrested for heroin/cocaine rose 713%.
Over the last five years, juvenile gang killings increased 208%. Yet only
1.5% of juvenile offenders were sent to adult or criminal court in 1991
and, of those, 85.3% were not sent to prison.
CrimeStrike helped win passage of juvenile justice reform in Arkansas
and Mississippi, requiring violent juvenile criminals who do "adult crime"
to serve "adult time."
Crime victims, or their survivors, are often treated as mere
witnesses in court, unfairly barred from participating in the criminal
justice process in any way.
CrimeStrike worked for passage of Victims' Bill of Rights proposals in
Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri and New Mexico.
Repeat offenders are a serious threat to public safety. The average
criminal commits 187-287 crimes a year, resulting in over six million
people becoming victims of violent crime _ murder, rape, robbery or
aggravated assault _ every year.
CrimeStrike was instrumental in helping Washington State Initiative 593,
the nation's first "Three Strike, You're Out" law, qualify for the ballot and
then win passage by the largest margin in state history. CrimeStrike also
provided grassroots support for the California "Three Strikes" law, which
also won at the polls.
U.S. COMPARED WITH FOREIGN COUNTRIES
* All criminologists studying the firearms issue reject simple
comparisons of violent crime among foreign countries. (James D. Wright,
et. al ., Under the Gun, 1983) "Gun control does not deserve credit for the
low crime rates in Britain, Japan, or other nations.... Foreign style gun
control is doomed to failure in America; not only does it depend on search
and seizure too intrusive for American standards, it postulates an
authoritarian philosophy of government fundamentally at odds with the
individual, egalitarian . . . American ethos." (David Kopel, "Foreign Gun
Control in American Eyes," 1987)
* Gun laws and firearms availability are unrelated to homicide or
suicide rates. Most states bordering Canada have homicide rates similar to
their northern neighbors, despite much higher rates of firearms
availability. While the American homicide rate is higher than most
European nations, and firearms are frequently involved in American
homicides, America's violent crime rates are even higher for crimes
where guns are less often (robbery) or infrequently (rape) involved. The
difference is violence, not firearms, and America's system of revolving
* England now has twice as many homicides with firearms as it did
before adopting its repressive laws, yet its politicians have responded to
rising crime by further restricting rifles and shotguns. During the past
dozen years, handgun-related robbery has risen 200% in Britain, five times
as fast as the rise in the U.S.
* Japan's low homicide rate is accompanied by a suicide rate much
higher than that of the United States, despite Japan's virtual gun ban. And
Japan's low crime rate is attributable to police-state type law
enforcement which would be opposed by Americans.
* Anti-gunners' comparisons of homicide in Seattle and Vancouver,
B.C., ignore the fact that non-Hispanic whites have a lower homicide rate
in Seattle than in Vancouver, and that Vancouver's homicide rate, and
handgun use in homicide, did not go down following Canada's adoption of a
"tough" gun law.
SEMI-AUTOMATICS & SO-CALLED "ASSAULT WEAPONS"
* In a deliberate effort to have public policy made by deception, anti-
gunners invented the "assault weapon" issue, noting that the public could
not readily distinguish full-auto firearms _ sharply restricted by federal
law since 1934 _ from semi-auto firearms. No legally-owned full auto
firearm has ever been used in a violent crime by a civilian. Semi-autos are
very difficult to convert to full auto and such conversion is a federal
felony. Semi-autos which are "easy to convert" are not approved by the
BATF for sale to the public.
* Data from states and big cities show that military look-alikes
constitute 0-3% of guns used in crime and constitute only 1.5% of guns
seized by police. Rifles, including semi-autos, are involved in only 3% of
* BATF traces tell nothing about the types of guns used by criminals,
since only 1% of guns used in violent crimes are traced, and even that 1%
is not randomly selected.(Congressional Research Service)
* Anti-gunners' hypocrisy: Claiming that handguns are not protected by
the Second Amendment because they have no militia purpose, they support
banning rifles and shotguns which do. Their ultimate goal is total gun
NOTABLE GUN LAW FAILURES
Since enacting a virtual handgun ban in 1976, Washington, D.C.'s
murder rate has risen 200%, with a 300% rise in handgun-related
homicide, as handgun use went from less than 60% of killings to 83%. No
gun law in any city, state or nation has ever reduced violent crime, or
slowed its rate of growth, compared to similar jurisdictions.
With less than 3% of the U.S. population, New York City annually
accounts for more than one-eighth of the nation's handgun- related
homicides. Since it became a felony to go outside the city to evade its
virtual handgun ban, the homicide rate in N.Y.C has risen three times
faster than the rest of the country's.
Gun rationing schemes have failed miserably. In 1975, South
Carolina limited handgun sales to individuals to one per month. Since then,
South Carolina's violent crime rate has skyrocketed over 100%.
NRA Institute for Legislative Action
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
NL00890 Rev. 1/95 150M
This information is presented as a service to the Internet community
by the NRA/ILA. Many files are available via anonymous ftp from
ftp.nra.org, via WWW at http://www.nra.org, via gopher at gopher.nra.org,
and via WAIS at wais.nra.org