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Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance From Citizens

NCJ Number
Clayton E. Cramer; David Burnett
Date Published
60 pages
This study uses an 8-year news report-gathering project in order to examine the circumstances and outcomes of incidents when Americans use guns in self-defense.
The authors argue that based on news stories in which a person used a gun to protect himself/herself from a person attempting to harm them, a vicious dog attack, or a wild animal, the potential victim avoided death, serious injury, or a theft of money or property. Further, in States where persons can have licenses to carry concealed weapons and use them for self-defense, the authors argue that defensive uses of guns increase and crimes and crime attempts decrease. The authors further argue that Federal and State legislators who oppose repealing or amending laws that encourage gun ownership or carrying of guns typically base their arguments on assumptions that the average citizen is incapable of effectively using a gun in self-defense or that possession of a gun in public will precipitate more deaths and violence in arguments and conflicts. In countering these arguments, the authors believe that "the vast majority of gun owners are ethical and competent," and this means that "tens of thousands of crimes are prevented each year by ordinary citizens with guns." 234 news story citations