99.995% of Firearms Not Used for Gun Homicides Each Year

Kyle Becker
On April 15, 2013

There are 270 million guns in the United States (or about 89 for every 100 citizens). In 2011, there were 8,583 firearms homicides, down from 11,078 in 2010 (a decrease of 22.6%).

Thus, of the population of 270 million firearms, only about .003 percent are used for homicides (not accounting for the chance that multiple guns are used in some homicides). Letís say for the sake of argument an average of 1.6 guns are used for each homicide, a not unrealistic estimate. In that case, we will push the stat up to about .005 percent.

That means around 99.995% of guns are not used for homicides each year in the United States. If guns actually caused murders, nearly 90% of the U.S. population would have been killed last year. Instead, only 0.0027 percent of the population were killed by people with firearms.

In addition, if a moderate estimate of 52 million households (45% of them) have firearms, then the straight statistical odds of a firearm in a household being used in a gun homicide each year is .016 percent of all households. And a tragic example of how one person with one or two guns can commit a multiple victim shooting is that of Adam Lanza.

Although such data are hard to ascertain exactly, a journal article published at Northwestern in 1993 provides a good rule of thumb on how many guns are used in self-defense per household: 0.5%. That means a gun is 32 times more likely to be used in self-defense than in a homicide per household.

Because the recent push for new gun control legislation turns on the incidence of firearms-related homicides, this article is only addressing that issue. For related topics, visit the IJReviewarchives or JustFacts.com.