The Corner

Politics & Policy

A BuzzFeed Story Demonstrates That Friendly-Fire Incidents With Guns Are Far More Rare Than Defensive Use

BuzzFeed News has printed a long, heartbreaking story about friendly-fire incidents with guns — incidents where homeowners shoot a roommate or family member by mistake. It’s tough reading, and it’s an important reminder that owning a gun is a serious responsibility. Never have doubts about who’s at the other end of the barrel if you have to use your weapon in self-defense.

But as sad as the story is, it contains an encouraging fact. In its research, BuzzFeed was only able to come up with 47 friendly-fire incidents since 2015. While there are doubtless more incidents than that in a nation this big, still it is important to note how small that number is next to the hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of firearms annually. It’s even a small number compared to the annual amount of justifiable homicides, with the article pegs at around 290 per year.

No one doubts that guns are extraordinarily dangerous tools. But the more you look at the data regarding gun use by law-abiding citizens, the more you’re encouraged by their responsibility and prudence. Remember, the best available information tells us that concealed-carry permit-holders are more law-abiding even than the police.

BuzzFeed has told a story worth telling, but it must be kept in perspective. When a law-abiding gun-owner responsibly owns a gun, the person with the most to fear is the criminal who desires to do him harm.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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