Does gun ownership lead to fewer home invasions?

As the title suggests, I’m curious to know if rates of gun ownership (or gun availability) lead to fewer home invasions.

I guess at this point it doesn’t really matter if it’s causation or coloration. It would be interesting to see how the rates of home invasions line up between countries.

What about all those potential home invasions where the brave homeowner brandishes a weapon and scares the bad guy away? You can’t prove it doesn’t happen all the time.

Of course, you can’t prove it does, either.

I think you’ll find that gun ownership doesn’t impact crime one way or the other, no matter how much both sides of the spectrum would like to say it does.

Every month, the NRA’s magazine runs a column called “Armed Citizen,” in which six or eight stories are related, typically having to do with a homeowner either frightening off a would-be burglar or defending himself (or herself!) by actually shooting.

The archive page for this content says, “Editorial space allowing, the total could have been far greater…” and goes on to refer to studies that place the number of such incidents at 2.5 million annually.

Since these stories always involve a name and verifiable details, often quoting from a local media report of the incident, we should be prepared to accept them as true, absent some pretty compelling evidence to the contrary. Of course, I am referring to the specific stories; I suspect the 2.5 million incidents might inspire a bit of disagreement, if for no other reason than they do not, on that page, disclose the methodology by which that number is reached.

So when you say “all those home invasions…” I can clearly point to some that are clearly not mythical.

As a general rule there aren’t that many guns held in the civilian population in Ireland apart from shotgus in rural areas.

Apart from criminals killing each other (a number that is rising and sometimes innocent people are caught up) there isn’t a lot of gun crime.

Home invasions are very rare. In fact I can’t think of a single case but that’s not a great GD answer. I’ll go and see if I can find any actual figures but the term “home invasion” means “happens in America” to me if I’m honest.

Really? Just the oposite for myself. Aren’t there quite a few ‘hot’ robberies in England?

Again, anecdotal, but I live in a rural mountain area in Colorado where I would be surprised, very surprised if every family didn’t have a gun of some sort. I’ve lived in the area for 18 years, and I have never heard of a home invasion type robbery.

Certainly there will be anecdotal evidence out there of someone defending themself (or others) with a gun.

That said 6-8 a month is a mere drop in the bucket. There are somewhere around 400,000 crimes committed with a gun in the US annually (cite…2006 latest date reported…do not know why their data is not more recent but good enough for this I think as a ballpark number). That works out to over 33,000 crimes per month (where the perp used a gun…nevermind crimes where other weapons or no weapons were used). Six or eight successful defenses with a gun barely registers as a drop in the bucket.

Now, let’s consider that supposed 2.5 million number they claim.

According to this page there are 11,877,218 crimes committed annually in the United States (not sure if they count stuff like running a stop sign as a crime but best I could find). If the 2.5 million number is true that is better than a 20% success rate at defeating crime! If true that would be a staggering statistic.

Does not pass the smell test for me though.

Circling back to the first part this means there are nearly a million crimes committed per month in the US making those 6-8 people an even more pathetic number. I have no doubt the real number is bigger but it’d have to be a LOT bigger to be counted anywhere near substantial.

Are there? I don’t know. What’s a “hot” robbery? Is it armed robbery? That’s not what I would define as a home invasion.

Can we get a definition of a home invasion. I wouldn’t class a burgular with a gun as a home invasion. It’s a specific thing is it not?

Home invasion is an entry into the home, typically forced while the owner or an occupant is present.

Do they “disclose the methodology” anywhere? I would have thought that the page itself would be the appropriate location, but perhaps a link is offered? No? Sort of thing that inspires some skepticism, if it were not for the impeccable credibility of the source.

For instance, I wonder about what qualifies. Suppose Paul Paranoid hears a suspicious noise, gets his gun, and shouts downstairs “Here I come, home invaders, and I’ve got a gun!” And said home invaders vanish, as if they had never been. Taking nothing, leaving no evidence of their presence.

He calls the cops, tells them the heroic story of his home invasion defense. Absent any physical evidence of breaking and entering, does this story go into the “success!” category, as clear evidence of crime deterrence?

For obvious reasons, actual shootings of would-be criminals are both rarer and much better documented than cases where a criminal is frightened off by the sight or sound of a gun. The catch is figuring out how much more common the latter scenario is.

A “hot” robbery is a home invasion while the residents are present. Presumably criminals aren’t total idiots, and are thus likely to wait for a chance to commit a “cold” robbery instead if they perceive a significant risk of being met with armed opposition.

Your example would still (probably) be reported as a crime. If the person scaring off the would-be intruder does not report it then there is no record of it. Thus we can guess any number we like. NRA may say it is 2 million, I say it is 2 (not really…just an example). My guess is every bit as valid as their guess. In other words, a worthless data point.

Well, this is how Nationmaster breaks down the statistic of “burglaries per capita.” But I’m not clear on their definition of burglary.

# 1    	Australia:  	21.7454 per 1,000 people   	
# 2   	Dominica: 	18.7892 per 1,000 people  	
# 3   	Denmark: 	18.3299 per 1,000 people  	
# 4   	Estonia: 	17.4576 per 1,000 people  	
# 5   	Finland: 	16.7697 per 1,000 people  	
# 6   	New Zealand: 	16.2763 per 1,000 people  	
# 7   	United King'm: 	13.8321 per 1,000 people  	
# 8   	Poland: 	9.46071 per 1,000 people  	
# 9   	Canada: 	8.94425 per 1,000 people  	
# 10   	South Africa: 	8.89764 per 1,000 people  	
# 11   	Montserrat: 	8.24323 per 1,000 people  	
# 12   	Iceland: 	8.11156 per 1,000 people  	
# 13   	Switzerland: 	8.06303 per 1,000 people  	
# 14   	Slovenia: 	7.93734 per 1,000 people  	
# 15   	Czech Repub: 	7.24841 per 1,000 people  	
# 16   	Hungary: 	7.15849 per 1,000 people  	
# 17   	United States: 	7.09996 per 1,000 people  	
# 18   	France: 	6.11634 per 1,000 people  	
# 19   	Ireland: 	5.73755 per 1,000 people  	
# 20   	Netherlands: 	5.55531 per 1,000 people

It can’t be right though. Michael Moore told me so.

I’ve always been under the impression that they are quite rare. I live in a city and I’ve never heard of one here.

Personally I doubt that having a gun would help; several armed guys > one surprised guy, armed or not. Really; why would thugs who often shoot at each other be especially scared of the guns of some guy in a house?

Thieves usually go for easy pickens.

And, the homeowner would not necessarily be surprised. Breaking in can make quite a racket. That and motion sensor lights and such. I know, and wake up when deer enter my yard. And in my case, my doggie alarms go off at the slightest sound.

Or not, in a jurisdiction that has anti-gun laws (or, more precisely, had anti-gun laws before they got struck down the other day). For obvious reasons, the homeowner would not be inclined to bring the incident to the attention of the police.

(This also skews the statistics a bit – allowing for this scenario indicates that actual crime rates in anti-gun jurisdictions are higher to some degree than the official statistics indicate.)

Maybe but I would think the person would want to report it to the police and just leave out the part about using a gun. Not like the burglar will be calling in with their side of the story.

I find it hard to believe there’s so few in certain counties in that list, but you never know. In any case, the United States is surrounded by countries that have strict gun ownership laws, so even at a glance it doesn’t look like a factor.

Also, did someone just confuse Ireland with England? I feel kind of insulted, and I’m not even Irish. (They appear lower than both the UK and US on that list anyway).

I would think that any effect guns have is prophylactic rather than active. The idea of armed occupants should make thieves invade when they know the coast is clear rather than risking getting shot. That’s a good thing, if it exists, because then the USA should then have fewer “home invasions” while people are actually home and more straightforward breaking and entering. Any reason to believe that is the case?