Guns are Used Responsibly in the United States


This is a fact the drive-by media will never report.

The most effective lie is the lie by omission. Tell part of the truth but not all of it. This propaganda technique works particularly well with an audience eager to believe the lie.

The US mass media lies to us a lot, in exactly this way: They feed us selected facts without proving their true context.

I follow the news about armed defense. I notice the things that are so consistently not said that the omissions must be deliberate. In this article, I will present the most accurate facts I can find. I list the sources where I got those facts. I give you my opinion about what those facts mean in full context. I want you to be able to make up your own mind about guns, and the media that reports on them.

Let us first look at how firearms are used ….

Shooting for fun-
The most common use of a firearm is recreation: training, practice, competition, and hunting. The industry trade group for the shooting sports is the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF estimates there will be 12 billion firearms cartridges sold in the US civilian market in 2021. That seems like a lot of ammunition at 32 million cartridges used a day for fun. From another perspective, it is only 36 cartridges per person in an entire year. New gun owners are having trouble finding enough ammunition to take classes and practice.

Guns in the US-
Ammunition lasts for decades. Firearms are equally persistent if they are maintained. We have about 434 million firearms in civilian hands. The reported numbers vary, but when people show their sources, that is the best number I’ve seen. Think about that number when someone says they are going to “round up all the guns,” and laugh at them.

Living with a gun-
About 140 million of us (42 percent) live with a gun in our home. Gun owners are everywhere and in every lifestyle. Firearms fit many purposes. Like shoes, the gun owner has to find a gun that fits her body and her intended use. Most guns are seldom if ever used and sit in storage day after day.

Citizens carry concealed-
The laws about carrying concealed vary widely from state to state. A few states only let politicians, judges and retired law enforcement officers carry a firearm in public. The majority of states require a license and charge hefty fees before ordinary citizens can carry concealed. In contrast, 21 states have constitutional carry. In those states, citizens may carry in public without a permit, though the particular details vary from state to state.

Not every adult will exercise their right to carry a gun, even when it relatively cheap to do so. A few years ago, I estimated that about 10 percent of the population would carry if we adopted permit-less carry laws. About 20 million adults already have their carry permits. Concealed carry is common rather than rare. We would know if citizens with guns were inherently dangerous given that there are such a large number of legal guns on the street. We’ll talk about their remarkable safety record in a moment.

Self-defense incidents-
Armed citizens defend themselves at home, at work, and in pubic. Government numbers vary depending on which report you read. Reports vary from a low of 500 thousand to a high of 3 million cases of armed defense each year. I use 1.5 million as the best average. These estimates on the frequency of armed defense include numerous reports from the CDC (United States Center for Disease Control). Note how infrequently the news media covers stories of citizen self-defense.

Most armed self-defense incidents end with no shots fired. Criminals avoid armed victims. Most criminals stop and run away when an armed citizen simply presents his or her gun.

As I studied it, the question of armed defense was harder to answer than I thought. Part of that confusion is that we’re not sure about the question. Was it an example of armed defense if the defender shoots but misses her attacker? Is it armed defense if the robber runs away when he merely sees that grandma has a gun? Was it the gun pointed at him, the gun in her hand, or the gun on the wall that made the robber run away from grandma? In each of these scenarios, the presence of the firearm deterred the criminal. But not all of these scenarios will be included in the reporting of “crimes prevented by an armed defender.”

Criminal assaults-
There were over 1.2 million reported cases of violent crime in the United States in 2019. Those are cases of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. 800 thousand of those violent crimes were attacks with a deadly weapon. Of all those violent crimes, only 8 percent were committed with a firearm. The rest of the time criminals used another weapon or use fists and feet. About 140 thousand of the violent crimes were violent sexual assaults. Rape makes up about 11 percent of violent crime.

You might notice that the number of self-defense incidents is slightly larger than the number of reported criminal assaults. That is because of the tendency to overreport some things and underreport others. The criminal might have intended to kick down your door, hit you, and take your purse. That crime didn’t happen when you turned around with a gun in your hand as the robber ran up to you. An incident like that might get reported as a defensive use of a firearm, but not as an actual crime. We report what happened rather than what might have happened. In addition, some crimes, especially sexual assaults, are not reported to the police.

Armed defense of sexual assault- Ordinary citizens use a firearm to stop sexual assault about 150 thousand times a year. The number may be higher because, as I said, many sexual assaults are not reported. Unfortunately, some women are raped when they are disarmed in so called “gun-free” zones. I know several of these women who have been brave enough to tell their stories. These locations were not “gun-free” when the rapist brought his gun. Even if the rapist does not have a gun, the victims were at greater risk because they were disarmed.

There were about 47 thousand suicides in 2019. Almost exactly half of them were with a firearm. (24 thousand) The rate of suicide does not appear to be correlated with restrictions on firearms.

Gun laws and regulations-
The US Bureau of Alcohol Tabaco and Firearms collects and distributes collections of our firearm laws. We have over 23 thousand firearms laws and regulations so far. We should have achieved a peaceful paradise if ink on paper stopped violent criminals from using guns. We’re always told that the next gun-control law will be the one that finally works. Criminals don’t buy their guns at gun stores or gun shows.

There were 10 thousand cases where one person killed another with a firearm. That includes all types of guns. A handgun was used 6,300 times, though more than 3000 incidents are marked as “firearm unknown”. The vast majority of these incidents are drug gangs fighting over territory. We have to look at drug prohibition if we want to reduce these murders.

Crimes of passion-
There were about 3 thousand deaths where one person not connected with a drug gang killed another person using a firearm. Most were murders rather than accidents. Most of those deaths involve drugs and alcohol in that either the attacker or the defender was intoxicated. We have to talk about recidivism and addiction if we want to reduce the number of these deaths.

Accidental deaths by a firearm-
The US CDC recorded 486 accidental deaths involving a firearm. In both adults and teens, there is often an uncertainty between an accidental death and a suicide. Accidental deaths from a firearm are extremely rare, about four accidental deaths every three days. Each death is a tragedy, but only 1-in-350 accidental deaths involved a firearm.

Lethal self-defense by honest citizens-
Citizens used a firearm to stop criminal activity about four thousand times a day. They shot and killed the criminal 344 times in the entire year of 2019, less than once a day. As already notice, 140 million families live with a gun in the home, yet only 1-in-400,000 of them legally used that firearm in lethal self-defense today. The other 399,999 guns in family homes were used for deterrence.

Lethal use of a firearm by a law enforcement officer while on duty-
Law enforcement officers shot and killed 340 criminals. That may seem like a large number but consider that there are about 700 thousand law enforcement officers in the US. I think that is the full-time equivalent number of sworn officers who have arrest powers. Only one officer in two thousand shot and killed a criminal.

Law-abidingness of law enforcement officers-
Police officers are about 37 times more law abiding than the average citizen. That is probably a conservative estimate since officers are frequently accused of breaking the law as they arrest criminal offenders.

Nonviolence of licensed concealed carry permit holder-
Where we have data, we’ve found that people with their concealed carry license are the most law abiding and non-violent segment of society we can find anywhere. Your neighbors who legally carry concealed in public are from 10 to 17 times more law abiding and nonviolent than the police. Different states give us different data, and the data is not consistent on how each violation is considered. For example, some concealed carry holders will lose their carry permit if they have a ticket for driving while intoxicated. I wish more states would record information like that.

Who makes mistakes-
Compared to the police, civilians with a gun were five times less likely to shoot innocent bystanders. That makes sense given the different goals of police and civilians. The civilian wants to get away from danger while the police officer has to move toward it and control the scene. Also, the civilian knows things the policeman doesn’t know. You know who belongs in your home at a glance. The policeman doesn’t know that and figuring it out takes some time. The claim that civilians shoot indiscriminately is propaganda fueled by TV cop shows. The reality is that your neighbors who own guns care about every shot they fire.

Resistance is essential-
Women were two-and-a-half times less likely to be injured if they resist their attacker with a firearm than if they do not resist. Men were also less likely to be injured if they resisted with a firearm, but the difference was smaller. That data describes the immediate injuries during the attack. I suspect the psychological injury due to victimization is smaller for those who resist, but I do not have reliable data to support that claim.

That is a lot of information. It tells me that gun owners are remarkably law abiding and non-violent. With surprisingly few exceptions, our gun owning neighbors act the way we want them to act. They save lives thousands of times a day because they are armed and resisted their attackers. We need more people like them. That truth doesn’t match what we see on TV dramas. We spend more time with drama than studying real life. Art imitates life, but not well enough to guide our decisions.

History of the Lottery in the United States


When did the lottery start in the U.S.? It’s been a part of life since at least 1776, when the Continental Congress voted to use a lottery to raise money for the War of Independence.

Although the idea didn’t end up being used, lotteries were a popular way to raise funds in early America for expenses like paving roads, building wharves, and even constructing churches.

No one invented the lottery in America, because it was already used in England and spread to the New World. In fact, the Jamestown colony was partly financed by private lotteries in the 1600s.

A number of the Founding Fathers promoted lotteries, mostly unsuccessfully.

In 1768, George Washington held a lottery to fund building the Mountain Road in Virginia, but it failed.

Benjamin Franklin also unsuccessfully tried to use a lottery to buy cannon to defend Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War.

Thomas Jefferson was also a fan of lotteries. “Far from being immoral, they are indispensable to the existence of man,” he wrote. In 1826, the Virginia legislature gave Jefferson permission to conduct a private lottery to pay off his many debts. He died before it could be held, but it was unsuccessfully attempted by his children.

John Hancock was the exception to the rule, successfully using a lottery to finance the rebuilding of Faneuil Hall in Boston after it burned down in 1761.

Lotteries were widespread in the early American republic. In 1832 it was reported that 420 lotteries had been held in eight states in the last year.

Lotteries also helped fund many college buildings, including at Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale.

After the Civil War, the Southern states used lotteries to finance Reconstruction. However, corruption by the private lottery organizers led to increasing opposition.

In 1868 Congress outlawed the use of the mail for lottery advertising “or other similar enterprises on any pretext whatsoever.” In 1878, the Supreme Court decided that lotteries had “a demoralizing influence upon the people.”

The Louisiana lottery leads to ban

However, the most successful lottery in the country continued to flourish. The Louisiana lottery was privately run by the Louisiana Lottery Company. At its height it was estimated to achieve sales of over $20 million per year. Prizes in the monthly drawings went up to the princely sum of $250,000, and twice a year special prizes could rise to $600,000.

The company had agents in every U.S. city, and 93% of its revenue came from out of state. Special trains were needed to transport the huge volume of mail, including thousands of ticket receipts, sent to the company’s headquarters in New Orleans.

The company gained a monopoly as Louisiana’s lottery provider in 1868 through the extravagant bribes paid by its founder, Charles T. Howard. In exchange it was allowed to keep all lottery proceeds tax-free.

Howard became a very powerful figure in Louisiana, although he wasn’t popular with everyone. The Metairie Jockey Club wouldn’t let him become a member, so when their racecourse ran into trouble, Howard purchased it and turned it into a cemetery – where he is buried in a huge tomb.

Despite paying thousands in bribes, the company still made an impressive 48% profit. One reason for this was that if there were unsold tickets before a drawing, they were put into the barrel the winning numbers were drawn from (the drawings were overseen by two former Confederate generals, Jubal Early and P.G.T. Beauregard). In many cases, this trick led to the company winning its own prize money.

In 1890, the lottery’s charter was up for renewal, and company officials bribed lawmakers to put the lottery in the state Constitution. However, this required a public vote, and furious citizens rejected the amendment.

The federal government had also had enough. President Benjamin Harrison denounced lotteries as “swindling and demoralizing agencies” and Congress banned sending lottery tickets by mail or taking them across state lines, finishing off the lottery.

As the abuses of the Louisiana lottery became known, they caused a huge national scandal and the public soured on lotteries.

States legalize lotteries in the twentieth century

Opinion on lotteries began to soften again during the early twentieth century, especially after the disaster of Prohibition, which ran from 1920-1933 and involved widespread organized crime related to illegal alcohol operations.

Nevada made casinos legal in the 1930s, and betting to benefit charity became more widespread throughout the country. However, the lingering memory of the Louisiana scandal kept lotteries from gaining public support for another thirty years.

In 1963, the New Hampshire legislature allowed a sweepstakes to raise money for education. The funds were badly needed because the state had no income or sales tax to finance educational programs.

Based on the popular Irish Sweepstakes, a ticket cost $3 and the winners of horse races at the Rockingham Park racecourse determined the biggest prizes. Despite the drawings not being held regularly, almost $5.7 million worth of tickets were sold in the first year.

Not to be outdone, New York started its own lottery in 1967. It proved spectacularly successful, bringing in $53.6 million in its first year. Just like today, residents of neighboring states without lotteries were tempted to cross the border to buy tickets.

The success of the New York lottery didn’t go unnoticed, and twelve more states introduced their own lotteries in the 1970s – ConnecticutDelawareIllinoisMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganNew JerseyOhioPennsylvaniaRhode Island and Vermont.

Why was the Northeast such fertile ground for lotteries? There seem to be three reasons.

First, the states needed money but didn’t want to take the always-unpopular step of raising taxes.

Second, each state had a large Catholic population that widely tolerated gambling.

Third, there was a domino effect: a state is much more likely to start a lottery if a nearby state already has one. The governor of North Carolina, Michael Easley, expressed a popular view when he promoted a lottery by saying, “Our people are playing the lottery. We just need to decide which schools we should fund, other states’ or ours.”

Most lotteries in the 1970s were extremely slow-paced by today’s standards. In 1974, Massachusetts introduced the first instant win game using scratch-off tickets, but the majority of lotteries were “passive drawing games” – basic raffles where tickets printed with a number were sold. Players often had to wait weeks for a drawing, so the suspense must have been intense!

In the 1980s the lottery boom intensified, with seventeen more states plus the District of Columbia taking part: ArizonaCaliforniaColoradoFloridaIdahoIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyMissouriMontanaOregonSouth DakotaVirginiaWashingtonWest Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The 1990s brought a further expansion of the lottery to six states – GeorgiaLouisianaMinnesotaNebraskaNew Mexico, and Texas.

In the 2000s they were joined by North CarolinaNorth DakotaOklahomaSouth Carolina, and Tennessee.

Lotteries today

Lotteries have come a long way from the 1960s – so what types of lotteries are there? They come in a variety of forms, from the instant-win scratch-off cards to multi-state draw games like Powerball and Mega Millions.

There’s something to appeal to every kind of player, whether you want instant gratification, more chances to win, or the potential for a bigger prize.

Research shows that the majority of the U.S. public approves of lotteries. Even many people who don’t buy tickets themselves still have a positive view. In a 2014 Gallup poll, 62% said gambling is “morally acceptable.” State lotteries are the most common type of gambling in the country, with about half of those polled saying they had bought a lottery ticket in the past 12 months.

Which states have the lottery today? Currently, there are only five states that do not have lotteries: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.

Alabama could be the next state to introduce lotteries, and there are also persistent attempts to pass a lottery bill in Hawaii. In the past, Alaska had enough oil money that it didn’t need a lottery, but views about an Alaska lottery may be changing since the state has recently been short of revenue.

How much money does the lottery make a year?

In 2017 Americans spent $73.5 billion on lottery tickets. That’s about $230 per year for every person in the country, which is an increase from the previous year. The total increases to $80 billion when electronic lottery games are counted.

The state with the highest lottery revenue was New York, which took in $8,344,023,000 in 2016.

So it’s no surprise that there are only a handful of states and territories without lotteries, because the lottery is a big benefit to state budgets. It’s an attractive way to raise money without raising taxes.

Lotteries are accepted by the public where they have been introduced as long as they contribute towards the common good, such as education programs and college scholarships.

Lottery proponents argue that states like Alabama lose a lot of money from residents who cross the border into neighboring states to buy lottery tickets.

Lottery retailers near the border in states like Florida or Louisiana do a roaring trade, especially when there’s a big Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot.

The argument that the money could be spent locally instead and benefit good causes in-state is persuasive to many residents.