Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Very good, but long article on gun ownership and burglaries.


This article is a well reasoned article whose basic premise is, US burglary rates are low because burglars must accept extra risk to enter a US home, because approximately 1/3 of homes in the US have guns available specifically for the defense of the home.

I tend to doubt that this number bears an accurate representation of homes where a weapon is actually available for that purpose. Specifically, 1) is a weapon either loaded or is the ammunition readily available for loading such that the weapon could be loaded in under 15 seconds? 2) have adult members of the household (those likely to be home) been trained to use the weapon?(Does mom know how to take the safety off of dad's shotgun?)

I suspect the true number of homes meeting the above criteria is closer to 10%. (This is completely anecdotal, and a SWAG on my part). Still, that's a 1 in 10 chance of a burglar coming face to face with a resident (provided that the resident is home at the time).

This leads to an interesting statistic that the author noted, in Europe, where gun ownership is nearly non-existent, burglars WANT the resident to be home, as wallets and purses are more likely to be pilferable. Note that this does not imply a European burglar wants to come face-to-face with the resident, rather only that the burglar does not fear bodily harm from the resident. In contrast, US burglars do not want to come face-to-face with the resident and hence most burglaries occur during times when residents are not home. The risk of bodily harm from a US resident is sufficient to cause a burglar to actively avoid a confrontation where he feels he will likely lose his life.

Altogether an interesting read if you have 20 extra minutes.


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