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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’ police announced that no one would be allowed to be armed and all guns would be taken, but law-abiding citizens with guns deter many criminals from committing a crime and possessing a gun is the safest way to confront a criminal if you are forced to, says John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

For example:

  • The United States has one of the world’s lowest "hot" burglary rates — burglaries committed while people are in the building — at 13 percent, compared to the "gun-free" British rate of 59 percent.
  • Surveys of convicted burglars indicate American burglars spend at least twice as long as their British counterparts casing a house before breaking in; that explains why American burglars rarely break into homes when the residents are there: they are afraid of getting shot.
  • Even without a catastrophe like Katrina, it would have been a poor strategy for would-be victims in New Orleans merely to call 911 and wait for help; the average response time of police in New Orleans before the hurricane was eleven minutes.
Moreover, the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey has shown for decades that having a gun is the safest course of action when a criminal confronts you, far safer than behaving passively, says Lott.

Source: John R. Lott Jr., "Defenseless Decision," National Review, March 21, 2006.

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