There is a common saying in the United States that "it's better to own a gun and not use it, than need a gun and not have it." Unwilling to accept such commonplaces in my decisions regarding security, I would like to understand the risks involved in purchasing a handgun for personal protection. My overarching concern is to understand if handgun ownership will better, or worsen, my and my family & friend's probability of death or injury.
Most attempts at rational risk analysis of handgun ownership tend to be referenced in polemics, making it very difficult for an uninterested party to derive quantifiable answers. For example, this loooong essay hosted by ESR does contain much data, but in undigestable framing and of questionable validity.
Accordingly, I have attempted to generate a set of quantifiable questions to ascertain whether handgun ownership results in a positive or negative outcome for my community. These questions are possibly ill-worded or incomplete, with better alternatives available; this question and the corresponding answers may be most beneficial as a community wiki.
- What is the life expectancy of a handgun owner versus non-owner?
- What is the probability that the handgun will be used in a crime or accident, versus in self-defense?
- What is the probability of an undesired (eg all violence not commissioned by the owner of the gun) injury or death of the owner or someone else?
- What is the probability that a handgun owner will be charged with a crime, versus non-owner?