Rape survivor Amanda Collins spoke during a legislative hearing concerning Colorado’s proposed ban on concealed firearms on college campuses. She explained how she wished she would’ve had a firearm to defend herself from her rapist, which could have possibly prevented the attack from occurring.

Sen. Evie Hudak claimed:

“actually, statistics are not on your side, even if you had a gun. you said that you were a martial arts student, I mean person, experienced in Tae Kwon Do, and yet because this individual was so large, was able to overcome you even with your skills, and chances are that if you had had a gun, then he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you."

Hudak video

Are her statistics reliable? They do not appear to be part of the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, but may be from the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence?

While she doesn't define what she means by "you" (all people/women/CCW carriers/attempted violent crime victims/etc.), but are there any sets of individuals for which it is true that having a handgun increases your chances of being injured by their attacker rather than if they didn't have a handgun?

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    If only we were allowed to actually do this sort of research...
    – Tacroy
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 21:00
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    The trouble with suc questions is that they are almost always framed badly. If you possess a gun there are a number of things that can happen, some of which are omitted in most of the situations mentioned in the framing. Sure it feels as though having a gun would put you in a better position defensively in, for example, a potential rape situation. But, as the question says, it might not. Also worth considering are the potential probabilities of use in a domestic argument or a suicide (eg gun deaths from suicide exceed those from homicide by more than 2:1 in the US).
    – matt_black
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 22:35
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    @Oddthinking, yep after finding the video, it turns out that the 83 deaths claim is a non-sequitur. It refers to total women murders from handguns compared to women who kill their attacker. Neither of which have anything to do with defending yourself with a handgun from an attacker (I.e you don't need to kill the attacker, and total handgun deaths has nothing to do with people who carry CCWs)
    – user1873
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 1:42
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    Claim's in the same league as "dressing nicely makes you more likely to be raped". Carrying a weapon and being able to use it can be a great deterrent. It's when you fail to use it when needed that things get ugly quickly.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 5:37
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    @jwenting, yes. That is the heart of the matter, what are your odds of injury/death with/without a gun. The FBI statistics (from the National Crime Victims Surveys-NCVS) seem to indicate that in the 60k+ handgun self-defense cases you are 2x as likely to not be injured if you attack the offender, and 6x as likely to not be injured if you threaten the offender. I was hoping for newer data though, since the one I have is from the early 90's.
    – user1873
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 5:55

1 Answer 1


Defensive use of guns in USA by crime victims is a common occurrence indicated by national surveys. However, researchers dispute the exact number of people using guns for defense. Research shows that an armed victim might use a weapon to resist attacker aggression and avoid injury . Referring to 'Committee on Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence' review of possessing arms for self defense and injury rates, further research is needed to confirm or discount whether having a handgun increases your chance of injury.

Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies (Kleck, 1988; Kleck and DeLone, 1993; Southwick, 2000; Tark and Kleck, 2004). Effectiveness of defensive tactics, however, is likely to vary across types of victims, types of offenders, and circumstances of the crime.

  • @March Ho-The referred committee recommendation is based on findings from several studies mentioned in the highlighted part of the answer. Researchers such as Kleck have shown in multiple studies that victim gun use in crime incidents is associated with lower rates of victim injury than any other defensive response, including doing nothing to resist and there is a much larger study research needed per the committee to confirm or deny the claim of whether possessing a handgun decreases or increases the chance of injury. Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 6:02

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