Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
There are over 200 million firearms in private hands in the United States, more than a third of which are handguns. In 1993 alone, it is estimated that 1.3 million victims of serious violent crime faced an offender with a gun. In 1999, there were approximately 563,000 such victims. Estimates of defensive uses of firearms – situations where individuals used a gun to protect themselves, someone else, or their property – range from 65,000 to 2.5 million per year. Punishments for crimes committed with a firearm are severe: under the federal firearms enhancement statute, the mandatory minimum sentence for use of a firearm in a predicate crime ranges from five years to life imprisonment. In state courts in the mid-1990s, the average maximum length of prison sentences for weapons offenses was almost four years.
Guns, Crime, and Punishment in America,
Ariz. L. Rev.
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