Abstract: Arguments for handgun ownership typically appeal to handguns’ value as an effective means of self-protection. Against this, critics argue that private ownership of handguns leads to more social harm than it prevents. Both sides make powerful arguments, and in the absence of a reasonable consensus regarding the merits of gun ownership, David DeGrazia proposes two gun control policies that ‘reasonable disputants on both sides of the issue have principled reasons to accept.’ These policies hinge on his claim that ‘an even-handed examination of the available evidence casts considerable doubt on the thesis that handgun ownership enables more adequate self-defense and physical security in the home.’ We challenge DeGrazia’s ‘moderate gun control’ policies on both philosophical and empirical grounds. Philosophically, we show that the arguments he gives in support of his proposed gun-control measures are too narrow and incomplete to warrant his conclusions about what kind of gun control there ought to be, even if he is right about the empirical evidence. Empirically, we argue that a truly even-handed examination of the evidence makes DeGrazia’s claim that gun ownership is on average self-defeating much less plausible than he supposes. Our conclusion is that DeGrazia has failed to establish his claim that gun ownership is self-defeating and therefore has no case for the gun-control policies he suggests.
Keywords: gun control, handguns, self-defense, concealed carry, homicide, suicide