Washington (AFP) - Contrary to what the gun lobby argues, personal firearms in the United States are rarely used for self-defense, a gun control advocacy group said Wednesday.
In an analysis of FBI and other federal government data, the non-profit Violence Policy Center said Americans are far more likely to hurt themselves or others when handling a lethal weapon.
In 2012, it said, only 259 "justifiable homicides" involving a private citizen were reported, compared to 8,342 criminal homicides committed with a gun.
Put another way, for every justifiable homicide involving a gun, 32 criminal homicides carried out with a firearm occurred. And that does not take into account "tens of thousands" of gun-related suicides and unintentional shootings.
The influential National Rifle Association contends that "guns are necessary for self-defence," said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington.
"But this gun industry propaganda has no basis in fact," he said in a statement.
"In fact, in a nation of more than 300 million firearms, it is striking how rarely guns are used in self-defense."
On its website, the NRA carries a running list of incidents in which it says firearms were successfully used in self-defense -- in one case against a house intruder crawling through a doggie door in Texas, in another case against a "rabid fox" in Massachusetts.