Violence Policy Center Backgrounders on SKS Assault Rifle and the Reality of Self-Defense Gun Use and Concealed Carry

For release: Thursday, June 15, 2017

Washington, DC– The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released two new backgrounders in response to yesterday’s shooting in Alexandria, Virginia at the Congressional baseball practice:  a new report on the SKS assault rifle (the type of weapon reportedly used in the attack) as well as a second report detailing the reality of self-defense gun use and concealed carry. Both backgrounders are available on the VPC’s website at

SKS Assault Rifles: A Menace to Law Enforcement details the rifle’s use against law enforcement personnel. The SKS is the predecessor to the AK-47 assault rifle, uses the same 7.62 x 39mm ammunition, and is notoriously easy to convert to full-auto fire.

From 1998 through 2015, 23 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty with SKS assault rifles, with rounds fired from the weapon penetrating their bullet-resistant vests in six of the incidents. In 2002 the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) described the SKS as “the rifle model most frequently encountered by law enforcement officers.”

The VPC also released The Reality of Self-Defense Gun Use and Concealed Carry in response to some pro-gun advocates and Members of Congress who have invoked self-defense as a reason to weaken federal laws regarding the carrying of concealed handguns. Such proposals are particularly absurd in light of the fact that the shooter is reported to have had a concealed carry permit.

The backgrounder draws in part from the May 2017 VPC study Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use which, using unpublished federal data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, found that in 2014 for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 34 criminal homicides.

The May 2017 VPC study also presents data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey showing that over the three-year period from 2013 to 2015, only 1.1 percent of victims of attempted or completed violent crimes used a firearm in self-defense.

The self-defense backgrounder also includes the latest information from the VPC’s ongoing Concealed Carry Killers ( project, an online resource which contains hundreds of examples of non-self defense killings by private citizens with permits to carry concealed, loaded handguns in public that took place since May 2007.

As of April 2017, Concealed Carry Killers documents 767 fatal, non-self defense killings in 40 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in the deaths of 969 people. Thirty-one of the incidents were mass shootings as defined by federal law (three or more victims killed), resulting in the deaths of 147 victims. At least 18 law enforcement officers have died at the hands of concealed carry killers since May 2007.

The backgrounder also notes incidents in which armed civilians were present at mass shootings but failed to intervene successfully.



The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
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