>I don't think capital punishment is appropriate for property crimes.
See now, you're exactly the kind of person who should be armed. I agree.
>Unfortunately the track record of citizens stopping crime with guns is poor.
It's actually quite excellent, but the path to that determination is extremely complicated. I do not fault someone who starts with your beliefs for coming to opposite conclusion based on the available evidence.
The problem isn't you, and I don't think it's a flaw with my grasp of stats. either. It is very hard for anyone to measure the number of problems prevented by any factor unless they turn that factor on and off and measure the results in both states, in the same place. Fire is a good example. Fire extinguishers prevent almost zero fires every year. Since they are only generally applied to existing fires, the fires are not prevented. A judgement call is made by the humans that the fire extinguisher made a postitive difference in the situation, and in nearly all the cases where a personal fire extinguisher put out the flame, the fire goes unreported. This plays HELL with any fire statistics gathering. Now imagine if fire extinguishers could occasionally be abused to start fires. Given our poor inputs on how many fires that extinguishers "keep from getting worse" how could we measure that scientifically against how many they start to see if they are a net benefit?
Given the above I would state: It is hard to solve the macro scale math that would determine the appropriate level of firearms distribution for maximum positive effect.
You can solve this problem on the micro scale though. You can take a couple local policemen to lunch (btw: steaks work better than donuts) ask them about the local crime, and then go to a defensive-weapons trainer and ask him about the tools that are effective against those classes of crime. It might be there aren't any and guns are just useless where you live (e.g. Maui); might be that you're a fool to step outside unarmed (Seven Mile Rd., 3:00 a.m. Detroit).
I've helped a non-statistically valid sample of people in the triple digits with this problem. The overwhelmingly popular solution: Pepper spray. Not any; the good shit, found here:
Dominating reason: Nice people hesitate to shoot bad people. It's just not something they learn to do easily. (Weird, eh?) But considerably less hesitation comes with a non-permanent solution. And less hesitation means substantially more effectiveness.