It is well known that many crimes in the United States are committed with firearms. Less adequately documented is the frequency with which victims use guns in self-defense. We used National Crime Victimization Survey data to examine incidents where victims employed guns against offenders. Between 1987 and 1990 there were an estimated 258,460 incidents of firearm defense, an annual mean of 64,615. Victims used firearms in 0.18% of all crimes recorded by the survey and in 0.83% of violent offenses. Firearm self-defense is rare compared with gun crimes.