When Thomas Shim moved to Augusta, Ga., and opened up a small convenience store more than four years ago, he planned to build his business peacefully.
But that plan was abruptly shattered by violence when he was robbed at gunpoint in his store. His wife Yougim was shot and wounded in the robbery.
Fed up and scared, Shim bought a .38-caliber pistol for protection.
That decision that may have saved his life, because in July of 1999, Shim's store was robbed at gunpoint once again. Fearing for his life, Mr. Shim shot and killed the armed robber, a career criminal named Anthony Boyd.
"If I didn't have a gun I would have been killed," Shim told Fox News. "I grabbed my gun, clicked it ... and shot him. At that moment, I had to survive."
Shim's story is one of many cited in research by Yale University Professor John R. Lott Jr., author of More Guns, Less Crime.
Lott says his research shows that guns used defensively stop about 2 million crimes a year, five times the amount of crimes in which guns are used.
"No one has found bad effects resulting from right-to-carry laws," Lott said, citing instances in which the mere presence of a gun played a key role in preventing crimes.
"When guns are used defensively, most of those times, the gun is not fired," said University of Georgia Professor David Mustard, who collaborated with Lott.
Lott says most media reports ignore the life-saving aspects of guns. In his research, he compiles instances across the country where the simple brandishing of a gun prevented crime.
But not everyone agrees. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, which advocates the banning of handguns and assault weapons, cites different statistics and says Lott's findings are incorrect.
"Its a myth to believe that people carrying guns creates a safer society," said spokesman Mike Beard. "If you look at the FBI uniform crime reports, they show that gun deaths are the highest in the areas of the country that have the highest gun ownership."
But Lott stands by his reasearch, telling Fox News: "The vast majority of academics who have looked at this issue have found results similar to what I have found."
Arguments in the statistical war will continue to be shot back and forth, but as far as Thomas Shim is concerned, the matter has been decided.
"As long as I have a gun, I feel better, " he said.