These 10 Examples of Defensive Gun Use Underscore Second Amendment’s True Purpose
A “legally armed citizen” intervened during an instance of domestic violence in a convenience store parking lot, police said, possibly saving a woman’s life.
By Amy Swearer – September 10, 2020
In announcing the launch of “Sportsmen and Sportswomen for Biden,” the former vice president’s campaign demonstrated earlier this month how many gun control advocates misconstrue the purpose of the Second Amendment.
The coalition of “50 prominent hunters and anglers” stated that Joe Biden would “protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans to purchase and responsibly use firearms for hunting and sporting.”
Unfortunately for gun control advocates, the Second Amendment is not, and never has been, concerned with the protection of hunting or sport shooting. It is concerned with the protection of something much more fundamental to American democracy—maintaining the “security of a free state.”
An armed citizenry is the best and most natural defense against threats to individual rights, whether those threats stem from a tyrannical government, a foreign army, an anarchic mob, or an individual criminal.
And although the threat from a tyrannical government or foreign army may appear remote or far-fetched, the threats from anarchic mobs and individual criminals are very common.
Every day, untold numbers of Americans rely on their Second Amendment rights to protect their lives and livelihoods.
According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost every major study on the issue has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times a year. There’s good reason to believe that most of these defensive gun uses aren’t reported to police, much less make the local or national news.
For this reason, The Daily Signal each month publishes an article highlighting some of the previous month’s many news stories on defensive gun use that you may have missed—or that might not have made it to the national spotlight in the first place. (Read accounts from 2019 and so far in 2020 here.)
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in August. You may explore more examples by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database.
- Aug. 2, Klamath Falls, Oregon: A “legally armed citizen” intervened during an instance of domestic violence in a convenience store parking lot, police said, possibly saving a woman’s life. After seeing a man fire a gun several times at a woman in a car, he drew his own firearm and shot the assailant twice before calling 911. The assailant—later identified as the woman’s boyfriend—was arrested and charged with attempted murder. The woman was not harmed, although multiple rounds hit her car.
- Aug. 5, Jonesville, Virginia: A Virginia state prosecutor determined that a man acted in lawful self-defense when he shot and wounded his ax-wielding father. The father was described as drunk when he began threatening his son and other family members. The son attempted to de-escalate the situation and call 911, but shot his father when the older man started swinging the ax at him. The family previously had filed police reports about the father’s abusive behavior.
- Aug. 7, Youngstown, Ohio: A woman used her AR-15 to defend herself from her armed ex-boyfriend, who had come to her home to pick up some items after the breakup. He brandished a handgun, chased the woman into her home, and threatened to “mess things up,” police said. After the woman grabbed her rifle, he fired a shot at her, prompting her to return several rounds in self-defense. Wounded, the ex-boyfriend tried to flee but police officers responding to the scene arrested him. Neither the woman nor her children, also in the house at the time, were injured.
- Aug. 11, Columbia, South Carolina: When two would-be robbers walked into a Waffle House late at night, pointed guns at employees, and demanded money, an armed patron quickly sent them fleeing by drawing his gun and exchanging fire. Law enforcement officers quickly tracked down the suspects with a K-9 unit. No one was injured.
- Aug. 15, Salt Lake City, Utah: A nightclub employee acted quickly to protect patrons when a man entered the club firing a gun and pointing it at other people. The employee ran to retrieve his own firearm from his car, returned, and fatally shot the armed man before he could injure anyone. Everyone else escaped unharmed, police said.
- Aug. 17, Cottage Hill, Florida: A man was on a computer in his grandmother’s home when he saw an intruder who had entered through an open garage door. The man grabbed his handgun and kept it pointed at the intruder—who police said apparently was high on drugs and didn’t know where he was—until police arrived.
- Aug. 19, Bronx, New York: A retired New York police officer shot a man who tried to mug her and chased her into her home. The woman shot him with her licensed revolver after he pushed her up against a wall and threatened her with a cable box, police said. She held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
- Aug. 23, Hopkinsville, Kentucky: A child’s father and grandfather got into an argument over child custody. Police said the grandfather shot the father several times, wounding him. The father then shot and wounded the grandfather in self-defense, police said. The grandfather was charged with several felony offenses, including receiving a stolen firearm.
- Aug. 29, Warren, Michigan: A man with a concealed carry permit defended himself during an incident of road rage, drawing his gun and returning fire with a driver who shot at him. The permit holder was struck in the leg and treated for injuries that weren’t life-threatening. It could have been much worse had the enraged driver not sped off after realizing the permit holder also was armed.
- Aug. 31, Palo, Iowa: A homeowner shot and killed an intruder who attempted to break in to several residences after crashing his car into two parked vehicles. Police said the intruder broke a window of a child’s bedroom, threw a flowerpot through glass in the front door, entered, and threatened residents before the homeowner shot him.
Again, the Constitution does not protect the right to keep and bear arms so that Americans can hunt or engage in sport shooting. It protects the right to keep and bear arms so that Americans like the ones highlighted here can ensure the security of a free state and defend their inalienable rights when the government cannot or will not do so on their behalf.
Of course, new gun owners should understand that their right comes with corresponding duties to act responsibly.
They should take care to get proper training, learn their state’s gun laws, and invest in safe storage for their firearms. They should think through important questions about who should (and shouldn’t) have access to their firearms and develop plans for dealing with firearm access should mental health problems arise.
But at the end of the day, the primary purpose of the Second Amendment is not so that you can secure your dinner.
It’s so that you can secure your inalienable rights.
Amy Swearer is a legal fellow in the Edwin Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.