At a time when some gun control advocates appear intent on painting lawful gun ownership as a danger to society, and the Second Amendment as little more than an outdated protection of a person’s right to hunt, it’s important to remember the regular role armed citizens play in defending inalienable rights.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirmed in a 2013 report, almost all major studies on defensive gun uses have concluded that Americans use firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times every year.
The vast majority of them will receive little or no media attention.
Every month this year, we have highlighted just some of the many times law-abiding citizens used their firearms to defend themselves or others. (You can read past articles here: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October). Unsurprisingly, November was also replete with similar stories of Americans using guns to save lives and livelihoods.
- Nov. 2, Everett, Washington: A concealed-carry permit holder intervened to stop a mentally disturbed man who was endangering drivers by throwing chunks of concrete and metal pipes at cars passing by on the interstate. The man had damaged almost a dozen cars and was holding a large piece of metal when the permit holder drew his handgun and detained the man until police could arrive. One of the drivers whose car was damaged told reporters that she was thankful the permit holder saved her and other drivers from further harm.
- Nov. 5, Genesee County, New York: A 76-year-old man used his shotgun to fend off an armed home intruder, potentially saving both his life and the life of his wife. The man responded to a knock on his door during the night, only to have the intruder force his way inside at gunpoint and tell the couple to give him all their money or else he would kill them. The intruder then ordered the couple to go into the basement, where the man thought the intruder was going to kill them. Instead, the man was able to grab his loaded shotgun and shoot the intruder in the hip, then held him at gunpoint for 15 minutes until police could arrive.
- Nov. 7, Glen Burnie, Maryland: A man was feeding chickens in his yard when his bulldog began frantically barking, and he heard commotion from inside his home. He walked inside to find two acquaintances had broken in and, armed with a gun and a knife, were assaulting his girlfriend. The man grabbed an antique shotgun that he kept loaded “in case anything ever happens,” and fired at the attackers, injuring one and causing the other to run away. The man told reporters: “They could have shot and killed both of us, and then what? The guys could have got away scot-free. But no, I am an American. I’m going to have my gun, and I’m going to shoot [intruders] when they enter my house.”
- Nov. 10, Atascocita, Texas: A group of four masked would-be robbers charged into a jewelry store and began using hammers to smash into glass cases and grab expensive items. The storeowner saw the thieves from behind the one-way mirror in his office, grabbed his gun, and fired several rounds that wounded two thieves and sent all of them running. The four thieves were later arrested by law enforcement, and all of the stolen items were recovered.
- Nov. 14, Port Charlotte, Florida: A disabled New York City firefighter recovering from serious injuries relied on his handgun for protection against a masked woman who broke into his home and assaulted him. The firefighter, suffering from a herniated disc in his back and a broken pelvis, warned the woman he was armed, but she punched his jaw and throat, and attempted to gouge his eyes. As the struggle continued, he feared he would be overpowered and shot the woman once in the stomach, causing her to flee the scene. She was subsequently arrested.
- Nov. 17, Burlington, North Carolina: A homeowner used his shotgun to defend himself against an ax-wielding man who tried to break into his home through a back door. The homeowner did not need to fire his weapon, as the would-be intruder fled the moment he saw there would be an armed confrontation. Police later arrested the intruder and charged him with breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony.
- Nov. 21, Benton Harbor, Michigan: Two armed intruders broke into an apartment and ordered the occupants—including three children—to “get down.” The apartment renter heard the commotion from a separate room, grabbed his rifle, and shot at the intruders, killing one and sending the other fleeing. No one else in the apartment was harmed during the home invasion.
- Nov. 25, Miami: When a man armed with an AK-47 attempted to rob a 60-year-old concealed-carry permit holder who was in his van, his son, and girlfriend, the permit holder drew his handgun and killed the would-be robber. The permit holder, who told reporters he is originally from Jamaica and a member of the National Rifle Association, said, “I am going to defend my life and those I love. My family is innocent, and just don’t put an AK-47 in my face. I will not allow that to happen.”
- Nov. 27, Tulsa, Oklahoma: A man high on the drug PCP began stabbing his friend with a knife after the friend declined to give the man a ride. The friend, in fear for his life, pulled out his firearm and shot the man, who ultimately died from his wounds. The friend suffered serious injuries, but survived. Tulsa police said they think the shooting was justified.
- Nov. 28, McCleary, Washington: A woman shot and killed her estranged husband after he broke into her house and attacked her and a friend with a knife. The woman already had a domestic violence protection order issued against the husband. In a statement to a local news station, she explained, “If it’s your life or theirs, you have to do what you have to do.”
- Nov. 30, Ellenwood, Georgia: A deliveryman was unloading an order of bread at a Hardee’s fast-food restaurant when he saw several employees run out of the store in a panic, screaming for help. They told him that an armed robber had entered the store and was demanding cash while threatening other employees with a gun. The deliveryman grabbed his firearm from his truck and ran into the store. A gunbattle ensued, and the robber, who was shot several times, fled the scene. The wounded robber was later arrested. The local sheriff’s department named the deliveryman an honorary deputy and inducted him into its Posse Hall of Fame.
These types of defensive gun uses are not rare or anomalies, but common occurrences that make a meaningful difference in the lives of ordinary Americans.
When policymakers consider enacting laws that significantly restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, the people most affected are not the criminals who largely obtain firearms from the black market and who won’t be deterred by one more law telling them to “behave.”
No, the people most affected are those who, like the Americans noted above, are ready and willing to defend themselves and others from criminals. We must continue to ensure that they are able to do so.