The Biden administration last month filed a brief encouraging the Supreme Court to uphold New York City’s de facto ban preventing ordinary citizens from carrying firearms in public.
The administration argued that an onerous “good cause” requirement—giving the city’s police department unmitigated discretion over citizens’ exercise of a fundamental right—is a perfectly reasonable regulation.
New York City’s law, one of a myriad of serious burdens placed on New Yorkers’ right to keep and bear arms, prevents the vast majority of residents from being able to meaningfully protect themselves in public when the government fails to do so. And the government often fails to do so.
In fact, almost every major study on the issue has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually, according to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For this reason, The Daily Signal publishes an article monthly underscoring 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.
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 by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.)
- Sept. 4, Houston, Texas: An erratic driver began chasing another vehicle, eventually pulling up alongside and pointing a gun at the occupants, police said. The driver of the second vehicle drew his own gun and fired in self-defense, seriously wounding the erratic driver and a female passenger. The wounded couple drove off, throwing two firearms out of the window. Police said they didn’t anticipate charging the second driver, who immediately called 911 and cooperated with law enforcement.
- Sept. 5, Mount Healthy, Ohio: A man with a record of domestic violence broke into his ex-girlfriend’s residence through a window and assaulted her. Another resident fatally shot the assailant, police said.
- Sept. 7, Dickson, Tennessee: A man used his handgun to defend himself and his grandchildren from an assailant during a bizarre encounter outside their home. Police said the family had just returned from a trip to a local doughnut shop when another car pulled into their driveway. The driver, whom the resident said he did not know, approached the family while shouting in Spanish, prompting the resident to retrieve a handgun from the car and order the stranger to leave. He fired a warning shot into the ground when the man continued advancing, police said. The stranger then chased the resident around the car, his grandchildren still inside, and grabbed at him. He shot the attacker once in the stomach, killing him, police said.
- Sept. 10, Atlanta, Georgia: A man leaving a grocery store saw two young men stealing items from his car and confronted them, police said. He drew his firearm on the thieves, fatally shooting one as the second one returned fire and fled. Police later found a 17-year-old, who was wounded in the wrist, and charged him with several felonies, including two gun-related offenses.
- Sept. 15, Albuquerque, New Mexico: An armed man entered a Subway restaurant and attempted to rob an employee, police said. A second employee—armed with his own gun—appeared from a back room and fatally shot the robber. The New Mexico Business Coalition told reporters that it is concerned about police response times to emergency calls and isn’t surprised that more employees are arming themselves.
- Sept. 16, Kalispell, Montana: When the manager of a 24-hour fitness center revoked a patron’s membership after discovering that he had been sleeping at the gym without permission, police said, the patron shot the manager to death in the parking lot. An assistant manager alerted a customer, who retrieved a handgun from his car. After the shooter fired several rounds at the customer, wounding him, the customer returned fire and wounded the shooter, disabling him until police could arrive.
- Sept. 18, La Porte, Texas: An abusive family member—out on bond for multiple assault charges—appeared at the new home of a woman and her teenage relative and assaulted the woman with a sack filled with canned goods, police said. The teenager grabbed a handgun and fatally shot him. The local district attorney’s office called the teenager a “brave kid” and said it considers the shooting to be the lawful defense of another.
- Sept. 20, Butler, Pennsylvania: A man carrying a firearm was leaving a store when he witnessed someone stab another person several times, police said. The man drew his firearm and held the assailant at gunpoint until police arrived.
- Sept. 21, Pocola, Oklahoma: Shortly after his mother left his apartment to return to her own apartment next door, police said, a man heard gunshots and screaming. He retrieved a firearm before checking on his mother, whom he discovered shot on the floor just inside her door. He fatally shot his mother’s estranged husband, the subject of an active protection order, when he saw him reaching for what appeared to be a weapon.
- Sept. 28, Chaves County, New Mexico: Three armed ranchers ended a daylong manhunt for a homicide suspect by confronting the man as he walked through their rural property, investigators said. The ranchers convinced the fugitive to put his rifle down and then held him at gunpoint until deputies arrived.
- Sept. 29, Cave Junction, Oregon: Police said a man forced his way inside a home, assaulted a female resident, and stole property before attempting to flee in a pickup truck. He drove through a yard, hit a parked car, ran over a child’s play structure, and crashed into another residence. An armed neighbor shot out the assailant’s tires, pulled him from the truck, and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
Whether at home or in public, Americans’ meaningful ability to invoke their natural right of self-defense is one of the most important aspects to our free republic.
Policies that arbitrarily strip this ability from all but a select few aren’t “reasonable regulations,” but gross violations of both an enumerated constitutional right and natural law.
At the same time, such policies leave ordinary citizens largely defenseless in the face of attacks on life, liberty, and property, failing to further the public safety interest the government so often invokes to justify these policies.
The public is not rendered “safer” when citizens are disarmed, but rendered only more vulnerable to (and powerless against) those who would do them harm.
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