After a series of mass public shootings rocked California last month despite its incredibly strict gun control laws, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, blamed the Second Amendment, lamenting to a reporter that the right to keep and bear arms “is becoming a suicide pact.”
Newsom’s anti-gun rhetoric came, ironically, during an interview in which he was obviously protected by several well-armed members of the California Highway Patrol’s Dignitary Protection Section.
These police officers are exempt from most of the state’s crushing gun control laws, including while off duty. Unlike other Californians, the officers can possess standard-capacity magazines, buy handguns that aren’t on the state’s “approved” list, and own semiautomatic rifles deemed “illegal assault weapons” too dangerous to be entrusted to other civilians.
Evidently, Newsom’s disdain for an armed defense doesn’t extend to very special people like himself.
The governor’s outright hypocrisy, however, exposes the truth—he intuitively understands (at least when it comes to his own safety) the importance of armed resistance to violent threats. Unfortunately, he fails to appreciate its true value for everyone else.
Almost every major study 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. In 2021, the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the issue concluded that roughly 1.6 million defensive gun uses occur in the United States every year.
For this reason, The Daily Signal publishes a monthly 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 other accounts here from past years.)
The 11 incidents below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in January. You may explore more using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.)
- Jan. 1, Philadelphia: In potentially the first media-verified defensive gun use of 2023, police said a woman with a license to carry a firearm shot and wounded a man who assaulted her during an incident of domestic violence that occurred less than an hour into the new year.
- Jan. 3, Dos Palos, California: A concealed carry permit holder was attempting to assist a driver whose vehicle had become stuck in heavy mud, police said, when the driver became angry, retrieved an ax from the trunk, and swung it at the good Samaritan. The permit holder shot the ax-wielding driver in self-defense, wounding him.
- Jan. 9, Ellijay, Georgia: Police said an armed robber who tried to hide his face under a pair of women’s panties entered a combined gas station and convenience store and pointed a handgun at the clerk. What he didn’t know is that all three customers inside the store were legally armed. Working together, they disarmed the robber and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
- Jan. 11, Panama City, Florida: Police said that a man who was angry over “lost property” began shooting into a bar at closing time, while multiple patrons and employees were inside. One patron, who had a concealed carry permit, heard the gunshots, ran toward the front door, and fatally shot the gunman before anyone else was harmed.
- Jan. 12, Henderson, Nevada: A well-known social media influencer living in what was described as a heavily secured neighborhood awoke to find two armed intruders in his bedroom, in what police said they believe was a targeted attack. The intruders physically assaulted him and shot him four times in the legs, but he eventually was able to grab his own gun and defend himself. He exchanged fire with the intruders as they fled.
- Jan. 14, Utica, New York: When a disgruntled customer at an Applebee’s restaurant slashed an employee across the face with a steak knife, police said, an armed diner with a concealed carry permit intervened, ordering the man to drop the knife. He then held the assailant at gunpoint until police arrived.
- Jan. 18, Avondale, Arizona: To protect himself and his customer, police said, a gas station employee shot and critically wounded a masked man who tried to rob the station at gunpoint. The employee was able to draw his gun after the customer briefly distracted the robber.
- Jan. 20, Chicago: A concealed carry permit holder shot and wounded an armed robber who threatened him and other passengers on a subway train during rush hour, police said. Although his weapon jammed four times, the permit holder fired 18 rounds during a sustained gunfight. The robber—a longtime felon with 32 arrests since 2014—was shot once in the leg; neither the permit holder nor bystanders were injured.
- Jan. 22, Spartanburg, South Carolina: Police said that an armed driver returned fire after a 19-year-old shot at him during a road rage incident. Although his car was hit by multiple bullets, neither he nor a passenger was injured. The young man fled, but later was arrested and charged with, among other things, two counts of attempted murder.
- Jan. 23, Roswell, New Mexico: A woman fatally shot her husband in self-defense after he beat her and threatened to kill her inside a business they owned, police said. The night before, the couple had an argument that prompted the woman to sleep inside the store, where the husband confronted her the next morning.
- Jan. 27, Haines City, Florida: A concealed carry permit holder returned home with his girlfriend to find two intruders in his kitchen. The homeowner drew his gun and fired five rounds at one intruder, striking him four times, before fleeing with his girlfriend and calling police. Responding officers found the wounded intruder—a convicted felon—near the home and were trying to identify and locate the second intruder. In response to the shooting, Haines City Police Chief Greg Goreck reminded reporters that most people in the county are armed, saying: “One should expect that if you are brazen enough to enter into someone’s residence and it is not yours, with intent to commit an unlawful act, there may be repercussions.”
Unlike California’s Newsom, Goreck understands that the right to keep and bear arms isn’t a “suicide pact,” but rather an important protection that ensures law-abiding citizens have the practical ability to defend themselves and others from threats to life, liberty, or property.
Most Americans who are faced with violent threats don’t find themselves surrounded by taxpayer-funded bodyguards who are exempted from their state’s burdensome gun control laws. When their lives and livelihoods are on the line, they often have only themselves and the right to keep and bear arms to depend on in their own defense.
Nothing could be more suicidal for a civil society than to render most of its members defenseless against threats to their inalienable rights.
Newsom already knows that’s true for himself. It’s time for him to admit it’s true for all Americans.
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