As 2023 drew to a close, millions of peaceable Americans geared up for a new year that will bring with it many new limitations on their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
In California, for example, Jan. 1 was the date to ring in the state’s plethora of new restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in public, courtesy of SB 2, a law passed in the wake of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen to punish concealed carry permit holders for having their rights vindicated by the Supreme Court.
This legislation spitefully limits the scope of lawful concealed carry to little more than empty public sidewalks, in effect telling ordinary Californians that while they can now obtain a concealed carry permit, those permits are functionally useless.
In Illinois, meanwhile, the new year brought with it the deadline for registering so-called assault weapons with the government—the final act of the state’s ban on new purchases of some of the nation’s most commonly owned semi-automatic firearms.
Despite these onerous new gun control laws and many others like them, in December, ordinary gun owners around the country were busy proving to gun control activists just how much their new restrictions miss the mark. Overwhelmingly, lawful gun owners are not the driving force behind criminal gun violence. On the contrary, as the stories below show, they are often their own best (or only) defense against criminal actors who are rarely deterred by restrictive gun laws.
Almost every major study has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged. 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 months and years. You also may follow @DailyDGU on X, formerly Twitter, for daily highlights of defensive gun uses.)
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in December. You may explore more using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
Dec. 1, Sanford, Maine: Prior to a town holiday parade and tree lighting event, a knife-wielding man began threatening motorists. The owner of a local food truck confronted the man and tried to de-escalate the situation, but the man threatened to kill him. Fearing for his life and the lives of his wife and four daughters—who were watching a Christmas movie inside the food truck—the owner drew his firearm, shooting and wounding the man before he could make good on his threats.
Dec. 6, Miami, Florida: A resident of an apartment complex saw two would-be catalytic converter thieves underneath his car with power tools, armed himself, and confronted them. The thieves initially walked away, but quickly returned to retrieve their power tools. This time, the thieves shot at the resident, who took cover behind a wall and returned fire, sending them fleeing for good.
Dec. 11, Hoffman, North Carolina: A woman shot and wounded her husband after he—allegedly intoxicated—hit her in the face multiples times, locked her in a bedroom, and continued to assault her. After defending herself with her firearm and shooting him in leg, the woman was able to run to a neighbor’s house for help. Her husband now faces criminal charges.
Dec. 12, Commerce City, Colorado: Police say that after a woman’s adult son threw her to the ground, poured gasoline on her, and tried to light her on fire, her life was saved by the intervention of a legally armed good Samaritan, who confronted the son and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
Dec. 15, Charlotte, North Carolina: Three smash-and-grab burglars entered a jewelry store, smashed display cases with a sledgehammer, and stole $100,000 worth of merchandise. The incident could’ve been much more devastating to the business had the owner not immediately drawn his handgun on the burglars, sending them fleeing just seconds into their crime.
Dec. 17, Wasilla, Alaska: A stranger broke into a married couple’s home and stabbed the husband in his arm during a physical confrontation, prompting his wife to grab a gun and fatally shoot the intruder in defense of her husband. The husband received treatment for a non-life-threatening injury.
Dec. 20, Houston, Texas: The manager of a Dollar General fatally shot an armed robber who demanded at gunpoint that employees open the store safe. After being shot, the robber initially fled the scene in a car. He didn’t make it far, however, before crashing into a city bus and succumbing to his wounds.
Dec. 21, Seattle, Washington: When four intruders tried to break into his home with a sledgehammer, a homeowner grabbed his rifle and exchanged gunfire with them. The would-be intruders fled once confronted with armed resistance. Police noted that this attempted home invasion followed a similar pattern to a string of crimes committed earlier in the year, where black assailants specifically targeted Asian victims.
Dec. 26, Soso, Mississippi: A man armed with an AR-15 fatally shot his sister’s estranged husband after the husband showed up to her home in the middle of the night in violation of a protection order, refused to leave, and reached for a handgun during the ensuing confrontation. The estranged husband had a history of violent behavior and had recently been ordered to undergo a mental health assessment.
Dec. 27, Chicago, Illinois: A concealed carry permit holder returned fire at four would-be carjackers who shot at him and his female passenger—a co-worker whom he’d just picked up after she experienced a flat tire on the way to work. The suspects fled. Both victims sustained gunshot wounds but were released from the hospital that same day. The woman’s family credited her armed co-worker with saving her life.
Dec. 31, Denver, Colorado: An armed father exchanged gunfire with two men who tried to rob him at gunpoint as he and his family exited their car after parking in the lot of a popular downtown museum. The robbers fled, and no members of the family were injured. One of the suspected robbers was soon dropped off at a nearby hospital with gunshot wounds. He now faces four counts of attempted murder.
If gun control activists had their way, many of these ordinary Americans would be treated just as harshly as the criminals against whom they protected themselves and others.
This isn’t hyperbole.
Under California’s new carry laws, if the incident in the museum parking lot in Denver had happened in California, the armed father would have faced criminal charges for defending himself with a firearm in a “parking area under the control of a zoo or museum.” And the heroic concealed carry permit holder in Chicago might well have been dissuaded from carrying his firearm to and from his job at an airport—another place where, as of Jan. 1, California banned the possession of firearms, unless kept inaccessible in a locked box.
So, too, would the man who defended his sister in Soso, Mississippi, with an AR-15—he would be facing criminal charges in restrictive states like California and Illinois—not because his actions weren’t self-evidently justified as self-defense, but because he used a type of firearm that is irrationally (and ironically) condemned by gun control activists as “not useful for lawful civilian purposes.”
2023 ended as a year in which lawful gun owners proved time and again that the right to keep and bear arms remains as important today as it was when the Second Amendment was ratified.
Here’s to a new year and a renewed resolve to protect Americans’ right to armed self-defense.
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