Hawaii’s high court last week thumbed its nose at the U.S. Supreme Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence, declaring that the right to bear arms in public clashes with the “Aloha spirit” and therefore doesn’t really apply in that state.

That’s right. The Hawaii Supreme Court believes it can water down and reinterpret the federal Bill of Rights, because—well— “vibes.”

In a legal world where state and lower courts routinely find new and absurd ways to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and pivot their way around the right to keep and bear arms, this opinion by the Hawaii Supreme Court stands apart as particularly ludicrous.

The court argues that Hawaii’s pre-statehood history “does not include a society where armed people move about the community to possibly combat the deadly aims of others,” as though this somehow determines the scope of federal constitutional rights that Hawaii, as a part of the United States, is bound not to violate.

The court decries “a freewheeling right to carry guns in public” as “degrading other constitutional rights,” ironically missing the point: The Second Amendment, properly understood, doesn’t degrade other unalienable or political rights, but rather gives us the “teeth” to enforce those rights adequately.

The Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t promote public safety, as it claims to do. Instead, it only encourages criminals by prohibiting ordinary, law-abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional right to carry a firearm to defend themselves against violent crime.  

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 examples 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, Akron, Ohio: On New Year’s Day, a masked man entered a Taco Bell, robbed the restaurant at gunpoint, and shot at an employee. Another employee drew his own gun and returned fire, striking the robber in the chest and sending him fleeing. He later sought treatment at a hospital, where police arrested him and a suspected accomplice and impounded their vehicle. A police spokesperson praised the armed employee, noting that he may have “saved or prevented someone from being seriously injured or killed—himself or others.”
  • Jan. 4, Chicago: Police said three burglars shattered the window of a convenience store and began stealing merchandise, only to be confronted by the female store owner. One shot at the merchant, a concealed carry permit holder who was also armed; she returned fire until the three intruders fled. The store owner, whose shop reportedly was hit by burglars four days earlier, wasn’t hurt.
  • Jan. 7, Dalmatia, Pennsylvania: A man with a history of serious domestic violence followed several family members to another residence after they fled an altercation with him, police said. The man then shot through a door, fatally striking a family member, before forcing his way inside and threatening to kill everyone else. The man’s juvenile stepson grabbed a firearm inside the home and, while shielding relatives, shot and killed the intruder. Police credited the boy’s actions with “preventing death or serious bodily injury to the remaining individuals inside the home.”
  • Jan. 8, Oakland, California: Police said an armed employee of a jewelry store engaged in a lengthy shootout with two masked robbers who came in with guns drawn and told employees not to move. Despite being outgunned by the robbers, who used “high capacity” magazines that are illegal in California, the employee continued firing in self-defense until they fled. No one inside the store was hurt.
  • Jan. 11, Hutto, Texas:  Police said an elderly woman shot and killed a loose pit bull that had run into her home and viciously attacked her much smaller dog, which had been by her side while she underwent chemotherapy. The woman attempted to stop the pit bull with a broom and a small ax, then used her gun to defend herself and her pet, which survived.
  • Jan. 12, Natchez, Mississippi: Three teenage escapees from a juvenile detention center attempted to break into a home while trying to evade a manhunt, police said, only to be confronted by an armed homeowner, who opened fire. The escaped juveniles ran for cover and soon were arrested by police. It was the second time in six months that the juveniles, charged with violent felonies, had broken out of the detention center, police said. The same juveniles were responsible for at least two carjackings and a shooting during their latest escape, investigators said.
  • Jan. 14, Peoria, Illinois: A Facebook Marketplace transaction went awry for the buyers after the purported sellers lured them into a robbery setup, police said. Fortunately, one buyer was armed and had a valid concealed carry permit. He exchanged gunfire with the robbers, fatally shooting one. Neither victim was hurt, police said.
  • Jan. 16, Atascocita, Texas: A woman fatally shot her estranged husband after he forced his way into her home at 1 a.m., armed with a handgun, police said. Just hours earlier, the local prosecutor’s office had declined to file criminal charges against the man for similarly threatening actions the previous day.
  • Jan. 21, Fruita, Colorado: A homeowner used her handgun to defend herself against an intruder, police said. The intruder fled. No one was hurt.
  • Jan. 22, Carroll County, Mississippi: A man drove his truck into a residence through a living room wall and then menaced the family inside with a knife, police said. A woman and her three children hid in a closet, praying and reciting Scripture. When the man opened the closet while holding the knife, the mother shot him in the arm. He fled, but responding police officers spotted his vehicle and arrested him. The man was out on felony bond for a weapons-related offense; he now faces four counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.
  • Jan. 23, Argenta, Illinois: Two fugitives fled from police in a stolen car, crashed, and tried to break into nearby homes, investigators said. Both were held at gunpoint by two homeowners until police arrived. They face many criminal charges, including possessing a stolen vehicle, aggravated fleeing and evading, and obstructing a peace officer.
  • Jan. 25, Philadelphia: A teenager pointed a gun at another driver during a road rage incident, police said. That driver, who had a concealed carry permit, drew his own gun and shot the teen several times in self-defense, critically wounding him.
  • Jan. 27, Dothan, Alabama: A robber threatened a woman with a gun and snatched her purse, police said. The woman, a lawful gun owner, drew her own firearm and fired one round at the thief, who dropped her purse and fled.
  • Jan. 29, Wilmington, Delaware: An armed resident shot and wounded an intruder in self-defense, police said. The intruder, charged with first-degree burglary and criminal mischief, reportedly was wanted on unrelated criminal charges in Tennessee.

Regardless of what the Hawaii Supreme Court claims, these examples demonstrate that the Second Amendment continues to play a vital role in preserving—not degrading—Americans’ rights to life and liberty.

The “spirit of Aloha” doesn’t protect innocent citizens from criminal violence any more than it frees the Hawaii Supreme Court to unilaterally reinterpret the meaning of the Second Amendment.

And anti-gun zealots’ insistence that ordinary Americans are safer when unarmed doesn’t negate the natural right of self-defense.

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