Apparently, some Indianapolis public officials have forgotten how their own self-defense laws work and why they exist in the first place.

In an interview that’s equal parts amusing and alarming, Indiana’s Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears recently lamented an increase in self-defense shootings in Indianapolis.

Mears complained to reporters that shootings involving self-defense claims are challenging to prosecute. This “mean[s] that someone lost their life” and “that case might ultimately be cleared” without the shooter being charged, he said.

Mears also implied that defensive gun users who can’t be prosecuted are just as bad as the criminals they shot, simply by virtue of the fact that both parties were armed.

With all due respect to Mears, the county prosecutor seems to miss the point.

As in virtually every other state, Indiana law justifies the use of deadly force only when a person has a reasonable belief that such force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury, commission of a forcible felony, or unlawful entry into a home or vehicle.

Moreover, a person generally can’t rely on the protection of self-defense laws if he or she was committing a crime or fleeing after committing one, provoked the threat, or engaged in “mutual combat.”

In other words, to the extent that self-defense shootings are difficult to prosecute, it’s because there’s pretty good evidence that the shooter was morally and legally justified in doing what he did.

You would think that someone like Mears would comprehend this, given his position as a prosecutor.

The importance of armed self-defense can’t be overstated. 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 March. You may explore more using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.)

  • March 2, Waco, Nebraska: Police said a man refused to remove his camper from a family member’s property, then assaulted the relative with a blunt object, hitting him in the head and knocking him to the ground. The victim drew a gun and shot the man in the arm to end the assault, police said. The man was charged with second-degree assault, among other offenses.
  • March 4, Bristol, Tennessee: An off-duty corrections officer thwarted an armed robbery at a convenience store while on the way to work, police said. The officer held the robber at gunpoint until police arrived, and the Police Department later issued a statement of gratitude. The suspect was charged with aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
  • March 8, Chicago: Police said a 60-year-old holder of a concealed carry permit engaged in a shootout with an armed robber who approached him while he made an ATM withdrawal. Despite sustaining a gunshot wound himself, the permit holder fatally shot the robber. The victim was admitted to a hospital in stable condition.
  • March 9, Espanola, New Mexico: An elderly homeowner fatally shot a burglar who assaulted him and his wife after they confronted him in their garage. Police said the burglar was well known to them in connection with similar crimes in the area.
  • March 11, Lakeland, Florida: Police said a legally armed man used two of his firearms—a handgun and rifle—to defend himself, his girlfriend, and her two children during an exchange of gunfire with two gunmen who approached them as they prepared to leave a friend’s house in their car. The legally armed boyfriend shot and killed one assailant, but unfortunately not before the attackers’ gunfire fatally struck the woman’s 3-year-old boy. Her boyfriend was wounded, but not in a life-threatening way. The woman and the other child were unharmed, police said.
  • March 14, Blackfoot, Idaho: Police said that an elderly homeowner fatally shot an intruder who broke into her home in the middle of the day and viciously assaulted her, causing injuries that required hospital treatment.
  • March 19, Zolfo Springs, Florida: A sheriff’s deputy responded to a call about an armed domestic violence offender violating a no-contact order, investigators said. The deputy found the offender in the backyard of the victim’s home, armed with an AR-15, and exchanged gunfire with him. When the offender began shooting at the house, the victim’s father became worried for the safety of his family. He grabbed his own handgun and joined the deputy in the gunfight. The suspect fled but was captured two days later and faces serious criminal charges. The victims and the deputy were not injured.
  • March 20, Rock Cave, West Virginia: Police said a 15-year-old boy fatally shot his father in self-defense after the man fired a shotgun at his wife, then pointed the weapon at the boy. The victims weren’t injured.
  • March 28, Melrose, Florida: An armed driver shot and wounded a mentally disturbed man who assaulted him with a shovel, breaking his arm, police said. This followed a bizarre and frightening rampage in which the mentally disturbed man—claiming to be God—walked into traffic while holding his baby and a Bible, laid down on top of the baby in the middle of the street, and assaulted anyone who tried to intervene. The baby was evaluated at a pediatric emergency room;  the driver was treated at a hospital for his injuries. The suspect was expected to face criminal charges.
  • March 31, Lincolnton, North Carolina: Police said a customer at a gas station shot and wounded a robber who tried to steal his car and threatened him with a knife. The robber was arrested; the customer was not injured.

These examples provide just a small glimpse into how ordinary Americans routinely use their firearms to protect themselves and others.

Lawfully possessing a firearm didn’t turn them into “bad actors” deserving of condemnation and punishment. Rather, it gave them the means to make effective use of their unalienable right to self-defense.

A March 25 incident in Madison Township, Ohio, was removed April 29 from this month’s list of incidents of defensive gun use because police decided, upon further investigation, to charge a 81-year-old man with murder after he shot a 61-year-old female Uber driver three times in the mistaken belief that she was part of a telephone scam demanding money.