Firearms are used in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times every year in the United States. (Photo: Getty Images)
Why These Defensive Uses of Firearms Should Disarm Second Amendment Skeptics
At a time when many high-profile politicians are comfortable proposing laws that impose serious burdens on the right to keep and bear arms, including the mass confiscation of commonly owned firearms, it’s important to remember that those same firearms are regularly used by average Americans to defend their life, liberty, and property.
While some gun control advocates claim the Second Amendment is a dangerous historical relic, even going so far as to call for its repeal, they often overlook the fact that firearms are significantly more likely to be used for self-defense than in criminal activity.
In fact, according to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all national studies of defensive gun uses have found that firearms are used in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times every year in the United States.
Additionally, an independent analysis of the CDC’s own internal data on defensive gun uses indicates that firearms are used defensively about 1 million times a year, dwarfing the number of deaths and injuries attributable to their criminal use.
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This year, we made a commitment to highlight just a few of the many defensive gun uses that occur every month. Just as in January, February, March, April, and May, June was full of instances of law-abiding citizens who relied on their Second Amendment rights to defend their inalienable rights.
- June 2, Martinsville, Virginia: A man filling his tank at a gas station successfully defended himself against two would-be robbers armed with handguns. The victim was unharmed, but one of the assailants, who exchanged gunfire with the victim, was shot and injured.
- June 4, Sun City Center, Florida: A man suspected of committing multiple carjackings was fatally shot by an armed business manager with a concealed-carry permit while the man was attempting to break into the manager’s store. The suspected carjacker-turned-burglar was also armed, despite an extensive criminal history disqualifying him from lawful firearm possession.
- June 5, Bakersfield, California: A woman defended her home and her children by retrieving her handgun and shooting a man using a hammer to break into her home. The injured man was later charged with several crimes, including carrying a concealed weapon, but neither the woman nor her kids were harmed.
- June 6, Cincinnati: A woman shot her ex-boyfriend after he “kicked out the A/C unit and tried to break through the front window” of her home. According to police, the mother of five children—who were also home at the time of the incident—had a restraining order against the man. While speaking about the case, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters made it clear just how important it was for this mother to be armed: “It is hard to imagine what might have happened to her or her children if she had not been able to protect herself and her family.”
- June 7, Chicago: A Good Samaritan with a concealed-carry permit intervened when two gunmen opened fire near him, drawing his own firearm and striking both assailants. The Good Samaritan, who was not injured in the exchange, was sitting in a nearby vehicle when the two assailants opened fire at an unknown fourth party, who was injured but survived.
- June 14, Winston, Missouri: Several civilians, one of whom was legally carrying a firearm, came to the defense of a wounded female police officerafter the restrained inmate she was transporting seized her service weapon, shot her, and commandeered the vehicle. The civilians witnessed the attack and followed the police vehicle until it came to a stop, where the armed civilian held the inmate at gunpoint while the other men pulled him out of the car. One witness later recounted, “If the Good Samaritan hadn’t threatened to use deadly force, the situation could have ended very differently [for the police officer].”
- June 15, Highland Home, Alabama: A woman’s boyfriend came to her defense by shooting an attacker who stabbed her. The woman required almost 100 stitches because of the stabbing, but survived. Her boyfriend was unharmed.
- June 18, Detroit: A father was spending quality time with his family outside when he heard noises coming from his home. When he went inside, he was confronted by a man with a shotgun. Fortunately, the father was armed with his own gun and was able to fatally shoot the intruder before anyone else was harmed.
- June 19, Warren, Michigan: A man’s stepmother, who was armed and had a concealed-carry permit, came to his defense after he fled from four masked men who attempted to rob him. The stepmother fired a warning shot, causing the assailants to return fire before quickly driving away. All four would-be robbers were later arrested.
- June 25, Harris County, Texas: An intruder’s plan to burglarize a home was foiled when the homeowner fatally shot him. The homeowner was cleaning her house when she heard someone smash through her back window. She grabbed her firearm and at first attempted to hide from the burglar in a bedroom closet. When the burglar opened the closet, the woman ended the invasion with a single shot—fortunately, before the burglar could use his own firearm against her.
- June 27, North Port, Florida: A woman’s boyfriend came to her defensewhen a man with a loaded handgun attempted to rob her while she withdrew money from an ATM. The boyfriend shot the would-be robber, who was seriously injured, but survived. Both the robbery suspect and his alleged getaway driver were arrested and now face felony charges.
Although advocates of stricter gun control laws commonly claim that such laws are appropriate because defensive uses of firearms are rare compared with criminal uses, Americans like those cited regularly use firearms to defend the life, liberty, and property of themselves, their families, and even complete strangers.
Often, as evidenced above, they do so against criminals who remain quite capable of accessing firearms themselves, despite laws prohibiting it.
America’s tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners—everyday men and women, who just want to go about their lives in peace—are not better protected by laws that impose substantial burdens on their abilities to defend themselves against the criminals who don’t (and never will) abide by those laws in the first place.
They are better protected when we recognize that well-armed, law-abiding citizens are the first—and sometimes the only—meaningful line of defense for their own inalienable rights.
Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
Lucas Drill is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.