Many lawmakers around the country welcomed in the new year by pursuing legislation that would severely curtail the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.
Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens began 2020 just as they ended 2019—by showing repeatedly just how instrumental that right is to the security of a free state.
According to almost every major study on the issue, Americans use their firearms defensively between 500,000 and 3 million times each year. Even if we assume the lower end of this range, it means an incredible number of times that Americans relied on the Second Amendment—not government getting there on time—to protect their inalienable rights.
During every month of last year, we highlighted some of the stories of average, everyday Americans who used their guns to protect their lives and livelihoods from criminals.
In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>
The first month of 2020 provided still more examples of citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights in defense of themselves and others. Here are 12:
- Jan. 1, Dublin, California: A lawful gun owner relied upon his Second Amendment rights to defend his life when an ex-girlfriend and her armed acquaintance assaulted him in his own home. Police said the ex-girlfriend and acquaintance showed up purporting to want some of her possessions back, but instead threatened the resident with a gun. He fired at his two attackers as he fled and called police. The ex-girlfriend was killed, and her acquaintance wounded in the exchange of gunfire. Police determined that the lawful gun owner acted in self-defense. The armed acquaintance was charged with her death under the state’s Provocative Act Doctrine, since he ultimately provoked the violent confrontation.
- Jan. 4, Columbus, Indiana: A homeowner shot and killed an intruder wielding a baseball bat who broke into his home in the middle of the night. The intruder may have been in the middle of a mental health crisis, as the Department of Veterans Affairs recently had requested that local law enforcement take the man to a hospital, but he refused to go. Neighbors reported that, in the minutes before the shooting, the man was seen walking up and down the street in a highly agitated manner, smashing windows and cursing loudly.
- Jan. 7, Pascagoula, Mississippi: A man suspected in a string of burglaries picked the wrong house to break into, at the wrong time. The armed homeowner returned in the middle of the morning to find the burglar in his bedroom. The burglar tried to pull his gun, but the homeowner instead shot and killed him.
- Jan. 10, Dallas: A concealed-carry permit holder was socializing with guests at a home cookout when three armed men attempted to rob them all at gunpoint. The permit holder drew his own handgun and fatally shot one of the robbers. The other two fled.
- Jan. 11, Tulsa, Oklahoma: A homeowner’s son was asleep in the living room when he was awoken by the family dogs barking at a man on the porch. The man demanded to see his fiancée but was told he had the wrong house and needed to leave. Instead, the man broke into the family’s car, then tried to kick in the back door. The homeowner’s son warned the man multiple times that he was armed and would shoot him if he stepped foot in the house. Nonetheless, the man barged inside. True to his word, the son shot and wounded the man, who retreated and was later arrested.
- Jan. 12, Pittsburgh: A young father used his handgun to defend himself, his fiancée, and their 10-month-old child after an intruder broke into their apartment and threatened them at gunpoint. The man shot and killed the intruder.
- Jan. 14, Pierce County, Washington: The driver of a pickup truck began passing cars dangerously on a winding two-lane road, then took offense when another driver honked at him. Police said the pickup driver stopped his truck, halting traffic, then climbed out with a gun, pointing it at the people in the car behind him. A passenger in that car also was armed and ultimately was forced to shoot and kill the pickup driver in defense of himself and those around him.
- Jan. 19, Danville, Illinois: When several armed men in ski masks kicked in his door one night, a 31-year-old homeowner defended himself with his handgun, firing multiple rounds at the intruders. One was killed and the others fled, police said.
- Jan. 22, Warren, Michigan: A young man with a concealed-carry permit was returning home from a late night out at a show when he was accosted on his doorstep by a man with a gun. A neighbor’s doorbell camera captured the next harrowing moments: The permit holder drew his gun in self-defense and fired approximately 10 rounds at his would-be attacker. The attacker, wounded, fired back but did not hit the permit holder. About 20 shots were fired, police said, most apparently by the permit holder. Police arrested the intruder.
- Jan. 24, Cape Coral, Florida: A good Samaritan with a firearm in his truck defended three women from a man who followed them out of a bar in a threatening manner. The women yelled at passing vehicles for help, and the truck driver stopped and allowed the women to take refuge inside as he confronted the aggressive man. The man retreated to his own vehicle when he saw that the truck driver was armed. He then rammed the truck several times while the women were still inside. The truck driver fired a couple of rounds into the tailgate of the man’s vehicle and held him at gunpoint until police arrived. Police charged the man with aggravated assault and determined that the truck driver acted in lawful defense of himself and the women.
- Jan. 27, Brown County, Texas: A 13-year-old boy used the family rifle to protect his grandmother during a domestic violence incident, shooting and wounding a man because he was “fearful that his grandmother was going to be killed,” police said. Investigators said the man was “actively assaulting” the boy’s grandmother and threatened other family members, including a juvenile.
- Jan. 31, Detroit: A woman shot and wounded a man who broke into her apartment in the middle of the night. A neighbor told reporters that it is a dangerous neighborhood and that there are regularly “gunshots up and down the area.” This time the gunshots were from a law-abiding citizen defending herself against a criminal.
As we noted in closing out 2019, it’s vital that Americans routinely hear these stories.
The “good guy with a gun” is not a myth but an integral part of American society, serving to protect individual liberty and increase public safety.
We all want safe communities, but our focus should be on doing the right thing instead of just doing “something.” The right thing certainly includes protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, who regularly rely on those rights.
Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @AmySwearer.
A Note for our Readers:
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The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.
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