11 Incidents in Which Lawful Gun Owners Made a Difference

As the Supreme Court continued its decadelong silence in protecting the Second Amendment, Americans last month nevertheless proved that they understand the importance of the right to keep and bear arms.

The FBI conducted a record-high 3.9 million background checks for firearms sales and transfers in June. The previous record of 3.7 million was set just this past March.

It is little surprise that, during these difficult and uncertain times, many Americans who never before considered the prospect of gun ownership are coming to appreciate their Second Amendment rights. Even in “normal” times, Americans often rely on their firearms to protect themselves and others.

According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost every major study on the issue has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times a year. There’s good reason to believe that most of these defensive gun uses never are reported to police, much less make the local or national news.


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For this reason, The Daily Signal each month publishes an article detailing 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 accounts from 2019 and 2020 here).

The following examples of defensive gun use represent only a small portion of the stories we found in June. You can explore more examples in The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database.

  • June 1, Edinburg, Virginia: A Virginia pastor drew his handgun to protect himself from five trespassers who assaulted him on his property. Police said the pastor had noticed two of them apparently disposing of large items illegally in a dumpster at an apartment complex he owns, and asked the two to leave. They became angry and returned with three others, surrounding the pastor. The five threatened him with racial slurs, and one head-butted him. The pastor defended himself with his handgun and called 911. After an unfortunate mix-up in which police initially detained the pastor, officers arrested the threatening individuals and charged them with hate crimes.
  • June 4, Gustavus, Ohio: A homeowner spotted a man underneath a car in his driveway late at night, and grabbed a shotgun to confront him. The man, who police suspect was trying to steal car parts, rushed at the homeowner, who shot and wounded him. Investigators later discovered that the would-be thief possessed several power tools and had put a jack under the homeowner’s car.
  • June 5, Dudley Shoals, North Carolina: When two armed men tried to rob a convenience store, the clerk drew his own gun and fired at them until they fled. The store’s security camera captured the drama, police said.   
  • June 6, Lake Elsinore, California: A store owner intervened with his firearm to protect a woman from an assailant, police said. The store owner had seen the man punch and kick the woman. The attacker left when the store owner attempted to stop him, but returned minutes later holding a metal object. When the store owner stood between the man and the woman, the assailant pushed him to the ground and began to beat the woman again. The store owner retrieved his firearm and shot the man, who fled. Police later arrested him.  
  • June 13, Ogden, Utah: vengeful ex-boyfriend drove to the residence of his former girlfriend shared with her new boyfriend and, after an argument, opened fire on them. The woman, who police said was the past victim of domestic violence by him, drew her own handgun and fired in self-defense. Police later arrested the man and charged him with numerous felonies.
  • June 14, Rome, New York:  good Samaritan with a shotgun came to his neighbors’ rescue when he realized their apartment had been broken into by an armed intruder, police said. The intruder entered through a bedroom window and pistol-whipped a woman. The neighbor went into the apartment and fired at the intruder, who fled.
  • June 16, Delta Township, Michigan: A concealed-carry permit holder intervened to defend himself and other motorists when a mentally distressed man began firing a handgun at cars on a highway. Emergency dispatchers received at least 10 calls about the man before he jumped in front of the permit holder’s car and pointed a gun at him, police said. The permit holder, who had been on his way to enjoy a round of golf, shot and killed the man.   
  • June 20, Turner, Maine: A homeowner held two suspected burglars at gunpoint until law enforcement could arrive and arrest them. The homeowner, who had noticed a back door was forced open and a lock ripped off, saw the two leaving the residence with items in their hands. He drew his handgun, detained them, and called police.
  • June 23, Spokane, Washington:  An armed mother used her firearm to protect her teenage son after a meet-up to buy a cellphone turned into an attempted robbery. Her son had agreed to meet the[MK1]  sellers in a grocery store parking lot, but the cellphone was not as advertised. When he declined to buy it, the men assaulted the teen and tried to take money from his pocket. Police said the boy’s mother, who had parked nearby, saw what was happening, drew her firearm, and fired at the men—who promptly got into their vehicle and fled.
  • June 27, Louisville, Kentucky: When a man opened fire on a crowd protesting the police shooting of Breonna Taylor in her apartment, armed bystanders fired back, wounding the shooter. Eventually, several protesters were able to hold the shooter at gunpoint and convince him to drop his weapon. Police said the shooter had been arrested twice in previous weeks on riot-related charges. Earlier that day, other protesters had asked the man to leave because of his “disruptive behavior.”
  • June 29, North Freedom, Wisconsin: Parents shot their adult son in self-defense after he fired rounds at their home and broke in during the early morning hours.  Police said the parents called 911 to report that someone was shooting at their bedroom windows. They attempted to retreat to the basement when their son entered the home, but ultimately shot and wounded him. Police charged the son with attempted murder and other felonies. He already was facing charges for other violent offenses.

Sometimes, lawful gun owners get it wrong and end up in the national news for using their guns irresponsibly. But more often, they get it right and few of us hear about it.

Many of us don’t hear about mothers defending their sons, or good Samaritans coming to the rescue of innocent neighbors.

Many of us don’t hear about the protesters whose Second Amendment rights saved the lives of those exercising their First Amendment rights.

Many of us don’t hear about the countless others whose lives and livelihoods were protected because of lawfully owned firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens.

As the silence from the Supreme Court reaches deafening levels, we promise to keep telling these stories and highlighting the importance of protecting the right to keep and bear arms.

COMMENTARY BY

Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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