The world has said “good riddance” to 2020 and ushered in a new year. Although 2020 was a year in which many people faced extraordinary challenges, it did come with a silver lining for advocates of a strong Second Amendment right—unprecedented growth in the number of Americans who embrace their right to keep and bear arms.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Americans bought an estimated 21 million firearms in 2020, with 8.4 million Americans buying a gun for the first time last year.
Additionally, the number of Americans with concealed carry permits continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate than in past years. This likely was due to record-long delays in permit processing and shutdowns because of COVID-19.
It is hardly surprising that law-abiding citizens flocked to exercise their Second Amendment rights last year. It was, after all, a year replete with widespread civil unrest and calls to strip resources from police departments already hamstrung by a global pandemic.
But even during “normal” years, the right to keep and bear arms plays an important role in preserving the public safety.
According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost every major study on the issue found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times a year. We have good reason to believe that many of these defensive gun uses aren’t reported to police, much less make the local or national news.
For this reason, The Daily Signal each month publishes an 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 accounts from 2019 and 2020 here.)
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in December. You may explore more by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database.
- Dec. 2, Yorkville, New York: Three or four armed intruders kicked in a door of a residence and forced a woman to the floor at gunpoint while they burglarized her home. Another resident heard the commotion from a bedroom, grabbed a “long gun,” and exchanged fire with the intruders, forcing them to flee, police said. The woman they had assaulted was wounded in the shootout but her injuries were not life-threatening.
- Dec. 4, Alexander City, Alabama: A driver recognized a wanted murder suspect walking along a rural road and held him at gunpoint until police arrived. A U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and local police had been on a four-day manhunt for the suspect, who is alleged to have shot to death his girlfriend and her teenage son.
- Dec. 6, Blountstown, Florida: A man used his AR-15 to defend himself against two armed, masked gunmen who approached his home, threatened the three residents, and demanded money. At one point, a robber pointed his gun at a resident’s head, which appears to have sparked a shootout, police said. Two residents were injured in the ensuing firefight, but the assailants fled and the residents were expected to survive.
- Dec. 8, Lacombe, Louisiana: Four armed intruders broke into a residence and assaulted the homeowner, police said. The homeowner was able to grab and shoot his own firearm, killing two attackers and wounding the others, who now face a plethora of felony charges. The homeowner’s 4-year-old daughter was injured in the crossfire, but was expected to make a full recovery.
- Dec. 11, Las Vegas, Nevada: An employee of a car dealership confronted a homeless man who was attempting to break into the business, police said. The intruder became physically aggressive and shoved the employee to the ground, where he injured his head. Police said the employee then drew a firearm and shot and killed his attacker in self-defense.
- Dec. 14, Atlanta, Georgia: During an argument at an apartment complex, a man pulled a gun and shot another man several times in the back, wounding him. A woman who lived there drew her own firearm and fatally shot the gunman in self-defense, police said. She was not expected to face charges.
- Dec. 17, Pine Bluff, Arkansas: A paramedic defended himself and his partner with his firearm after a call to a domestic dispute turned violent. The paramedics began to treat a woman who told them that her boyfriend had beaten her; the boyfriend angrily confronted them for treating her injuries. After a physical altercation, he took out a gun and opened fire on the paramedics, police said. One paramedics was armed and, though injured, shot back, killing the boyfriend. Both paramedics were treated for gunshot wounds, but they and the woman survived.
- Dec. 22, Green Township, Pennsylvania: A man at a gun range inexplicably turned his firearm on his friend, shooting and wounding him, police said. Another gun owner saw the attack and came to the friend’s aid, fatally wounding the gunman and likely saving the friend’s life.
- Dec. 25, Stockton, California: Upset by an ongoing dispute, a neighbor forced his way into a woman’s residence on Christmas Day, police said. A verbal confrontation soon turned into a physical assault, prompting the woman to shoot and wound the man in defense of herself and her family.
- Dec. 26, Chicago, Illinois: An armed robber walked into a cell phone store and demanded store property at gunpoint from an employee. The employee, a concealed carry permit holder, drew his own handgun and fatally shot the robber, police said.
- Dec. 27, Port Arthur, Texas: Several armed men forcibly followed a woman into her residence, holding her and her young children at gunpoint, police said. The homeowner, who heard what was happening from another room, armed himself with a rifle and shot at the men, killing one and sending the other two fleeing.
Although we all can hope that 2021 brings increased stability and lower crime rates, we also should hope that America’s new gun owners do not forget the lessons of 2020.
America’s civil society and “scheme of ordered liberty” are fragile things that can be severely disrupted with little warning.
Unfortunately, many gun control advocates still want to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves in public, or with the firearms of their choice, best suited to their situation, experience, or comfort levels. There is little doubt that these law-abiding Americans will benefit from a 2021 where the nation returns to “normalcy,” and the chaos of 2020 begins to feel more like a fevered dream than a lived experience.
So say “good riddance” to 2020—but remember what it taught us about the right to keep and bear arms.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal