12 Defensive Gun Uses Underscore Fallacy of Mexico’s Lawsuit

COMMENTARY Firearms

12 Defensive Gun Uses Underscore Fallacy of Mexico’s Lawsuit

Aug 18th, 2021 6 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Amy Swearer

Legal Fellow, Meese Center

Amy is a legal fellow in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.
The Mexican government announced a lawsuit earlier this month against several high-profile U.S. gun manufacturers. Chanin Wardkhian / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Mexico accuses the U.S. companies of “negligent practices” it claims are driving gun violence in Mexico by arming drug cartels with “military grade weapons.” 

Despite that country’s incredibly restrictive gun laws, its peaceable citizens are defenseless against well-armed gangs that care nothing about law and order.

Rather than shifting blame to lawful U.S. businesses, Mexico should consider learning from the U.S.

The Mexican government announced a lawsuit earlier this month against several high-profile U.S. gun manufacturers.

Mexico accuses the U.S. companies of “negligent practices” it claims are driving gun violence in Mexico by arming drug cartels with “military grade weapons.” 

Put aside for a moment that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act likely bars the lawsuit, or that these companies are not responsible for any “lax enforcement” of gun laws in either nation.

Put aside, too, that any truly “military grade” weapons in the hands of drug cartels don’t come from the U.S. civilian gun market, but from Central America via the black market and from the Mexican government itself via corruption and military desertion.

The Mexican government clearly has missed the larger underlying point. Despite that country’s incredibly restrictive gun laws—indeed, arguably because of these laws—its peaceable citizens are defenseless against well-armed gangs that care nothing about law and order.

By contrast, Americans aren’t left defenseless when the government can’t or won’t be there to protect them.

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, according to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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 July. You may explore more by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database.

  • July 1, Olympia, Washington: A married couple living on a boat awoke to the sound of what they initially thought was debris scraping against the boat’s hull. Instead, they found a man stealing an inflatable 10-foot dinghy, police said. The husband retrieved a handgun and confronted the would-be thief, who returned the dinghy. The thief then asked if he could retrieve his wallet from the roof of the couple’s boat and, despite multiple warnings from the husband not to come aboard and that he was armed, the man tried to board anyway. The husband fired a warning shot to keep the man off the boat until police arrived to arrest him for attempted theft and residential burglary.
  • July 3, Natchez, Mississippi: When a man got into an argument with a gas station clerk over the amount of change he was owed, another customer offered to get the disputed 21 cents from his car and give it to the man. Police said the man pulled a knife on the friendly customer, who in response drew a firearm in self-defense. A woman who was with the knife-wielding man pulled out her own firearm and threatened the customer, who shot and wounded her. Police arrested the man and woman on several charges, noting active warrants for the woman’s arrest in another state.
  • July 6, Fairfield, California: A man living in a second-story apartment discovered a burglar climbing through his kitchen window and retrieved a handgun, police said. Police said the burglar tried to flee, then turned back toward the resident who fired a shot at him. The round missed, but the armed resident was able to detain the suspect in the building’s common area until police arrived.
  • July 8, Rosman, North Carolina: Police said a father shot his adult son during an altercation in which the son assaulted the father and refused to leave the father’s residence. At one point after the initial assault, the son approached his father in a threatening manner and the father shot him once in the stomach, wounding him. The son faces assault charges, police said.  
  • July 9, Eureka, Missouri: Security camera footage captured the moment a homeowner confronted a burglar he discovered rifling through his truck. The burglar began to run away but turned back to fire a gun at the homeowner, who drew his own handgun and fired back. Police said they believe the burglar is one of three suspects involved in an organized burglary ring that had been terrorizing the neighborhood.
  • July 12, Toney, Alabama: Police said a man who was fatally shot during a domestic violence incident was the offender in the confrontation, but did not release details on who shot him. The dead man had been out on bond for several criminal charges for domestic violence, including violating a protection order.
  • July 14, Chattanooga, Tennessee: Multiple witnesses said an armed driver successfully defended himself when another driver assaulted him at a traffic light. The driver suspected of starting the incident died of his wounds, police said. No charges were filed against the armed driver.
  • July 17, Houston, Texas: A resident driving through his neighborhood confronted three men who were breaking into a neighbor’s car, police said. The resident honked to get their attention. All three thieves pulled out guns and shot at the resident, who drew his own firearm and shot back. Another resident called police, but officers didn’t arrive before the three men fled.
  • July 22, Woodbridge, Virginia: A woman was leaving her house when she was approached by an armed man wearing a mask, police said. Fortunately, the woman also was armed and fatally shot the man, who police later linked to several armed robberies of local convenience stores.
  • July 25, Chicago, Illinois: concealed carry permit holder was standing near his car when a teenage boy approached him with a handgun. The permit holder shot and wounded the teen, who fled but was later arrested by police.
  • July 26, Bardstown, Kentucky: Police said a man was at work when his terrified daughter sent him a video call from her closet, telling him that a strange man had let himself into their home, where he yelled and kicked the family’s dog. The father rushed home while instructing his daughter over the phone to help her 6-year-old brother and elderly grandmother get to a neighbor’s house. The call was disconnected because of poor cell reception. Not knowing if his family was safe, the father retrieved his shotgun before confronting the intruder, who made a threat and rushed toward him, police said. The father knocked down the intruder with the shotgun and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
  • July 29, Medford, Oregon: An elderly couple woke in the middle of the night to find one of their ladders propped up against the side of their home. While his wife called police, the husband retrieved his handgun and confronted the burglar, who he held at gunpoint until officers arrived to arrest the man and charge him with attempted burglary and trespassing.

Rather than shifting blame to lawful U.S. businesses that already comply with a myriad of federal laws and regulations, Mexico should consider learning from the U.S. and allow far more of its own peaceable citizens to protect themselves lawfully with firearms.

Until then, Mexico’s largely unarmed citizens will continue to be left at the mercy of well-armed drug cartels that fear neither the government nor the people.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal