Whenever criminals harm someone with firearms, many gun control advocates use the violence as an argument to disarm ordinary, peaceable Americans.
Indeed, this is precisely what happened May 23 after two groups opened fire on each other outside a crowded strip club in Austin, Texas, fatally wounding one bystander and injuring 13 others, most of them also bystanders.
Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, formerly chief in both head of Austin and Houston, took to social media, where he appeared to mock the idea of ordinary armed civilians being able to intervene effectively when criminal violence occurs.
Acevedo also took indirect aim at a recently passed Texas law that removed substantial barriers for law-abiding citizens who seek to carry guns in public.
Never mind that the new, permitless carry statute was not in effect at the time of the shooting outside the Austin strip club.
Never mind that both suspects are minors who, even under the new statute, cannot lawfully carry a handgun in public.
Never mind that the shooting took place during weekend bar- crawl hours in a downtown entertainment district, where most people can’t legally carry firearms because they’ve been drinking alcohol but police officers have an unusually high presence.
To Acevedo, the logical conclusion is that the new Texas law is to blame, and that cops must be immediately on the scene to confront violent criminals.
Unfortunately for the Miami police chief, though, the reality is that, despite their best efforts, police officers rarely are able to arrive fast enough to protect potential victims before they would be able to protect themselves if they were armed.
In fact, the data shows just how important the Second Amendment is during the vast majority of instances when police can’t get to the scene in time.
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 uses of guns 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, 2020, and so far in 2021 here.)
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in May. You may explore more by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database.
- May 4, Ensley, Florida: A woman used her firearm to protect herself and her children when a man broke into her home and threatened the family with a knife. The man was the subject of a restraining order not to come near the woman because of prior domestic violence. Security camera footage of the incident shows the man yelling profanities before kicking in the door and entering. Once inside, police said, the man grabbed a knife and went room to room searching for the woman, who fatally shot him in self-defense.
- May 7, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia: An intruder forced his way into a home and demanded money from a resident, police said. As the intruder assaulted one resident and his mother with a wooden ax handle, a second intruder entered through a back door. The mother was able to retrieve a rifle and fire at the intruders, wounding one and sending the other fleeing. Police later arrested two suspects and charged them with various felonies.
- May 8, Boston, Massachusetts: A good Samaritan with a concealed carry permit came to the aid of a woman who was being robbed in Franklin Park, police said. When he saw the robber put his hands around the woman’s neck, he approached and fired a warning shot. The man fled, but police later arrested and charged him with aggravated assault.
- May 8, Houston, Texas: A woman’s ex-boyfriend was picking up some belongings at her home when he became aggressive, head-butting and choking the woman. Police said she escaped his grasp, retrieved a handgun, and fatally shot him in self-defense.
- May 10, Hollister, California: A mother of two young children woke up to find a man inside her walk-in closet, armed with several knives and a machete. She grabbed a gun, confronted the intruder, and ordered him to leave, police said. When the man instead advanced toward her despite warning shots, she shot him once in the leg.
- May 11, Everett, Washington: A man became aggressive toward a woman and her granddaughter, yelling and waving a baton at them in a threatening manner while refusing to let them walk away. Police said two passersby attempted to intervene, but the man assaulted them with the baton and a can of pepper spray. A good Samaritan armed with a handgun came to their rescue, fatally shooting the assailant.
- May 13, Albuquerque, New Mexico: After a night at the casino, a man and his son stopped at an ATM to get more cash so they could buy food. A man approached their vehicle and put a gun to the son’s head, police said. The son pushed away the gun, which fired several inches from his head. Disoriented, the son was able to drive a short distance, giving his father time to grab and fire his own firearm. The assailant fled.
- May 16, Jacksonville, North Carolina: A homeowner became suspicious when, shortly after his return home from a local nightclub, his dog began wildly barking. When he grabbed a firearm and went outside with his dog to investigate, someone fired at him, police said. The homeowner, wounded, returned fire and fatally shooting his attacker. Police said the dead man was wearing dark clothing, latex gloves, and a ski mask, and likely had planned to rob the homeowner.
- May 21, Riverside, California: A former employee of a barbershop entered the business and started an altercation. During the fight, he pulled a knife and stabbed two former co-workers, police said. One of the wounded employees was able to retrieve a firearm and fatally shoot the attacker.
- May 22, Olympia, Washington: A woman’s ex-boyfriend broke into her home and threatened her, her children, and her current boyfriend with a metal pipe, police said. The current boyfriend grabbed his handgun and shot the intruder, who managed to get back to his vehicle and drive away. Police said they arrested and charged him with several felonies after he called 911 for medical assistance.
- May 25, Ogden, Utah: An employee of an elementary school thwarted a man’s attempt to kidnap an 11-year-old student from the school playground, confronting him and forcing him to let go of the girl. Police said the employee shepherded the girl and other students into a classroom. When the man tried to break a classroom window to force his way inside, the employee—a concealed carry permit holder lawfully carrying his gun on school property—drew his firearm. He held the would-be kidnapper at gunpoint until police arrived.
- May 30, Oakville, Missouri: A neighbor heard a woman’s cries for help as someone forced his way through her apartment door, police said. He armed himself with his gun and went to assist the woman, whose ex-boyfriend had broken in. When the intruder confronted him, the good Samaritan fired and fatally wounded the intruder.
It’s sometimes true that police officers can arrive in time to stop a crime, or that under some circumstances armed civilians are not able to defend themselves or others. But as these news stories show, the number of times that the right to keep and bear arms makes all the difference is far from insignificant.
Rather than doing their utmost to undermine the Second Amendment, gun control advocates such as Miami’s Acevedo should take notice of how ordinary Americans protect themselves every day with lawfully wielded firearms.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal.