Second Amendment a Blessing, Not a “Curse,” in End-of-Year Examples of Defensive Gun Use

COMMENTARY Firearms

Second Amendment a Blessing, Not a “Curse,” in End-of-Year Examples of Defensive Gun Use

Jan 9, 2023 6 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Amy Swearer

Legal Fellow, Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

Amy is a Legal Fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.
For countless Americans who defend themselves with firearms every year, the right to keep and bear arms is not a curse. Jecapix / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

The most egregious aspect of the editorial is its air of disdain for peaceable Americans who want to protect themselves with firearms.

The American gun owners described above were not “fanatical” or “irrational” for possessing firearms or defending themselves and others with them. Far from it.

When the government failed to protect these Americans, the Second Amendment was their greatest blessing.

The editorial board of a major New Jersey newspaper started the year off with an anti-Second Amendment screed, decrying the right to keep and bear arms as a “curse” perpetuated by a “fanatical” interpretation created by the Supreme Court in 2008.

Among other things, editors at the Newark-based Star-Ledger bemoaned that the Second Amendment keeps the nation from enacting “rational” gun control along the lines of Canada—which is a hair’s breadth away from banning all firearm sales—and called for readers to imagine the possibilities if the Supreme Court would just reinterpret the Constitution according to the justices’ personal perceptions of “reasonable” public policy.

The editorial, unsurprisingly, gets many things wrong.

For example, far from “suddenly siding” with the National Rifle Association in 2008 about the meaning of the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller merely affirmed the long-established interpretation of the right, universally held by stalwarts of constitutional law such as William Rawle and Joseph Story.

But the most egregious aspect of the editorial is its air of disdain for peaceable Americans who want to protect themselves with firearms in such unimaginable public places as “restaurants” and “nursing homes.

Perhaps these editors should spend less time pontificating about other countries and more time investigating the reality of defensive gun use in this one.

Almost every major study on the issue has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually, according to the latest report on the subject by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just last year, a more comprehensive study concluded that roughly 1.6 million defensive gun uses occur in the United States every year.

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 other accounts here from 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.)

The examples below represent only a fraction 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. 1, Marinette, Wisconsin: Local police said a man who fatally shot a woman in an apartment complex hallway was justified in his actions because it appeared that the woman had stabbed him before he shot her in self-defense.
  • Dec. 5, Warner Robbins, Georgia:  When an armed, masked robber jumped over the counter at a fast-food restaurant, demanded money, and pistol-whipped an employee, that employee drew his own gun and fired three shots at the robber, striking him twice. The wounded robber fled but responding police officers found him and took him to a hospital, where he died. The armed employee wasn’t injured, police said.
  • Dec. 7, Knoxville, Tennessee: A man returned home to find a naked intruder ransacking his living room, so he and his wife fled to a neighbor’s house to call 911, police said. The intruder followed the couple, prompting the neighbor to retrieve his handgun and order the suspect to lay down. Instead of complying, the intruder broke off a car’s windshield wiper and repeatedly swung it aggressively at the neighbor even after he fired a warning shot and retreated into his own yard. The neighbor ultimately shot and wounded the intruder.
  • Dec. 10, Chicago: A concealed carry permit holder turned the tables on three would-be carjackers who shot at him, police said. The intended victim drew his own gun and returned fire, striking two of the carjackers and sending the third fleeing. The permit holder was unharmed, and police later took the two wounded suspects into custody. It was the second time in just one week that an armed Chicago resident successfully fended off multiple armed carjackers.
  • Dec. 11, Port St. John, Florida: An armed driver fatally shot a man who assaulted him in an unprovoked attack while he was eating in his car outside a fast-food restaurant. Police said they believe this may have been a case of mistaken identity and that the assailant was looking for another person.
  • Dec. 14, Chandler, Arizona: An armed employee quickly ended a potential active shooter situation at an Amazon fulfillment center by fatally shooting a gunman who fired at and wounded another employee in the parking lot. The gunman’s girlfriend worked at the facility, and police said he apparently wanted to confront one of her co-workers, of whom he was jealous. The wounded employee, who was expected to survive, had “felt something was off” and tried to get the gunman to leave, police said.
  • Dec. 18, Tucson, Arizona: The owner of a local bar credited an armed patron with protecting the lives of other customers and employees by shooting and critically wounding a man who threatened them with a rifle. Police said the man had been removed earlier from the bar for hurling racial slurs and making violent threats. Media outlets initially characterized the shooting as a “bar fight.”
  • Dec. 20, Oklahoma City: An armed resident fatally shot a man who threw several Molotov cocktails through the window of an apartment, in what police believe may have been a targeted act of domestic violence. One neighbor reported hearing “at least 10 gunshots” during the incident.
  • Dec. 22, Conway, South Carolina: Witnesses said that when two men—one of whom was armed—jumped over the counter of a Waffle House restaurant and assaulted an employee, the employee grabbed his own gun, prompting the two men to flee. Police said the men exchanged gunfire with the employee as they fled, but although the restaurant was damaged, it didn’t appear that anyone was injured.
  • Dec. 26, Detroit: Police said a tow truck driver arrived for an agreed-upon meeting to buy a man’s “junk car,” only to be ambushed by the man, who tried to rob him. The tow truck driver, who had a concealed carry permit, drew his own gun and fatally shot his assailant.
  • Dec. 28, Buffalo, New York: When a severe winter storm nearly immobilized the city’s emergency response capabilities for several days, some criminals took advantage by looting shops, knowing that police officers would be slow to respond. Bystanders took video of an armed person chasing a would-be looter out of a local beauty salon by firing a gun into the air. The store’s manager speculated that the good Samaritan likely was associated with another neighborhood business.
  • Dec. 30, Dallas: Police said an armed bystander intervened during an attempted carjacking, shooting and wounding one of three assailants. One of the three had pointed a gun at a man as he left a restaurant in a crowded shopping center. A second legally armed man who had been eating inside the restaurant told reporters that when he heard gunfire outside, he drew his own gun and positioned himself to protect other customers if necessary.

The American gun owners described above were not “fanatical” or “irrational” for possessing firearms or defending themselves and others with them. Far from it.

What’s irrational is the belief that governments—which killed 200 million largely unarmed civilians in the 20th century—should be entrusted with a monopoly on instruments of force, instead of held in perpetual check by a well-armed citizenry.

What’s fanatical is Gun Control Inc.’s obsession with disarming peaceable persons and effectively rendering moot their inalienable right to self-defense based on a promise that the government always will be able to protect them from all harms.

For the Americans in the incidents outlined above, and for countless others who defend themselves with firearms every year, the right to keep and bear arms is not a curse.

When the government failed to protect these Americans, the Second Amendment was their greatest blessing.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal