A Month of Crime News Provides Evidence in Favor of Armed Civilians

COMMENTARY Crime and Justice

A Month of Crime News Provides Evidence in Favor of Armed Civilians

Feb 1, 2019 4 min read

Commentary By

Amy Swearer @AmySwearer

Senior Legal Fellow, Meese Center

Peyton Smith

Spring 2019 member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation

Armed civilians play an important role in defending our inalienable rights. RichLegg/Getty Images

As lawmakers around the country moved to impose restrictions on the ability of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, some of those same citizens spent the first month of 2019 proving that armed civilians play an important role in defending the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. 

Gun ownership surveys routinely find that about 1 in 3 American adults personally own firearms, meaning that tens of millions of law-abiding citizens regularly choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights. 

Recent surveys indicate that 60 percent of these gun owners possess firearms primarily to protect themselves and others from crime. 

These concerns are not misguided. A 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized by the Obama administration examined comprehensive studies of defensive gun use. It concluded that Americans use their firearms in defense of themselves or others between 500,000 and 3 million times every year.

The report also noted that studies “have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.” 

The month of January was replete with highly publicized examples of these defensive uses of gun:

  • Jan. 2: The security officer of a grocery store in Loomis, California, confronted a couple suspected of shoplifting. When one of them pulled a knife and tried to stab the security guard, a good Samaritan with a concealed weapons permit drew his firearm, stopped the confrontation, and held the couple at the scene until law enforcement arrived. 
  • Jan. 7: A private security officer in Huntsville, Alabama, prevented a potential mass  shooting by shooting a nightclub patron who—angry at having been removed from the club—returned while firing a semi-automatic rifle. 
  • Jan. 8: A 68-year-old man in Corpus Christi, Texas, called police after shooting a would-be burglar who attempted to enter his home through a second-story balcony.
  • Jan. 8: A Chicago woman with a concealed carry permit shot and killed a man who attempted to rob her at a bus stop after the man displayed a weapon. A surveillance camera at a nearby pharmacy captured the incident, and the owner of the pharmacy told reporters that this type of violence happens “all over” Chicago. Here, however, the intended victim could defend herself. “I’m 100 percent with her,” the pharmacist said. “I think this is one of the best ways to teach people you can’t just come up and take things.”
  • Jan. 9: An Arizona man awoke to the sound of four intruders breaking into his home. He flicked his lights on and off several times to warn the intruders that someone was home, hoping this would cause them to flee. But the intruders proceeded to smash windows and enter through the back door. The homeowner opened fire, hitting all four intruders and killing one. 
  • Jan. 10: A Florida resident held an intruder at gunpoint until law enforcement could arrive. The man had broken into the garage and was in the process of filling his bag with the homeowner’s firearms and ammunition. 
  • Jan. 13: A 90-year-old Pennsylvania man refused to open his door at 3 a.m. when a much younger man repeatedly pounded on it, demanding a cigarette. When the younger man decided to break in, the homeowner shot him in the leg with a revolver before calling police. 
  • Jan. 15: An 18-year-old burglar crawled through the doggie door of a residence near North Pole, Alaska, and charged at the homeowner. The teen fled when the homeowner fired a warning shot. 
  •  Jan. 17: A disruptive customer shot and killed an IHOP employee in Huntsville, Alabama. When the customer began firing on others in the restaurant, another employee pulled out his own handgun and likely saved many lives.  
  • Jan. 20:  A Houston homeowner found himself outgunned and outnumbered during an armed home invasion, but managed to use his own firearm to kill three of his attackers and wound the fourth. 
  • Jan. 29: A customer inside a Family Dollar store in Dekalb County, Georgia, shot and killed an armed robber who had pulled a gun on two employees. Several other customers were also in the store at the time. 

On any given day, law-abiding citizens answer their front doors, eat at restaurants, go grocery shopping, ride public transportation, and, more often than all of these, go to bed in their own homes. 

They have the natural right of self-defense in all these scenarios. But without the necessary tools for enforcement, the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property are little more than words. 

The exercise of Second Amendment rights in defense of self or others is not a rare or extraordinary event, but a daily occurrence in the lives of ordinary Americans doing ordinary things. 

Just look at January.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal