As the nation continues to reel from historic violent crime spikes, many gun control activists turn reflexively to the same “bumper sticker slogan” policy “solutions” that fail to address real problems while often undermining the Second Amendment rights of peaceable citizens.
Last week, some Hartford, Connecticut, residents made headlines for taking a different approach. Instead of demanding that their fellow citizens abandon their rights to armed self-defense, they announced that they would henceforth start exercising those rights in a public manner to enhance community safety.
These residents say they will soon start conducting “legal, armed community patrols” on a regular basis, with the goal of preventing gun violence in a city experiencing homicide totals not seen in several decades. Organizers told reporters that patrol members will be trained to calmly de-escalate situations when possible and emphasized that they won’t openly carry firearms once a new state law prohibiting the practice goes into effect.
The Hartford Police Department, to its credit, has indicated that these community patrols won’t face pushback from officers “as long as they are operating within the law,” acknowledging that these citizens “have Second Amendment rights like the rest of us.”
While some will certainly consider the residents’ decision to be controversial, the reality is that the right to keep and bear arms, whether exercised individually or collectively, has always played an important role in protecting life, liberty, and property—and it continues to do so today.
Almost every major study has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged. In 2021, the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the issue concluded that roughly 1.6 million defensive gun uses occur in the United States every year.
For this reason, The Daily Signal publishes a monthly 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 past months and years. You also may follow @DailyDGU on X, formerly Twitter, for daily highlights of defensive gun uses.)
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in August. You may explore more using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
- Aug. 1, Cocoa, Florida: When a man began violently assaulting his ex-girlfriend in a parking lot near a youth football practice, a coach attempted to intervene. The man—a convicted felon—grabbed a revolver from his car and shot at the coach, who had his own gun and returned fire until the man fled. Police are still searching for the suspect. The coach sustained a minor graze wound but wasn’t seriously injured.
- Aug. 4, Clovis, New Mexico: A woman fatally shot her ex-boyfriend after he broke into her home. The ex-boyfriend had been accused multiple times of trespassing on the property, and the woman had begun the process of obtaining a restraining order against him.
- Aug. 7, Salem, Indiana: Police say that a man drove his car through the lawn at a home belonging to his ex-girlfriend’s parents, assaulted her father, pinned him to the ground, and pointed a gun at his head. The victim’s wife saw the altercation, came outside with her own gun, and fatally shot her husband’s assailant. The assailant had a lengthy criminal history, but it’s unclear why he targeted the couple.
- Aug. 10, Farmington, Missouri: A woman fatally shot her husband after he threatened to kill her during an “alcohol-fueled rage” then went to find his gun. The woman believed her husband would carry out his threats because he had already served an eight-year prison sentence for domestic assault. Fortunately, she was able to get to her gun before he could get to his.
- Aug. 12, Chicago, Illinois: An armed man and woman approached a rideshare driver as he dropped off a passenger, stole his cell phone, and then fired shots at him. The driver, however, had a concealed carry permit and drew his own gun and returned fire, striking and injuring both robbers. The driver wasn’t injured.
- Aug. 14, Centerville, Texas: A man began aggressively approaching customers at a local smokehouse then entered the restaurant’s restroom and assaulted an elderly man until he lay unconscious on the floor. When another patron tried to intervene, the assailant began assaulting him, as well. Fortunately, this patron was legally armed and was able to shoot and wound the man in self-defense. The assailant was arrested and charged with several criminal offenses.
- Aug. 15, Tulsa, Oklahoma: A homeowner fatally shot a man whom he found vandalizing his air conditioner unit after the vandal charged at him despite warnings to stop.
- Aug. 18, Seminole County, Florida: A man was sitting on his porch with his dog when a “bear alert device” activated and he saw a black bear about 8 to 10 feet away from him. The man tried to scare the bear away by yelling, but it charged at him and his dog, so he shot it three times until it fled. State wildlife officials ultimately euthanized the injured bear and took her cubs to a rehabilitation center with plans to release them back into the wild later this year.
- Aug. 23, Maine, New York: Two intruders (at least one of whom was armed) broke into a home only to be confronted by the homeowner, who exchanged gunfire with one of them. One suspect was shot and wounded during the exchange while the other suspect fled. The homeowner wasn’t injured, despite having at least eight rounds fired at him.
- Aug. 25, Somerville, Alabama: A man and woman were allegedly burglarizing a home when an armed neighbor confronted them and detained them at gunpoint until police arrived. The pair now face unspecified criminal charges.
- Aug. 28, Jackson, Michigan: A townhouse resident heard her neighbors having a loud argument, knocked on their adjoining wall, and asked them to quiet down. Instead of quieting down, a male neighbor angrily emerged from the home armed with a knife and began shattering the woman’s windows. She shot and injured him as he tried to force his way into her residence.
- Aug. 30, Butler, Pennsylvania: An armed resident shot and wounded an intoxicated intruder who broke into his basement. The resident initially ordered the intruder to put his hands on a nearby washing machine, but the man kept advancing toward him even after he fired a warning shot. The suspect was already wanted by local law enforcement for unspecified reasons and now faces an additional felony burglary charge.
As these defensive gun uses demonstrate, lawful gun owners are more than capable of exercising their Second Amendment rights in a responsible manner, and on the whole, they make their communities safer by helping to stop violent threats.
While most communities won’t feel the need to organize armed citizen patrols, they should nonetheless embrace their fellow citizens who choose to individually exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal