Contrary to the rhetoric of many gun control advocates, the Second Amendment’s protection of the individual right to keep and bear arms is not a malevolent, outdated barricade to peace that must be demolished or diminished in the name of public safety.
Rather, the Second Amendment is a fundamental part of the nation’s scheme of ordered liberty.
Firearms are used far more often in self-defense than in crime.
According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which compiled and analyzed various studies involving the defensive use of firearms, Americans use firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually.
The agency’s own data indicates that approximately 1 million defensive gun uses likely occur every year, far outpacing the number of times guns are used to illegally kill or injure others.
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Nevertheless, gun control proponents regularly promote policies such as limiting magazine capacity, banning commonly owned firearms, and restricting the number of firearms a law-abiding citizen may purchase at one time.
These policies not only fail to meaningfully address the underlying causes and mechanisms of gun-related violence, they also would hinder the ability of regular citizens to legally and effectively defend themselves and others.
Every month this year, we’ve reported on Americans who were forced to rely on their Second Amendment rights to defend themselves or their fellow citizens.
Here are some examples from the month of May that shed light on the importance of allowing law-abiding citizens to exercise the right to keep and bear arms:
- May 1, Detroit. A 59-year-old woman defended herself and her home against three men who broke the security bars on her window. The woman called the police. Then, fearing for her life in the interim, she fired at the intruders. One intruder was wounded and all three fled.
- May 5, Memphis. A woman called the police twice after spotting a man on her home security cameras who was walking suspiciously along the side of her house. Before officers could arrive, the man kicked down the woman’s door. He was met by a hail of gunfire from the woman and fled the scene wounded, eventually admitting himself to a hospital, where he was arrested.
- May 7, Lumberton, North Carolina. Two would-be armed robbers confronted a 39-year-old man in an open garage in his own backyard. The man pulled his own firearm and exchanged gunfire with the two assailants and wounded one in the leg. Both were arrested, and one has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
- May 9, Huntsville, Alabama. Two armed robbers confronted a 23-year-old concealed carry permit holder and his mother outside a grocery store. After one of the robbers pointed his gun at the mother, the permit holder drew and fired in her defense. The would-be robbers escaped the confrontation in a stolen vehicle and later were apprehended by police.
- May 12, Lancaster, California. A father shot and killed a man who broke into his home through a window and entered an upstairs bedroom. The same man tried earlier to break into a different house, and the father feared for the safety of himself and his children.
- May 14, Tallahassee, Florida. A homeowner found himself outnumbered—but not outgunned—by four armed assailants who had stolen his keys and broken into his home. Armed with a rifle, the homeowner fired approximately 25 rounds to defend his life and his property. The suspects returned fire, but ultimately fled the residence and were arrested by law enforcement.
- May 20, Madison County, Indiana. A 25-year-old man involved in a series of altercations with his family returned one night to threaten family members with a shotgun for several hours. The man’s father retrieved his own gun and shot and wounded his unhinged son.
- May 24, St. Paul, Minnesota. A concealed carry permit holder fired in self-defense toward a group of males who chased him after he parked his car. One assailant was struck, causing the group to retreat. After the incident, the permit holder immediately called police and waited for them to arrive.
- May 25, Hudson, Florida. A mother with young children held a would-be intruder at gunpoint for an incredible 26 minutes while she waited for law enforcement to arrive. Although she’d called 911 three times, the first support to arrive was not a police officer, but an armed neighbor.
- May 27, Chicago. A concealed carry permit holder shot and killed an armed man who approached him, gun drawn, in an alley. The permit holder was unharmed.
- May 30, Houston. A woman defended herself from three armed men who forced their way into her home while unlawfully impersonating police officers. When the woman realized the intruders were not actually police officers and that one intruder had his firearm drawn, she retrieved her own gun. The fake cops fled after a brief shootout and later may have been involved in another shooting.
- May 31, Las Vegas. Two brothers protected themselves and their home from an intruder who broke in and started a physical altercation. During the struggle, one of the brothers shot the intruder several times, killing him. A neighbor told the media, “It’s scary. You never know what could happen. … You’ve got to protect yourself at all times.”
These instances of defensive gun use show why the right to keep and bear arms is so critical to the security of a free state.
The Second Amendment is not a historical curiosity to be studied from afar, but a real and ongoing safeguard against crime and tyranny in lives of Americans.
Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation