July 18, 2022
How many “good guy with a gun” stories do there need to be before the gun grabbers stop referring to defensive gun use as a “myth?”
The latest high-profile example comes out of Greenwood, Indiana, where a civilian carrying a legal pistol shot and killed a man that opened fire in a mall; killing three and injuring two others. How many more might be dead if the good guy with the gun had not been prepared to respond to the threat as everyone capable should be?
At best, gun grabbers refer to this type of heroism as rare, as if belittling the magnitude of the courageous act is any argument in support of their position. Sometimes they even deride the hero, or refer to them as a part of the problem, as Kris Brown, President of the Brady Campaign did in response the actions of the Greenwood hero; referring to him as a “vigilante” (see Twitter picture below). As we will see, defensive gun use is hardly rare, and the extent of it is actually unknown and most likely vastly underreported. Some people carry firearms as a duty, some only retrieve them from their homes when forced as a last resort. Either way, critics will respond that numbers cited in studies on defensive gun use are likely not accurate and reports of such use may be exaggerated. They will usually not admit, however, the value of a firearm for defense as measured in these studies may also be discounted since deterrence with the mere presence of the firearm cannot easily be quantified. Whatever the case, as a recent report on the botched police response to the Uvalde school shooting shows, nobody should depend fully on a competent or timely response from police as their only defense against threats.
Fundamental rights are inherently valuable, not only instrumentally valuable
But this is actually beside the point in a country like the United States where the fundamental right of self defense, including the right to keep and bear arms, is protected from infringement in the Constitution. It does not depend on any statistical measure of success or failure, increase or decrease in risk (real or perceived), or any other outcomes in our experience. The right is inherently valuable; it is not only valuable instrumentally to achieve some desired end (although in the case of gun ownership, it is instrumentally valuable as well). This is what gun grabbers, and the Left in general, cannot seem to grasp. To the extent we have a problem with violence committed with firearms in America, we must always strive to find solutions within the context of Second Amendment rights and our dangerous reality; not act to violate these timeless rights in an attempt to solve immediate problems.
But just to satisfy the curiosity of those that care only for anecdotes and utilitarian judgments, let’s check out some of the many incidents that illustrate the value of having a firearm for defense. Some are high-profile, while others are only covered by local news. In 2019, armed congregants stopped a shooter that opened fire in a Texas Church. In 2018, an Illinois man used his legally-owned AR-15 rifle to stop a knife attack in progress on a neighbor “with only a threat of force.” In 2014, an employee retrieved a rifle and stopped a racist with a knife on a rampage after he had already beheaded one victim and was attacking others in Ohio. A young Oklahoma mother used a shotgun to save herself and her infant from a crazed glove-wearing intruder that forced his way into her home with a knife in 2012. Also in 2012, a Phoenix, Arizona 14-year-old saved himself and his siblings from armed intruders that pulled a gun on them in their home by retrieving his parent’s pistol and shooting them. More recently, in May, 2022, a West Virginia woman saved countless lives when she fatally shot a man with her handgun after he began shooting into a crowded birthday party with a semiautomatic rifle.
The list goes on and on. As is evident from these examples, defensive gun use spans age ranges, sex, location, and circumstance. The defensive weapons used are just as varied – from pistols, to shotguns, to semiautomatic rifles. One would have to be not watching the news at all or purposefully avoiding these types of stories to not acknowledge their existence, as even the most general of surveys on the issue will show many incidents reported. Complications of incidents also exist, such as this one from the Heritage Foundation, but even these are by no means exhaustive.
In closing, regarding research on defensive gun usage, check out the studies cited by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in their 2013 report, “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence:”
“Estimates of gun use for self-defense vary widely, in part due to definitional differences for self-defensive gun use; different data sources; and questions about accuracy of data, particularly when self-reported. The NCVS has estimated 60,000 to 120,000 defensive uses of guns per year. On the basis of data from 1992 and 1994, the NCVS found 116,000 incidents (McDowall et al., 1998). Another body of research estimated annual gun use for self-defense to be much higher, up to 2.5 million incidents, suggesting that self-defense can be an important crime deterrent (Kleck and Gertz, 1995). Some studies on the association between self-defensive gun use and injury or loss to the victim have found less loss and injury when a firearm is used (Kleck, 2001b).”
And as always, remember the words and principles of the Second Amendment: