by Amy Swearer
Last month, we documented some extraordinary examples from January of armed citizens relying on their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves and others.
We pointed out that these were average, everyday Americans who were just going about their lives. They did not go looking for evil but were nonetheless prepared to deal with the evil that found them.
February has produced even more evidence that the fundamental right to keep and bear arms is not an anachronism that no longer deserves constitutional protection, but a vital tool safeguarding individual liberty.
Studies routinely indicate that every year, Americans use their firearms in defense of themselves or others between 500,000 and 2 million times. Very few of these defensive gun uses receive national publicity – if they receive publicity at all.
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Below, we’ve highlighted just a handful of the many times during the month of February that law-abiding Americans demonstrated the importance of the Second Amendment.
- Feb. 2: A restaurant owner in Akron, Ohio, scared off a masked man who attempted to rob him with a knife. The man fled, and police believe he successfully robbed a different restaurant just hours later.
- Feb. 5: A Nashville, Tennessee, woman was attacked from behind by a would-be purse thief, who proceeded to repeatedly slam the woman’s head into a wall when she resisted him. The woman’s husband heard her cries for help and came to her defense, firing his gun at the thief and causing him to flee.
- Feb. 9: When three armed men attempted to rob a Little Caesars restaurant in North Fort Myers, Florida, a patron inside pulled his own firearm to defend other customers. One suspect was shot and the other two fled.
- Feb. 12: A homeowner in Jackson County, Georgia, heard someone trying to break into her house through a window. She found a man standing outside and warned him not to come into the house. Nevertheless, the man broke the glass window, so the armed homeowner shot him.
- Feb. 13: Sullivan County, Tennessee, Sheriff Jeff Cassidy praised the actions of a concealed carry permit holder who ended a deadly domestic violence incident at a dentist’s office. The armed citizen shot and detained an active shooter who killed his wife and may have planned to harm others in the office.
- Feb. 14: An Evans, Georgia, mother shot and killed her boyfriend after he began violently assaulting the woman’s 15-year-old son during an argument.
- Feb. 16: Two masked assailants attempted to rob 35-year-old Antonio Santiago in Allentown, Pennsylvania, pepper spraying his face and “pistol whipping” him with a BB gun that appeared to be real. In an act of self-defense, Santiago grabbed his own handgun and fired at his attackers, killing one of them. Two other suspects fled, but were eventually arrested and tied to two other recent crimes in the area.
- Feb. 17: An armed good Samaritan in Daytona Beach, Florida, intervened and fired a shot to stop a knife-wielding man, who had already stabbed someone, from stabbing other people outside a convenience store.
- Feb. 20: A 79-year-old Commerce, Georgia, homeowner called 911 to report a burglary in progress after she heard someone breaking into her home. The burglar ignored her threats and came in through an upstairs window before police could arrive. The homeowner shot at the burglar, who was so scared that he hid in a closet until the police arrived.
- Feb. 24: Three armed men ambushed a Houston, Texas, couple who were walking out of their apartment complex, forcing them back inside to rob them. The boyfriend retrieved his own firearm from within the apartment and exchanged fire with the three men, injuring one of them.
- Feb. 26: The Mobile County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Office posted a Facebook video showing an armed local homeowner’s recent encounter with two would-be burglars. The burglars attempted to enter the occupied home in broad daylight, and were only deterred when the homeowner fired her handgun at them.
- Feb. 27: A group of teenage thieves entered a pawn shop in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and tried to flee with two guns they grabbed from behind the counter. Armed store clerks chased the teens and held them at gunpoint until the police could arrive, preventing the future unlawful use of those stolen firearms. Police believe these teens are responsible for other gun thefts and may be able to take other illegally possessed guns off the streets as a result of these clerks’ actions.
- Feb. 28: Two men helped rescue a woman from a would-be kidnapper in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, after seeing her struggle to escape on the side of the road. After the two men stopped their car, one of them pulled out his handgun, prompting the suspect to flee. He was later apprehended and confessed to kidnapping the woman.
These individuals were all law-abiding citizens whose lives and livelihoods depended upon their ability to exercise their natural right of self-defense. Without a robustly protected right to keep and bear arms, the Americans in the cases above would have been left to the mercy of criminals who don’t much care for the rights of others.
Despite this reality, gun control activists and lawmakers have spent the last month pushing legislation that would severely hamper the ability of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and others.
They have proposed effectively stripping young adults of their Second Amendment rights by raising the legal age for firearm purchases. Apparently, while law-abiding 18- to 20-year-olds are mature enough to vote, serve on juries, and be drafted into the military, they can’t be trusted to legally purchase a handgun with which to defend themselves and their families.
The bill for universal background checks, which recently passed through the House of Representatives, would compound this problem by depriving young adults of the ability to receive firearms via private transfers.
Gun control advocates have introduced bills that would limit magazine capacity for privately-owned firearms and that would prohibit future civilian purchases of semi-automatic rifles that serve as some of the most effective guns for home defense.
The irony is that, while civilians would be stripped of the right to immediately defend their lives and property with these guns, the law enforcement officers who respond—perhaps too late—to calls for help overwhelmingly choose those same firearms precisely because they are the most effective.
All of these proposals would significantly burden the exercise of a constitutional right that, as the data from February shows, is commonly used by average Americans to enforce their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.
We don’t make law-abiding citizens safer by disarming them or making them less capable of fighting back against criminals. We only make them easier targets.
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Amy Swearer is a legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.