These Law-Abiding People Used Guns to Defend Themselves in October

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Far too often, those who disagree with supporters of the Second Amendment about firearm-related policies resort to assertions that we simply care more about our guns than about the lives of innocent people, and that the right to keep and bear arms has little beneficial purpose in modern America.

Despite claims by many gun control advocates that firearms are rarely used in self-defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in a 2013 report that almost all major studies on defensive gun uses have concluded that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times every year. 

These Americans also have names, faces, and stories. Their lives and livelihoods should be an important part of the discussion surrounding national firearms policy, especially when so many politicians currently advocate severely restricting the ability of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. 

Since the beginning of this year, we have shone a spotlight each month on some of the best examples of law-abiding citizens defending themselves or others with their firearms. (See articles from past months here: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugust, and September.)

October was no different, with a number of standout moments highlighting the people for whom the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was much more than an outdated relic of history:

  • Oct. 2 in Conroe, Texas: A business owner who had previously been victimized by burglars was inside his store around 2 a.m. when he heard the sound of breaking glass and went to investigate. A man armed with a crowbar confronted the store owner, who defended himself by firing several rounds at the would-be burglar, striking him at least twice. The would-be burglar tried to run away, but ultimately succumbed to his wounds.  
  • Oct. 6 in Pulaski County, Missouri: An armed citizen came to the aid of a sheriff’s deputy as the deputy struggled with a knife-wielding attacker. The deputy was investigating a disabled vehicle when one of the vehicle’s occupants attacked the deputy with a knife, wrestled him to the ground, and attempted to unholster the deputy’s sidearm. The deputy suffered several cuts and bruises, but the situation was contained when the armed citizen and other vehicle occupants intervened, allowing the deputy to handcuff his attacker. The sheriff’s department praised the actions of the citizens, saying it was “overwhelmed with gratitude” for their willingness to help ensure the deputy’s safety. 
  • Oct. 9 in Fort Worth, Texas: A homeowner caught a man breaking into his truck in the early hours of the morning and held the would-be burglar at gunpoint until police arrived. 
  • Oct. 11 in Yuba County, California: A homeowner whose family was asleep upstairs fatally shot an intruder who apparently presumed the house had been evacuated due to nearby wildfires. The homeowner called 911 first, but needed to rely on his Second Amendment rights long before police arrived. The neighborhood had been without power for more than 24 hours, and while some homes had generators running, one neighbor said he thought the intruder targeted this home because it did not have lights on and looked unoccupied. 
  • Oct. 15 in Philadelphia: Professional football player Fletcher Cox relied on his shotgun to defend himself and his girlfriend from the girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, who armed himself with a baseball bat and walked menacingly around the Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman’s property. The ex-boyfriend tried to enter the home several times, at one point trying to smash the glass in Cox’s front door. The 911 tapes reveal that Cox—who is 6-foot-4-inch and weighs 310 pounds—pleaded with the dispatcher to get police officers there as quickly as possible because he did not want to have to shoot the man. Ultimately, the ex-boyfriend saw Cox’s shotgun and left, but not before causing extensive property damage.  
  • Oct. 20 in Harrisonburg, Virginia: A man who had just been released from prison after serving a sentence for breaking into a home two years earlier returned to that same home and tried to force his way inside in a threatening manner. This time, however, the homeowner’s 62-year-old wife shot the intruder. The wounded repeat offender is now once again facing criminal charges. 
  • Oct. 22 in Duffield, Virginia: A severely handicapped tenant acted in self-defense to shoot and wound an acquaintance who forced his way inside the tenant’s apartment. The intruder was shot once in the leg and fled the apartment, only to be arrested by police about 45 minutes later. He is now facing criminal charges for breaking and entering with an intent to commit larceny.  
  • Oct. 24 in Highland Park, Michigan: When an armed man burst into a back office at a local restaurant and demanded cash, the restaurant’s owner—a concealed-carry permit holder—used his own firearm to protect himself and the several employees who were in the office with him. At first, the owner complied with the robber’s demands for cash, but when the robber pointed a gun at another employee, the owner fatally shot the robber.  
  • Oct. 28 in Los Angeles: An Armenian gang tried for months to extort a local market owner before returning and demanding money from the man at gunpoint as he stood outside his business. When one of the gang members shot the market owner, the market owner drew his own gun and returned fire. The owner’s son then ran out of the store armed with his semi-automatic rifle and also fired at the gang members, injuring one of them and causing all of them to flee. 
  • Oct. 30 in Tampa, Florida: Two men armed with handguns broke into a young family’s home, severely beating the father before threatening his 11-year-old daughter with their guns. The man’s wife—who was eight months pregnant—heard the commotion and tried to check on her family, but one of the intruders fired his gun at her, forcing her to retreat to another part of the house. The wife then retrieved her husband’s AR-15 and immediately re-engaged the intruders, fatally shooting one of them and sending the other one running. The man later praised his wife and defended his ownership of an AR-15, telling reporters that “[those] guys came in with two normal pistols, and my AR stopped it. [My wife] evened the playing field and kept them from killing me.”

The reality is that the right to keep and bear arms is fundamentally not about advocating violence, nor are its supporters motivated by a callous disregard for life. 

Quite the opposite, the right stands as a meaningful safeguard for everyone facing violent threats to their rights and liberties. It’s for young, pregnant women whose families are threatened by home invaders. It’s for storeowners terrorized by criminal thugs.

It’s for severely handicapped apartment tenants with no one to protect them, homeowners with loved ones asleep upstairs, and 6-foot-4-inch professional athletes praying the police arrive in time.

When we defend the Second Amendment, it is not because we are apathetic to the suffering of innocent people. It is because we would prefer the innocent to have a meaningful defense against anyone who would cause their suffering in the first place. 

Far from being a dangerous relic of the past, the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms remains an invaluable part of the ability of innocent people to defend their lives, rights, and liberties.    

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Amy Swearer

Reproduced with permission. Original can be viewed here. Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Amy Swearer
@AmySwearer