In recent decades, gun control advocates increasingly have tried to rewrite history by asserting that the Second Amendment—despite its plain text—never was supposed to protect a “right of the people” to keep and bear arms, but rather grants to state governments only the authority to maintain militias.
The latest purveyor of this objectively false narrative is Kris Brown, president of Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a major gun control group formerly known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The organization, founded in 1974 as the National Council to Control Handguns, has never met a Second Amendment restriction that, in its view, goes too far.
Standing in front of the Lexington Minutemen Memorial in Massachusetts, Brown decried what she called “a false interpretation” of the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right, implying that this historically sound interpretation is inconsistent with “protecting our kids.”
The irony is astounding.
That “well-regulated militia” that assembled at Lexington in 1775 was then, as it is now, composed of ordinary civilians who employed their privately owned firearms in an organized and collective defense of their rights and liberties. And they stood their ground in the first battle of the American Revolution against, quite literally, an attempt to forcibly disarm them.
Policymakers who resist burdensome restrictions on the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” do so precisely because they, like our Founders, know that every human being has an unalienable right to self-defense, and that without the practical means to defend themselves and their communities, Americans’ rights are nothing more than dead letters and hopeful wishes.
And just as it was for our forefathers, the Second Amendment today remains premised on ensuring that we—the people to whom the right belongs—are well-armed against any criminal or tyrant who would victimize us or our children unjustly.
The reality is that today ordinary Americans are as reliant on their Second Amendment rights as they’ve ever been.
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 years.)
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in March. You may explore more using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
- March 2, Sand Springs, Oklahoma: After a woman moved in with her uncle to escape an abusive relationship, her ex-boyfriend tracked her down, broke into the home, and assaulted her, police said. The woman’s uncle, coming to her defense, shot the assailant in the face. The injured ex-boyfriend drove back to his home in Tulsa, where his daughter found him and called 911. He was treated at a hospital and expected to face charges related to the assault.
- March 6, Portland, Oregon: A business owner confronted a burglar he found rummaging through his store’s upstairs office 30 minutes before employees were scheduled to arrive, police said. The burglar refused to leave and threatened the owner with a pair of bolt cutters. Fortunately, the owner was able to retrieve a gun; he shot the burglar in self-defense as the burglar started toward him, ignoring multiple warnings to stop. The wounded burglar fled, but responding officers arrested him shortly afterward.
- March 10, Atlanta: Police said that an argument between adult siblings turned violent when one brother pulled a knife and tried to stab the other. A third family member intervened, drawing his firearm and shooting the knife-wielding brother in the leg. Police arrested the wounded assailant, who is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, and making terroristic threats.
- March 17, Gainesville, Florida: Police were called to intervene in a domestic dispute in which a woman said she was physically assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, who fled before officers arrived. Just 30 minutes later, the ex-boyfriend returned to the woman’s apartment and “made entry,” police said. This time, however, the woman’s father was waiting with a handgun and fatally shot the intruder, police said.
- March 18, Ambler, Pennsylvania: Police said a concealed carry permit holder fatally shot a convicted felon after he opened fire on a group gathered at a cemetery to celebrate the birthday of a murdered friend. The permit holder was seriously hurt during the shootout, in which over 30 rounds were fired, but was expected to recover.
- March 19, Scranton, Pennsylvania: A woman’s ex-boyfriend came to her home and tried to talk her into reconciling with him. When that failed, he drew a gun and shot both the woman and her mother, wounding both, police said. The mother’s fiancé, who had been upstairs, retrieved his own firearm and exchanged gunfire with the ex-boyfriend, fatally wounding him while one of the wounded women ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911. The woman and her mother were treated at a hospital.
- March 23, Bakersfield, California: A man and his wife returned home after taking their grandson to a doctor’s appointment, only to discover that someone had broken in. Police said the man retrieved a gun before heading upstairs to confront the intruder, who pointed a rifle at him. Fortunately, the man was able to shoot first at the intruder, who dropped the rifle and fell. He held the intruder at gunpoint until police arrived.
- March 27, Memphis, Tennessee: A man followed his ex-girlfriend as she left her apartment complex in her car, then rammed her vehicle with his own, disabling it, police said. The former boyfriend broke the back window of the woman’s car, drew a gun, and fired several rounds at her. A friend inside the woman’s car returned fire with his own gun, wounding the assailant. Police charged the attacker with two counts of aggravated assault. His victims were not injured.
- March 28, Houston: A woman working in her family-owned food truck fatally shot an armed man who tried to kill her during a robbery attempt, police said. Fortunately, the man’s gun jammed and she was able to draw her own weapon in self-defense. Her son told reporters that his mom believes that “God jammed” the robber’s gun.
- March 29, Palmer, Alaska: Police said that after a man shot a woman in the face during a domestic dispute, another man drew his own weapon and engaged the shooter in a gunfight, ultimately wounding him in self-defense. The injured woman was able to flee the home and call 911. Police charged her assailant with various felonies.
- March 30, Rockford, Illinois: Four teens arranged a meet-up with online sellers on the pretext of buying several items, only to try to steal them. After one teen fired a handgun, one seller—a concealed carry permit holder—fired his own gun at the teens until they fled, police said. No one was struck by the gunfire. Officers, who arrested and charged four suspects with armed robbery, recovered a stolen handgun.
As a result of these defensive gun uses, many innocent lives no doubt were saved.
Our Founding Fathers recognized the importance of the right to bear arms. They enshrined this principle in our Constitution as a means of ensuring that we could defend ourselves, our families, and our communities against inevitable threats.
Despite modern efforts to rewrite history to suit the needs of gun control advocates, the reality is that for more than 150 years, no serious legal scholar ever questioned that the Second Amendment protects an individual right that is premised not on hunting or sport shooting but on giving practical effect to every human being’s natural and unalienable right to self-defense.
The Founders wouldn’t bat an eye at a citizenry well-armed with modern weapons to defend itself against either tyrant or criminal.
They would be appalled, however, at any suggestion that their armed stand against a gun control scheme is evidence that we, today, should passively accept more restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms.
Reproduced with permission. Original here. Amy Swearer is a legal fellow in the Edwin Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Lauren Grace Niesent is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.