Defensive gun use cases show 2A no "suicide pact"

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently referred to the Second Amendment, saying it was becoming a “suicide pact.”

Yeah, that didn’t go over very well.


Now, I get that an anti-gun politician is going to say some questionable things regarding the Second Amendment, but this one was supremely wrongheaded, to say the least.

As Amy Swearer writes over at The Daily Signal, defensive gun uses disproves his thesis entirely.

The governor’s outright hypocrisy, however, exposes the truth—he intuitively understands (at least when it comes to his own safety) the importance of armed resistance to violent threats. Unfortunately, he fails to appreciate its true value for everyone else.

Almost every major study has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually, according to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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 11 incidents below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in January. You may explore more using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.)

  • Jan. 1, Philadelphia: In potentially the first media-verified defensive gun use of 2023, police said a woman with a license to carry a firearm shot and wounded a man who assaulted her during an incident of domestic violence that occurred less than an hour into the new year.
  • Jan. 3, Dos Palos, California: A concealed carry permit holder was attempting to assist a driver whose vehicle had become stuck in heavy mud, police said, when the driver became angry, retrieved an ax from the trunk, and swung it at the good Samaritan. The permit holder shot the ax-wielding driver in self-defense, wounding him.
  • Jan. 9, Ellijay, Georgia: Police said an armed robber who tried to hide his face under a pair of women’s panties entered a combined gas station and convenience store and pointed a handgun at the clerk. What he didn’t know is that all three customers inside the store were legally armed. Working together, they disarmed the robber and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

There are, of course, many more examples provided, and these are just a snapshot of the total number of defensive gun uses that occur each and every day. Many go unreported to authorities. Still others are reported, but no written report is taken from which data could be drawn.

As a result, the actual cases are far, far higher than we can possibly track.

If the Second Amendment is a suicide pact, it kind of sucks at being one. After all, its protection of the right to keep and bear arms saves more lives than guns are used to take them each and every year. While anti-gun voices may prefer to skew statistics so as to incite fear, the truth is that without defensive gun uses, we may well see homicide rates orders of magnitude higher than we currently have.

Defensive gun uses show that guns save lives.

Newsom can stand on television and make that argument in the wake of a couple of mass shootings, but it requires us to ignore defensive gun uses as well as the fact that his state has a plethora of gun control laws on the book that, all combined, accomplished nothing.



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