Often lost in conversations about gun violence is the reality of who is responsible for the bulk of that violence. Most gun crimes aren’t committed by lawful gun owners but by a small subset of repeat violent offenders who already are prohibited from legally possessing firearms.
At the same time, the vast majority of the nation’s millions of lawful gun owners will never use their firearms to harm themselves or others (excluding, of course, actions taken in lawful self-defense).
Nevertheless, sometimes people make questionable—or even downright abhorrent—decisions with their lawfully owned firearms. This was quite apparent in recent weeks as several gun owners made national headlines for all the wrong reasons, recklessly resorting to the use of lethal force when it likely wasn’t warranted.
Although these individuals rightly should have their actions scrutinized, the reality is that Americans with legally possessed guns are far more likely to “get it right” than they are to “get it wrong.”
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 months and years. You also may follow @DailyDGU on Twitter for daily highlights of recent defensive gun uses.)
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in April. You may explore more using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
- April 4, Fort Worth, Texas: Police said a dispute inside an apartment complex ended with a chaotic exchange of gunfire among several individuals, including two juveniles who began shooting at a maintenance man. The maintenance man, who received minor injuries, was armed and returned fire to defend himself. Police arrested two teens.
- April 6, Glendale, Colorado: Just six minutes after a pawn shop opened, an armed robber entered and pointed a gun at employees, police said. The pawn shop’s jeweler—working at the other end of the store—was able to retrieve a firearm, approach the robber from behind, and fatally shoot him. The dead robber, who had a lengthy criminal history, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbery in 2014. He apparently had been paroled, only to plead guilty in February to aggravated auto theft. He was paroled again just one month into that sentence.
- April 6, Noblesville, Indiana: Two robbers disguised as food delivery drivers forced their way inside a home at gunpoint, only to be fired upon by an armed housesitter, police said. One robber was killed; the other was arrested two weeks later and charged with murder for the death of his accomplice, as well as with burglary and armed robbery.
- April 7, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: Police said an elderly man and his wife returned to their truck after a shopping trip only to find a would-be thief trying to take the vehicle. The man drew his gun, prompting the thief to flee to his own car. Thinking the situation was resolved, the elderly man holstered his gun. The thief, however, quickly accelerated his own car toward the man, lifting him onto the roof and leaving him hanging on as the car sped off. Police said the elderly man was able to draw his gun again and fire, killing his assailant. The man was treated for injuries he received when he was thrown from the thief’s car shortly before it crashed.
- April 9, Bronson, Florida: On Easter Sunday, a woman fatally shot a former boyfriend who showed up at her home with a firearm, leading to a physical struggle between the two. Eventually, police said, the woman retrieved her own gun and shot the man once in the chest.
- April 14, Bakersfield, California: Police said an elderly woman’s mentally ill adult son arrived at her home and, apparently hallucinating and accusing her of keeping lottery winnings from him, broke through a metal security door with a shovel and assaulted her. The woman’s 86-year-old neighbor intervened and fatally shot the son, likely saving the woman’s life.
- April 15, Houston: A robber wanted for murder in a different state approached a man as he made a withdrawal from an ATM, ordered him to hand over his money, and pistol-whipped him, police said. An armed good Samaritan, driving past the scene, saw what was happening and stopped. He fired several rounds at the robber, wounding him in the leg and foot.
- April 17, Goodyear, Arizona: A homeowner confronted two burglars whom he caught trying to break into his car, police said. One pointed a gun at the homeowner, who was armed, and they exchanged gunfire. Police said the armed burglar was wounded, and he and a juvenile accomplice fled. Police later arrested them; the armed suspect faced charges of aggravated assault, third-degree burglary, and unlawful discharge of a firearm. The homeowner wasn’t hurt.
- April 20, Cleveland: A man and a friend arranged over Facebook Marketplace to meet for a car sale, police said, but when they arrived, they were ambushed by three armed robbers. The two victims drew their own guns and exchanged fire with the robbers, who fled. Neither victim was injured. Responding officers found the bullet-riddled getaway vehicle and arrested two wounded suspects, police said. It reportedly was the third time in recent weeks that area residents had been lured into armed robberies by bogus sellers on Facebook Marketplace.
- April 22, Albuquerque, New Mexico: A business owner fatally shot a burglar whom he caught tunneling through a wall in the middle of the night, police said. The store owner had warned the burglar that he was armed but, instead of fleeing, the burglar assaulted him with a large hammer and an ax. The victim told police that he had been sleeping in his store because of a previous overnight burglary.
- April 25, Philadelphia: Police said a concealed carry permit holder turned the tables on a man who tried to rob him at gunpoint, drawing his own firearm and firing “at least 10 shots.” The robber was fatally wounded; a female accomplice fled in a vehicle.
- April 29, Grand Bay, Alabama: A woman fatally shot a man who was staying temporarily at her uncle’s home after he set fire to the residence while several people, including a child, were inside. Police said the man dragged her into a bathroom and poured acetone on her when she tried to get relatives out of the residence. Police records indicate that the man had been drinking heavily and had “an extensive violent criminal history,” including a 2021 arrest for first-degree arson.
Defending the Second Amendment doesn’t mean we have to defend every action by every gun owner. Those who choose to exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms should strive to be proficient with their guns, but also level-headed and judicious about when they resort to the use of lethal force.
Sometimes, gun owners get it wrong. When they do, they should be charged and prosecuted, and, if convicted, face appropriate consequences.
But on the aggregate, a well-armed civilian population does far more to benefit public safety than to undermine it. And, as these defensive gun uses in April help demonstrate, when lawful gun owners do have to rely on their right to keep and bear arms, it often can mean the difference between life and death or serious injury.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.