Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently blamed her city’s acute surge in gun violence on the lack of gun control laws in other states. As many commentators have pointed out, her assertions are factually incorrect to the point of absurdity.
Meanwhile, several Illinois residents are suing the state over significant—and arguably illegal—delays in processing Firearm Owner Identification cards, known as FOIDs.
These cards are required by law-abiding citizens before they can even possess a gun in Illinois. State law gives Illinois State Police up to 30 days to approve or deny applications, but the lawsuit alleges that it often takes far longer.
This is incredibly worrying. Not only are Illinois politicians wrongly blaming law-abiding gun owners in other states for uncontrolled violence in Chicago, but they don’t seem to realize that Illinois’ own barriers to lawful gun ownership make it harder for law-abiding residents to protect themselves.
And when given the opportunity, law-abiding citizens all over the country regularly use their firearms to defend themselves and others.
According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost every major study on the issue has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times a year. There’s good reason to believe that most of these defensive gun uses aren’t reported to police, much less make the local or national news.
For this reason, The Daily Signal each month publishes an 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 accounts from 2019 and so far in 2020 here).
The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in July. You can explore more examples by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database.
- July 1, Madison, Wisconsin: Prosecutors say a woman acted in lawful self-defense when she fatally shot her ex-boyfriend during an altercation. The woman recently had broken up with the man, who police say had a history of domestic violence. The woman was driving when the ex-boyfriend began following her car, prompting her to pull into a parking lot. Police said the two got into a verbal argument and the ex-boyfriend tried to force his way into her car. Fearing for her physical safety, she shot him, investigators said.
- July 4, El Paso, Texas: The holder of a concealed carry permit came to a woman’s defense after she was attacked by a group of revelers who got angry when he asked them to quiet down. One of them punched the woman in the face, then pulled a knife and stabbed the permit holder when he tried to intervene. He drew his handgun and shot the attacker, who police arrested after he was taken to a hospital.
- July 7, Jefferson City, Tennessee: A good Samaritan put a quick end to a violent assault outside a fast food restaurant, drawing his firearm on a man who was strangling a woman and slamming her to the ground. He held her attacker at gunpoint until police arrived. The assailant was charged with aggravated domestic assault and aggravated kidnapping.
- July 10, Wesley Chapel, Florida: A homeowner successfully fended off three armed robbers, killing two and wounding the third. Police said the homeowner was playing a video game when he heard glass shatter. He grabbed a firearm and saw a masked man in the hallway point a gun at him, so he shot the intruder. The homeowner saw other intruders further down the hall and shot at them, hitting one. The homeowner’s gun jammed, and the third intruder had fled by the time he retrieved a second firearm, police said. However, a neighbor who heard the commotion caught the third intruder as he ran from the house, holding him at gunpoint until police arrived.
- July 14, Brownsburg, Indiana: A gunman’s unprovoked attack on two cemetery workers ended when an armed passerby drew his firearm and killed the shooter, police said. The gunman approached the workers and opened fire, killing one. He chased the other worker on foot through a residential neighborhood, where the two got into a physical fight. Police said a passing motorist saw what was happening, pulled over, and killed the gunman just as he pointed the firearm at the second cemetery worker’s head, almost certainly saving the worker’s life.
- July 20, Moss Hill, Texas: An armed motorist helped defuse a tense situation with a machete-wielding man in the midst of an apparent mental health crisis, police said. The motorist was one of several who stopped to check on the man, who was walking in the middle of a highway and nearly was hit by a semitruck. The armed motorist drew his pistol to keep the man at bay after he began swinging his machete at the good Samaritans. One of them was able to talk the man into dropping the weapon. Law enforcement officers then arrived and took the man into custody.
- July 25, Dallas, Texas: Armed patrons likely saved many lives by stopping a gunman who opened fire on a crowded bar. The shooter was angry after being denied entry because of COVID-19 capacity restrictions and returned with a gun, police said. He began firing into the front of the building, injuring four; a bouncer locked the doors before the gunman could enter. He attempted to get in through a back door, but fled after armed patrons returned fire.
- July 28, Dalton, Georgia: A truck driver used his firearm to protect himself from four would-be robbers who accosted him at a truck stop. The robbers approached the truck driver about buying tires, police said, then tried to hold him down while taking his money. The driver was able to grab his handgun and fire at his assailants, who immediately ran. The driver wasn’t harmed, and police later arrested one suspect.
- July 30, Troy, New York: An off-duty police officer came to a neighbor’s aid when her estranged husband attacked her, using his personal shotgun to kill the man as he stabbed her. Police said they received multiple emergency calls related to the stabbing, but it was the armed, off-duty neighbor—not on-duty officers—who heard the woman’s screams and quickly intervened to save her life.
The Illinois lawsuit is still in the early stages, but it represents a fight of fundamental constitutional importance. Law-abiding Illinois residents, like all Americans, have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. This right takes on an increased importance during times of national instability, when a pandemic and widespread rioting have already stretched police resources to the breaking point.
Instead of demanding that other states make it harder for law-abiding Americans to defend their inalienable rights against criminals, Illinois should focus on removing administrative delays to lawful gun ownership. As the stories above prove, the lives and livelihoods of too many Americans depend on it.
This article by Amy Swearer first appeared in The Daily Signal on August 10, 2020.