The “good guy with a gun” isn’t a myth. Thankfully, the Heritage Foundation’s Defensive Gun Uses in the U.S. database has provided us with the data to back it up. The foundation recently published an interactive map that allows individuals to track confirmed instances of defensive gun use (DGU) nationwide. Everyone supporting the Second Amendment should take a few moments to view this exciting new tool.

The Brains Behind It

The Heritage Foundation’s mission “is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.” It does this by providing research on key policy issues to members of Congress, congressional staff members, policymakers in the executive branch, the media, and academic and policy communities.

Amy Swearer, a senior legal analyst with the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, has painstakingly compiled the data for the DGU database. Her primary areas of research are the Second Amendment and firearms-related policy, including the intersection of mental health and gun-related violence. She has written extensively on these subjects and has been featured on C-SPAN, Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler and the Ben Shapiro Show.

How Does It Work?

The interactive map includes information gathered from confirmed police reports of DGU in 2019 and 2020. The blue “dots” provide the data about each incident. It can be viewed by simply clicking on the dot. The following then appears underneath the map:

  • The date of the incident
  • The location (city, state)
  • The context (e.g., home invasion, business robbery, etc.)
  • If a concealed carry permit was involved (or not applicable)
  • If there were multiple assailants
  • Whether shots were fired
  • The firearm type
  • The details (a link leading to the original media report)

Let’s try one for an example, clicking on the blue dot in North Dakota for 2020. It reveals that the incident took place on April 25, 2020, in Minot, North Dakota. The incident was a home invasion, there was only one assailant, and shots were fired. The firearm type is unknown. The media report link leads to an article published by the Minot Daily News on April 28, 2020.

Filters can be set to exclusively look at incidents that took place in 2019, 2020 or both. This is performed by simply clicking next to the date. The total is then listed above the map. There were 744 incidents in 2019. In 2020, there have been 259 incidents so far, for a total of 1,003 incidents as of May 18. The map also has a feature allowing users to view the number of incidents in the past 90 days, which is at 149 (at the time this article was written). The database is being regularly updated.

It is important to remember that all defensive gun uses aren’t reported to the police. Therefore, this is not a comprehensive list of every DGU incident. Only those verified are listed.

Some nice additions to the map would be filters allowing a breakdown by incidents per state (or region) or month or the ability to select multiple states at a time to view these figures. The Heritage Foundation intends to add a feature so individuals can send reports about DGUs it may have missed. The foundation also plans to include statistics for DGUs that occurred before 2019.

So Why Is It So Important?

“[T]he Defensive Gun Use Database is an incredibly important tool,” Swearer stated. “These confirmed cases help prove that the ‘good guy with a gun’ is not a myth. Rather, lawful gun owners clearly play an integral role in promoting public safety and protecting individual rights.” Lawful gun owners are using firearms to protect themselves, not to commit crimes. “It’s important to keep telling the stories of gun owners whose liberties, lives and livelihoods were protected because of the freedoms guaranteed in the Second Amendment,” noted Swearer. The database provides hard data to support this argument, especially when countering the narrative used by the gun-restriction crowd.

The numbers and incidents are now easy to pull by simply visiting this page. Swearer demonstrated this by pulling 11 cases where gun ownership proved “essential” in March.

Take a moment to head over and check out the DGU database. It’s guaranteed to become a critical tool in verifying that law-abiding gun owners are the good guys. We can thank the Heritage Foundation — especially the efforts of Amy Swearer — for introducing it and making it available to everyone in the U.S.