Several violent crimes have been thwarted in past months and years by legal gun owners who have taken matters into their own hands when faced with life-threatening situations, such as armed carjackings and mall shootings.
The Wisconsin Senate sent two bills to Gov. Tony Evers' office on Tuesday that would make it easier for a person to carry concealed firearms in the state, such as allowing permitted individuals to have a gun on school property as long as they keep it in their vehicle.
The latest concealed carry news comes months after an estimated 5.4 million Americans bought guns for the first time in 2021, and a staggering 8.4 million people purchased their first firearm in 2020, according to statistics from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
Several instances in recent months have highlighted the lawful use of guns by legal gun owners who have exercised their rights when in imminent danger.
In one of the most recent instances, a concealed carry holder in Chicago shot a 19-year-old who was armed with a knife, police have said.
The man heard a disturbance coming from his neighbor’s home shortly after 10:40 p.m. on Feb. 8 and discovered a woman and a 19-year-old man "who was holding a knife," police said. The neighbor then left the home and went outside, but the man with the knife followed him out, cops said.
"The 19-year-old male who was armed with a knife continued to approach the male who was a licensed concealed carry holder," Chicago police said. That’s when the neighbor pulled out his weapon and shot the teenager.
CWB Chicago reported police arrived and found the young man still walking with the knife in this hand. Officers used a Taser to subdue him, the outlet reported. He was expected to survive. Chicago Police Detectives said they were investigating the events.
In another Chicago incident in November, a woman with a concealed carry permit fought back with her gun against two armed would-be carjackers who approached her while she was in her car outside a bank.
"Thank God I had my gun, or I’d probably be dead right now," the woman said after she thwarted the attackers.
And there were at least three instances in January when legal gun owners in Philadelphia shot alleged attempted carjackers, according to reports from local affiliate FOX 29.
In the most recent incident, on Jan. 13, two would-be carjackers approached a 60-year-old driver around 8 p.m. local time, while the man was exiting his car. The suspects pointed a firearm at his head and ordered him to hand over the car keys, the report states. But instead, the driver also brandished a gun and the groups exchanged fire.
One of the suspects was wounded, and the pair fled after more than a dozen shots were fired between both sides, FOX 29 reported. Police caught up to the suspect three blocks away, where they found the would-be carjacker, 16, inside a stolen Jeep with a bleeding leg wound, police told the news station. The outlet described his injuries as critical at the time.
As for the victim, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters, "He wasn’t hurt, but there’s gunshot residue to his face … Just a matter of inches. He could have been or would have been struck by gunfire and possibly killed. So he’s very lucky."
In another Philadelphia incident, a woman shot her ex-boyfriend in the face in November after he attempted to break into her home late at night. The suspect was rushed to the hospital.
Weeks earlier, the husband of a high-ranking Illinois lawmaker used his legally owned gun during a carjacking in Broadview, according to local reports.
On Dec. 21, 2021, Illinois state Sen. Kimberly Lightford and her husband, Eric McKennie saw three masked people stealing her Mercedes-Benz SUV. McKennie and one of the suspects exchanged gunfire. Police have said that no one was injured.
Lightford later released a statement saying she was "thankful that my husband and I are alive and physically unharmed."
And in October, a man inside a Lancaster, Pennsylvania mall stepped in during a fight involving a gun, according to police and a report from WGAL.
According to authorities, a 16-year-old suspect began fighting with someone else when he brandished a gun and began firing shots. The armed bystander then "engaged the subjects fighting over the gun and fired shots, striking one of the suspects," the Lancaster Bureau of Police said. The man then stayed at the scene until officers arrived.
The suspect and five others suffered minor or non-life-threatening injuries from the shootings while fleeing the mall, police said.
A witness of the shooting said she believes the armed bystander "helped a lot" and that he "is a hero."
In February 2021, a 12-year-old in North Carolina was forced to open fire on a pair of home intruders to protect his grandmother from armed robbers who shot her in the leg and demanded money, police said.
"[The intruder] just shot his grandma… He would have shot him too, he would’ve shot me too, he would’ve killed us all," the boy’s great-uncle, Randolph Bunn, said.
When the boy opened fire, the intruders fled on foot. One suspect was found later at an intersection suffering from a gunshot wound. He was brought to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Just last week in New Orleans, a mom and Air Force veteran pulled a gun on a man who tried to get into her car while she was sitting in gridlocked traffic with her 2-year-old son.
"You shouldn't have to navigate your own city like a war zone. It's un-American," Charise Taylor said.
Taylor said she pulled her gun while in the car and warned the man, "It’s locked and loaded." The suspect ran off and she was not forced to fire the weapon.
T.J. McDermott, co-owner of the Paladin Center, a training facility roughly 60 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley, said first-time gun owners have often attributed their newfound interest in firearms to their perceived need to protect themselves.
"First it was the pandemic, and then the riots and all the violent protests that went on. And even up until now with all the change changes in the laws in the state," he told Fox News Digital. "And now it’s the spike in crime. Crime is really, really putting the fear of God into people, and they’re arming themselves."
McDermott noted that use of a firearm is only justifiable in certain situations.
"You need to know the law. You need to know when you’re able to deploy your gun. You can’t just pull your gun out because somebody cut you off in traffic … it’s important for your personal well-being and the public’s."
He added: "You have to be in imminent danger."
But McDermott and other experts have stressed that the use of guns without the necessary training can be dangerous for the shooter and the public.
"What I tell people is, just because you got your driver's license, that doesn't make you a race car driver," McDermott added. "Just because you bought a gun doesn’t mean that you know exactly what to do with it. So, training and practice are key."
And gun education and training group Safer USA quoted "shooting guru" Jeff Cooper in saying, "Owning a pistol no more prepares one for a gunfight than owning a piano prepares one for Carnegie Hall."
"Get a lesson," McDermott said. "It’s that simple."