Americans have frequently used legal guns to thwart crimes, defend themselves or their homes and even stop mass shootings. Some estimates suggest instances of firearms being used in self-defense stretch into the millions yearly.
"Having a gun is by far the safest course of action when people are facing a criminal by themselves," Dr. John Lott, an economist and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told Fox News Digital earlier this year.
Lott believes that the media has dramatically undercounted the amount of times Americans use guns in self-defense, saying in a typical year there are only about 2,000 news stories about defensive use of guns. That number is more likely to stretch into the millions, Lott said, pointing to an average of 18 national surveys that estimated guns are used in self-defense about 2 million times per year.
"The vast majority of successful self-defense cases don’t make the news," Lott said.
With that trend continuing into 2022, here are five cases in which armed citizens were able to defend themselves and others this year.
A San Antonio homeowner defended several adults and multiple small children in his home in December by confronting an intruder with his handgun.
San Antonio police say the homeowner heard someone attempting to break into the side window of his home around 6 p.m. earlier this month, prompting him to grab his gun to confront the intruder. The homeowner fired two shots, striking the intruder in the chest.
Emergency personnel arrived and attempted to perform CPR on the intruder, but the man was pronounced dead at the home.
A Louisiana mom and Air Force veteran was sitting in gridlocked traffic on the interstate with her 2-year-old son in February when an intruder attempted to enter her vehicle, prompting her to pull out a gun.
"You shouldn't have to navigate your own city like a war zone. It's un-American," Charise Taylor, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told WDSU. "The crime is out of control, and it's terrifying. At this point, having to use the same tactics in an American city that you use in Iraq and Afghanistan simply to navigate through the city, it's scary, and I'm not the only mom feeling this way."
Taylor was on her way to pick up her husband in New Orleans when the dramatic incident unfolded. According to Taylor, a group of people in a truck motioned at her in the slow-moving traffic to let them into her lane. When she declined, a man approached her passenger door and attempted to pull the handle.
"So, as he comes up, he's close, and he's pretty aggressive trying to get the car door open, makes eye contact with me, he's still trying to get it open a couple times," Taylor said.
That's when Taylor said she pulled out her gun, warning the suspect the gun was "locked and loaded."
The intruder ran off without Taylor firing a shot, but the mother said she would have used the weapon if necessary to protect her son.
"The emotions — honestly, your body takes in a different form. I stayed in my body of course, but everything transformed. I'm trained to do this. I've gone to classes. I'm prior military. If I have to pull this trigger, that's what I have to do," Taylor said.
An armed Florida man stepped up to defend a pregnant woman who was being assaulted by the father of her unborn child in a Publix parking lot.
According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, 27-year-old Cole Joseph Danisment began brutally assaulting the mother of his unborn child, who was 14 weeks pregnant at the time, after an argument in the pharmacy parking lot in December. Danishment began punching her in the face several times and continued the attack by stomping on her head after she had fallen to the ground.
That's when a nearby witness who believed the attack was "so brutal in nature" that he feared for the woman's life, stepped in, pulling out his gun on Danisment and ending the attack.
Officers who later arrived said the woman was "covered in large amounts of blood" and may have suffered a broken nose as a result of the attack.
A Chandler, Arizona, man was called a "good Samaritan" by police after he halted a shooting in the parking lot of an Amazon facility and likely prevented further bloodshed
Police say 29-year-old Jacob Murphy pulled into the employee parking lot of an Amazon facility in December, jumped out of his car and began opening fire on employees in the lot. Murphy did not work at the Amazon facility but reportedly had "jealousy issues" with his girlfriend, who worked at the facility.
According to police, Murphy set out to find a male employee of the facility that he only knew by his first name. But when he attempted to enter the building, he was confronted by an employee who thought it was "strange" Murphy was attempting to gain access to the facility. An argument between Murphy and the employee unfolded before Murphy fired multiple shots.
That's when an armed employee of the facility noticed what was unfolding and pulled out his firearm, firing at Murphy and wounding him.
"He did come to the aid of an individual who was shot by a suspect. So, in that case, I would say he is a good Samaritan," police said of the incident.
Murphy was found dead in the parking lot by police when they arrived. Police said Murphy died of the gunshot wound from the armed employee and a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
An armed Indiana man was at the Greenwood Park Mall with his girlfriend in July when 20-year-old Jonathan Sapirman entered the mall with multiple semi-automatic rifles, a pistol and over 100 rounds of ammunition and began opening fire on patrons in the food court.
Sapirman was able to fatally shoot three people and injure two others before he was confronted by 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken, who was legally carrying a pistol under Indiana's new permitless-carry law.
Dicken approached the gunman from a distance of 40 yards and fired 10 rounds at Sapirman, striking him eight times and ultimately killing him.
Police hailed Dicken as a "good Samaritan" and praised his actions as "tactically sound" despite his lack of military or law enforcement experience, saying his actions prevented further loss of life in the shooting.
"Many more people would have died last night if not for the responsible armed citizen," Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said at the time.
"His actions were nothing short of heroic. He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun. He was very proficient in that, very tactically sound. And as he moved to close in on the suspect, he was also motioning for people to exit behind him."