For many, self-defense is the leading argument for gun ownership rights. It's the primary motivation for keeping a firearm, now surpassing even hunting, according to a recent Pew survey, says The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Data on the incidents of guns' being used in self-defense vary widely from study to study. Only a tiny sliver of people use guns to kill someone engaged in a felony. The FBI counted just 230 such cases of justifiable homicide in 2010.
The newspaper interviewed people who have used firearms effectively to defend themselves or their property in incidents in the St. Louis region. The circumstances varied. Some involved fatalities, others did not. Neither the courts nor police doubt they were justified in firing. All used guns for arguably their best and most justifiable purpose. And yet, though cleared by police, they carry with them a mix of affirmation and regret. Some are certain of their decision but still break down speaking about it. All recount the incidents in stark hues of good and evil, of peacemakers, and of God.