Amy Swearer, senior legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, a center-right think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., says every month she finds stories of law-abiding citizens who used their firearms in lawful defense of themselves or others.
In the process of looking through those stories, her organization finds "far too many instances where gun owners either acted irresponsibly, they didn't seem to fully understand the limits of their right to self-defense, or they just sort of went overboard and didn't otherwise act in [a]... lawful way."
The first example that stands out to her is the too-common mistake of confusing defensive gun use with active vigilantism.
"In other words, gun owners who go too far, who cross that line from lawful self-defense into blurring that line and taking on a more affirmative role that we should be reserving for the police," Swearer tells OneNewsNow.
While she asserts that one should absolutely defend oneself, "if you're not in fear of your life, if this is something that you're getting into now actively chasing someone down -- call police," she continues. "Make sure the people around you are safe, but don't go chasing after criminals. You are liable to find yourself facing criminal liability yourself."
Swearer recommends gun owners pursue comprehensive firearms training, even in states that do not require it for firearms ownership.
"Especially if you want to carry firearms in public, take concealed carry courses; take self-defense courses, legal self-defense courses," she advises. "These types of courses are going to help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities with your firearm."
Swearer submits that regular training in assessing self-defense scenarios that might occur should be a continual investment. That means staying up to speed on all thing education and training and not just deciding, "I took one set of training, and now we’re going to call it good for the rest of our lives."