Have you ever used a gun in self-defense?

We’re talking about public safety this week in our project “The Price of Safety,” and part of the conversation centers on an individual’s personal sense of responsibility. So we asked hundreds of people in our Public Insight Network whether they had ever used a gun in self-defense.

Most, as you might expect, said no. But a few said yes:

Have you ever used a gun in self-defense?

Thumbnail image for dicklacher.JPG“There was this Bear on the porch…….”

Richard Lacher, Dora Lake




Thumbnail image for tommaertens2007.jpg“Yes, in Africa during a revolution. I had to ‘clear leather’ as they say (display the weapon) when stopped by a road block. I didn’t point it at anybody or discharge it.”

Tom Maertens, Mankato



Thumbnail image for brentgurtek1.jpg“Not against a human but came close to doing so against a black bear on one occasion.”

Brent Gurtek, Duluth Township




Thumbnail image for jeffschroeder.JPG“Yes, stopped 2 men that were beating another by displaying a loaded shotgun and insisting that they stop immediately.”

Jeff Schroeder, Grand Rapids



“The only time I did use a gun for protection was in the jungles of Viet Nam as a medical evacuation helicopter pilot. Never needed to discharge it though.”

Jim Kellner, Virginia

Thumbnail image for feliciaherman.JPG“Not myself, but my husband did during a robbery at our home. I hope I never have to, but I am prepared if necessary. ”

Felicia Herman, Minneapolis



weyandt.JPG“Yes. I was a prosecutor and a man tried to corner me in an elevator at a parking ramp. I suggested that he back off or face some consequences and he did. I only had to show the gun, not point it.”

Thomas Weyandt, White Bear Lake



“It depends on how you would read the situation; would people in my position have felt threatened? Did what I do constitute use?

“I was at a gas station late one night in an area I later found out was known for some of the crimes committed there. While I was filling my gas tank, a man started crossing the lot towards me, casting glances around. All I did was take off my jacket and lay it on the passenger seat, exposing the pistol I was wearing in a shoulder holster. Whoever this man was, whatever his reason for approaching, he turned and went back the way he came and disappeared around the building.”

Ted Sirek, Webster

” ‘Used,’ yes, but ‘fired’, no. Simply allowing a malefactor to realize that he is choosing an armed victim has always worked, so far. ”

Fremont Upton, Minneapolis

“My firearm has been out of the holster once (at an ATM) but never pointed at anyone. The problem(s) that night decided to go somewhere else.”

Mark Gobel, West St. Paul

  • Rob G

    Yes, twice.

    The first time, I only had to access my firearm (not brandish) and the guy saw my movement, realized I was armed and ran off.

    The second time, two men approached and one pulled a retractable baton and started demanding my money, telling me what he was “gunna do to me”. I quickly pulled my firearm, aimed it right at his groin area and said, “I don’t think so”.

    Thankfully, I didn’t have to fire, but had they continued to approach me, I would not have hesitated.

  • Jim Cleary

    Yes, 3 times. As a combat marine in Vietnam. To kill a camp marauding bear in a wilderness area. And when confronted on a public pathway by a much younger, stronger man who repeatedly threatened to “knock my teeth out.”

    He left upon realizing that I was armed with a pocket revolver.