Women and Self-Protection

divider bar

(This page is updated monthly)

NOTE: In some jurisdictions it is illegal for law-abiding women (or men) to possess or carry a firearm for defense of their lives.

(Federal law already prohibits all felons from possessing any firearms. In spite of that law, many felons continue to carry whatever weapons they please.)

Studies indicate that firearms are used over two million times a year for personal protection, and that the presence of a firearm, without a shot being fired, prevents crime in many instances. Shooting usually can be justified only where crime constitutes an immediate, imminent threat to life, limb, or, in some cases, property. Anyone is free to quote or reproduce these accounts. Send clippings to:

"The Armed Citizen," 11250 Waples Mill Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030


Juanita Marcum of Bessemer City, North Carolina, is glad she was armed. After her ex-husband broke into her home and attacked her and her daughter with an ax, she drew her pistol and fatally shot him. The man had a history of domestic violence abuses. Police did not charge either woman. (The Gazette, Gaston, NC, 11/4/97)

After 11 years of mental and physical abuse, Elizabeth Johnstone finally summoned the courage to leave her husband. When his harassment continued, she filed a restraining order and purchased a .44 cal. revolver in case he violated it. He did. The man broke into her West Melbourne, Florida, home one morning and threatened to kill her with A 12-ga. shotgun. The couple's little boy grabbed his father's legs, begging him not to hurt his mother. The man ignored his son and began dragging his estranged wife through the house. He had succeeded in handcuffing her left wrist when the woman's great-grandmother handed her the .44. Several shots later, the abusive husband lay on the floor, dead. (Florida Today, Melbourne, FL, 10/23/97)

Geneva Littlefield, 61, and her 95-year-old mother are quiet women who keep to themselves in their East Hall Georgia, home. Geneva keeps a .38 cal. revolver in case others don't do the same. After cutting the phone lines of the elderly women's home, a man broke in early one morning. Geneva heard him coming and was waiting for him. He began to choke her mother, so she shot him in the groin. Unable to call police and unwilling to leave her mother alone with the wounded burglar, she held him at gunpoint until she could alert passing neighbors. (The Times, Gainesville, GA, 10/18/97)

Three young bandits found out the hard way that crime does not pay. Breaking into a Lawton, Oklahoma, home, the trio found the homeowner hiding in her bedroom. When they saw that she was armed, they pointed pistols at her, but she opened fire first, forcing the group from the home. Outside, they encountered a police officer whom they also tried to engage, but the officer was a better marksman. One suspect was killed and a second wounded. The third was arrested. (The Daily Oklahoman, Lawton, OK, 10/23/97)

When her ex-boyfriend forced his way into her Greenville, South Carolina, apartment, Alexcia Fant knew he was not there to reconcile. He threw her to the floor, began choking her and threatened to kill her. In response, she drew a .38cal. pistol and fired twice fatally hitting him. The man had a history of assault charges. (The News, Greenville, SC, 10/29/97)

"Any reasonable person would have acted the same way," noted District Judge Jim Hall in ruling that Rhonda Jones of Los Alamos, New Mexico, was legitimately defending herself after her boyfriend, Kalani Haughney, put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her. Jones, who learned to shoot at age 11, fired two fatal shots at Haughney, who had abused her numerous times before and had also previously threatened two other acquaintances. (Monitor, Los Alamos, NM, 11/16/97)

Her clothing was torn and there were scratches on her chest, but the woman attacked by a would-be midnight carjacker managed to reach under the driver's seat for her pistol. The attacker fled. The incident highlighted a recent poll taken by this newspaper about a controversial Louisiana law that allows people to shoot suspected carjackers. Some 37,296 readers responded to the question "Should the law allow you to kill a carjacker'?" The verdict: 92 percent said yes, eight percent no. (Daily Star, Hammond, LA, 12/6/97)

An Olympia, Washington, woman heard a commotion in her back yard and went to investigate, armed with a .38 revolver. She was hit in the chest and knocked to the ground by a male assailant. She drew her pistol, aimed at the man, and said, "I am in fear for my life -- leave or I will shoot you." The man wisely jumped over a fence and fled. (The Olympian, Olympia, WA, 10/12/97)

A pair of teens -- one of them armed -- forced their way through the front door of Johnnie Mae Stewart's Charlotte, North Carolina, home and demanded that she give them her money. The 50-year-old single woman went to a drawer to retrieve the cash, but saw her .22 pistol and decided to give them something else instead. She shot the armed crook, and the two intruders fled. The wounded suspect later turned himself in to police.(The Observer, Charlotte. NC, 9/28/97)

Two men, one armed with a knife, attempted to rob a grocery store in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The store manager, Diana Surdukan, struggled with the knife-wielding thug and was stabbed three times in the back. She produced a handgun, then fired on her assailant, hitting him in the chest. The second suspect was held for police. "We don't anticipate any charges against Diana. This is obviously self-defense. She was fighting for her life," Albuquerque police said. (The Journal, Albuquerque, NM, 7/24/97)

After deceiving threatening phone calls from a male acquaintance, a Virginia Beach, Virginia, woman feared she might be confronted by the man. One morning he appeared at her door under the pretense of retrieving a hair dryer he had lent the woman and her husband. She asked him to wait while she went to get the dryer and shut the door. While she was in the bedroom, the man broke into the home, went to the kitchen and armed himself with a steak knife. Her tormentor threatened her and confronted her in the bedroom, where she drew her husband's semi-automatic pistol from a nightstand drawer. After several unheeded warnings, the man lunged at her. She fired and hit him several times. The attacker, a criminal out on bond, died a short time later. The woman will not be charged, police said. (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, VA, 9/11/97)

The burglar ransacked 81-year-old Alberta Nicles' Muskegon, Michigan, home before waking her up and ordering her around the house to search for money. Ending up back in her bedroom, the intruder -- a suspected crack addict with a long history of criminal activity -- removed the widow's pajama bottoms and was preparing to rape her when she informed him that she knew where there was some money. Her assailant let her up and followed her to a closet where the woman instead retrieved her late husband's .38. She turned and shot her tormentor to death. Nicles then went to a neighbor's home to call police because her own lines had been severed by the intruder prior to his breaking in. "This was not just a random breaking and entering. He was planning on taking advantage of the vulnerability of an elderly person. She was clearly acting in self-defense, " Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague said. (The Chronicle, Muskegon, MI, 1/2/97)

When she first heard glass breaking early one morning outside her South Nogales, Arizona, home, Zelda Hunt thought kids were just breaking bottles. As the noise continued, however, she realized it was coming from the front of her house. She grabbed her portable phone and .22 cal. Smith & Wesson revolver and went to investigate. She saw a figure outside on her enclosed porch kneeling next to a shattered window and dialed 911. She opened the door and confronted the would-be intruder. The man tried to leave, but she said, "Oh, no! You're not going anywhere. Sit down in that chair and stay there. "She held him until police arrived. (The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, AZ, 9/4/97)

After her Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, home was burglarized, Linda Steinle bought a .40 cal. pistol and took courses to learn how to safely use it. She heard a screen being knocked out of a back window one morning and, pistol in hand, went to investigate. She found three teenagers discussing breaking into her home and getting ready to hot-wire the ATV parked under her back deck. Steinle told them to freeze. She said, "Don't do anything stupid ... l know how to use this." She led the three into her home where she dialed 911 and held them for police. The three face charges of criminal conspiracy and attempted burglary. (The Times, Gettysburg, PA, 8/30/97)

After her keys and a few other items were stolen from her Orlando, Florida, apartment, Caryn Anderson stayed home from work Anticipating the thief would return. Sure enough, the crook used the stolen keys to gain entry and she was waiting for him -- armed with a .38 cal. revolver. Anderson dialed 911 and told the dispatcher to send help. She then slammed the door shut on an alleged accomplice and trapped the would-be burglar inside. A struggle ensued and Anderson shot the crook in the arm. Police arrived and took the suspect into custody. The alleged robber was a neighbor hood teen. Two others were arrested in connection with the crime and all are suspects in at least five more burglaries. (The Sentinel, Orlando, FL, 9/5/97)

When Cindy and Daniel Murphy were awakened by noises in their home, the couple went to investigate. They found two invaders in their kitchen, and Daniel was felled by a shotgun blast. Fearing for the lives of her husband, herself and their two-year old child, Cindy ran to the bedroom and returned with a .38 cal. revolver. Murphy fired at the suspects, hitting one and forcing them to flee. Daniel Murphy was taken to the hospital and was in critical condition, but was recovering. Cindy Murphy was credited by police as being "heroic" and for "having the presence of mind to defend her fallen husband and two-year-old daughter." (The Constitution, Lawton, OK, 8/31/97)

Sherry Rives, of Bear Creek, North Carolina, emerged from her shower to see a knife-wielding man coming towards her. When he threatened to rape her, she ran into her bedroom and got her 9 mm pistol. The two wrestled for the pistol and Rives was wounded in the thigh. She then gained control of the pistol and shot her tormentor several times, forcing him to flee. She then locked herself in the bathroom and called police. When police arrived, they found the would-be rapist dead with four bullet wounds to the chest. The woman's father said she kept the pistol in the house for protection and she knew how to use it. (The Herald, Sanford, NC, 6/13/97)

A history of alleged physical abuse by her ex-boyfriend, William Barbour, convinced Christine Pittman of Guilford Township, Pennsylvania, to buy a .25-cal. pistol. When he broke through a dead-bolted door into her home early one morning, she dialed 91l and then gave her pistol over to her boyfriend, Patrick Atkinson. When Barbour rushed Atkinson, the new boyfriend loosed five shots into his attacker. The shooting was ruled a justifiable homicide by the District Attorney as Atkinson "reasonably feared for his own safety and that of Christine Pittman." Barbour had a history of abuse and a criminal record. (The Herald Mail, Hagerstown, MD, 3/15/97)

After cutting the phone lines, a pair of burglars broke into Mary Scherer's home in Decatur, Indiana. Scherer had seen the intruders outside before they entered and alerted her stepson Ryan, who grabbed a 20-ga. shotgun. When the intruders began to beat Mary with a fire extinguisher, Ryan shot one of them in the chest. The second burglar fled to a waiting car. The wounded intruder stumbled into the garage, where he died. Police caught the other suspect and believe the two were responsible for a rash of burglaries in the area. (The News Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, IN, 3/20/97)

When two men wearing Halloween masks, one of them armed, entered her Indianapolis, Indiana, apartment, Wajibu Wynn knew they were not trick-or-treaters. She awoke to hear a commotion in her living room and reached for her pistol. Her sister had been accosted by one of the men after having been sprayed with a Mace-like chemical spray. The men were forcing the woman to a back bedroom when Wynn emerged with her gun and shot one of the intruders, killing him. The second attacker fled, but was apprehended a short time later. (The Star Indianapolis, IN, 5/16/97)

Anne Barry of Bowling Green, Kentucky, knows the importance of having a firearm. "If I hadn't had that gun, I wouldn't have had a chance," she said. She was asleep alone in her home when she heard the sound of her garage door being broken in. She grabbed her .357 Mag. revolver and waited for the intruder, who appeared in her hallway brandishing a pistol. As he turned to look into another room, she fired once, hitting the man. He fled, but was arrested for an alleged break-in not far from Barry's home. "If he would have turned around, he would have killed me. It was survival. It was him or me," she said. Police lauded Barry's actions. (The Daily News, Bowling Green, KY, 5/14/97)

An El Cajon, California, woman was relaxing with her two-year-old child when she heard a noise in a bedroom and decided to investigate. Upon finding an unknown male intruder there, she picked up a handgun and yelled, "Go away!" but the man advanced. A second warning from the woman went unheeded so she shot the housebreaker once in the chest. The man left the house and fell unconscious in the street where police arrested him. (The Union-Tribune, San Diego, CA, 5/13/97)

A bandit claiming to be armed strolled into a Frederick, Maryland, liquor store and attempted to rob a lone female cashier. Undaunted, the clerk reached for her own gun and pointed it at the suspect. No shots were required to send the man dashing from the store. Witnesses called police, who apprehended the criminal within blocks of the crime scene. (The News-Post, Frederick, MD, 3/11/97)

With her spouse struggling with a man they had caught breaking into their car, a St. Louis, Missouri, woman ran back into her home, called 911 and got a .38-cal. handgun. Meanwhile, the burglar produced a box-cutter and proceeded to slash the husband several times before the woman returned and loosed a fatal shot at the attacker. (The Post Dispatch, St. Louis, MO, 3/15/97)

Ruth Gray, 86, of Augusta, Georgia, came in from her backyard to find her home being ransacked. She crept to where she kept her .38 handgun and began looking for the intruder. "He thought he was going to get out the back door ... but I locked it." She shot the would-be burglar in the hand and he fled the home. He was apprehended a month later by police. At the crook's hearing, the judge said to the woman, "I hope when I'm 86 I can shoot as well as you can." (The Chronicle, Augusta, GA 11/2/96)

Three masked men entered a Moulton, Alabama, home in an attempt to rob the family living there. After one of the intruders placed a pistol to the head of a man in the house, a female resident said she needed to go into a back room to get her baby. Instead, she returned with a pistol and began firing at the intruders. Two of the men fled, while the third was held for police. One suspect turned himself in. The third was still at large, but police knew his identity and an arrest was expected. All of the bandits had criminal histories, including one who was awaiting trial for rape at the time of the home invasion. (The Daily, Decatur, AL, 4/21/97)

Thugs, one of them armed with a pistol, ambushed 56-year-old Roberta Andrews and her daughter Leashea in a Gainesville, Florida, mall parking lot. The mother was trapped outside the car, but Leashea was able to jump into the driver's seat, where she fished around in the darkness and pulled out her .38 revolver -- the sight of which sent the assailants packing. (The Sun, Gainesville, FL, 3/22/97)

Pine Bluff, Arkansas, pizzeria assistant manager Ailene Jones was enjoying a meal when two young men entered the restaurant where she worked and attempted to force another employee to open the cash register. When their efforts failed, one of the bandits approached Jones, who was armed. The suspect started shooting at Jones, who shot back. The criminals fled the building. While police were interviewing Jones, who had been struck in the foot, in the hospital, a young man fitting one of the suspects' descriptions showed up with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was promptly arrested. Police were still searching for his accomplice. (The Democrat Gazette, Pine Bluff, AR, 12/l1/96)

"He didn't stay long. He went running because I had something to make him run," said 77-year-old Anna Lee England after forcing a bandit from her Calloway, Kentucky, country store. The elderly woman was in the store her late husband built in 1967 when a masked man believed to be in his 20s entered and demanded everything in the cash register. Instead, England pulled out a .38 and ordered the thug to leave. He did so quickly. A suspect was soon detained and questioned in the case. "I just figured I had worked for what I had, and I was going to protect it. I was just using common sense," England said. (The Daily News, Middleboro, KY. 10/15/96)

The robber yelled for everyone to "hit the floor" in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tavern and began firing. A few shots hit the ceiling and one struck bartender Natalie Biggs in the hip. When his gun jammed, a wounded Biggs grabbed a .38. Several of her shots found her attacker who staggered from the building. He was found dead nearby slumped behind the wheel of his car. Police said the dead man had a history of arrests involving offenses that included rape and aggravated assault. (The Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, 1/23/97)

Without warning, the man walked into the Boomtown Grocery in Haughton, Louisiana, and pointed a gun at the owner and her sister. He told the two women if they refused to give him all of the store's money, he would kill them. Undaunted, the shopkeeper produced a .357 Mag. and unleashed at least five shots. Hit, the assailant returned fire as he crawled from tile store. The owner was grazed by a bullet, but her attacker suffered much worse. He had nothing to show for his criminal efforts but a critical bullet wound to his shoulder and a list of charges -- including two counts of attempted murder -- from police who quickly arrested the man and his accomplice. (The Times, Shreveport, LA, 9/30196)

A 45-year-old Gwinnett County, Georgia, woman carried her gun into the kitchen to investigate a noise. There she discovered her yardman, who had threatened her earlier in the day had just broken into her home. She ordered the man to leave, but he replied she would have to shoot him first. She did. The man was hospitalized and police did not expect any charges to be filed against the woman. (The Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 9/8/96)

A teenage crook got quite a surprise after he entered 68-year-old Ruth Haskin's home through a kitchen window and stole into her bedroom. The Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey, woman kept a .22 cal. handgun within arm's reach whenever she slept. Upon awaking to find the youth in her bedroom, she reached for the gun and shot him in the chest as he came at her, wounding him. (The Press, Atlantic City, NJ, 8/25/96)

Sonya Godwin notifed police thatagroup of people had been epeatedly calling her Florence, South Carolina, home making death threats against her son. She then placed her Taurus .357 Mag. revolver on a counter in case somebody decided to carry out those threats. Two hours later, a group of seven people gathered on Godwin's lawn with one of them knocking on the font door demanding to see her son. Godwin opened the door, informed the man that her son was asleep and then closed and locked the door. The man then kicked the door in and received a fatal shot fom Godwin's .357. Police refused to charge the woman. (The Morning News, Florence, SC, 7/31/96)

With her husband and son away at church, Brenda Hibbitts was alone in her London, Kentucky, home when three men broke in through her front door. At the commotion, Hibbitts grabbed a 9 mm and confronted the housebreakers, one of whom charged the woman with a hammer. Hibbitts fired, wounding the brute and forcing all of the intruders from the premises. Four suspects were arrested in the incident. (The Herald- Leader, Lexington, KY, 6/17/96)

A Manchester, New Hampshire, landlord, tired of break-ins at an apartment building she owned, single-handedly confronted three trespassers who had illegally entered an empty apartment, chasing them away from the property at gunpoint. The woman didn't have to fire a shot, since the men took off at the sight of her firearm. One of the trespassers was arrested by police after leading the landlord and a tenant on a brief foot chase. (The Citizen, Laconia, NH, 5/25/96)

Despite the presence of her parents and a sheriff's deputy, a 15-year- old Cookeville, Tennessee, teenager was still forced to defend herself from an abusive ax-boyfriend. Confronted by the deputy and the girl's parents outside of the family's residence, the young man broke free from the deputy, jumped a fence, and kicked in the door of the house where the girl was hiding. There the ex-boyfriend came at the girl to attack her as she held the phone -- with a 911 operator on the line -- in one hand and a Ruger .44 Magnum in the other. A single fatal shot ended the attack. (The Herald-Citizen, Cookeville, TN, 6113196)

A career criminal may have been released from Florida prisons three different times for good behavior, but once on the outside, his actions were less than upstanding. It was probably just another day on the job for the "seasoned burglar" when he donned a mask and gloves before lifting the sliding glass door from: its tracks on Sammie Foust's Cape Coral, Florida, home. In his hand he carried a knife. Confronting Foust, the crook demanded money and jewelry before beating the 49-year-old woman in the face. During the struggle, Foust managed to get her hands on her .25 cal. pistol and unleash four shots, all of which found their mark. Police found the crook dead in Foust's bedroom. (The News Press, Fort Myers, FL, 5/11/96)

Left for dead in a 1994 robbery and shooting in which she was seriously wounded and her 21-year-old godson paralyzed, Richmond, Virginia, resident Dorothy Newton understood the cost she and her niece might be forced to pay. They had already handed the four robbers, one armed with a pistol, all of their valuables and still the crooks wanted more. With nothing else to give, Newton pulled a .38 from the bottom of her purse and began firing, wounding two of the suspects and chasing all of them away. The four attackers were all taken into custody. Later newspaper accounts noted that a grand jury refused to indict the woman, even though she did not have a carry permit for the revolver, which she had borrowed from a friend. (The Times Dispatch, Richmond, VA, 6/1/96)

After spotting a strange truck in the driveway of her Bell County, Kentucky, home, Darlene Craig stopped and confronted the two men she found in the process of stealing her television, VCR and other items. Craig used her.357 to even the playing field and forced both men to sit on the couch while she dialed 911. When one of the crooks pushed down the phone's receiver and said he didn't think the woman would shoot, Craig dared them to "give [her] areason." The two opted to wait for police. (The Enquirer, Pineville, KY, 4/4/96)

At the sound of somebody breaking into her home, a "petite" Ausable Township, Michigan, woman jumped from her bathtub, wrapped herself in a towel, and grabbed a Winchester .30-30 rifle. Jeanie Shell soon came face to face with a 220-lb. 6-ft. 2" intruder who she recognized as a neighbor, while a second suspect fled. Shell ordered the housebreaker to leave and called police, who later arrested both suspects and discovered they were responsible for another nearby burglary earlier that morning. (The News Herald and Press, Mikado, MI, 3/20/96)

quot;I'm an old man; I have to take care of myself," Gary, Indiana, resident Miller Doty said. Doty keeps his .357 a little closer at hand now after a pair of teenaged homebreakers attacked him in his home. One of the thugs had pinned the 72-year-old Doty to the floor and was trying to choke him when the homeowner's 54-year-old daughter, alarmed by the commotion, came upstairs with her .22 in hand. Doty's daughter fatally shot one suspect and sent the other diving out a window with a volley of shots. (The Times, Lake County, IN, 4/1/96)

The robber pointed the pistol at Robert Shelton and pulled the trigger. The gun failed to fire and a struggle ensued with the bandit continuing to futilely pull the trigger and his accomplice running from the store. Shelton's wife, Becky, was alerted to the confrontation when the fight spilled into the rear office. In an effort to save her husband, she grabbed a .38 and shot the attacker several times, killing him. (The Morning News, Dallas, TX, 3/17/96)

Continuing a nightlong robbery spree in which he had successfully hit four businesses including the same doughnut shop twice, a Jacksonville, Florida, bandit marched into a Prime Stop Food Store and demanded cash from clerk Edna Teagle. Instead, the woman drew a gun and chased the man away. Teagle then notified another nearby Prime Stop location to warn the clerk. As they spoke, the bandit strolled into the other store. Thanks to Teagle's warning, the clerk was able to get the jump on the bandit and send him fleeing as well. (The Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL, 2/3/96)

"A person who invades the sanctity of another person's home as heavily armed as this assailant is not there for tea and crumpets," said Johnson County, Indiana, Prosecutor Lance Hamner in refusing to seek charges against James Hynes. Hynes killed the estranged wife of a business partner after the masked woman broke into his house in November 1995, armed with a firearm, switchblade and stun gun. The assailant was pointing a gun at Hynes' daughter's head, when his wife slipped him a gun, allowing him to defend his family. (The News, Indianapolis, IN, 2/16/96)

The man strode into the Conroe, Texas, trailer company, walked to the office and pointed a gun at his former employer, Boyd Odom. "I thought I was dead," said Odom. Instead, his daughter, Linda Cates, also in the office, diverted the former employee's attention by standing up with her own gun in hand. The two traded shots before Odom's son, Dale, charged from another room and tackled the assailant. Nobody was seriously hurt in the incident. (The Courier, Conroe, TX, 2/17/96)

The justice system had failed to protect Wichita, Kansas, resident Carla Grayson from a violent ex-boyfriend. After three years of physical abuse, 19 arrest warrants (all of which went ignored by her tormentor as he repeatedly neglected to appear in court), and the filing of no-contact orders, Grayson put an end to the situation. When the abuser burst into her home, she shot him dead. No charges were filed. (The Eagle, Wichita, KS, 12/17/95)

A masked housebreaker almost pondered a bit too long as he stared down the barrel of Marsha Beatty's 9 mm. The criminal, one of a gang of four, burst into the bedroom of her Fort Wayne, Indiana, home, but Beatty grabbed his Tec-9 and stuck her own autoloader between his eyes, ordering him to drop the pistol. When he hesitated, the householder announced, "All right, I'm going to kill you." That halted his indecision and he ran, pursued by Beatty and her roommate, who had taken up her own 9 mm. "When they saw two women with guns, they ran," Beatty said later. (The News Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN, 12/6/95)

The Rockingham County, Virginia, woman had already dialed 911 after discovering the door to her home ajar, when a Halloween-masked suspect charged from another room and slashed her with a knife. Suffering two cuts, the woman dashed upstairs where she barricaded herself in a bedroom, grabbed her 12-ga. shotgun, and fired a single shot at the intruder through the door. Police were still searching for the suspect, who fled the home on foot without any valuables. (The Daily News-Record, Harrisonburg, VA, 10/24/95)

Despite her frail condition, 82-year-old Elva Holsclaw of Martinsville, Virginia, fought valiantly when a knife-wielding housebreaker stole into her bedroom and attacked her. Nearly three times older than her assailant, Holsclaw routed the man with a single shot from a handgun she kept next to her bed, fatally wounding him. Tragically, Holsclaw died days later from injuries sustained in the attack, and police were investigating the possibility of a second suspect. (The Bulletin, Martinsville, VA, 11/17/95)

After a strange car pulled up in front of her rural home for a second time, the lone Griswold, Connecticut, woman telephoned her brother to come and investigate. But before he could arrive, the woman was forced to grab her .22 cal. rifle and confront a teenager breaking in through a locked window. Her brother, who had already dialed police, appeared moments later where he captured three more accomplices waiting outside. (The Bulletin, Norwich, CT, 10/10/95)

Despite a trespass notice and several arrests, an Orlando, Florida, man relentlessly stalked his former girlfriend, Judy Davis, for more than a year, physically attacking her, running her off the road and breaking into her home on at least two occasions. Following a brief stint in jail, a judge released Davis' tormentor after he promised to stay away from her forever. His promise was only good for six days before he returned to Davis' home and chased her inside. There the victim grabbed her .38 cal. revolver and fired, dropping the man to the floor. Getting back to his feet and fleeing, the wounded stalker was captured by police hours later. (The Sentinel, Orlando, FL, 11/16/95)

Two alleged bandits had just robbed Deandre Hodge in her Shreveport, Louisiana, home and were making their getaway, when one of the men fired several shots at the robbery victim. Hodge defended herself with her SKS rifle, mortally wounding the trigger-happy suspect. The driver of the car was taken to the police station for questioning. No charges were filed in the case. (The Times, Shreveport, LA, 10/7/95)

Police believe the man who abducted a Shasta County, California, woman at knife point and forced her to drive her vehicle to a remote location may have been intending to sexually assault her. Instead, when the scruffy would-be rapist stepped from the car for a moment, the woman retrieved a pistol and shot at the man, who fled into the darkness. (The Record Searchlight, Redding, CA, 7/28/95)

Carla McCoy, a 19-year-old college student, was at her parents' Covington, Georgia, home when she was alerted to a strange man attempting to enter the house through a window. McCoy grabbed a .38, called 911, and then went downstairs to investigate. Reaching the living room, she encountered the intruder, who, at the sight of the gun, begged her not to shoot him and immediately exited the residence from the same window he had entered. McCoy never even had to point the gun at the frightened invader. "I'm extremely thankful that nothing happened here," said the student's father. "The fact that she was armed had something to do with that." (The News, Covington, GA, 8/24/95)

Despite being wanted by police for two separate violent episodes at his mother-in-law's house in the previous week, and a restraining order barring him from the home, the unemployed ex-convict decided to pay a third visit to confront his estranged wife. Cutting the phone line and kicking in the front door of the Little Rock, Arkansas, home, the ex-con got more than he bargained for. Inside the house, he found his estranged wife armed with a 9 mm and standing next to her mother, who was armed with a shotgun. Frightened for their safety, both women fired, killing the man, who was struck twice by the shotgun. (The Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, AR, 7/25/95)

A Parks, Pennsylvania, man, suspected of at least 43 break-ins at elderly residents' homes, was finally arrested after one of his intended victims, a 59-year-old woman who had chased the man from her home with a 20-ga. shotgun, picked him out of a police line-up. The woman had purchased her shotgun following a previous break-in last year. When this intruder came calling, she confronted the crook in her kitchen. The man ran from the woman's home when he saw her armed with the big-bore gun. The face-to-face confrontation offered her a clear view of the suspect. (The Valley News Dispatch, New Kensington, PA, 8/3/95)

Roughed up, blindfolded, tied to her bed and fearful of being raped by two robbers, a Spanaway, Washington, grandmother managed to work her hands free and retrieve her .22 cal. revolver. When one of the men started to return upstairs, 69-year-old Wilma Roberts shot twice, wounding him in the arm. Roberts then chased the two from the house, firing additional shots as they fled in her van. Police recovered the van just miles away from Roberts' home and arrests were expected. (The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA, 6/10/95)

Ypsilanti, Michigan, resident Lois Menna noticed the air conditioner pushed out at her family's hot dog stand, and with .38 in hand, yelled for the prowler to come out, which he did. As a neighbor called police, Menna held the gun on the man, who attempted to unnerve her by threatening to walk away. Menna replied, "I've been waiting a long time for this...if you don't think I'll use it, walk. And you'll find out." The crook, a habitual offender, opted to wait for police. (The Gazette, Kalamazoo, MI, 7/10/95)

Sheila Cole's advice to people: "Don't be afraid to protect yourself." That's exactly what she did after a purse snatcher grabbed her bag containing more than $1,000 in receipts from her Detroit, Michigan, hair salon. Cole drew her .38 cal. revolver, shooting the man in the buttocks and leg. As he tried to escape in a stolen car, the robber was beaten and kicked by residents and business owners in the crack-infested neighborhood. (The Free Press, Detroit, Ml, 6/15/95)

A severe beating and a broken arm were more than enough motivation for Theresa Jenkins to leave her live-in boyfriend, get her own apartment and--for protection from future assaults--purchase a handgun. Just two weeks later, the abuser burst through the door of her Gloucester, Virginia, apartment and slashed her arm with a knife. Jenkins was able to turn the tide of the attack with three shots from her .380, which sent the wounded man running from the apartment. (The Daily Press, Newport News, VA, 7/3/95)

Emerging from the darkness of a Dallas, Texas, night, the carjacker laid the 7" butcher knife against the neck of Marcellina Williams, seated in the driver's seat of a 1992 Lexus. As he grabbed the young woman's wrist with his free hand and jerked her from the driver's seat, the passenger, Runette Sanders, retrieved her .38 from a bag in the back seat and scrambled from the car. When the man lunged at her with the knife, Sanders loosed a single blast, wounding him in the head and ending the carjacking. (The Morning News, Dallas, TX, 6/11/95)

Psilanti, Michigan, resident Lois Menna noticed the air conditioner pushed out at her family's hot dog stand, and with .38 in hand, yelled for the prowler to come out, which he did. As a neighbor called police, Menna held the gun on the man, who attempted to unnerve her by threatening to walk away. Menna replied, "I've been waiting a long time for this...if you don't think I'll use it, walk. And you'll find out." The crook, a habitual offender, opted to wait for police. (The Gazette, Kalamazoo, MI, 7/10/95)

Sheila Cole's advice to people: "Don't be afraid to protect yourself." That's exactly what she did after a purse snatcher grabbed her bag containing more than $1,000 in receipts from her Detroit, Michigan, hair salon. Cole drew her .38 cal. revolver, shooting the man in the buttocks and leg. As he tried to escape in a stolen car, the robber was beaten and kicked by residents and business owners in the crack-infested neighborhood. (The Free Press, Detroit, Ml, 6/15/95)

Roughed up, blindfolded, tied to her bed and fearful of being raped by two robbers, a Spanaway, Washington, grandmother managed to work her hands free and retrieve her .22 cal. revolver. When one of the men started to return upstairs, 69-year-old Wilma Roberts shot twice, wounding him in the arm. Roberts then chased the two from the house, firing additional shots as they fled in her van. Police recovered the van just miles away from Roberts' home and arrests were expected. (The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA, 6/10/95)

A crazed teenager screaming "Satan will get you," chased a Hermitage, Pennsylvania, woman into her home, then tore a sliding glass door from its track. The woman then pulled a .22 cal. gun on the intruder, who fled at the sight of the firearm. The teen, who had been recently prosecuted in another community, was arrested 15 minutes later by police who had to use pepper spray to subdue the suspect. (The Herald, Sharon, PA, 4/3/95)

Mobile, Alabama, citizen activist Lillian Jackson was driving by some properties she owns when she noticed two unfamiliar men coming out one of the houses. Jackson grabbed her .38 snub-nose from beside the seat of her car and drew a bead on the pair, who heat a hasty retreat. It was the third incident in which the president of the local March Against Crime organization had been forced to use her gun, dubbed "The Equalizer," to stop or apprehend a burglar. (The Register, Mobile, AL, 4/26/95)

Rebecca Griffin awoke to the screams of her daughter, who was being bound and gagged by two kidnappers in her Washington, D.C., home. She confronted the men, one of whom was carrying knife, and brought the attack to a quick halt when she was able to break free and retrieve a .32 cal. revolver from the basement, shooting the knife-wielder four times. The other suspect fled. Griffin and one daughter were slashed during the attack. Some news accounts made no mention that the handgun that saved the Griffins is illegal in the District. (The Times, Washington, D.C., 12/14/94)

Housebreakers had entered Lillie Mae Ponder's Orlando, Florida, home twice in less then a week, so she grabbed her .38 Spl. when she heard noises from her 77-year-old husband's bedroom. There she found a criminal spraying wheelchair bound Paul Ponder with Mace. Though he turned the irritant on her, too, she was able to fire, killing her attacker. Police said the shooting was justified. (The Sentinel, Orlando, FL 12/8/94)

JoEllen Hammersley almost became a cop 20 years ago, and maybe she missed her calling. Hammersley was pulling up to a bank in East Chicago, Indiana, when she heard screams and saw a man run off with a woman 's purse. Without hesitation, Hammersley retrieved her .32 from her purse and gave pursuit. With the help of a bystander, she caught the thief and held him at gunpoint for police. Hammersley received a Citizens Award from the mayor for her action. The local police chief remarked: "It's people like Mrs. Hammersley who make my job a lot easier." (The Times, Munster, IN, 9/29/94)

After a man pounded on her door, cut the electric, telephone and alarm system lines to her house and launched several bricks through her windows, 61-year-old Annie Holt decided she'd had enough. With her .22 derringer in hand, the Nashville resident repeatedly warned her harasser to stop trying to force entry or be shot. He didn't stop, so Holt finally shot and killed him. Police did not expect charges to be filed against Holt. (The Tennessean, Nashville, TN, 10/10/94)

A wheelchair-bound 71-year-old Henrico County, Virginia, woman proved too tough for the likes of a local burglar. Lillian Allen, who keeps a .32 under her pillow, wheeled herself into the bedroom when she saw a criminal armed with a tire iron enter her home through a window. After she fired on the intruder, he fled out the front door. The doughty grandmother says crime won't run her out of her neighborhood. "As long as I have the gun, I feel secure with that," she said. (Times- Dispatch, Richmond, VA, 10/18/94)

"As he was helping himself to my money, I was helping myself to my pistol," says 77-year-old O'Dell Alston of Beaufort, South Carolina, describing her encounter with a knife-wielding robber in Alston's grocery store. Pretending to make a purchase, the robber waited for Alston to open the cash register. He then pulled his weapon and went behind the counter, where be began removing money from the drawer. Once he saw that Alston was armed, however, he fled. Police Lieutenant Steve Rogers said Alston's actions were legal. "You have a right to protect your business, especially when you are threatened with a deadly weapon like a knife." (The Gazette, Beaufort, SC, 04/26/94)

After seeing her 87-year-old husband beaten during a holdup at their north Philadelphia liquor store three weeks previous, Jacqueline Arnao, 78, vowed not to let it happen again. So when three masked men, one brandishing a shotgun, burst into the store, Mrs. Arnao reached for her .38. Firing once, she set the trio running for the door. Mrs. Arnao promised to use the pistol again if need be: "I'm going to go and learn how to shoot it properly so I can get him next time." The Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, 04/30/94)

After her husband died in 1991, Ontario, Oregon, resident Patricia Ireland decided to learn to defend herself by enrolling in a women's gun class. Now she's glad she did. When she heard three men breaking into her home, Ireland called 911 and retrieved her .357 Mag. When one of the men started to break a window, Ireland let a round fly over his head. the perpetrators ran to their car and sped off. they were apprehended later. (Argus Observer, Ontario, OR, 04/25/94)

Shelly Greenbaum returned to college to get a degree to help troubled youths. But she was forced to shoot and kill a troubled teenager when he robbed her at gunpoint in a Miami parking lot. Convinced the youthful criminal was going to end the robbery by killing her, Greenbaum pulled her .38 out of her back pocket and fired twice. The dead 19-year-old had juvenile and adult records, police (The Herald, Miami, FL, 03/04/94)

Brenda Lackey runs a convenience store in Gastonia, North Carolina. She is also a former police officer. The man who attempted to rob the store apparently didn't know that. Suspecting the "customer" might try to rob her, Lackey was ready when he demanded money. She drew her 9 mm -- a retirement present commemorating her 16 years as an officer -- and chased him from the store. "I'll always be a police officer," she commented. (The Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, NC, 02/03/94)

After an attempted break-in at her Charleston, West Virginia, home four years ago, 74-year-old Ruby McFarland decided to keep her antique revolver loaded. She recently needed it to scare away two would-be robbers who cut her phone lines and tried to break into her home. As the two tried to get in through the front door, McFarland fired two shots, prompting their flight. "They were going to get me and I wasn't going to let them," said McFarland. (The Daily Mail, Charleston, WV, 02/09/94)

Brenda Jones, a 24-year-old University of Virginia graduate student, was leaving her Charlottesville, Virginia, apartment when a man grabbed her from behind. During the ensuing struggle, Jones and her attacker fell back into the apartment, where Jones managed to break free of her assailant. Jones sprinted to her bedroom and grabbed her revolver. Training it on the criminal, she demanded he leave, which he did. (The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, VA, 02/11/94)

Patsy Tankersley's attackers made a big mistake when the held a knife to her young daughter's throat and ordered the Frayser, Tennessee, woman to go to her bedroom and disrober. Tankersley turned the tables when she got her revolver and started firing. The duo fled, but were quickly caught. One was jailed, the other was hospitalized with a chest wound. (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, 01/26/94)

An Albany, Oregon, woman bought a shotgun after her estranged husband threatened to kill her. It saved her life less than a month later. The woman's husband, armed with two handguns and ignoring a restraining order, showed up at the house and started shooting, wounding the woman. Brad Adamson, a friend, got the shotgun and fired a blast that killed her attacker. (The Democrat-Herald, Albany, OR, 01/17/94)

A career criminal didn't let the fact that he was in a cast, the result of a hip replacement a month before, keep him from crawling through the window of Elaine Wingren's Portland, Oregon, home. When Wingren returned home, she saw the man, who then crawled through the basement window and headed toward her. Wingren screamed, and fearing that the burglar had armed himself with one of her guns, pulled her licensed pistol and shot him to death as he came at her. The dead housebreaker, out on parole, had a lengthy criminal record. (The Oregonian, Portland, OR, 02/06/94)

A court order against her former boyfriend was no sure protection, but Cheryl Belshe's handgun was. When the man, who had a history of violence against girlfriends, violated the order and broke into Belshe's Norman, Oklahoma, home, she shot and wounded him. "This is the type of case that the 'Make My Day' law was intended to allow a victim to protect themselves in their home," said the local district attorney, who added that Belshe would face no charges. (The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK, 12/03/93)

A fixation proved to be fatal to a Tennessee man when his former girlfriend armed herself. When the man broke into Geneva Mason's Ten Mile, Tennessee, home and threatened to kill her four-year-old daughter with a knife, Mason fired several shots from her .38, striking him fatally. (The News-Sentinel, Knoxville, TN, 12/23/93)

Asleep on the couch, a Hartsgrove, Ohio, woman was startled awake by suspicious noises in her laundry room. She grabbed her husband's rifle and confronted an intruder, holding him at gunpoint. While she was on the phone with police, however, the man fled, with an accomplice in tow. Two suspects were quickly apprehended. (The Star Beacon, Ashtabula, OH, 01/05/94)

A Milwaukee woman didn't hesitate to use her gun when, upon investigating a noise in her home late one night, she found a man breaking in and already halfway through the window he had smashed. The woman fired her .38 three times, hitting the man in the chest and killing him. The district attorney's office said no charges would be filed. (The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, WI, 12/29/93)

Bessie Jones is 92 and confined to a wheelchair, hardly able to defend herself against the human predators that inhabit her Chicago neighborhood. What makes Jones their match, however, is her handgun. After a young thug broke and wheeled her from room to room looking for valuables, Jones managed to get her gun and warned the teenager off. When he ignored her, Jones fired and killed him. (The Sun Times, Chicago, IL, 11/09/93)

A female clerk at a Stamford, Connecticut, area store noticed a man stuffing two videos into his pants before coming to the counter to pay for a magazine. When confronted, the man denied having the videos, so the clerk reached over the counter and grabbed them. When the "customer" threatened her, saying "you're sorry, you're dead," the clerk pulled a pistol and ordered him from the store. Police caught up with the would-be shoplifter a few blocks away, and noted that the clerk had a permit for the gun. (The Advocate, Stamford, CT, 10/25/93)

Sue Atkins of Durham, North Carolina, appeared in this column in February 1993 after shooting a man who tried to rob her Western Union office/fish store. Atkins didn't need to shoot the man who attempted to rob the store this time--her fifth encounter with criminals--but she did chase him out. The man entered, asking about fish, but then threatened to kill Atkins. She pulled her handgun and chased the man, but lost him. Police promptly arrested a suspect. "I will fight back," said Atkins. (The Morning Star, Wilmington, NC, 10/06/93)

Return to Women's Page