Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State, a nickname earned during the War of 1812 when thousands of volunteer soldiers from Tennessee took up arms and played a prominent role. Two hundred years later, Tennesseans still take up arms—often in defense of themselves and others.
As National Rifle Association members from throughout the country converge on Nashville this weekend for the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, we thought it timely to take a look at just a small selection of the many times Tennessee residents have used firearms in self-defense over the past few years.
Jimmy Fosterwas returning home when he found multiple suspects loading his property into a car outside. After Foster exited his vehicle, the burglars got in their car and rammed Foster’s vehicle before driving toward him. Foster fired several shots at the vehicle, striking one of the cars and causing the burglars to flee. Police were called and a search involving K-9 units and a helicopter led to the arrest of the three burglars. Foster was reportedly not injured during the burglary. (News Sentinel, Clinton, Tenn., 4/10/13)
While officers were detouring traffic after an accident, witnesses say that a 54-year-old man became angry at a motorist and began honking his horn. The man then reportedly exited his vehicle carrying a metal baton and approached the vehicle ahead of him yelling violent threats. The driver of the car in front of the enraged man feared for his safety and drew his pistol. Police officers intervened and arrested the irate man wielding the baton. No injuries were reported during the incident. (Johnson City Press, Kingsport, Tenn., 10/15/13)
Kenny Guffeywas on the telephone with his 84-year-old mother, Christine Guffey, when he heard another voice in the background. Christine had reportedly walked in on a stranger inside her home. Guffey says he listened as his mother asked the stranger why he had a knife, and asked that he not hurt her. Guffey, who was driving home from work, hurried to his mother’s home as he listened to her struggle with the intruder. The stranger threatened her with the knife and tried to pry the telephone away from her. Guffey arrived at the home in just a few minutes and drew his licensed firearm. The intruder struck Kenny with a shovel, but he was able to recover from the blow in time to hold the suspect at gunpoint until police arrived. Guffey said, “Had I not been a licensed gun carrier, he probably would have killed her. He had a knife and a shovel and he wasn’t there for afternoon tea.” (Knoxville News Sentinel, Seymour, Tenn., 3/6/14)
Daphne and Robert Sanfordwere asleep when their home alarm system sounded. Robert got up to silence the alarm and found a man inside their home trying to enter the code himself. Police arrived a short time later to find Sanford holding the 25-year-old perpetrator at gunpoint. Following a brief struggle with police, the intruder was arrested. After the incident, the sheriff stated, “The alarm alerted this family, and their quick thinking and the protection with their firearm prevented this case from escalating.” (The Leader, Covington, Tenn., 4/3/14)
On Election Day 2014, Jonathan McCormick was at home watching television. His wife was asleep nearby and his children were out playing when a man wearing a bandana entered, stuck a pistol to McCormick’s head and demanded money. McCormick emptied his pockets, but the robber demanded more. While the suspect turned his focus to McCormick’s wife, McCormick went into another room and retrieved a .45 caliber pistol. He pointed it at the masked man and repeatedly asked him to leave. Instead, the trespasser raised his own gun, prompting McCormick to shoot him. The robber later died. While no charges were filed against him, McCormick has received threats against his family via social media. He responded, “What would you do if someone came in and pointed a gun at your family? Who wouldn’t do the same?” (The Tennessean, Antioch, Tenn., 11/16/14)