Members of America’s armed forces are well trained to safely handle firearms and take care of business when the chips are down. Once they leave the military, many retain those skills.
Following are five examples of military veterans defending themselves or others with firearms.
Sixty-eight-year-old disabled veteran Joseph Sapienza was at home in Gastonia, N.C., when he heard a suspicious noise at his front door. Sapienza retrieved a .45-caliber pistol, placed it in a holster attached to a walker he uses to get around, and opened the door. There were two masked men on his porch attempting to get inside. Recalling what happened next, Sapienza told a reporter, “When they saw the .45, one ran one way up the street, and the other went the other way.” Sapienza believes he may have been targeted by the criminals because of his disability. (The Gaston Gazette, Gaston County, N.C., 12/05/14)
A 28-year-old Marine veteran was eating lunch at a shopping center around 12:30 p.m. when he noticed suspicious behavior from two men outside of a video game store. He saw them slip bandanas over their faces before retrieving something from the trunk of their vehicle. They were then seen entering the store. Minutes later, one of them ran out carrying several video game systems. The other suspect remained inside the store and was demanding cash from customers. The veteran, licensed to carry a concealed handgun, asked a bystander to call 911 before crouching behind his pickup and drawing his firearm. The two robbers spotted him there, which resulted in an exchange of gunfire. One suspect died of multiple gunshot wounds, while the second suspect fled. No other injuries were reported. (Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas, 5/30/14)
Hugh Mathis, a 92-year-old World War II veteran, and his wife Ruby, 89, opened the door when a young man they knew from their neighborhood knocked. The young man had previously done odd jobs for the couple, including mowing their lawn and shoveling snow. He asked to use their telephone. Once inside, the man pulled a knife on Mr. Mathis and demanded money. Mrs. Mathis quickly went to the bedroom where they kept a firearm. When she returned, the would-be robber fled through the front door. He was later arrested and held on three counts of aggravated robbery. (WLWT News 5, Springfield Township, Ohio, 4/10/14)
Charlie Blackmore Jr. was driving home from work at 4 a.m. through West Allis, Wis., when he noticed a man beating a woman who was lying on the ground, and according to Blackmore suffered a “big laceration by her eye” and what looked like a broken nose. Blackmore, a Marine Corps veteran and Right-to-Carry permit holder, immediately pulled over, exited the vehicle and ordered the man to halt the attack. The attacker complied, but then moved towards Blackmore, at which point the veteran drew a 9 mm pistol. Recalling the moment for local media, Blackmore stated, “I mean I’ve already made it up in mind that if he came at me I was going to have to take him down and I told him that. I warned him multiple times not to come towards me because he was a big guy and I wasn’t playing around, and he didn’t seem like he was playing around.” The criminal then began to walk away, with Blackmore following him as he called the police on his cell phone. A short time later police arrived and captured the criminal. Following the incident, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. had kind words for Blackmore and reaffirmed his recent support for armed self-defense, noting, “I want to get to a day when acts like this are viewed as a citizen doing their civic duty. Criminals have got to be reassessing things right now. They have to be asking themselves if it is worth it anymore, might they face resistance or be shot? That’s a good thing.” (WITI, Milwaukee, Wis., 3/12/13, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., 3/13/13)
Arthur M. Lewis, 89, a decorated World War II veteran, was working at his jewelry business around 3 p.m. when a man with a gun entered the store. Lewis quickly grabbed the .38-caliber handgun he was carrying in his pocket. The would-be robber exchanged gunfire with Lewis before fleeing the scene. He was later found at a local hospital suffering from six gunshot wounds. After being treated, the assailant was arrested and now faces charges of armed robbery, felon in possession of a firearm, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and armed burglary. Lewis’ left arm was grazed by a bullet, but he was otherwise unscathed. (The Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach, Fla., 8/26/14)