The Armed Citizen® The 1980s

posted on January 14, 2016

While those bent on restricting private gun ownership like to claim that firearms are seldom used successfully in self-defense, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s not a new phenomenon at all, but has been occurring for decades. 

Following are 10 reports of armed citizens protecting themselves and others during the 1980s. 

An armed man entered a Woodlawn, Md., supermarket, grabbed a cashier and forced her back to the manager’s office. When he spotted an open register, he pushed the cashier down the stairs to go after the money. Manager Rod Wolfe drew his revolver when the thief turned away, and in an ensuing struggle shot and killed him. Two accomplices were arrested outside the store when they couldn’t operate the stick shift of the getaway car; they were charged with armed robbery and handgun violations. (The Baltimore Sun, Woodlawn, Md., 5/31/1989) 

Michael Salerno of Phoenix, Ariz., was showering when he heard his dogs barking. Taking up his 9 mm handgun, Salerno investigated and found an armed burglar in his kitchen with a cocked revolver. Salerno fired and mortally wounded the intruder. Police said the slain man had Salerno’s wallet in his possession. (The Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 4/29/1988) 

Off-duty security guard Lindell Helton of Indianapolis, Ind., was eating at a restaurant when a knife-wielding robber ordered employees to lie on the floor. When the man moved toward Helton, the guard drew his licensed revolver and fired twice, killing the robber. The county prosecutor said it was not significant that Helton is licensed to carry a gun, stating, “If a person commits a robbery and is using a deadly weapon, then citizens are entitled to use force, including deadly force, to try and stop it.” (The Star, Indianapolis, Ind., 12/11/1987) 

A Salt Lake City, Utah, homeowner was disturbed late at night by knocking at his door. After telephoning police, the homeowner armed himself and answered the door. An armed man standing in the doorway shot at the resident, who returned fire. In the ensuing struggle, the homeowner fatally wounded the man. (The Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10/26/1986)

Waiting in his car for his daughter to get off work, a Norman, Okla., man watched as a suspicious character walked into the dry cleaners and pushed her to the back of the building and bound her. The clerk’s father waited until the armed robber had moved away from his daughter and was cleaning out the cash register, then he walked in with a pistol. He held the robber at gunpoint for police. (The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Okla., 12/8/1985) 

Asleep in his Las Vegas apartment, Phillip Brown was jarred awake by loud knocks at his door. Opening the door a crack, he failed to recognize the visitor, who then kicked his way in. Ignoring warnings to halt, the intruder rushed Brown and was stopped only by a blast from the apartment dweller’s 12-ga. shotgun. No charges were filed in the fatal shooting. (The Sun, Las Vegas, Nev., 6/16/1984)

As NRA Life member Rex Burroughs drove away from a Lander, Wyo., restaurant, two men pulled up, blocked his car, and demanded money at gunpoint. When the driver yelled, “Kill him,” his partner aimed and pulled the trigger. The gun failed to fire, and Burroughs was able to draw his own revolver and shoot the gunman. The robbers then sped off. (The Wyoming State Journal, Lander, Wyo., 1/1/1983) 

While a rifle was trained on his nephew, Timmy, H.C. Wynne was manhandled by three men who had entered his home near Stokes, N.C. When the trio began carrying valuables from the house to their car, Timmy Wynne grabbed a shotgun and used it to wound the armed robber and drive the gang away. A suspect was arrested when he sought treatment at an area hospital. (The Daily-Reflector, Greenville, N.C., 12/1/1982) 

“Oh no, not again,” Robert Tomar thought as an armed robber who’d robbed his Philadelphia pharmacy a week before came through the front door. But this time Tomar was ready, and opened up with a .38, wounding the criminal and putting him to flight. (The Bulletin, Philadelphia, Pa., 11/15/1981) 

Two armed and masked youths walked into a Milwaukee, Wis., bar and ordered bartender Bradley Piek to open the cash register. Piek complied, but the gunmen demanded more cash and herded the bartender and his customers into the men’s room. As he walked from behind the bar, Piek slid his .38-cal. revolver into his pants. Once inside the restroom, Piek cracked the door and opened fire, killing one gunman. Police later arrested the second robber and an accomplice. (The Journal, Milwaukee, Wis., 3/6/1980)


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