Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

The Armed Citizen® | Gang Members

The Armed Citizen® | Gang Members

Intro: There are few things more frightening than being the target of a criminal attack—except, perhaps, when the criminal in question is a gang member. Compared with other lawbreakers, gang members typically have more experience committing crime, greater access to illegal guns—and almost always have at least a few friends nearby. While many gang encounters end in tragedy, here are 9 accounts in which access to firearms by law-abiding citizens likely made the difference between life and death.

Just after midnight, gang member and convicted felon Aaron Marshall was pulled over by police in the South Austin section of Chicago. Marshall left his car and fled from the police, dropping drugs as he ran. In his attempt to escape, Marshall broke into a house through the front window. One of the residents heard the break-in, retrieved a revolver and shot the home invader. An investigation revealed that the resident has a valid Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. (WGN, Chicago, Ill. 06/03/10) 

Rob Pierce, Jr. was walking to dinner when two men, one a self-proclaimed Crips gang member and the other wielding a handgun, accosted him. With a gun to his back, Pierce was dragged across the street to a dimly lit area and told he was about to be killed. "It was like hell," he explained. Pierce, a concealed-carry permit holder, drew a .357 revolver and shot one of the suspects, causing both suspects to flee. They were later apprehended. Northampton County, Pa., District Attorney John Morganelli said he hoped the incident would teach "these young thugs" that the good guys might be armed. "We don't expect our citizens to wait and get shot. As long as I'm district attorney here, I'm probably going to err on the side of the citizen," Morganelli said, adding he supports concealed-carry laws. (The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa., 12/06/07)

Police say a 16-year-old gang member wearing a ski mask and toting a .22 rifle knocked on a front door north of Chicago one night. Inside, Saffiyya Darr and her husband called out to ask who it was, but got no reply. Several minutes later they heard a loud sound coming from their back door, and Darr ran to her bedroom to get a 9 mm pistol. When the suspect forced his way inside, she shot him twice. He died at the scene. "If you are sitting at home at night and someone kicks the door open, you have the right to defend yourself," said Police Chief Douglas Malcolm. (Lake Country News-Sun, Waukegan, Ill., 12/04/06)

The life of a gang member suspected of participating in as many as seven armed robberies in Fort Wayne, Ind., came to its inevitable end after an employee of a pawn shop he was holding up fatally shot him. His two accomplices quickly fled the scene. Said Det. Al Glock about the store employee: "That man knows what his rights are and he's willing to go to the utmost degree to protect his rights. I respect him greatly for standing up for what he knows is right. I think that [the shooting] not only is totally justifiable, but it sends a good, clear, strong message that if you're going to play the game, you're going to pay the price." (The News Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind., 08/17/95)

A Phoenix, Ariz., gang member thought he had the upper hand as he trained a shotgun on his quarry. But the scattergun was snatched from his hands by his intended victim. Despite aid from another gangster, the first gangbanger was beaten senseless and struck by gunshots, both from his own shotgun and from his mark's .44 Mag. The attack cost the criminal both arms. (The Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 04/02/95)

In the finest tradition of armed citizens who take on crime in their communities, Texan Travis Neel helped save a wounded Harris County deputy sheriff's life. Witnessing the shooting by one of a trio of Houston gang members after a traffic stop just west of Houston, Neel—who was on his way to his pistol range—pulled his gun and fired, driving the officer's assailants away. An off-duty sheriff's deputy also came on the scene and joined Neel in covering the deputy, whose life was saved by his body armor. The trio was captured after a manhunt. (The Post, Houston, Texas, 01/22/94) 

NRA-certified shooting instructor Greg Ferris drew from the lessons he usually teaches when three armed gang members invaded his San Antonio, Texas, gunshop. Ferris was at his workbench when the gangsters entered and charged the counter. Ferris grabbed his .38 Super target pistol and opened up when one missed him with a shotgun blast. In the ensuing battle, which also involved shop employee Mike Falcon, one robber was killed and another wounded. Ferris, a former policeman, said, "We cannot ask police to provide individualized personal protection. We have to rely on our own resources to defend ourselves." (The Express-News, San Antonio, Texas, 05/21/93)

John Parker was alone in his Racine, Wis., tavern one evening when a pair of youthful gang members armed with sawed-off shotguns burst through the door. Parker grabbed a .357 Mag. from under the counter and, as one of the thugs fired a blast at him, unleashed four shots. Parker received a slight hand wound, but killed both of his assailants. Police said both youths had long police records, and the district attorney ruled that Parker acted in self-defense. (The Journal-Times, Racine, Wisc., 01/15/92) 

A motorcycle gang member returned with a confederate to a Bronx, N.Y., grocery he had robbed only 15 minutes earlier and seized owner Martin Rienso's niece at knifepoint. His accomplice, who was carrying a gun, approached Rienso but was grabbed by an employee and a struggle ensued. When the thug broke free, Rienso drew a licensed .45-cal. automatic and shot and killed him. The girl's captor released her and fled but was arrested later at the scene. (Gannett Newspapers, Westchester, N.Y., 05/09/83)