Having spent more than a decade struggling to control crime, Memphis spent the early 2000s appearing on just about everyone’s “Most Dangerous Cities” list. In response, the Memphis Police Department started an initiative known as Operation Blue C.R.U.S.H. (Crime Reduction Using Statistical History), which targeted repeat offenders and crime hotspots. While this resulted in a drop in criminal activity, even the best policing cannot allow officers to respond to all crimes as they’re happening—a reality that these six armed citizens wisely prepared for in advance.
Police say two brave brothers with concealed-carry permits quashed an apparent road-rage incident. It began when a man was rear-ended and started yelling at the occupants of the other car. The argument escalated until he began shooting a gun into the air. At that point, passersby Paul and William Webber saw the man and quickly did a U-turn. The Webbers unholstered their guns, demanded the man put his hands in the air and held him for police. “If you see people doing wrong and especially putting lives at danger,” said William Webber, 23, “it's pretty clear what you have to do." Memphis police Sgt. Robert Tutt called the brothers' actions, "Very responsible, very restrained.” (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., 3/7/07)
A Memphis, Tenn., man found himself confronted by two robbers outside his home, and soon the robbers went beyond making threats. They fired shots at him, and he returned fire, hitting one of the assailants and killing him. The dead robber's accomplice fled. (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., 10/21/04)
A couple on their way to a Memphis, Tenn., shopping mall came face-to-face with death when an armed carjacker grabbed the woman, put a gun to her head and demanded the keys. According to Memphis Police Maj. Jerry Lawson, "The man with her got out of the vehicle and pushed her out of the way and fired shots at the robber." The shots from the intended victim's licensed firearm found their target as the carjacker dove for cover beneath the vehicle. He died shortly thereafter with his revolver resting ominously nearby. The woman's father later remarked, "I am just glad she is okay because this thing could have easily turned the other way, and she or her boyfriend could have been on the ground over there." (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., 3/29/01)
Awakened by the sounds of someone trying to break into his apartment, James Kern of Memphis, Tenn., picked up a shotgun and sat down on the bedroom floor. When the burglar—a neighbor in the complex—entered the room adjoining the bedroom, Kern fired a single blast, killing him. "In a case like this, you've got the right to protect your property and your home," a Memphis police officer said. (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., 10/20/91)
A Memphis restaurant patron witnessed the armed abduction of an elderly couple as they were forced into their car at gunpoint by a man who got into the back seat. After following them several blocks, Timothy Jewell parked behind the car after it had turned into a driveway. The kidnapper left the vehicle and approached Jewell's pickup, pointing his pistol and ordering Jewell out. But as he stepped back, Jewell displayed a pistol and the would-be abductor fled. (The Press-Scimitar, Memphis, Tenn., 04/01/83)
Lee Stevens, 65, had spent more than 40 years in the backwoods as a trapper. So when a trio of young hoodlums broke into his Memphis, Tenn., apartment and threatened him with a pistol and sawed-off shotgun, his instincts came in handy. After one criminal knocked him over a chair, he drew a .25 automatic and opened fire, killing one intruder and putting his accomplices to flight. (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., 05/30/82)