Arizona is one of only 8 states to have designated a state firearm. What gun was chosen to represent the residents of Arizona? The Colt Single Action Army—which, due to its use by law-enforcement officers, the military and civilians exercising their right to armed self-defense, has earned the nickname “The Peacemaker.” If that wasn’t proof enough that Arizonans are willing and able to protect themselves and others against bad guys, maybe these eight stories will convince you.
A 69-year-old woman returned to her home in rural Sierra Vista, Ariz., to find her door damaged and several things missing from her home. She called the Sheriff’s Department and filed a report, but it turned out the burglars weren’t yet finished with their dirty deeds. At around 11 p.m. that same night, the woman discovered a man dressed in dark clothing attempting to break in—but this time she was ready. She retrieved her gun and fired several shots at the intruder, and when deputies arrived on the scene, they found a 26-year-old man with several gunshot wounds. The suspect was airlifted to a Tucson hospital, where he remains in critical condition. While it is suspected the two burglaries are related, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the incidents and hasn’t yet confirmed whether the same suspect was responsible in both cases. (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Ariz., 09/08/2017)
“My wife said, ‘Ty, there's a man in the house.’” And so there was. A completely nude man had walked into the home of Tyler Plitz through an unlocked door after crawling over the family’s fence. The intruder told Tyler, his wife and their two children—both under 4 years old—that he was “invited” to their home and would pay the homeowner in diamonds. Tempe police investigators say the homeowner then grabbed his firearm and held the suspect at gunpoint while chasing him out of the residence. According to ABC15, the suspect found clothing in an alleyway and got dressed before running away. The family was understandably upset, with Plitz’s young daughter asking, “Daddy, is the monster gone?” Plitz said he reassured his little girl, and told reporters he would have done whatever was needed to ensure their safety. “You know, if he wouldn't have left, I know that I wouldn't have hesitated to shoot him.” (ABC-15, Tempe, Ariz., 08/02/2017)
A recently widowed woman was home alone in Phoenix, Ariz., when a man broke into her house through a back door. Once inside, the criminal attacked the woman with that may have been a garden tool. The woman responded by retrieving a gun and shooting the home invader, ending the attack. Following the incident, Phoenix Police Spokesman Tommy Thompson told a local news outlet, “I would say that anytime someone is in your house, they've assaulted you, broken into your house, and assaulted you, you would say she appears to have been in the right at this point.” (KSAZ, Phoenix, Ariz., 05/06/14)
Laycee Lowe, a pregnant 17-year-old, was at home alone in Glendale, Ariz., when she noticed a prowler outside the home. After climbing a fence and peering into windows, the criminal attempted to get into the home through a dog door. Lowe responded to the threat by retrieving a gun and firing it into the dog door, which caused the intruder to flee. Following the incident, Julio Lowe, Laycee’s father, praised his daughter’s actions, stating, “She’s just real brave and slick. She handled it real well.” Julio also noted that there had been a suspicious incident at his home involving a prowler a few days earlier, prompting him to teach his daughter how to properly use a firearm. (KPHO, Phoenix, Ariz., 02/06/12)
An 82-year-old woman was walking to her car in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Sierra Vista, Ariz., when criminal Stephen Prickett confronted her. Prickett told the elderly woman, “This is your day. You are too old to be alive anyway,” and began beating the woman with her own cane. During the attack, the elderly woman was able to retrieve her handgun from her purse and open fire on the criminal, which alerted bystanders, who came to help. Police arrived on the scene a short time later and took Prickett into custody. He faces several charges, including attempted murder. The woman later explained to local media her support for armed self-defense, particularly for the elderly, and went on to say, “If I go naturally or to a sickness or something, fine. I'm ready to go, but I'm not ready to let some idiot like that take me out.” (KVOA, Tucson, Ariz., 03/15/2010)
The safety of his mother and nephew was all 22-year-old Phillip Mendoza could think about after six armed men invaded their home. Mendoza snuck into a bedroom and grabbed a shotgun. “I knew they had my mom with a gun and my little nephew,” he recalls. Police say one of the intruders kicked open the bedroom door and Mendoza fired a load of buckshot, critically injuring the suspect. Then another intruder appeared in the doorway and Mendoza fired again, killing one of the men. The other intruders and the wounded suspect fled. Two were apprehended. (The Tucson Citizen, Tucson, Ariz., 01/04/07)
Richie Chapman of Bowie, Ariz., did not know that in exercising his right to protect his property, he was also aiding in bringing a murderer to justice. Chapman was working at a Bowie RV store when a man entered and demanded all the money in the cash register. The man then pulled out a gun, prompting Chapman to draw his own gun and fire, hitting the robber. “If he had gotten a shot off, I would have been dead,” said Chapman. The robber fled and was later apprehended at a local hospital. The man turned out to be Johnny Lee Williams, who was being sought in the kidnapping and murder of an east Texas Wal-Mart employee, Megan Holden. After being treated at the hospital, Williams was turned over to the FBI. (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Ariz., 01/22/2005)“You wouldn't use that, now honey,” a would-be burglar said as he advanced on Linda Gulleege in her Phoenix, Ariz., home. Her reply was a warning shot from a .44 revolver that sent the man fleeing. (The Gazette, Phoenix, Ariz., 08/20/81)