The Armed Citizen® New York City

posted on March 31, 2016
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Despite the Big Apple’s well-established status as a liberal stronghold, there are some in the city who see past the prevailing rhetoric in favor of taking their safety into their own hands. Here are 10 stories of New Yorkers who weren’t afraid to use a firearm to defend themselves.     

A pair of armed robbers entered Spinelli & Son Jewelers in the Bronx in New York City and put a gun to owner Anthony Spinelli’s head, while a third criminal stood guard outside the store. As one criminal stuffed a bag full of merchandise, the other ordered Spinelli to the store safe. When Spinelli opened the safe, where he keeps a gun, he retrieved the gun, chased the two criminals outside the store and shot the lookout in the leg, ending the robbery. Spinelli’s neighbors have been overwhelmingly supportive, with several shouting, “Anthony, we love you,” as he entered his store the next day. Others elaborated further, one stating, “They picked the wrong guy, and they got what they deserved.” Police have chosen not to criminally charge Spinelli in the shooting. Unfortunately, due to New York City’s draconian gun laws, Spinelli faces an administrative code violation as his gun was registered in Westchester County rather than New York City. (The New York Times, New York, N.Y., 2/17/2011) 

Pistol-whipped in a robbery 10 years ago, Georgi Gots, a New York City jeweler and Russian immigrant, repeatedly tried to get—and was denied—a pistol permit. Gots purchased a handgun anyway, a decision that may have saved him when an armed robber burst into his store, demanding loot. Gots pulled his own gun and killed the holdup man. Gots was taken into custody, but an investigator said police would probably not recommend charges, saying, “The poor guy was just trying to protect himself.” (Newsday, Long Island, N.Y., 1/28/1993) 

David Shanley was content to let the two men who had taken money from the register of his liquor store flee until one pulled a gun and threatened to kill him. When that happened, Shanley, a former New York City police officer, drew his own gun and opened fire, wounding both robbers. Both fled but were apprehended by police while seeking medical treatment for their wounds. (Newsday, Long Island, N.Y., 4/10/1992) 

A retired New York City policeman was accosted by three men outside the check-cashing store where he worked. They tried to force him into a car, but the retiree pulled his licensed gun and killed one of the men. Two other store employees rushed from the store with their licensed firearms and captured the slain man’s brother. The third would-be robber escaped in a vehicle. (The Daily News, New York, N.Y., 1/14/1990) 

Thomas McCann was at his New York City variety store when two men entered and attempted to rob him at gunpoint. The storeowner pulled his licensed revolver and fired on the pair, killing one. The other fled. McCann was not charged. (The New York Times, New York, N.Y., 11/10/1988) 

Two men, armed with an axe and a handgun, burst into a Jericho, N.Y., residence and disrupted a four-man gin rummy game. After extorting valuables from the card players, one robber ordered his accomplice to tie the men up and threatened to burn down the house. At that point one player, Allan Fishman, a retired New York City police officer, drew his licensed handgun and opened fire, wounding one bandit and sending the other to flight. No charges were brought against Fishman. (Newsday, Long Island, N.Y., 6/28/1988)

A man who ran amok with a sword aboard a Staten Island, N.Y., ferry killed two passengers and injured nine others before a retired New York City police officer, Edward del Pino, drew his licensed .38 revolver and disarmed him. Del Pino, who had never fired a shot in the line of duty in 23 years as a New York policeman, was returning home from his job as a Manhattan security officer. (The New York Times, New York, N.Y., 7/8/1986)

A 70-year-old New York City resident was on his way home when an assailant grabbed him from behind and threw him down a subway stairwell. The elderly man, though dazed, drew a licensed .38-cal. revolver as the mugger was lifting his wallet and fired twice, hitting the thug both times. Police later arrested a suspect as he sought treatment for gunshot wounds at a local hospital. (The New York Post, New York, N.Y., 5/1/1984)

Gene McCrohan, a retired New York City policeman, was about to enter his apartment when two knife-wielding thugs accosted him, threatening to stab him if he didn’t hand over his money. McCrohan put down the two shopping bags he was carrying, reached into his back pocket and drew his service revolver. He fired six rounds at his assailants, killing one and wounding the other. (The Town & Village, New York, N.Y., 1/12/1984)

Visiting New York City to settle her late brother’s estate, Roberta Leonard was set upon by eight muggers. The 67-year-old Alabama native, who walks with a cane, had been mugged on her prior visit to New York and this time drew a revolver from her purse. The gang fled. Charges filed against Leonard for violating the city’s permit law were eventually dropped when the grand jury failed to return an indictment. (The Daily News, New York, N.Y., 10/1/1983)

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