The Armed Citizen® | The 1960s

posted on February 3, 2016

The 1960s are remembered by many for the old saying, “Make Love, Not War.” Yet while many pursued their pacifist beliefs, criminals still preyed on innocent citizens. Consequently, law-abiding Americans were frequently forced to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Below are nine examples where armed citizens saved their own lives and the lives of others in the ’60s. 

Due to recent break-ins, Guy Eugene Tillery, owner of a Dallas, Texas, boat shop, was on guard inside his building when two men cut through a back fence and pried open a rear door at 9:30 p.m. Ordered not to move, one of the men fired at Tillery. He returned fire, wounding both men, one seriously. A third man, stationed outside as a lookout, was arrested by police. (Times Herald, Dallas, Texas, 1969) 

At gunpoint, Pharmacist Robert Strom of Seattle, Wash., emptied his cash register and a supply of drugs into a cloth bag. “If anybody comes in before I get it, I’ll kill you,” the gunman hissed. He ordered Strom to lie on the floor and ran for his car. Strom got up, grabbed a rifle and fired three shots. The bandit slumped. Police found him critically wounded. (Seattle Times, Seattle, Wash., 1968) 

In Millers Tavern, Va., Assistant Postmaster A.R. Watts and storeowner S.S. Courtney closed their combination store and post office for the night. A short time later, Courtney, who lived nearby, was alerted by the sound of breaking glass. As he looked across the street, he observed a man entering the store through the shattered front window. Courtney phoned Watts, and they headed for the store. When they met at the building, the two men entered the store with guns in hand. There they found a would-be robber hiding behind some boxes, and they held the man at gunpoint until police arrived. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, Va., 1967) 

As Mrs. Jaetta Hensley was preparing to retire in her Des Moines, Iowa, home, she was startled by the sound of breaking glass. Arming herself with a pistol, Mrs. Hensley waited. When she heard the thug nearing her bedroom, Mrs. Hensley kicked open the door and ordered the startled man to halt. A neighbor who heard the break-in called police, who took the intruder into custody. (Des Moines Tribune, Des Moines, Iowa, 1966) 

Baltimore, Md., cleaning establishment owner Rufus Owens was sleeping on a cot in his place of business when he was awakened by the sound of a window being forced. Grabbing his shotgun, Owens went to investigate and surprised a would-be burglar coming through the window. Not having a phone, Owens, holding his prisoner at bay, unlocked the front door. A short time later a policeman making his rounds noticed the unlocked door, came in and took the intruder into custody. (The Evening Sun, Baltimore, Md., 1965) 

Rev. Father O’Donnell, rector of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Chicago, Ill., was awakened by the screams of his housekeeper and cook. Obtaining a .45 pistol, O’Donnell and another priest rushed downstairs to find an intruder, armed with two knives, ransacking the living room. O’Donnell fired once, hitting the burglar in the leg. He held the man until police arrived. It was then that the priest learned that his housekeeper had been fatally stabbed and that his cook was seriously wounded. (Daily News, Chicago, Ill., 1963) 

When confronted by an armed man in his liquor store in Tucson, Ariz., Cressworth C. Lander drew a .32 revolver and forced the gunman and an accomplice to surrender. Lander held the pair at gunpoint while he telephoned the police, but one of the would-be bandits ran away. Questioning the hoodlum who was arrested on the scene led to the capture of the second a few hours later. (Daily Citizen, Tucson, Ariz., 1962) 

After closing their Perdido, Ala., grocery, Mr. and Mrs. John Huff, 64 and 61, left their garage and headed for their home carrying the day’s receipts. Three men jumped from the darkness and wrestled with them. Mrs. Huff pulled free and whipped out her .38, and her series of shots scared off the assailants. With the help of dogs, the sheriff had the three in jail the next day, one with a bullet in his leg. (Associated Press, Perdido, Ala., 1961)


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