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Archive: True Stories

If you are like most people, you don't know any woman who has used a gun to protect herself. This makes it very easy to fall into the trap of believing that such incidents don't happen, or that they are incredibly rare.

How often are guns used defensively?  A wide range of different surveys puts the number of defensive gun uses at between 777,000 and 3 million per year. Regardless of which number is closer to the truth, surely some of these defensive situations must involve women. Why don't we hear their stories?

One reason is that stories that "make the news" on TV in newspapers almost always involve someone being shot, and in well over 90% of defensive gun uses, the gun is never fired. These shots-never-fired situations are often not reported to the police. This is extremely good news for the person with the gun, because it is terrible to have to shoot someone, but it means that journalists who get their stories from police reports never hear about such incidents or, if they do, they don't consider them newsworthy. Consequently, these stories are almost never heard.

For some years, Lyn Bates, the Vice President of AWARE, has also been a contributing editor to Women&Gunsmagazine. Some of her articles have appeared in a series called Lessons in Reality, each of which tells the story of a woman who has successfully defended herself using a firearm. Those stories are archived here. (If you have a success story of your own, or know someone who does, please let us know by contacting AWARE.)

Why not include success stories that involve other methods of self-protection? Frankly, stories about other methods are fairly easily available from other sources; one of AWARE's unique contributions to the discussion about women's safety is our in-depth knowledge of firearms and the people who use them.

Be warned that some of these stories may be shocking and difficult to read because of the level of violence involved. They were also written for an audience of women who already have some familiarity with firearms. Nonetheless, many people have said that they find these stories inspiring, because they prove that, in the right hands, firearms can be lifesavers.

 

Small Town, Big Surprise    A widow faces a home intruder alone.

The little town of Indialantic, Florida sits southeast of Orlando, on an island about 35 miles long, and wide enough for about half a dozen streets. One side of the island faces the Atlantic Ocean, the other side the Indian River, hence the town's unique name. There are only a few main roads on and off the island, so it isn't a place most criminals would choose for breaking into a house, if they wanted a good getaway route. Don't be surprised if you have never heard of Indialantic; the population is barely over 3,000 people....

 

He Grabbed For Her Gun  What if someone tries to grab your gun?

Susan Gaylord Buxton is a 66 year old freelance artist who works out of a studio in her home in Arlington Texas. Susan is spirited and adventuresome. She's driven a race car at 138 mph, and loves to operate a tractor on the family hay field, Susan's talents and enthusiasm extend to raising a family. She has 4 children, now grown, and 11 grandchildren ranging in age from 2 to 28. They call their grandmother GiGi.  Living in Texas, she was never afraid of guns, but didn't own one, either, until a dozen years ago when a couple of men...

 

Chronologically Gifted Folk Protect Themselves  Senoir citizens are quite compatible with guns.

Neither arthritis, nor a wheelchair, nor heart surgery, nor impaired mobility, nor gloom of night keeps senior citizens from defending themselves. For this column, I wanted a powerful story of a woman over the age of 50 who actually protected herself with a gun. I dug through the resources I use to find stories for possible inclusion in this Lessons in Reality series, and easily found more than 70. So, ....

 

Love Gone Wrong      She had to shoot her boyfriend with the gun he urged her to buy.

 Her name isn't Carole, but that's what we will call her. She was a divorced single mom in Indiana, whose son was grown and whose teenage daughter, we'll call her Dorothy, still lived with her. She was always careful about her relationships with men, and didn't have many. When she met Tommy, a man who lived in Michigan, they dated long distance for 4 years, and then he moved to Indiana to live with her for another 4 years. That time was almost perfect. ...

 

His Word Against Mine    One of those situations never reported to the police.

Her voice has the soft drawl and cadence of one who has not just lived in the South for a while, but was born there. Yet she speaks with the confidence of a professional woman who knows her own mind, and who has the kind of personal inner core of strength that inspired the title of the movie about Southern women, "Steel Magnolias". ...

 

Jean's Story   A parking lot encounter with a man who might be wanted for rape and murder; lots of lessons here.

The story began in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A newspaper woman named Deborah Sykes drove her blue Opal Kadett to work at 6 o'clock in the morning. She'd only been working at The Sentinel for a few weeks, but she had already learned the best place to park her car for free - a street with no parking meters, just a block and a half from the paper. Nobody knows why they chose her, maybe she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. As she was walking from her car to work, she was abducted by two men. They took her to a nearby field, raped her probably more than once, and stabbed her upper body repeatedly. Eventually, she bled to death. This all happened just blocks from where Jean (a pseudonym) worked as a secretary for a small publishing company. ...

 

January 1, 2000      The night of Y2K, a grandmother finds a surprise in her office.

Remember Y2K? Remember the nervous preparations for that New Year's Eve, when nobody knew quite what to expect? Remember how relieved we all were when the turn of the new year proved to be relatively uneventful, in any bad way? Well, for at least two men and one woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, last New Year's was not quite what they expected, and turned out to be pretty bad, in different ways for each of them. ...

 

Bitches with Guns      An interstate highway rest stop encounter

She looked just like what she is, a forty-something professional woman who works in the broadcasting industry. But she is also a divorced mother of two nearly grown sons -- she made sure to say good-bye to them before she hopped in the car, alone. Well, not quite alone. As usual, her Ruger SP101 38 Special revolver with a 2 1/4 inch barrel was with her. She had learned to shoot as a child when her father took her hunting, but she's only owned her own gun for a couple of years. The Ruger fit her small hands nicely, and she enjoyed practicing with it at the range. Carrying it was a bit of a problem. ...

 

Anti-Gun Mom Turned Survivor     A self-described "scardy cat," faces invaders in her own home.

Mike Gonzalez had guns around the house. His wife Susan hated them. When he tried to teach her the basics of shooting, she let him give a couple of lessons, but closed her eyes in fear and disgust when she fired, just to get it over with. Most of Mike's guns were kept locked up, but there was one, a Ruger .22 caliber pistol, that he kept for defense. "We had a lot of arguments about that gun," Susan says. "I'm not particularly religious, but I'm glad God let Mike win those arguments." ...

 

 A Terrible Place for a Gunfight          A convenience store robbery turns deadly.  

It was just a normal Saturday evening in March in the Clarkston, Michigan convenience store where Darlene Ramsey and Charmaine Klaus worked. Darlene was the cashier, a bright, pleasant, hard-working 21-year old, with a boyfriend and plans for the future. Charmaine, the manager, was old enough to have been Darlene's mother, and already had a married daughter of her own, and 3 more still at home. ...

 

Attempted Murder Has No Conclusion (Yet)     A domestic abuse survivor tells her story

Peggy Hanley thought, when she married James Schneider, that things would work out better than they had in her first marriage. But Wax's troubles with drugs and money began piling up, as well as difficulties between the couple, and on the 15th of July 1996, Peggy talked to a lawyer about a divorce. The lawyer suggested that she get a restraining order against her angry, violent husband as soon as possible. Peggy didn't know (how could she, nobody ever told her) that women who leave violent men are at sharply increased risk during the breakup, and that a restraining order can sometimes trigger a rage in a man who suddenly realizes that his world is about to change because he can't completely control "his woman" any more ...

 

The Second Time, I Had a Gun       Evelyn Logan is a rape survivor, and a rape attack survivor. 

Evelyn Logan is a bright, articulate, dynamic woman with a strong personality, but talking about it is still hard. By the time she was in her mid-20's, she was a young mother living in San Francisco. Her grandmother flew in for a visit, and when the visit was over, Evelyn took her to the airport and  headed for her car to drive home. As soon as she got to a deserted part of the airport, two men came up to her. They had a knife. They were airport employees with keys to a nearby utility closet. They dragged her into the closet and raped her.  She reported the attack, and ...

 

A Single Mom Survives, Twice       Shot while trying to help a rape victim, now her daughter in danger.

Jaquie Creazzo was 31 years old in 1994, a recently divorced mother living with her 3 girls in Wheat Ridge, a small town between Denver and Boulder, Colorado and working as an administrative assistant. She left her home around 5:30 AM on a cold, clear, icy Saturday morning in mid-February, driving to pick up her father, who lived in nearby Thornton, so the two of them could go on a little vacation. She drove carefully, as the weather of the previous night had coated the roads with a dangerous mixture of snow and ice. ...

 

I'd Rather be Dead than Raped        A woman uses her attacker's gun against him.

When I saw the headline "Woman Killed Would-Be Rapist in Self-Defense," I thought, "Wow, another story of a gun-owning woman saving her own life." I was completely wrong. The only gun in this story belonged to the rapist. The woman, who wants to go by the name "Mira," was always conscious of the need for self-protection. A family member had been raped, and Mira grew up knowing that women were vulnerable to this particular crime. The women in her family weren't shrinking violets, but were strong, spirited professionals who taught Mira to stand up for herself, verbally and physically. She always had the attitude, "I'd rather be dead than raped." ...