In an email dated 14 Jul 2003 from Tom Givens:

In the past four weeks in Memphis there have been four incidents in which homeowners shot and killed home invaders.

The most recent incident occurred last Friday night, and involved a Rangemaster student. On Saturday morning, he and his mother were here at Rangemaster to thank us for providing him with the skills and mental preparation to survive a deadly confrontation. I would like to share some lessons from our debrief of this incident. We will refer to the student as J, and to the Bad Guys as BG1 and BG2.

J went to a shopping center a few blocks from his East Memphis home. On the parking lot, he was accosted by two suspects. As the BG's came around a parked car, one of them already had a gun out and pointed at J. J was armed (S-W 908, concealed under shirt), but wisely decided to wait for an opening. The BG's ordered him to a nearby ATM, and ordered him to insert a card, which the machine promptly ate. They then forced him into his vehicle and had him drive home, saying he had better have some cash there.

Upon entering the house, still at gunpoint, they went to J's room. BG2 left the room, and BG1 bent over to pick up some cash from a drawer. Seeing an opening, J drew and fired 6 rounds, 5 of which struck BG1, who collapsed immediately. J turned to face the door. BG2 apparently thought the shots were BG1 executing J, and BG2 came strolling through the door. J shot him twice quickly in the chest. BG2 ran outside and collasped. The police were called and arrived quickly. By coincidence they were only a couple of blocks away on another call. BG1 died at the scene, BG2 is critical at The Med. No charges are being considered against J. Here are some important points from my conversation with J.

1. Try to stay calm and focus on finding a way to win!

2. When an opening came, J acted swiftly and decisively. An AGGRESSIVE counter-attack saved the day.

3. Bullets are cheap, don't be stingy with them. It was critical to quickly incapacitate these armed offenders. That is best accomplished with rapid repeat hits to the torso.

4. Although 'only going to the store' J wore his sidearm. You cannot predict these incidents. In order to use your gun to defend yourself, you must have it on you.

5. Practice. Familiarity with your gear is essential under great stress.

Our sincere congratulations to J. He handled himself well and won a very dangerous confrontation.

Tom Givens


In follow up emails Tom and I discussed why Memphis has had so many shootings.

From Tom:

Out of 271 metro areas in the US, Memphis is #1 for violent crime (LA is 17th). Our violent crime rate is twice what it is in Los Angeles. There were 13 justifiable homicides here last year, and only 3 involved cops. Last year I had six students involved in fatal shootings. One military, two police, and three private citizens. All won.