The evening was advancing much too quickly for me and I regretted staying in the city so long, then was dismayed to find that I was running low on fuel. I pulled into an old station in a small town just east of Custer, South Dakota, ran my credit card and started the pump. There were no other cars in the lot, and only a single clerk in the mini-mart.
Scanning the area, as always, I noticed a man come from behind the building and start to walk toward me. Continuing the scan, I saw another man coming toward me from the opposite direction. He seemed to be trying hard not to look at me, but failed badly. I was immediately on full alert and turned my head to see the other person. He was now within my 20 foot “danger zone” and maintaining eye contact as well. I put up my hand flat out with a command to stop. He just laughed and said, “Give me some money, lady.”
I turned my body at that point, backed up against the car, and swept the coat away from my holstered gun, gripped it firmly and flipped off the retention strap. His eyes had followed the motion of my hand and he stopped suddenly, then waved his hands over his head and ran toward the street past another pump. I turned my head instantly to look for the other man, and saw him running away in the opposite direction.
Nobody but those men will ever know what their intentions were, from simple begging to carjacking or murder, and it doesn’t matter. I had zero obligation to read their minds or establish their motives before I took a defensive posture. Either one of the men could have overpowered a woman my age easily, but since I had a gun and was obviously ready to use it, they ran away instead.
Smart move… Even stupid criminals don’t want to get hurt themselves, and even hardened felons with years of crime behind them will say they fear the armed citizen far more than the police. That doesn’t mean they would never attack a potential victim who is armed, just that it is far less likely. Those who carry concealed have to consider that the criminal doesn’t usually have the opportunity to disengage early, and that the defender might well be forced to shoot in a situation where it would not have been necessary if the mugger understood the danger to him/herself before the attack began. But that’s a discussion for another time.
I was shaken and very angry after that, mostly for being forced to even contemplate drawing the gun. I walked into the mini-mart to warn the clerk about possible robbers at the pumps, and was sad to learn that she had not even noticed the men “bothering” me. She was upset at that point and asked if I wanted to call the sheriff, but I declined. There was nothing the police could have done about it, even if they wanted to – and I had no desire to be detained and hassled about it myself.
One of the things discussed often by those of us who carry a gun is the possibility of needing to come to the rescue of another person, sometimes a stranger. This can be very dangerous, and great care must be taken not to make a bad situation worse.
I had just come out of the grocery store in Rapid City, South Dakota one late afternoon, and discovered a young man and a woman in a heated argument right next to my car. He began to hit her in the face and she was crying. I yelled at him to STOP, and he turned with a snarl, taking one step toward me. I gripped the gun and flipped off the retention strap. He saw what I was doing and immediately ran around the front of his car and got into the driver’s seat. I asked the woman if she needed help, but she snarled at me as well saying, “mind your own business.” Opening the car door, she got in and they drove away.
What if he had continued to come toward me? I could have turned and run away, of course, but I hate to think what would have happened if he’d grabbed me and I had to draw and fire the gun. His woman would not likely have been a friendly witness, and there were no other people around close just then. It was a very frightening experience.
I didn’t call the police that time either. No proof, no license number for the car, and no real interest in being further involved. If that woman didn’t mind being beaten, it wasn’t my job to prevent it.
About six years ago, I happened to go to the general merchandise store in my rural Wyoming town about five miles away. It was an early winter evening with snow on the ground. It takes much longer to tell the story than it took to live it, so remember that all the action described here happened within a matter of seconds.
I got to the rear of my car and turned toward the store, scanning in all directions. Coming toward me was a young man in a long coat. He made eye contact, and came straight ahead, raising my level of awareness as he got within 20 feet or so. I brushed the coat away from the gun, hooking the material behind the grip. His eyes followed the motion of my hand, and then grew very wide. Immediately, he turned and ran between parked cars and out into a snowy field where I lost sight of him. Did he plan to attack me? Who can tell? All I know is that nothing happened that night. I did my shopping and then went home safe, the perfect outcome of any trip to town.
There have been a few other incidents where the intent of the other person was not quite that clear, but it has been very obvious a number of times that the sight of my holstered gun altered another person’s demeanor significantly and prevented an approach when such would have been unwelcome. I’m sorry if some of them were simply fearful of the gun itself, and even sorrier for their ignorance. I have no responsibility for that ignorance, and no obligation to make them feel better. My responsibility is my own safety.
Many people have read the story of the time I actually had to shoot a man to save my life. Most people will never experience that, depending on where they live, but an unknown number of people may well have a serious close call whether they carry or not, and there are no statistics for those because most of them are never reported to police. Think of that the next time someone tells you there is no need for anyone but police to carry a gun.
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Imagine if she had been open carrying. The criminals would likely have not even approached her!
LOL!! I was “open carrying.” In Wyoming, in the winter, it just gets obscured by a coat now and then…
Very thought provoking. Due to two instances with unknown cars arriving in my dooryard (my driveway is 750 ft long) in which they were scared off by a sudden outside light I am going to go through with a ccw class. I did get your book on self defense and have read it all once and the first parts several times. I am lucky to have a friend retired from the border patrol to help guide me and he said like you practice practice and more. Thankyou for the book.
There are a great many things, such as the lights, that can serve to deter an attack. The thing that strikes me so often in reports of home invasions is the fact that the homeowner actually allowed a stranger to come in… opened the door for them! Or didn’t bother to lock the door. Absolutely, learn to use your gun to the best of your ability, but don’t neglect to practice everything else. The best gunfight is the one that never happened.
Then you weren’t open carrying, by definition. 😉
What’s that got to do with it? 🙂 And your “definition” is obviously different than mine. You chew your own steak, and I’ll chew mine. 🙂
Shortly after I was newly married, my wife called me from a hospital waiting room to tell me that her car had a flat tire on one of the spagetti-like overpasses in downtown Cleveland. I jumped in the other car, picked her up at the hospital, and by circling waaaay around on various highways, got back to the disabled car. Just as I noticed that my lug wrench did not fit her lug nuts, a car pulled up. Two young hispanic men jumped out and offered to fix the tire for me. I tried to wave them off, but they were insistent and, at that moment, helpful. However, the conversation went from friendly banter to more ominous demands, and by the time they finished with the tire, they were telling me to follow them to their shop. I said no, so they said, ‘man, give us something’, and they both walked toward me. I stood my ground, heart pumping, while brandishing a tire iron. In the pregnant pause between their last demand and when they chose to depart empty handed, I could see them calculating the costs and benefits. I guess it wasn’t worth it and they left.
Was a crime about to be committed? I’ll never know. However, I have to think that the image of this scrawny white dude holding a tire iron and standing his ground changed the dynamics of the interaction. To me, a life long believer in gentleness, it was a lesson in how to stop violence before it began.
Exactly! That’s why I say over and over that there is so much more to self defense than the gun — a very valuable and wonderful tool, absolutely, but not the whole answer.
The will to live, and the attitude that tells others you will do whatever it takes to survive – these send a powerful message to most people, even hardened criminals. The person who is so consumed by fear and self doubt that they are shaking and submissive are easy prey. All humans have a basic instinct to survive, to defend themselves. Unfortunately, that’s been horribly suppressed by the false altruism teaching over the centuries. Especially women have been conditioned to believe it is somehow wrong or unfeminine to be strong and defend themselves. There would be very little “domestic violence” if people had a healthy sense of self worth and simply did not tolerate being victimized.
The good news is that survival and self defense instincts can be revived, reinforced and practiced by nearly anyone if they will just give it a chance. That is the major goal of my self defense classes.
WAAAAY back many years ago, my firearm saved me from personal injury or worse. I had just turned 18 and my father had bought me a starter .3 caliber H&R revolver. I usually drove with it under my front seat, not knowing any better. Forty years ago racism was still pretty rampant. I was not, so it came to be that I was a white man who had become close with a young black lady. We both worked in the same grocery store. I had a car and she lived in the projects. She was afraid to walk home by herself so I was in the habit og giving her a ride home. One evening about 11pm I had taken her home and we were in front of her house talking. She abruptly looked up and told me to start up the car and get out of here. Being surprised and not looking around, I hesitated too long. There were apparently some thugs who didn’t appreciate a white punk with their sister. At least that’s what they were saying ( I am paraphrasing). One guy was on her side of the car and one on my side. The doors were locked but both windows were rolled down. The guy on my side told me I picked th wrong place to be parked with the “sista” and he was going to make sure I didn’t go back home. he tried to open my door, and while he tried to figure out where the lock was, I reached for my weapon. He got the door unlocked about the time I shoved the barrell right at him. (big mistake I know. I was not trained well at the time.) The barrell went right into his mouth as we struggled. He stopped suddenly. I said something about blowing his head off and he screamed like a woman and ran. Two others ran with him. I never reported this but I have rarely gone without a weopon in 40 years since this happened.
Oh my, you were very fortunate that time, even with the gun. Never heard of a .3 caliber, however. Was that a typo? I have an H&R .32 revolver. Sat in my nightstand for a lot of years in California.
I had two incidences in my life where I would have been legally justified in shooting someone but didn’t. In the first, two men were attempting to strip my car in the middle of the night and I went out and confronted them. The closer of the two pulled a knife on me and started toward me and then I pulled a concealed 12 gauge shotgun hidden behind my back on him. He dropped the knife and he and his partner ran. The second was one morning when I was going to work. I was in the left turn lane when an individual came up from behind the car and wanted a ride. I told him no. He reached in behind me and popped the lock on my rear doors. I reached under the seat and told him that if he opened the door I would shoot him and he turned around and left. I didn’t have a gun then but he didn’t know that and the threat alone fortunately was enough to stop him.
In the first incident, you would NOT have been justified to shoot since they stopped, dropped the weapon and ran away. The purpose of armed self defense is to stop the attack. Since the display of the firearm accomplished that, your self defense was fully successful – and you stopped the theft as well. Good deal!
The second incident was much more scary, for several reasons. You can’t maneuver well seated in a car like that, and someone who is behind you is almost out of reach even if you have a gun. A bluff such as yours may not succeed either, of course. I never travel with the windows down myself, and I never travel unarmed in any case, but I think if I had been in that situation, I would have moved the car itself as soon as he reached toward the window. Either forward or back, depending on the traffic. It’s really hard to imagine someone doing that, but there are all kinds of crazies out there.
How, I wonder, can we make these unreported crimes-that-didn’t-happen more visible to anti-gunners? Not through the police; they’re pretty much worthless when they’re not actively predatory. If people really knew about stories like this, I think many would change their positions, and maybe even buy a gun themselves!
That’s a tough one. I’ve shared these stories with some people, but this is the first time I’ve published them. First, they are just “hearsay,” with no proof they ever happened. Stories like these would never be part of the statistics, then, so probably not of much use in the national debate. In fact, being non-events, NON crimes, and unreported is an important factor. Any attempt to gather this information, especially “officially,” would distort it and corrupt it badly… let alone any attempt to involve the police.
But I don’t think the “national debate” is where the necessary change will come from. It is important for us to tell our stories, but I don’t think it will have much effect alone. When our friends and neighbors know us well as peaceful individuals, going about our daily lives without aggression, the fact that we are also armed and ready to defend ourselves and others will not be an issue. At least that’s what I’ve found where I am.
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