You work in a pawn shop. You step out of the shop to run an errand at four in the afternoon. That is when three people approach you in the parking lot. They are armed. They tell you to give them everything you have. That is interesting because one of the things you have is a concealed firearm on your hip. You present your gun and shoot your attackers. They shoot back as they run away. The news report doesn’t mention if you stayed in the parking lot or if you went back inside the building to call 911. You are not injured.
Your robbers crashed their car a short distance away. They left their wounded accomplice in the car. EMS takes your wounded attacker to the hospital. He is 14 years old. Police are looking for his two accomplices.
Our defender did a number of things that saved his life that afternoon. Long ago he recognized that the world was not a safe place. He found a firearm that fit him and that he could conceal. He carried his gun at work and he wore it as he crossed the parking lot that afternoon. He recognized a threat as three young men approached him. He kept his distance so they couldn’t grab him. He defended himself when they presented their gun. He stopped shooting as they ran away. He stayed at the scene and called 911 for help. He also gave the police a brief statement when they arrived.
For some of us this situation and the defender’s response sounds obvious. For others, it sounds like a lucky miracle this man was armed so he wasn’t hurt or killed. Millions of new gun owners say they would only carry their gun in a dangerous situation. Having a gun pointed at you in an armed robbery is about as dangerous as it gets for most civilians. This robbery happened in the middle of the afternoon in a public parking lot. By that measure we should have been safe.
Please reconsider that point of view. People who need cash bring jewelry and electronics to a pawn shop. A few minutes later, they walk out with cash in their pocket or purse. These robbers stalked people who were coming in or going out of the pawn shop in order to take their cash or their valuables.
We’d laugh at someone who took a minute to draw from a holster, but we make excuses for ourselves as we need a minute to run and get our gun from storage. Let’s be realistic about our defense. I like that the employee was carrying on-body. That you carry is far more important than what you carry.
Carry what you can conceal and afford. If that is a firearm chambered in 22 magnum, or even 22 long rifle, then please carry that. You know your situation better than anyone else. Perhaps you have to carry a smaller and flatter firearm in order to conceal it given the way you have to dress at work. Maybe you have medical issues that make you sensitive to recoil. Every firearm for concealed carry is a compromise. If you decide to carry a firearm chambered in a smaller and less powerful cartridge then you’ll have to make up with speed and accuracy what you’ve sacrificed in wound channel diameter.
When you face a lethal threat, go ahead and take all the time you need as you present your firearm. You’ve got the rest of your life to get it done.
Self-defense is always controlled by time and circumstances. A slow draw can get us killed. If you’re a new gun owner, or even if you have owned your firearm for a few years, it is really hard to present your firearm quickly and efficiently if you’ve never taken a class that shows you how. That isn’t a reflection on your talent or your intelligence. We’ve been refining armed defense for the last several centuries and there are an amazing number of details that contribute to a fast and accurate shot. I continue to take classes and learn something from each one.
Putting all those skills together leaves us with an accelerating advantage. The sooner we recognize a problem the more options we have. For example, you recognize how unusual it is for three young men wearing masks and hoodies to get out of a car in the middle of your parking lot and walk away from the business and walk toward you instead. Once you see it, you can change your path so there are cars between you and them. You can blade your body and put your hand on your gun as you shout for them to stop.
An honest group of men would back up and ask what is wrong. Now you know you are being hunted if they continue forward. It is probably time to move behind a car and present your firearm, and shout for help.
There is an additional benefit from having your head up and reacting early. You don’t look like the last victim they successfully robbed.
So what should you do if you’re a new gun owner? Start small and keep getting better. If you’re new to firearms, then learn firearms safety and basic marksmanship. From there, you can take yourself to the range on a regular basis. If you bought a 22 for self-defense, then you can go to the range more often because your ammunition is cheaper. 😉
In a perfect defense, you recognize the situation as it unfolds. You would challenge the robbers verbally while they are still far away. You’d remember to present your firearm as you move toward cover.
Maybe you’ve practiced that, and maybe you’re not there yet. If you’ve taken your concealed carry class, then you can start carrying at home. You’ll get better and feel more competent with practice, but you don’t have to wait until you’re “perfect” to take steps along your path of self-defence. Move forward as long as you’re safe and legal.
Speaking of legal, if you can I want you to stay at the scene of the crime and call the police from there. You want to be the first person to tell your story to authorities. The first person that police speak to is going to be designated as the victim. Take a cell-phone picture of the scene. That might help you remember where the attackers were standing when they shot at you. Then, I want you to call your lawyer.
Again, that is covered in concealed carry class, and covered again in your legal use of lethal force class.
I keep suggesting you take a class, but I know that time and money are in short supply.
A good way to get the most from your class is to take notes and then practice at home.
That practice is particularly important when you’re learning to present your firearm from a holster. Sure, the instructors will show you what to do. Of course, the instructors will correct your initial mistakes as you demonstrate the skill. The way you learn to present well is to practice the motions perfectly at home.
That practice is most effective during the first few weeks after the class. If I had my way, I’d start practicing the day after the class. That is when we still remember what a perfect presentation feels like. We still recognize a good sight picture and trigger press. Give yourself 10 minutes of dry practice at least three times a week so you remember a perfect model of the skill. If you can, do that for a month, but the first two weeks are really important. After that, I’d like you to dry practice at least once a month.
If you’re a student of the gun, then practice the perfect motion until it is both smooth and automatic before you try to make it fast.
-Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, at Second Call Defense, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.