U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- We start with this local news story out of Woodbridge, Virginia as covered by the Washington Post.
You are a 44-year-old woman. It is a little after midnight when you walk out through your front door. You notice a man at the side of your house. He has a mask over his face. He also has a gun in his hand, and he is running toward you.
You’re a gun owner. You have your Virginia concealed carry permit. You’re armed tonight. You draw your gun and shoot your attacker before he reaches you. You take out your cell phone and call 911.
You give a brief statement to the police when they arrive. They find the attacker’s loaded gun on the ground next to him. EMS takes your 20-year-old attacker to the hospital where he later died of his injuries.
You are not charged with a crime.
The intended victim had her gun with her. She carried it in a manner that let her get to it very quickly. She got her gun from her holster and pointed at the target. She shot accurately and then stopped shooting. She stayed at the scene and called for help. She cooperated with the police when they arrived.
We wish this news article was more detailed. I’d love to show you some video, but there is a lot we already know. The defender recognized a threat in dim light. That means she had previously imagined what a threat might look like. She was prepared in many important ways.
Our defender recognized that she lives in a dangerous world. She admitted that many attackers are stronger and faster than she is. She decided to defend herself with a firearm and bought a gun she could shoot well.
You’re going to grab your gun and press the trigger hundreds of times so it becomes an instinctive reflex, a motion well written into your procedural memory. That doesn’t happen in a day. You won’t put in that practice time if the gun doesn’t fit you. I would no more buy a gun for someone else than I would buy shoes or gloves for them. It is hard to tell a good fit, but it is easy to compare several guns and know that one fits better than the others. I recommend you touch, and hopefully try, before you buy.
The victim was attacked at night. Darkness makes it harder for us to see and identify the bad guy. Fortunately, low light also makes it harder for the bad guy to recognize when we’re defending ourselves.
Our defender was able to disable the attacker before he could shoot her or grab her. The attack and defense was over in less time than it takes to read this sentence. That doesn’t happen by luck or accident. That takes practice so she could react without thought while she continued to observe her attacker.
Attacks happen fast. So does our defense. Our defender only had a few seconds to clear her clothes away from her gun, get a firing grip, remove the gun from her holster, bring the gun up and on target, and put accurate shots on her attacker to stop the threat. She practiced those motions so they would come smoothly when she needed them. Beginners will be able to get a shot off in under two seconds with a few days practice. Later, many of us can put two shots in the high center chest in 2 seconds from 5 yards..with practice.
We don’t have time to think, but we do have time to recognize a threat we’ve already imagined.
We don’t have time to think, but we do have time to take actions we’ve rehearsed many times before.
There are lots of ways to present your gun from its holster. Most of them are inefficient and don’t work very well. Many of them are even dangerous. Only a few presentations are both fast and reliable. It isn’t obvious, but our ideas of best practice have changed over time. We know what works for most people. Having your gun in a bag or strapped to your ankle is a disadvantage most of the time for most people. Those methods may be the best solution for unusual situations, but that isn’t where most of us start.
Suppose you’re learning to carry concealed and you decided to carry with your gun at your waist. It is easier to learn efficient ways to present your gun than to unlearn a bad habit. Professional firearms instructors teach efficient gun handling for a living. They are good at it. Maybe your uncle George “has been around guns all his life”, but that doesn’t make him a good instructor. It has been a while since I shot competitively or went to an instructor’s clinic, so I wouldn’t take instruction from me right now. Not today, and I want better for you.
If you’re like me, then you’d like to run and hide under your bed if a stranger tried to kill you. That may be understandable, but it isn’t the best solution. Yes, you want to move so the attacker or his accomplice can’t shoot you. You want to be safe from the getaway driver who might want to run you over as you stand in the middle of the street and try to recover from shock. You also want to stay at the scene so that your attacker’s gun doesn’t disappear into someone’s pocket and walk away. Stay at the scene if you can because that is what good guys do, good guys who have nothing to hide.
Forget what you saw heroes do in the movies. Now is the time to shout for help and ask everyone to call 911. You want to get help on the way. Someone might have seen you defend yourself. Good guys ask for the police and we want to be identified as the good guy who had to defend himself. Also, there are usually more ear-witnesses than eye-witnesses. Our shouts for help would encourage these peripheral witnesses to make a call to 911. Now, the police have a list of witnesses to interview..and the witnesses phone numbers.
Put your gun away when no one else needs to be shot. That is important. Most witnesses didn’t see the attack until they turned to the sound of gunfire. That is particularly true in an attack like this one that happened just after midnight. The first thing these witnesses probably see is us holding a gun on a wounded man. Make sure your gun is out of your hands before the police get there. Re-holster very slowly and surely.
Now that you’re safe, you should call 911 also. First, give the operator your address and the nature of your call. Now give them your name and your description. Dispatchers can ask a lot of questions, but you don’t have to answer them. “I’m not sure” is an honest answer. If you can, stay on the line with the 911 operator.
We want to talk to the police to establish that we are legal gun owners and we had to defend ourselves. Say little after that.
Hello, Officer. I’m the one who called. He attacked me. I had to defend myself. I think he dropped something over there. I’ll sign a complaint and I’m willing to testify against him in court. I’ll cooperate completely and answer all your questions after I’ve spoken with my lawyer.
This defender did a lot of things that prepared her to defend herself. She did very well in the few seconds of her physical defense. Now, let’s talk about the things this defender probably did during the week after her attack.
I’ll bet she put up motion lights near the corner of her house. She might have installed motion detectors and an alarm system so she would know if someone is outside. She might now have cameras that work in low light or from infra-red illumination. She would rather avoid the next fight than have to win it, and she should know.
I think she is right. Lights, cameras, and alarm systems don’t cost much or weigh much. I think a few ounces of prevention is cheaper than a lawyer and lighter on my heart. What do you think?
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, join USCCA.