It is after midnight when you pull into a parking lot and turn off your car. A group of young men wearing hoodies and masks run up and surround your car. One of the men points his gun at you through the driver’s side window. A second man jumps into the passenger seat and demands your keys, your phone and your purse.
You own a gun. You’re carrying concealed. You push the robber in the passenger seat away from you. You present your firearm and shoot the armed robber outside your window. He moves away, and now you turn to shoot the attacker inside the car. He is gone. All five of the robbers run away.
You call 911 and stay at the scene. The police say that several other people had been carjacked in the area in the last few hours. The police also examine the security videos from the nearby stores. Officers do not find any blood at the scene where you were attacked. Later, they don’t find anyone entering a local hospital with a gunshot wound.
You are not charged with a crime.
Let’s look at the many things our defender did to save her life. Long before this attack, she first considered the risks she faced and she became a gun owner. She was armed in her car that night. Also, her gun was within immediate reach when she needed it. She created more time to get her gun by fighting her attacker in the seat next to her. She kept her gun loaded and ready to fire so she could use it immediately once her hand was on her gun. All that took place before her finger ever touched the trigger that night.
She shot the most immediate threat first. In this case, she shot at the attacker who had a gun pointed at her through her car window. The next most urgent threat was the attacker in the passenger seat so she turned back toward him. She had the presence of mind to stop firing when her attackers ran away. She did not chase her attackers across the parking lot. She stayed at the scene and called for help. She gave a statement to the police when they arrived.
Some of the news stories say there were five attackers. Some say there were four. How did our defender prevail against those long odds? These criminals had successfully robbed several other people within the last few hours. They thought that the five of them could easily overwhelm this single victim. They thought the odds were on their side because of their numbers, because they had a plan, and because they had the element of surprise. They thought that what worked in the past would work again this time.
Our defender’s swift response upset their plans. Her violent actions prevented the attackers from forming new plans of attack. These attackers ran because they did not know how to fight a determined defender who was armed with a handgun.
We should also raise the question if defending herself was a good choice. Some anti-gun advocates say we should simply give the robbers what they want. We should let the robbers have “our stuff” and simply file an insurance claim to get a new car. A human life is more valuable than any car, so let the police catch the robbers..eventually. That almost sounds reasonable.
Then we consider that the robbers might want more than our wallet or our car. What should we do after we surrender and then find out that what the robbers want..is us? As of 2019. there were over 400 thousand sexual assaults a year in the US. Some robbers will kill and armed civilians because they think we are law enforcement.
Yes, have “tactical patience” and wait for an advantageous moment, but don’t let an assailant move you from the initial scene of the attack. I think the defender made the right choice at the right time.
If we ask her today, I bet the defender wishes she had avoided the fight entirely. It could be true that she had just gotten off work. That is common where I live because we have a large number of employers who run 24-7 operations. Though it may feel normal to shop at 2 am, it does come with higher risks. At that hour there are some small stores where the risk of attack increases significantly. If you must stop, then find a well-lit place in a high-end area. Find a location with lots of people around.
Drive around the store, the truck stop, or the parking lot and investigate the area before you park. That is always true and particularly important late at night. Make sure that a group of people aren’t hiding around the corner of a building or hiding in a car waiting for you. Keep your doors locked and your windows up. Driveaway if things look even a little bit odd.
The last point I want to bring up concerns fighting in confined spaces. In theory, it is easier to shoot a target that is closer to us. The truth is that it is hard to get to our gun and point it accurately from inside a car. We might be sitting against our firearm. Maybe we can’t move our elbow back to get our usual grip. Our seat belt might be in the way..as well as the center console, your attacker’s hands, and the steering wheel. We have to raise the gun up to shoot out the window, yet we probably shouldn’t push our firearm out to full extension and hand our gun to the attackers outside the car. It is easy to miss as we move fast to conserve the element of surprise.
Like anything else, defending yourself from inside your car becomes easier with practice.
Defense in close quarters is an advanced skill. You must have instinctive trigger finger discipline so you don’t have a negligent discharge. You need excellent muzzle discipline so you don’t point your gun at yourself or at your friend in the passenger seat who is riding with you. Shooting yourself is a bad way to start any gunfight. As obvious as that sounds, professionals have done exactly that. We could make that mistake too.
If you’ve read a few of my columns then you know I’m an advocate of training with an instructor. The instructor will demonstrate the techniques that work well. They can also suggest alternatives that might work better for you. Instructors usually have you work through the motions many times with an inert plastic gun. Then you’ll graduate to presenting your empty firearm to the target and pressing the trigger. As simple as all this may sound, there are many things to learn about presenting a firearm from a seated position inside your car.
Now that you’ve survived the first fight, you have to get your wits about you when you deal with the police. Describe the facts and point out any witnesses or evidence. Say you’ll testify against your attackers in court. Beyond that, be respectful and leave the complete report for your lawyer.
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.