How to Win a Gunfight When You Shouldn’t Really Be Trying

 

Imagine the scenario [via chron.com]: Co-worker with a criminal past (violent?) shows up at work drunk. Gets reported, gets fired. Several weeks later shows up at your house in the wee hours of the night, angry, armed, and blaming you. What do you do?

You’ll have to excuse the Houston Comical for it’s poor reporting standards. It’s epidemic, but down here in Houston we’re used to it. So we’ll take everything written with a grain of salt. The good guy here worked late and got home after midnight. He sat in his truck to burn one last cig before going inside for a night’s rest. Bad guy shows up (with wife!) and blocks the driveway. Bear in mind, this is Texas, so both men are driving pickups. Mr. Ford (good guy) is driving a Dodge (oh, the humanity) and Powell (bad guy) was driving an unidentified truck (a Ford? the irony).

Ford stays in his truck while Powell assaults the outside – smart choice. Powell announces that he has a gun and returns to his truck to get it. Quick – what would you do? Ford fires up the Dodge, rams backwards into Powell’s vehicle (oh how I wish they’d given the make and model) and then peels out through the front yard to escape. Car (truck) chase follows, with Powell firing indiscriminately through the night air in a heavy residential area. A showdown at a cul-de-sac, and then Ford’s Dodge finally outruns Powell’s Brand X vehicle. That thing got a Hemi in it?

There’s more at the link, including the rarely mentioned aftermath. Fear, upset family, moving away to avoid future harassment, etc. Apparently in the state of Texas you only get 8 years for missing your target. The comments section is fun, with plenty of mention about Ford getting a CHL for when Powell finally gets out.

And there’s my problem. I’m not sure a gun would have helped in that story. We already had one guy firing round after round in a residential neighborhood. If we ratchet that up to two guys firing multiple rounds from fast moving trucks then all we do is double the odds of a bullet flying through a child’s bedroom window. Ford had a small window of opportunity during the initial phase of the assault – before Powell got his gun out – in which he could have gotten out of the truck, gun in hand, and ended the affair quickly. And possible illegally too. At that point he wasn’t in imminent fear of death.

Doesn’t matter, once that window passed, Ford was left with escape as his best option. Stay in the truck, keep moving, focus 100% on driving. Getting caught in the cul-de-sac wasn’t great, so you have to be thinking ahead. Which turn, which street, where is it I want to go? And please, don’t say police station. I’ve driven to the cop shop at 2 am. Deserted. Completely.

In any event, there are plenty of places here where one cannot legally pack. Work being a prime place where you spend 10 to 12 hours a day, unarmed. And plenty of reasons one doesn’t leave a gun in your locked vehicle. So if you follow the law, you could very well find yourself in a gun-free situation. Food for thought.

Several last thoughts. I work at a chemical plant in La Porte, less than a stone’s throw from Pasadena. Chances are this guy worked in a plant just down the road from me. Second, I’m pissed about the 8 year sentence. The DA should have added a dozen years for illegal possession of a firearm at the very least. Finally, there are plenty of plant stories of people laying in wait at the company gate to jump a particular employee at quitting time. Hey, you know it’s a gun-free zone (for at least one of the participants).

comments

  1. avatar Joe nobody says:

    Im sure the dodge was a a high capacity gas tank, automatic, long range, military spec, assault vehicle. Its a wonder he didnt kill any babies

  2. avatar Brad Kozak says:

    That’s why every citizen should know the location of every nearby 7-Eleven, Cirle-K, and All-Night Do-Nut Shop in the area.

    1. avatar DonWorsham says:

      Walmart. Food, water, ammo.

      1. avatar TTACer says:

        Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, blue-clad assistance.

  3. avatar Joe nobody says:

    Im sure the bradi campaign to prevent vehicular violence will want to ban high capacity gas tanks because really what sane reasonable person would need more then 10 gallons of gas? What to much?

  4. avatar LC Judas says:

    I don’t find it to be a showdown, only one guy participated. Despite the unsmartness of leaving a firearm in a vehicle, rule number one of firefights: Bring a gun. If I lived in Texas and didn’t carry that’s where it’d be, locked in the glovebox. At least.

    1. avatar Joe nobody says:

      Massad ayoob said it best, if we knew when and where we would need a gun, we wouldnt carry a gun we would just avoid those places.

    2. avatar Don Curton says:

      My point being that I don’t think having a gun would have made the situation better. If he’d had a gun, he might have been tempted to grab it and have a shoot-out, face to face, in his front yard. And died. Or killed.

      By running, he greatly increased his odds of survival.

      1. avatar Joe nobody says:

        Im not trying to be a jerk but I respectfully disagree. A drunk man was firing wildly in a residential area without regard for human life I am suggesting that if instead of running he neutralized the threat with a well aimed shot or two that the situation would of ended quicker, with less danger of collateral damage. Even if he missed once there would be less total shots fired. Of course this is all irrelevant because he didnt have a gun, but if he had a gun he would have at least had more options than to run. because there is no way to predict the specific details of a deadly encounter beforehand.*steps off soap box* p.s. Again I mean no disrespect but I felt that saying that ” him having a gun could of made the situation worse, he could of been tempted to use it” sounds a bit to simillar to something you would here the brady campaign say. The attitude that a gun will make minor traffic arguments turn into deadly situations. This man was being shot at and his life wasnt the only one at risk. It was allready escalated to a deadly situation. Im not saying he shouldnt of ran, im saying if I was in,that situation I would prefer to have a weapon even if it means leaving it in a vehicle, again no disrespect just my .02

        1. avatar Don Curton says:

          Joe – by all means, respectful disagreement is not only accepted, but actively encouraged. Please continue to do so as needed.

          As Texanhawk states below, Texas is a castle doctrine state. You don’t have to run. But …

          My opinion only, but if someone is bashing on your vehicle door, the worst thing you can do is try to exit. They’ll have the advantage of leverage and be able to slam the door on you as you exit. You can sit in the vehicle and fire a gun out the window, but at that point it’s a grey area as to life or death. He’s bashing on the truck, but the “helmet” he’s using isn’t exactly a deadly weapon.

          Only after he states he has a gun and starts back toward his truck does Ford have any opportunity to react legally with deadly force. That’s a very dicey situation. Especially considering the other person still in the truck could already have the gun out and ready. By throwing his truck in gear and running, he avoided a gunfight where he might have very well been at a disadvantage.

          I wasn’t there, I’m not trying to second guess him. Like you, I’d have wanted a weapon just to expand my options, but in this case running was a very good option that worked out for him.

        2. avatar Joe nobody says:

          Thanks for being so civil, I just started commenting and I am,very pleased in the way people conduct themselves on this site, I guess im used to the youtube way of doing things and the egos you find there. This site is refreshing to say the least

      2. avatar LC Judas says:

        He greatly increased his odds of survival after the fact. He could have struck Powell’s vehicle and disabled his own, leaving him open to direct attack the same as if he stood his ground. Same token he could have struck and disabled or killed his attacker either directly or indirectly after striking vehicles together. The only stable factors that the victim had were coherence and car keys in his favor. A pistol could have been of service but just as easily not. His assaillant shooting up the neighborhood in a pursuit is the last thing that should have happened. A pistol could have prevented it in the best case scenario. That’s the point I think worth thinking about since its the one thing the victim could have changed.

        1. avatar Don Curton says:

          A body on frame truck can easily back into another vehicle at speed with much critical damage. In fact, he might should have backed into the other truck several times in order to disable it.

          A final point, remember that the poor man worked all day, mostly likely a double shift 16 hr day. It was after midnight before he got home. I’m sure fatigue and exhaustion played a part.

  5. avatar TexanHawk says:

    Texas is a Castle Doctrine state.

    SECTION 2. Section 9.31, Penal Code, is amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (e) and (f) to read as follows:

    (a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor [he] reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor [himself] against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. The actor’s belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

    (1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:

    (A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

    Mr. Powell was attempting to enter Mr. Ford’s vehicle with force.

  6. avatar Roman says:

    Not only does texas have the Castle Doctrine, but the Sundown Law. Be at my house (I’m from TX) after dark threatening me on my property and you’d be dead. Next.

    1. avatar "Dr." Dave says:

      Only if you were armed, as he wasn’t, and lucky, which he was. Your sentiment is laudable, but you cant always be in control of a situation, and the contest is never certain.

  7. avatar "Dr." Dave says:

    Even if he had a handgun, the situation probably wouldn’t have been in his favor. Bullets don’t like to go straight through automotive glass or through metal doors. Especially those tiny little pistols people like to carry. They will, but they lose energy, deflect, et cetera. Even the really good quality ammo wont be as effective through a vehicle as it would be going directly into flesh. And they aernt great fight stoppers even then. That works both ways, but when the badguys drunk, doesn’t care about any consequences and has a good amount of ammo and don’t particularly mind riddling what ever is in front of him with bullets, it puts the reasonable civilian at a disadvantage. I think it was Clint Smith who said ‘Either shoot or drive, choose one’. I paraphrase.

    Even at the pinnacle of their design, and by that I mean the best of the best, handguns are not tremendously effective weapons. They should be considered a weapon of last resort. A 5000 pound vehicle powered by a V8 should have been his go to choice. Especially with a trailer hitch, backing a truck hard and fast in to the front of another vehicle will severely effect the other vehicles ability to function.

    However, that’s not the easiest thing to think of when its 12 AM and you’re tired and terrified.

    However, I wouldn’t have blamed him for going out fighting if he was armed. It just probably wouldn’t have been the best choice.

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