One of the major themes of this series: DO SOMETHING! If you’re in a life-threatening situation, you have to overcome your initial, instinctive urge to freeze and take authoritative action. Hopefully, that means run. Avoidance should always be plan A. But it’s not always possible. If you find yourself looking at the business end of a gun, and your gun is holstered, you want to think long and hard about reaching for your gat. The chances of outdrawing a drawn gun are lower than an ant’s abdomen. The chances that the perp’ll shoot and miss are higher, but who likes those odds? You’ve really got three choices . . .

1. Do what you’re told  

In a convenience store robbery, the bad guy or guys will probably be concentrating on getting money from the cash register. If you don’t see any obvious clues that they’re murderous—moving employees to the back room, shooting a “warning shot”, shooting the clerk, acting like psychos—it may be best to let them grab ‘n go.

On the street? Same deal. If they want your wallet give them your wallet. Other locations have other rules. If the bad thing’s going down in your house or somewhere else that’s private (e.g., an antique store), acquiescing to the bad guys’ wishes could be an extremely foolish move. As in fatal.

Like any Defensive Gun Use (DGU) it’s a judgement call—at a time when your judgement will be severely impaired by the thought that you or your loved ones are about to die. Doesn’t matter. Fight mental lock-up with stress-based training and, regardless of your level of preparedness going in, all your will.

Even if you’re doing what you’re told, plan an attack and a retreat strategy. In other words, if you submit, choose to submit. So you can choose to run and/or attack when you get the chance.

2. Run / hide

As I said above escape and evade are always your best option. If you can’t leave the scene at the beginning of the incident, you still might be able to do so sometime in the middle. There is nothing wrong with running from violence or potential violence as it occurs. Remember: you’re not a cop. Whether or not you’re carrying a firearm, it’s not your job to resolve the situation. Period.

You may not be able to run. You may be blocked, physically incapable or have children with you. Look for/move to concealment. Bad guys in full adrenalin flow are highly visual; they’re scanning the environment for threats. If they “suddenly” can’t see you, they may not remember you exist. On other hand, if you move “suddenly” it could freak them out. So . . . sidle.

If you can get to concealment, draw your weapon and wait. Make that draw your weapon discreetly and hold it discreetly. Best case, the bad guys will get what they want and leave. Oh, and motion for your kids, wife or friends to move away from you. If a gunfight breaks out, you’re a bullet magnet.

3. Attack!

Jimmy Hoffa had a rule: charge a gun, run from a knife. And he put it into practice too, disarming a potential assassin (in court no less). Keep this option in mind when you’re at gunpoint. A small nudge against a barrel will move a weapon off-target. Combine that with some extreme violence (from you) and you may be able to give yourself enough time to draw your gun and defend yourself. Or run.

It’s also true that a gun is not a death ray. Gunshots are survivable. If you have to take one for the team—even if it’s just team you—it might be better than allowing yourself or your loved ones to be murdered. Who knows? All DGU situations are different. But they share at least one strategic similarity: when you’re in the thick of things, a bad decision is better than no decision. Even if that decision is to do nothing.

Strange but true.

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39 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Charge A Gun

  1. “instinctive urge to freeze”

    What? Speak for yourself. The human species has evolved with men NOT freezing when confronted with danger. Some do, but many don’t.

    Again, I will disagree with your constant refrain that one should surrender one’s property to thieves. If you’re armed, and this is why we arm ourselves, there is probably no need to do so. There is a moral issue involved. It is immoral to acquiesce to crime when you have the ability and right to resist. You should always evaluate the risk and act accordingly, but your advice to default to surrender is anathema.

    • Interesting point. Is a persons dignity worth anything? Some would say that without it, you aren’t a whole human being, you become something smaller. When something is taken from you by force or threat of violence, you lose a piece of dignity and are a little bit lessened by the experience. Then again, if you are dead because of violence, you are totally lessened and bereft of dignity. Life seems to be about compromises, or maybe I should say free choices.

    • I will disagree with your constant refrain that one should surrender one’s property to thieves.

      I didn’t see that in the post. What I did see was “[e]ven if you’re doing what you’re told, plan an attack and a retreat strategy.”

      Was that bad advice?

      • Yes, Ralph, that’s bad news. We don’t have all these guns so’s we can run away from the bad guys. Didn’t you hear Skyler. And just wait for Moonbeam and Silver to pipe up.

        I think Robert is very brave to continue pushing this point. Half the commenters are so much into the macho crap of standing up to evil that they resist these common sense suggestion in the strongest terms. I think they are the stereotypical gun owners who are armed out of fear, insecurity and inadequacy.

        Maybe the rest of you are all right after all.

        • “And just wait for Moonbeam and Silver to pipe up.”
          —–
          Don’t believe I’ve ever weighed in on the issue of fight-or-flight, on either side. Perhaps you could link to my comment(s), or admit that you’re trying to put words in my mouth.

          “I think they are the stereotypical gun owners who are armed out of fear, insecurity and inadequacy.”
          —–
          I don’t carry because I’m afraid. I carry because doing so allows me to be unafraid. A subtle difference that makes a huge distinction.

        • Subtle prevarication and nonsense that you read somewhere and thought sounded cool.

          Tell us how wrong I am about your issue on this issue that you’ve never commented on.

        • I’ll take that as a, “You’re right, Moon. I WAS just trying to put words in your mouth. Mea culpa, it won’t happen again.”

  2. You can discuss moral issues all day long, but if you act stupidly and end up dead, the entire moral/immoral/amoral issue is moot. “Feet don’t fail me now”, is a good thing to remember.

  3. We don’t have Circle K’s around here. I cannot see one without thinking of:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DsFMJQHbMs

    Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

    RF, well written piece. I’ve opined here before that most of us likely consider ourselves men of action. The discretion to immediately consider other options, and decide without anger or emotion on the path which is more likely to succeed can be the difference between bloodshed and not. As much as the dirtbag/BG probably deserves to be confronted by another armed individual, there are many scenarios where that confrontation will guarantee an escalation of violence which likely is the antithesis of my one goal, the survival of my family and me.

    This statement, If a gunfight breaks out, you’re a bullet magnet caused me to take pause. I haven’t yet considered clearing my family from the target line that I likely would be drawing to myself. There’s a new item for the kit bag.

    Thanks.

    • I’ve told my fiancé that, if it comes down to me having to draw, to get out ASAP or to get down/behind cover.

    • Rule in our family has been that she has the kids and gets out. I stay and she doesn’t look back.

      Remains to be seen (hopefully forever) if she will, but that’s what we discuss every time the topic comes up, so we don’t have to discuss it in the moment.

      • If you believe your wife and children are in danger and they are able to escape said danger, why do you stay?

        I am certain they would be much worse off without you and It is hard for me to believe you have any possessions they would consider to be more valuable than youself.

  4. The concept of ‘Condition Yellow’ is that you must be observant for potential threats to your life at all times.Before something violent happens there is a subtle ‘tell’ on the part of the criminal that something odd and bad is about to happen. What the tell is cannot be defined in any concrete fashion, but the bottom line is that if you are in yellow and see anything suspicious one should be at ‘Orange’ with a plan to draw on a blink.The idea being that by the time the perp has his hand on his ‘gat’, you have yours ready to go and safeties deactivated so that there is no need to ‘beat the draw’. If the bad guy pulls, you pull too and tell him to scram. Most of the time,confronted with the business end of a citizen’s gun he’ll remember the popcorn he left in the microwave and scram at that point.

    If he shoots instead odds are that outcome wasn’t going to change by you doing what they said. Business owners who interact with the public should have their own plan for dealing with armed crooks, as Lance Thomas stands as the example for the level of armed preparedness necessary when one is just trying to stay open for business.

    • Sometimes, sometimes not. When a couple of BGs burst into a store with their guns drawn, there’s no warning. All their “prep work” was done outside. When a BG jumps someone from behind, out of a darkened dooway, there’s no warning.

      When there’s a warning, there’s time to act. Otherwise, you are well and truly f^cked.

        • I wouldn’t roll over and neither should you, but it’s hard to fight when you’re out cold. When BGs jump someone, it’s not like in a movie (believe me, I know). They don’t confront you and tell you to stand and deliver.

          The attack comes swiftly, from the rear. It’s extremely violent, the point being to render you unconscious so you cannot fight. Muggers like to pick your pockets clean while you lay on the ground, rendered hors de combat.

        • In fact “bursting into the store with guns drawn” is exactly the scenario Lance Thomas faced on multiple occasions. One time a crew of two armed men entered his shop loaded for bear.He drew and shot back, totaling both and sending the getaway driver on his way solo.

          Another situation of “bursting into the store with guns drawn” was the Richmond Diamond Heist. Two dixie mafia scumbags walked into the diamond store during business hours with a loaded shotgun and a 1911. Thus greeted the business owners grabbed a shotgun and several revolvers to return fire.

          Casualty to Crooks=100%, both fatalities
          Casualties to Employees=0% besides temporary hearing loss.

          Contrast those violent incidents with a robbery and murder that took place in Chicago New Years’ weekend. Perps walk into gas station , demand money at gunpoint, and both scumbags empty their pistols into the booth as they walk out, killing the father of 2 kids in the process.

          It is perhaps a depressing outlook to assume, but if a criminal draws a gun on me I will assume he intends on using it and respond in kind. If he didn’t want to hurt anyone, he shouldn’t be pointing lethal weapons at strangers.

  5. Good point about the gun vs knife. I would much rather be in a close quarters fight against a man armed with a gun than a knife. A knife is unpredictable and can hurt you just in trying to wrangle it, where a gun only provides a cylinder of influence.

    • I took a one-day point shooting/CQB class. During one (entirely voluntary) exercise, the instructor fired his 1911, but had us grip the slide tightly. Sure, he got off the shot, but the weapon didn’t cycle and the next round didn’t chamber.

      • The same is true of a revolver, except the revolver will not fire at all unless the hammer is cocked before you grip the cylinder.

  6. I always disagree with letting the criminal take your property unmolested. I am always considering the thought that, in the near future, a minor disaster could cause temporary social disorder. So now imagine, during this chaos, a robber is trying to take food and/or water from you. He could kill you or yours indirectly, by depriving you of essentials during a time of crisis. You better believe I would defend that kind of property with my life, because those that I love could depend on it. Under theses circumstances, what would your approach be? Remember, once life returns to normal, the law still applies to your actions afterwards. As such, you would have to justify use of force post-disorder.

  7. Well written Robert. This line echoes what I learned from Gabe:

    “Make that draw your weapon discreetly and hold it discreetly.”

    He feels the timing of the draw is much, more important than the speed of draw. He also went through a several ways to have a gun in hand ready to go, yet still have it relatively hidden. This is something I want to practice more in the mirror. It also helps keep from getting shot by a responding LEO.

  8. Occasionally I stumble across security cam footage of compliant robbery victims who are shot or stabbed anyway. It always makes me think, “I’d really rather not spend the last milisecond of my life wishing I had at least tried to resist.”

    • I had a business associate who was killed in a gas station hold up by a gang. The gang actually took nothing, it was just a gang initiation and they shot the guy just so some punk could get in their gang.
      Very sad.

    • I’d really rather not spend the last milisecond of my life wishing I had at least tried to resist

      That will not be your last thought, although it might be “what am I doing in this 7-11. Did I really need those Twinkies?”

      If you can’t escape, fight. And if you must fight, win.

  9. When Hoffa offered up his words of wisdom, he was addressing a situation where his adversary was armed with a knife or gun and he was not armed with anything. His advice to charge a gun and run from a knife makes sense in that light. For a defender who is armed with a gun against a gun, it’s very bad advice and is likely to get the defender shot in the back.

  10. I carry a wallet containing $50.00 and nothing else.
    If I find myself confronted by a robber armed with a gun my plan is to toss that wallet on the ground while assuring the thief that he will have no problem from me and slowly backing up. Moving to a safe location or as far away as possible while drawing my gun and dialing 911.
    If they are armed with less than a gun, I will inform them that I am not.
    I don’t consider $50.00 worth getting myself, my wife’s husband and my children’s father killed or severly injured.
    If necessary I will also give up my watch and if absolutely necessary my wedding ring for the same reasons.
    Also I don’t consider $50.00 to be worth the time and expense of dealing with the aftermath of even a justifiable shooting.
    BUT if asked for anything beyond the wedding ring or if asked for any further compliance, my hand will go into my front pocket and my EDC will come out firing.
    I will not give up anything that can identify me.
    I will not give up my gun.
    I will not move to another location.
    If I hear the phrase “Do what I say and you won’t get hurt.” “Come with me.” or any such command, my EDC is out and firing.
    Robbers do not want any more contact with you than is necessary to get your valuables.
    While it is true that some may kill even those who comply , it is not the norm.
    Those who mean you harm are much more likely to shoot you or beat you down on initial contact, before they rob you. It is much faster and easier for them.
    Or they will try to move you to a location that is more beneficial to them and less to you. Which is the reason I will not move to another location. It is never to my benefit to do so.
    As for pride, I fell no need to prove myself to some lowlife scumbag by killing or injuring him, except to spare myself or others harm.
    Those who matter have never questioned and never will question my manhood.
    As for a” time of crises”, new rules apply. Under those circumstances the “protection of life and limb” rules apply to life or death necessities.

  11. This entire thread got me laughing. You’re mainly a bunch of, white, middle-aged, middle-class, over-weight, guys who are talking about whether it’s batter to knife fight or gun fight close in.

    I know this may be considered flaming and deserve deletion, but I just wanted to share the laugh.

    Isn’t there anyone among you who can appreciate that? Are you all too self-serious to do so? Step back for a second, it’s pretty funny when you think about it.

    • No, it’s not flaming. I think all of us, if we’re honest, occasionally look at the plans we make and the topics of our conversations (especially in “the real world” with people we know, who make judgements about us that we care about) and wonder “does this sound crazy?” or the like.

      I suppose the difference is that you would answer that question, yes, we’re crazy (and you’re entitled to your opinion), and many of us would say “no, it’s just the way we choose to think/plan.”

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