Defensive Gun Use of the Day: My Story


By Cranky Buddha

A couple of decades ago I ran a small bakery. It was a family business and the owner had a couple of locations around town. All the stores, except mine, were run by family members or people who had worked their way up from entry level positions. I was the only one with a background in restaurant management and with experience outside the family’s business. One of the first things I noticed was the poor cash handling practices . . .

The issue was that, based on my experience, we kept way too much cash available in the store — a major area of risk in such businesses. I mentioned it to the owner and he agreed, but drop safes were expensive and there would have been a certain level of lost productivity to make sure the pulls and drops of excess cash happened on a regular basis. These changes would happen, he assured me, but it would take some time.

Unfortunately, it took too long.

I was off the day the store was robbed and, fortunately, no was was seriously injured. But the whole staff was traumatized and my assistant manager had been treated roughly, though not seriously injured. She was shaken up enough, however, that she never could return to the store.

The insurance company reimbursed the owner for the lost cash but warned that unless the cash handling procedures were changed, they would not pay out again. The police warned that based on the amount of money the robber made off with he would be back. He also said that it could turn “ugly” if we changed the cash handling procedures.

I was already prepared to defend my home and family with a firearm if necessary and I asked the owner if he thought I should carry at the store as well. He agreed that it would be a good idea. His son already did so at one of the other locations. After discussing it for a while he even agreed to help me afford a handgun to carry as the rifle I owned for home defense would be less than ideal for the bakery.

It took about four weeks, but, like the officer had warned, the robber came back. I noticed him as he walked in, but since I hadn’t been there at the time of the robbery I wasn’t sure. One of the cashiers had been there, though, and the look on her face told me that she was quite sure. The fact that her whole body was shaking was another pretty good indication. As I walked to the front she gave the signal we had agreed to, erasing all doubt. At that signal, another coworker went to the back to call the police.

I stopped at the end of the counter away from the customers and employees and called the young man over asking firmly but politely if I could help him. As he was walking over to me I told him he looked familiar and asked if he had been in before. I also moved my apron to the side clearing access to the handgun I wore there. He saw it and stopped. He eased his hands out of his jacket pockets (wearing a jacket in the Texas heat is a dead giveaway that you are up to no good, by the way) and backed out of the store. We didn’t break eye contact until he backed through the door out of my field of view.

The dry cleaners two doors down was robbed a few minutes later. The police captured the culprit and it was the same man. He was convicted on multiple counts of armed robbery and assault. In a previous robbery he had beaten a victim so badly she had suffered permanent brain damage.

This incident occurred over twenty years ago and I can still remember most of it as clearly and vividly as if it were only a few days ago. Like most defensive gun uses, no shots were fired, no one was hurt and it wasn’t reported to law enforcement. The fact that I was armed and aware of who he was prevented the situation from escalating.  I don’t know for sure if a life was saved or injuries avoided. Without the brain array from Minority Report there’s no way to know that, but based on the guy’s history it seems a pretty safe assumption.

I pray I will never have to use a gun in self-defense or the defense of my family. I practice active awareness to try to identify and avoid dangerous situations. However, I also practice and train with a firearm so I can be as well prepared as possible should that need ever arise.

This post originally appeared at Notes From a Cranky Buddha and is reprinted here with permission.