Image courtesy Nick Leghorn for The Truth About Guns
Nick Leghorn for TTAG
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Image courtesy Nick Leghorn for The Truth About Guns
Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Ready Coffee Addict writes . . .

At age 25 I found myself out of a job, sitting in my one-bedroom apartment in San Diego, contemplating my options. I had come from Arizona five years earlier with my books and my clothes, in a beat up truck following a sales management position. The first place I landed was in Los Angeles, about five blocks from the Colosseum. It was the summer of ’84, the Olympics and traffic in full swing. I stayed for about a year until Richard Ramirez killed two people in one day . . .

The news media started calling him the “Night Stalker”, warning everyone to lock their doors and windows. It was the only thing on TV. I remember calling my dad and telling him I was buying a gun and moving to San Diego. I opted for the SIG P226, in 9mm and I packed my truck.

A couple of years went by, a couple thousand rounds went through the SIG. I did everything wrong by today’s standards; Weaver stance, tea-cupping, closing one eye…. I was cross-eye dominant so Weaver stance allowed me to cock my head over so I could sight with my left eye. I didn’t have a holster for it, just a small pistol bag with the spare mag. I loaded ball ammo for defense, not knowing the difference.

Still, I had fun and despite my numerous mistakes, I was pretty good. I practiced at “apartment distances” as my buddy suggested. I never had more than an extra box of ammo. The SIG lived under my headboard, within comforting reach of my hand. I had started waking up nights, listening to the dark and thinking about Ramirez. He was in the news again, his trial having ended with the death penalty.

It was a Wednesday, the day after I got fired. I wasn’t supposed to be home. I sat in my living room feeling sorry for myself, watching the TV on the kitchen counter. From the couch I could see past the TV into the bedroom where the curtains were blowing in the wind. I got up, irritated at myself for leaving the window open and letting the heat out.

As I came through the doorway, time slowed down to a crawl. I had time to notice the screen missing from the window. I had time to see the dirty hand prints on the sill. I saw the mess he had made from tossing my room. I wondered how he had climbed into a second story room without me hearing him.

I watched as he picked up a dumbbell from the floor and raised it over his head as he stepped towards me. I don’t remember being afraid as I charged him and hit him in the face. He must have dropped the dumbbell because we started trading blows. I gouged at his eye and kneed him in the groin. He hit me in the nose and it only made me madder.

I screamed with rage at him, head-butted him and choked him. I yelled for my neighbor to call the cops. He grabbed me by the shirt, but I couldn’t get any grip on him, he was only wearing shorts and he was bleeding from the face. I finally grabbed him by the hair and the throat and I dragged him to the front door.

But I couldn’t open the door.

I was unwilling to let go of him with either hand. He reached for the door handle about the same time as I wondered why I was letting him go. Could I get him to dial 911?

We tumbled out onto the front porch and struggled to get on top of each other. He ripped away from me and leaped over the balcony to the street below, landed running (!), leaving me with a clump of greasy black hair in my hand.

I threw up. I shook from adrenaline. I couldn’t unclench my victorious fist full of scalp. I sat slumped on the front porch, in shock, head between my knees, until the police arrived. Twenty minutes later.

I gave as good as I got. Later on I would find out he was seriously high on PCP. He never felt a thing. I don’t know how long the fight lasted, maybe three minutes, maybe less. It took everything I had just to end in a tie. It’s a fight I have seared into my memory and one I never want to have again. It’s been 26 years and I can still see the hand prints on the sill.

The SIG?

It was under the headboard where it always was, an angel dust junkie between it and me.

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76 COMMENTS

  1. Ramirez is an interesting lesson in what’s wrong with our criminal justice system today.

    Sentenced to death in 1989 for many murders, died of cancer 2013.

    • because the same democrat party thats directly responsible for the deaths of 60 million babies also wants to slow walk the death penalty for convicted murderers and child rapists
      whatevers going to happen to america next year…
      this will be one of the reasons why
      what cant continue…wont

      • You know they have exonerated over 160 people who were on death row (some posthumously)? All of them would have been posthumous if we didn’t have lengthy appeals processes.

        I’m all for an express train to execution for convicts- if we also execute the prosecutor if it later turns out the person was innocent. It’s only fair: a life for a life. You think any prosecutors are interested?

        • Yeah but the “innocence project” is flat out shady.

          They claim they get all these people off death row, problem is, most of them actually aren’t innocent, and that’s the truth.

          Here’s how the innocence project actually works:

          1. As noted, the appeals process can be drug out 30 or more years.

          2. After 30 years, evidence is long gone. People’s memories fade. Victims are forgotten. Witnesses die or don’t want to participate. Victims families just want to put it behind them. The original juror’s, judges, lawyers die or disappear/don’t remember things.

          3. Argue the original evidence was “tainted”, witnesses were lying, victims were to blame, original court was racist or over zealous.

          4. Get a new a trial where all previous evidence and testimony is expunged.

          5. Make the criminal look like the victim.

          6. Win and get the criminal freed or sentence reduced. The. Celebrate another successful reversal of America’s “racist broken justice system”.

        • Martha, and the thousands that did do what they were executed for? The system isn’t perfect. Never claimed to be. And yeah, mistakes are made. Except by you. So, we’ll appoint you judge. Except, if you turn Bundy loose and he kills again, you forfeit your life. In the exact same way he took his last victim. To the very last detail. Up for that?

        • Exoneration doesn’t mean innocent but way to gloss over the death of 60 million truly innocent humans and jump straight to the sympathy for convicted murderers.

        • no your not, innocence project is full of bs and so are you. worked cal prisons for 14 years , they are all pos

        • Problem is not the current system, but the current standard. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is perfectly reasonable to put a person in prison, including for life. For the death penalty, the standard should be “beyond any doubt”, and when applied should be carried out within the week.

        • The government kills people all the time. So what? They are called the police. If your sincere you should call for the police to be disarmed or defunded.

      • You just had to get your two cents worth in about abortion, didn’t you? What does abortion have to do with this article? Absolutely nothing. Life is not just about your stance on abortion. If this were an article about abortion then your statement would be relevant, but it is not about abortion so your statement is not relevant. So, now that you are finished with your statement, what was the article about?

      • All Democrats? Wow seems unbelievable. Pretty sure there were some Republicans and independents in there as well. I’m pretty sure I know plenty of law abiding citizens of all parties and I don’t pretend that all of society’s ills belong to just one party.

    • {Ramirez}

      “Sentenced to death in 1989 for many murders, died of cancer 2013.”

      Only consolation is that he likely died a painful cancer death, I doubt they float on morphine on the way out in prison…

    • I don’t know as far as stance. There are arguments to be made regarding whether or not you’re wearing body armor and what is the best part of your body to expose… but all in all… to me it comes down circumstances and what you are more comfortable with in those circumstances. Therefore, I train in multiple stnadardized stances and also much less conventional and even awkward stances which to me would be a more real life scenario rather than taking the time to position oneself in a life or death situation. What if you’re on the can? What if you’re sitting down? What if you’re laying down in bed spooning you’re woman? What movements do you need to make grabbing your weapon a mechanical reptilian response in your brain? That seems more practical to me. Stances are over rated unless you are already prepared for combat.

  2. As I read this (good story with a good lesson, btw), I found myself thinking “so what’s wrong with the Weaver stance?”

      • I would step out from behind cover to use an isosceles stance. Due to various injuries and surgeries, I no longer use anything but isosceles. Most officers now use it due to the armor they wear. Why expose the weak points of the body armor using Weaver when isosceles exposes the strongest points of the armor and offers better protection?

        • Body armor isn’t cover. And if someone’s plan is “I’ll present my body armor squarely and bet my life the bad guy will only aim for and hit me there, or all of his misses if aiming elsewhere will hit there” I recommend a new plan.

  3. California is a disturbing place. Ramirez isn’t the one I think of as the California stereotype. Rather, the serial killer guy who was a contestant on The Dating Game. The girl picked him over the other two bachelors, too.

      • Yes they said it. They wrote him love letters. And even he said they were strange to want to love him after what he did.

    • RGP,

      Actually, if you think about society 40 years ago, a serial killer had to be friendly/charming to operate for years without raising any suspicions. So it would come as no surprise that a Dating Game contestant chose a serial killer over two other bachelors.

      Note that I specifically qualified my previous paragraph 40 years in the past. Why? Because people in general and law enforcement rarely turned a blind-eye to obvious bad actors 40 years ago — unlike the last 12 years or so where both people and law enforcement refuse to act on obvious scumbags such as the person who attacked the high school in Parkland, Florida in 2018. (For the uninitiated, people contacted various law enforcement agencies dozens of times to report the attacker’s suspicious, dangerous, and/or criminal behavior.)

      • I was in high school 40 years ago. Back then somebody without manners was a lot more likely to end up with a flattened out nose in short order.

        • Same here. In hs 40 years ago if you acted an asshole you got a good old ass kicking. Was on both ends of that a few times. Needs to be revisited nowadays.

  4. It sounds like the author was in his physical prime (mid 20s?) when he engaged his home invader in hand-to-hand combat. Now imagine how much uglier the outcome would have been if the home invader had a knife, crowbar, or a handgun in hand?

    That also illustrates the importance of situational awareness. I am having a hard time imagining how a home invader manages to access a second-floor window, knock out the screen, climb inside, and begin rummaging around the room without the resident having any clue what was going on. Regardless of your physical conditioning or armed status, it is always far superior to know what is about to go down before it starts — or at the least as it is starting.

    • Makes one wonder how loud the TV was.
      Unlike the author, I was never in prime fighting shape, not even in my 20s.
      Also unlike the author, I have a dog who would have surely alerted me before he finished tearing the screen out.

      But the point remains the same.
      Where do you need a PDW? Wherever you might need to defend your person.
      Where might that be? Anywhere your person ever goes.

      • Who was it that said –

        “Where you feel most safe, is where you’re most vulnerable”?

        • Don’t know who said it but I agree. Most people are oblivious when in their own home, car workplace

  5. I think the author made the point quite clearly. Why do you need a gun? Why do you need 10 plus round magazines (PCP), why do you need a gun on you at all times? Check. Check. Check.

  6. Um … I use the Weaver stance, because I also am cross-eye dominant. I guess I’m “wrong” but I’m not gonna stop. I’m too good of a shot using that stance.

    • Rhetorical question: How do you use the Weaver(or any other stance) when you’re flat on your back? Hmm? Point here is that there are no rules in a gunfight. You do whatever you need to do to survive.

    • JB,

      With on that. Do that which works. I’ve discovered my shot placement improves when I switch from isosceles to a modified Weaver stance. Still working on shooting while moving and shooting from cover. Getting pretty good at one-handed with my strong hand. One-handed with my weak hand is still, well, weak.

  7. Gee that story was no good, I was reading along. He bought a gunm and was sitting there contemplating his options. I thought he was going to tell us about killing himself.

  8. Quite the tail…I got my 1st gat some 10 years ago. Traveled all over Chicagoland completely unarmed except I was a big bodybuilder who previously competed in weightlifting. Got into some “scuffles” with large men of a dark complexion. Won out…now I’m old & not real agile. My wife used to make sport of me for always carrying a gun at home. Not now! Especially if she’s alone she carries her loaded gat. I hate the reality we live in but that’s the breaks. Better to have it not need it😏

  9. It may be only an NAA Mini-Revolver, but it hangs on my neck at all times around my neck at home. (It’s on a hook next to the shower when I’m showering, in reach…)

    • Possum,

      Good of you to provide clear instruction for the criminal class. I hope they appreciate your thoughtfulness and courtesy!!

  10. Never had a home invasion but when I lived in CA a crackhead tried to open my door and was met with some universal language. Homie ran that 4 40 quicker than an NFL player.

    What comes to mind now days though is the whole “brandishing” bullshit. With all the riots we have seen “brandishing” as a useful deterrent in numerous cases – some more popular and also largely controversial for the lack of professionalism in exerting said brandishing, but still a deterrent none the less. I could not imagine living in the suburbs or even a decently spread out neighborhood only to have a bunch of entitled assholes think my property belongs to them… I am not sure I could refrain from dropping some bodies as warnings to those in the future. That said… I live on some acres now, and nobody would ever know. Same goes for a home invader.

    • Brandishing works, otherwise police wouldn’t routinely wave their pistols around.

      The thing is- you and I aren’t allowed allowed to even display and indicate that we are willing to use a firearm (let alone point one at someone) until things have already escalated to the point that lethal force is justified.

      Why can’t the law just apply a situational reasonableness standard to brandishing by private citizens?

      • Exactly. The FUDDS on this site criticized all those who did so during 2020’s chaos, and I simply saw it as a reason to change the laws that only exist to fuck us in the first place. Our government is far beyond our control, and 2020 should be a wake up call to every gun owner who thinks the second amendment exists for their “self defense”. How selfish and complacent we have become.

        • I have a feeling most, not all of course, but most of the people arguing that narrative were concern trolls.

          Also notice the trolling here has declined exponentially lately. The only one left after all the election money ran out is miner. I guess he’s the one sucker they get to do it for free.

        • Montana, we don’t have brandishing here. It’s called “Improper Exhibition of a Deadly Weapon.” Never used that statute even once. Not once. If you were justified, you got an atta boy. If not, you got “Aggravated Assault With A Deadly Weapon.” Why have a pussy charge in between?

        • Well, TTAG, bye. Never read the ads. Neither does anyone else. Possum, give you a call tomorrow. Send a pic of the grouper.

        • Geez Mr Flag I’m sorry I ever used the fudd moniker…I’ve been around here approx 7 years. JWM & I had a particularly vile troll. I hear The Firearm Blog is looking for followers😏

        • Gadsden,

          I read the ads that interest me.

          Sorry to see you go. I have learned a thing or two or three from your posts.

        • Montana Actual,

          With you on the government being far beyond our control. The 2A is one of the left’s (New World Order, CCP Takeover, Great Reset, Deep State, other) biggest fears.

          Not sure of what you mean by ‘selfish’. The right in our country is one of the most generous populations on the planet.

          Regarding complacency, you have a point, but that is changing. There were more than a million of us at the Million Maga March in DC mid-Nov. A couple of weeks later, several hundred thousand of us showed up. Here in PA, we have been at the Capitol almost every weekend since. Not complacent, active, loud, noticed.

          I remain convinced that we are waking up (and that the ‘woke’ left is living in an hypnotic state).

          BTW, I always read your posts; I like your perspective.

      • Most of you know I carry in a Sneaky Pete. Concealed, but OWB. LEOs always recognize it. So do other gun folk. So do some non-gun folk. One nice feature is, that you can place your hand on the holster, thumb touching the bottom edge of the flap. Anyone threatening you will immediately understand you are armed and ready, buy you have not brandished.

        I practice this movement in front of a mirror to make sure it is casual, relaxed, but unmistakable. I have not had occasion to use it, but if that time comes, it will be convincing.

        BTW, I am looking forward to conceding the election in favor of DJT.

        • “I practice this movement in front of a mirror”

          If you aren’t saying, “You talkin’ to me?” then you’re doing it wrong.

  11. well, you should feel good about it, you beat the shit out of a perp on angel dust and ejected him from your home. it could have gone bad, but it didn’t, so good job!

  12. Imagine some poor CA methhead, breaks into an empty apartment with Bruce Lee pictures on the walls, then the guy who’s in the pics with Bruce jumps in the window, says he’s going to beat the shit out of you, and starts chasing you around the apartment. And after you get out of the hospital, you get two years for B&E and robbery.

    Jump to 3:40 if impatient.

  13. That is why you should to train Judo/BJJ. As quite good at both (ikkyu/purple), I know from competing against inexperienced guys who look like Arnie but lack skills, that I can euthanize 99%+ plus men with my bare hands under 90secs. Assuming we are in grip fighting range. For other scenarios I have guns too :).

    • If anyone’s wondering, that’s^^^ a different Dude, although I’m a lifelong martial arts enthusiast, and first start training in Judo and TKD over 30 years ago and BJJ about 14 years ago.

  14. Violent place San Diego back in that time. For me it was a drug killing across the street, stray shotgun pellets hitting the apartment wall over our heads.

    I’d left San Diego about five years earlier to return to Arizona. My only handgun in San Diego was my Harrington & Richardson model 649 six shot .22. It resided under my pillow, the .22 WMR cylinder and a full load in it. Never had to use it at home.

    Under the bed was my Newhaven 600AT, a K-Mart branding of the Mossy 500. A 28″ barrel and loaded with bird shot, but hose apartments are small. Had it ever been used for self defense at those short distances the shot column would have made an awful mess of

    So one evening happen to have my mother and a brother visiting and suddenly there’s a woman screaming and then the sounds of shotgun blasts and thuds outside against the wall. I yelled for everyone to get down on the floor and ran to the bedroom for my H&R. Didn’t think of the shotgun. So I’m laying on the floor with my .22 WMR revolver on the phone to 911 hearing the continuing screams, and then a couple more blasts. Realized it was the apartments across the street.

    911 was no big inspiration, “All lines are busy please hold”.

    The news reported it as a drug dealer assassination gone wrong. The killers got the instructions wrong. They went to the top of the stairs and instead of turning right to the target’s apartment, they turned left. They blasted open the door to a family’s apartment. The husband was out on the balcony grilling on a small charcoal grill and his wife and mother in law ware there along with two kids. They blew him off the balcony.

    Then suddenly realized they had the wrong apartment. Even so the final two blasts were because he was still moving a little. No one else was physically harmed.

    Fully three weeks went by and I received a post card from the San Diego PD. Thanked me for my call, sorry they couldn’t answer it at the time and if I still needed assistance to please call again.

    Think about such things in your own home security. For example, sure I have good deadbolts in sturdy doors and frames, long screws deep into solid wood. Even reinforcing plates. But I can and do also bar the doors at night. It’s cheap and can be done very simply, conveniently.

    Any determined aggressor can get into your home. The point of hardening is to make it take them longer, force them to expend time, effort and make noise doing so. That way you, as your primary means of defense, will have time to react and prepare. Also to give the police time to get there.

    Apartments are harder to protect than houses. You have less freedom to drill holes and such. You can still do all that just be willing to pay if the management finds “damage” you when you move out.

  15. I use weaver or modified weaver.

    Sometimes, I even shoot I one handed because I might need the off hand to do something important.

    Glad it turned out okay. Home carry became a thing for me when 9 started pocket carrying in the early 90s.

    Back then it was 38 snub…now it’s a snub or an LCP

        • While the thugs, crim’s and gang bangers being off’d is a good thing. More importantly the ones supporting/allowing them need to go i.e. Pols, judges, lawyers and soft hearted Libs who worry more about criminal justice reform than the victims. These people /s are as much a part of the problem as the criminals.

  16. If you shot and killed him you would have carried a lot of legal baggage. Cops would probably questioned you and confiscated the SIG. The DA would of looked for a crime you committed in either owning the gun or using it. Dead dude’s family would next sue you for killing their honor student. Your name would be in the media so good luck on getting a job.
    Today you’d be internet fodder for the rest of your life. Various groups would condemn you and dox you. The magazine capacity would open you up to more problems with the DA.

    Be glad he left without your stuff or killing you. I would have left SD after that so he didn’t come back with drug friends looking for revenge.

    Being armed only saves your life, maybe. Other crap soon follows.

    • Chicago armed robbery thwarted as gun owner with concealed-carry permit kills suspect: report | Fox News
      Police confiscate permit holders firearm. For further investigation. The hustle I mean hassle begins.

  17. Your kind of situation is why the folks, who say racking a shotgun will scare invaders, are fools. I try to carry as often as possible. Around the house as well. It’s good practice. When I was a new owner it still scared the crap out of me. Had no confidence I wouldn’t do something stupid. I kept the Glock in a linen cabinet without a mag. One night I heard someone walk into my home, parked himself in front of the couch. I thought it was my son. Looked out and it was not. It was the Mike Brown era and everyone was on edge with the violence happening around the nation. I retrieved the gun, inserted the mag and asked why he was in my home uninvited. He started stuttering when he saw the gun. When I pointed it at him, I’ve never seen anyone run so fast. My finger never entered the trigger guard. No shots had to be fired. At that point I realized I could trust myself and started carrying with the chamber loaded.

  18. I’m glad this conservative native left California decades ago. The Mulford Act is a racist stain on that state. And don’t even talk to me about former Gov Reagan. Unless you want talk about the racist democrat lawmakers, Jewish, the “pink hand”, etc, who co-wrote and later supported it. And refused to repeal it when they were asked.

    I open carry in Kentucky and Tennessee. It takes about ten minutes to buy a gun here. And you walk out the door, no waiting period.

    California is a slave state.

    • btw
      In the south, they don’t tell what you can and can’t do in your bedroom. But the California the government is in your bedroom and every other room in their house.

  19. Well, Well, If you had the sense to leave California, good for you, you must have some brain cells left over. This state giving benefits to illegal aliens and wondering why 40 Billion in debt? Calif has screwed it’s actual citizens in pursuit of a liberal utopia. One problem, you eventually run out of other peoples money. Yes, those people and businesses who are fleeing California for free states. Perhaps they have a vision into the future and it looked like homeless scumbags crapping one their door step.

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