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By gun guru John Farnham [via]: “My wife and I were departing a Starbucks drive-through yesterday,” a student writes. “I was driving. Our driver’s-side window remained lowered as we exited and approached the adjoining road. We paused at the stop sign and waited for an opportunity to pull into the near traffic lane.

As we sat there, the driver from a vehicle parked off to the side suddenly exited and started walking briskly toward me. As he got close, he put his hand up and started to say something, obviously trying to garner my attention..

Per my training, my support-side hand went up immediately, and I said in a loud and emphatic voice:

“Sorry sir. I can’t help you.”

He was visibly irritated that I didn’t let him complete his sentence, but he correctly interpreted my hand gesture and stopped in his tracks. My wife, in the passenger seat (also a DTI student), had her head up, instantly knew what was happening, and her hand was on her concealed pistol (within her GTM handbag) without delay.

At the next traffic window, she said to me “go now,” and I knew exactly what she meant.

I pulled forward into traffic, and we were on our way, none the worse for wear! I was pleased that we were able to disengage quickly, and then abruptly separate without the encounter having an opportunity to escalate.

No guns blandished. No one hurt, except maybe some feelings. The whole thing was over in less than ten seconds, and hardly even qualifies as an ‘incident,’ but only because we were alert, prepared, and knew what to do!”

When someone precipitously changes directions and moves toward you, or moves in your direction the moment he notices you, that is a real danger sign!

For one, I’ve noticed drive-through exits are often places where no-goods like to loiter. They’re looking for people with money in their hands and who are simultaneously not paying attention.

The criminal world has obviously identified these areas a vulnerable choke-points.

As we see, alertness and preparation are the keys to continued good health!

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: 

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  1. “Discretion is the better part of valor”
    Don’t remember where I heard that, but has served me well over the years by just not reacting to a-holes or being one myself

    • It is a modern rephrasing of the passage from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, where Falstaff (having played dead on the battlefield) says: “The better part of Valour, is Discretion; in the which better part, I have saved my life.”

  2. Yeah, worst that can happen is you wonder where that other jumbo drink disappeared to and where all that syrupy crap came from all over the paint. Just don’t be shooting anyone if you don’t have better than that. I am seriously doubting there are drive thru gangs attacking people looking for dinner, that sounds more than a bit paranoid.

    • A friend of mines son was car jacked last November as he was pull ing away from fast food. Numerous shootings in the drive thru as well, almost common in Detroit.

    • Cuz living is kinda sorta better than dying a stupid death.

      He doesn’t owe that guy anything anyway.

      If he bumped the guy’s car without noticing, cops would be coming with a warrant after the hit and run.

    • Sounds to me like you’re living up to your name. And living with your head in a cloud of “Doesn’t happen to me/around here.”

    • Where you there?

      I’ve routinely kicked out loiterers and transients from parking lot drives-thru areas. If the aren’t a paying customer with legitimate business, they don’t need to be there. If it was your business, you’d likely want the same.

      I’ve asked businesses if they want me to escort people out, and if so, I’ve done it. LA has a huge transient problem. I support legitimate efforts to help, such as the LA Union Rescue Mission. But if you give out cash, you’re likely supporting someone’s meth / alcohol / marijuana / crack / tobacco habit.

      My $.02 from roughly 10,000 homeless / transient / trespasser / scam artist contacts in the LA Metro area since 2001. Maybe he was being rude regarding a legitimate contact, or maybe he just didn’t have time for a scam.

      • I agree up to a point, then, unless you’re in LA/Oakland/NYC or somewhere similarly dicey, the reaction, with the provided context, was a bit over the top.

        Were we in a sketchy part of town?
        Guy exited from a parked car – nice car, clean car, flat tire car, hood up?
        Was the guy dirty, unwashed, did he look like he belonged to the car, was he friendly in his approach, was he too friendly, did he look to be carrying/concealing a weapon, was something “off” about him?

        Mr Instructor asked none of these basic questions (at least in the article) though it surely sounds like he never asked them in the first place. His choice, but it seems like a rather shitty and unfriendly way to go through life

        • “did he look like he belonged to the car”

          Wow, did that bring it back! On our honeymoon, 49 years ago, the bride and I picked up a guy who was hitching a ride from his disabled car, out in the middle of nowhere. No doubt needed to get to a phone to get some help. Except it turned out it was *not* his car, and he wanted to go where we were going without even knowing where that was! Hey, I was young and stupid, but not THAT stupid! Right in the center of the next town, lots of people everywhere and my hand on a loaded Python, I stopped the car and ordered him out. He refused twice, until I pointed out that we were stopped blocking an intersection, the cops would be here pretty quick, and he disappeared.

          IIRC, he *did* look like he belonged to the car, which was parked beside the road with the hood up, and I would have never stopped had I realized he was in the middle of nowhere, on foot, with no destination. And that was back in the day when hitchhiking was very normal.

        • I agree that he didn’t do a good job articulating why exactly he thought the character was shady. With that said, a lot of people are completely missing the greater point. Many predators approach people with a ruse in order to commit a crime. That may be something as simple as holding a gas can with a story about needing gas money. It could be as dangerous as closing the distance to commit an armed robbery, carjacking, or worse. I’ve seen and investigated those.

          A little suspicion and ability to GTFO is incredibly useful.

          Personally, I do help people on duty (required to) and off. I’m armed all the time, regularly lift weights, and I have experience with hand to hand fighting. I’m less vulnerable than some people, so my risk in helping is less. I wouldn’t expect a female who is 5’4″ and 120 pounds to do the same things I do. Example: I pushed a stalled pickup off of the I-55 S/B Chapman off ramp that was blocking the lane a week ago. I pretty regularly help push cars and give people water. I’ve even used my own personal AAA to call them assistance.

          It’s perfectly fine for others to evaluate risk vs. gain / desire to help. If someone is pinging your scam radar (which some people don’t have), then adjust your actions accordingly. I’ve handed food and water to homeless and disheveled people but I don’t directly give them cash.

          I’ll help strangers but I don’t trust them. My desire to help is greater than most, but I’ll GTFO if I perceive the need.

        • Situational awareness counts. One morning about 4:00AM I pulled out of my neighborhood only to find a van parked in the shadows. The hood was up and a guy in a cowboy hat and long coat (honestly the guy looked like a specter out of horror movie) was gesturing at me to stop. Think I stopped? Another time I was exiting a carry-out pizza-joint and a guy asked me to jump-start his truck. Not seeing his truck I asked where it was. When he said it was three blocks away, I said no thinks (not on your life buddy . . .). On the other hand, the guy and his family who were stuck in the parking-lot of my favorite Mexican restaurant were folks that I was happy to help. But then, this is Texas and jumper-cables are a staple of life.

        • Gents, I agree with you. I was not advocating that they should do something that he/they felt was risky, no problem with that.

          I just want to hear why this seemed like the appropriate response – because I’ve had hundreds of people walk up to my car and talk to me over the decades, and the only sketchy ones were immediately obviously sketchy.

          Situational awareness…

  3. He was probably going to tell you one of your tires was low. Or you had dropped your credit card at Starbucks. I’ve had very nice people approach me to let me know something was amiss, which they may not do for the next person if I’m all barking out do-not-approach orders at them. Seriously??? Gun gurus…the freaking scenarios you dream up in your heads.

    • I’m guessing he’s not from the South.

      Granted, I would have been ready to hit the gas just in case, but I would have let the guy get his words out at least.

    • Be polite. Be courteous. Be professional. And have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

      That said, having a plan doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it. Most likely the guy approaching the car meant no harm at all. Be polite, courteous, and professional first. Otherwise people will think all gun owners are paranoid maroons like these folks.

  4. I ran up to the window of the lady in the car in front of me at a stoplight about two years ago. Good thing she wasn’t DTI trained or she wouldn’t have found out she had smoke and flames coming from her rear wheel.

    Pesky parking brakes.

  5. What a dick.

    And that’s just for “blandishing”. Don’t get me started on your behavior towards a fellow human being who may have needed help or may have been about to help you.

  6. I’ve gotten more cautious myself about letting strangers approach me on the street. Maybe it’s because there are so many panhandlers and mentally ill people out there these days. I won’t try to second guess this couple. They were there and I wasn’t. if your intuition sends you a warning message, I see nothing wrong with holding up your hand and speaking politely but firmly.

    • An alternative and more hospitable version of this procedure, if you had any doubts about danger, would be to put up your hand and say something like “Whoa, sir. Stop right there, please.” If he stops, then “Thank you. What can I do for you?”

      If he doesn’t stop, hit the gas.

      • This. Staying left of bang doesn’t mean you have to ignore everyone. I’ll give this dude the benifit of the doubt though. However, if your baseline is being disrupted define what’s doing it and how and take appropriate precautions. What’s missing from this story is how far out the baseline was this other guy stepping. That’s where a request of your own can come in handy. If the request is honored immediately, the individual generally is coming to you in good faith. If request is ignored (what’s your name, stay back a bit, wait over there) Then you know that person has no intention of honest dealings violent or not…

    • I admit that I’m more wary than I used to be. But, since I live in Texas, life here (at least where I live, anyway) is not quite as, shall we say “acute”, as it is in other parts of the country. For the most part we’re still reasonably civil to each other. Hell, even the pan-handlers usually take no for an answer. But that’s life in Texas. Except for Austin, of course.

  7. groan. i doubt the event actually transpired with the support side arm training and the gun purse clutching. sheesh.
    this pair of femwees would be unable to come to a complete stop in chicago…
    besides, “unable to help” is a lie. the corner workers know what “no” means.

  8. Everytime I read these kind of “almost had to draw” stories I just shake my head and wonder how these type of gun owners get through the day being as paranoid as they are. What are you afraid of? Don’t get me wrong, I conceal carry also but not on a daily basis. I dont go through life afraid of my own shadow. The guy in the other car probably needed help and you just drive away thinking the worst. What goes around comes around.

    • I’m not gonna justify the guy in the story. But every time someone says there’s something wrong with paranoia, I disagree. No one in the world can gauge all situations accurately. So do you err on the side of caution or mindless kindness?

      “The guy in the other car probably needed help” So what? You owe him something? No you don’t. Helping is good. But not offering free labour and time is a given. You pay an asinine amount of taxes, earned by your sweat, tear, blood and time that could’ve been spent with family. You obey stupid laws everyday. You’ve done enough, don’t be a masochist.

      No one owes anyone anything just by living. I wouldn’t blame anyone that I don’t pay or plan to pay back for minding their own business.

  9. Trust me, chances are the guy wanted to ask directions, or ask for money way more than he wanted to harm you from inside your vehicle. Look, I get that there are homeless, druggies, and other shady people in the world, but that shouldnt be your first response shouldnt need to be to go for your gun. This past year I have used Seattle’s public transport through downtown, and count three times I was even somewhat concerned. Your gun is your nuclear option. As the old saying goes: If you only have a hammer, every problem is a nail.

  10. I generally look extremely cranky if someone starts to approach me in a strange situation. The look alone has stopped many a panhandler. Not to mention I had more than a dirty look to offer if they wanted to get forceful. Yeah this approach has probably gotten a few people turned off before even speaking to me but oh well. Long story short, don’t look like an easy target and that alone can get you out of confrontations.

  11. Gun “gurus” make a living off of selling paranoia. There was literally a one in a million chance of being shot by the guy, a 4 out of 5 chance he was asking for money, and a 1 in 5 chance he needed help or was offering help.

  12. Initial mistake was to begin driving with a window down. Locked doors and closed windows are your friends. To get to you, a bad guy has to break in. That leaves evidence to support your claim of self defense. In this case, I would have let the guy speak his piece through no more than a couple of inches of open window.

    I used to work on the edge of a bad area. One afternoon as I was leaving, a tall, slender, black guy in his twenties approached my car on foot with the opening words, “Don’t be afraid.” I listened to him through the barely opened window with the doors locked, the car in gear, left foot on the brake and the right hovering over the accelerator pedal. He had a story about having rented a car in the next city, fifty miles away. The car had broken down and the rental agency expected him to pay the towing bill to return the car. Maybe he was too dumb to realize the rental car company was trying to take advantage of him. Maybe he was an unarmed, would be carjacker trying to trick me into opening a door or window. Whatever he was, I knew I couldn’t help him. I told him that his story didn’t match any rental car experience I ever had, that he should read his contract in detail and, if he couldn’t figure out what to do, to call the police for assistance. Then, I left.

    • To add to the above, the wife of one of my colleagues dropped him off before driving to her job and picked him up again after work. A couple of times, as she waited at a red light, homeless guys tried to open a door and climb in. Fortunately for her, the car was new enough to have door locks that engaged automatically when it started moving.

    • I was thinking if the author avoided a ‘situation’, it was “I have a new job in another town and I need you to give me $40 for gas to get there and become a productive citizen”. (patently untrue, of course, but you can’t panhandle without a story)

  13. Left of Bang by Patrick Van Horn & Jason Riley, a faster car (I recommend the WRX but that’s just me) and tinted windows UP before leaving.

    Oh, and if you gotta crack the windows, as you leave the drive through BLAST this, it scares off everyone (plus it’s twangy enough to get your foot a tappin!):

    • Banjo has made quite a comeback lately, actually. It’s gone hipster, I’m told.

      Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the like are a regular part of the music rotation in my Dad’s car, and always have been. I’ve got everything from metal to classical on my car iPod, and I’ve always got some bluegrass to unleash if the mood strikes me, or the tactical need arises.

      Every year lately, my dad and I and the rest of the guys in my family, brothers-in-law included, pile into a big RV and do a road trip to a bluegrass festival. The wives all stay home. This year was Gettysburg. It’s a few days of eating steaks and barbecue cooked on a Big Green Egg, sipping Jameson, and relaxing in a lawn chair while listening to the likes of Rhonda Vincent and a lot of other great bluegrass bands. Not a bad way to unwind.

    • I’ve lived in Florida my entire life (born here), but the entire rest of my family going back 250+ years is from northeastern KY, WV, and (before WV existed) VA, all within about 75 miles of where they still reside.

      Listening to this music gets my foot tapping, and gives me a feeling in my chest that if expressed, would come out as a whoop, possibly even a “Yeehaw!” It’s an almost irresistible urge.

  14. If you drive up to Starbucks, home of the Hillary-loving, gun-hating CEO, you get what you deserve.

    Usually, that’s just over-priced, over-roasted bilge water, but sometimes its a mugging.

    If you’re mugged before you drink the coffee, I’m thinking that you’re getting away easy.

    • I don’t get this Starbuck’s hate. All coffee is bildgewater. When I used to stand the mismatch I would bring a six pack of Coke. More caffine and it tastes good.

      • Sugar dude, is a problem. An absolute metabolism killer. Look in the shopping cart of any round man or woman in your grocery store. Full of sugary junk. Ask the two resident OFW Cranks, Cali-Zim and Illini-Zim. Recovery from decades of regular sugar use is almost impossible, even rucking around 30 pounds of rice in a military ruck sack daily. I’ll shut up so the Zim brothers can go take their Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia meds. And don’t forget the Abilify. And Seroquel.

        • +20.

          If it ain’t fruit (or my weekly 20oz of cheating) fuck sugar.

          Also, all you grey guys need to get your shit together. TTAG is turning into a Nork propaganda video with all this grey!

      • Dann autocorrect. mid watch.

        My A1c levels are nice and normal. My BMI says I’m overweight but my body fat is less than 15% which is damn good for a 66 year old.

    • As soon as I read Starbucks, I thought another gun guy hypocrite. Do NOT patronize businesses that don’t support our rights!!!

  15. People pretending to need help is unfortunately now a very common ruse to rob and/or kill. Much too often a news report that someone was killed and then robbed by people feining a broken down car have become common. Used to stop and help, no more. Most recent incident was a guy who towed two 17 year old kids out of a ditch, one male, one female. His thanks? They KILLED and the robbed him! Scum like this makes you think twice and err on the side of caution.

  16. Has to be satire.

    Or, maybe, some anti-gunner trying to slip in a story that makes gunowners look stupid.

    The link (it says to ammoland) goes to a story about fantasy camps at the nssf site.

  17. I had someone try and approach me in a rest-stop parking lot at 3am once when I was trying to put my motorcycle helmet on… quite possible that he was actually just out of money for gas but I’m afraid someone will have to wait until at least daylight for me to be in a helping mood.

  18. Maybe there was something about the guy or his car’s appearance that spooked them. You know, maybe he didn’t look like them.

  19. I helped a guy in the parking lot of Home Depot. He was trying to load a piece of sheet rock on a cart but he couldn’t get more than the corner on because the cart started to roll when he would push to slide the board on. I approached without declaring my intentions and held the cart steady so he could get it loaded. He thanked me, we parted ways and I basked in the satisfaction of a good deed done. Thank goodness he wasn’t a paranoid civilian with his edc looking for a threat in the wrong place or I might be dead as disco. Don’t get me wrong, I love guns and the right to own them and carry them. But people need to train their situational awareness instead of just assuming the worst from everyone. That’s how a prick like in the above story is going to accidentally kill an innocent. Maybe there was some context left out of the story, like the guy was behaving and moving erratically, had no shirt and it was 1 AM in a bad part of town? Otherwise I think he is just a dick.

  20. The guy in this story is a douche and a half. The dude probably just wanted to tell you your gas cap was open or something. Way to be a white collar warrior, I know I’ll sleep better knowing that you’re out there keeping the perps that hang near the Starbucks at bay with your authoritative voice and your edc. Probably a made up story to tell your buddies that are also scared of all strangers, which amplifies your douchiness exponentially.

  21. I was walking into a grocery store, with my daughter (who also carries and has gone through advanced defensive and tactical training like myself), when we were approached by some possible gang members. They all were wearing “colors” which we learned from training indicates a gang involvement. We kept our hands near our concealed weapons, I carrying my 1911 with two extra mags, and she carrying a XD with extra mags. I also had a Shield in an ankle holster. We took each other’s six and made a tactical move into the store. Later when we departed, we noticed they were still there, so we took an evasive route back to our vehicle. As were getting into our car, another individual stated the gang had come to him and asked him if he was willing to buy some cookies. They took him for $6.00, he looked a bit shaken up. It appears this is a new female only gang, using a ploy. They all had “GS” logos on hats and shirts. My daughter and I did a debrief at a local Panera’s to self critique.

  22. I agree with a lot of the comments.

    This story is just that, an over inflated story told like a long medieval tale.
    None of the beginning of the story showed any signs of danger, it could even have been as simple as a seat belt hanging out of a door or the guy needed a jump start, or even directions. But we’ll never know.
    These are the tales that make gun owners look terrible.

    The last thing you want to share with people who are gun skeptical is that “as the guy I didn’t know approached me, i cocked my revolver and had it pointed at his guts in anticipation of blowing him away!!!!”

    Relax Rambo.

  23. And then 100 yards down the road you figured out what he was going to tell you when you hear and feel the rim grinding on the pavement from a flat tire.

    lol at this account.

  24. this story has many classic mall ninja themes, including a visit to Starbucks and a comically over the top response to a benign situation. If I pulled a gun on every poor slob whose ever come up to me to ask for money I’d have a body count to rival Chairman Mao’s.

  25. “Per my training, my support-side hand went up immediately, and I said in a loud and emphatic voice:

    “Sorry sir. I can’t help you.”

    I’m not sure what the problem is. He said what he felt he needed to and with traffic on the street, he said it loud enough to be heard over traffic noise. We don’t know how close the person was to the vehicle, but I’m sure we all know about the 21 foot rule.

    So, take this lesson as a LESSON. Discuss, chew on it, think about what you would do. But this situation could have a multitude of minor variances that could change how YOU would react from scenario to scenario.

    Something that I didn’t see anyone comment is that if the person approaching was far enough away, the driver’s window could have been rolled up. That possible could have caused the man approaching to give up on whatever he was planning on saying or doing.

  26. The man who approached the car was probably just a panhandler.

    Still, some of you people are incredibly naive about the world, judging from the comments here. Yes, it was probably(almost certainly) just a panhandler. But this is also how street robberies often start, with an approach and a request for money, a cigarette, directions, etc. Predators, whether human or animal, are virtually the same. They wait until they are as close to their prey as possible before they spring their attack. The person you think is a beggar could really be a predator approaching you for an easy mark.

    The article writer did the wise thing. The answer on the street is always “no”. Don’t be nice. Stop the encounter before it starts.

    If you have never read Street Robberies and You – The Basics, then here is a link.

    “The OP’s post mirrored exactly what happened in almost exact detail the two times in my life I have drawn a loaded handgun on another person. I was lucky enough to have heard similar things before. If I had not I would have likely been robbed at best. One was the “can I have a cigarette?” request while he closed distance and the other one approached me at a gas station for “change to fill the tires in his bike”. In my case I was lucky enough that they broke contact immediately in both instances, in one of them apologizing while they backed off exactly as described.” -AKengineer

  27. “The whole thing was over in less than ten seconds, and hardly even qualifies as an ‘incident,’ but only because we were alert, prepared, and knew what to do!”
    And there’s the really sad part of this story. Farmer seems to actually believe that he stopped some kind of crime in progress.
    There is a solid lesson on disengagement here, but it’s from the other side of the story. It’s from the guy who got out of his car, got yelled at and might have seen Farmer’s wife go for her gun. The fact that that guy stopped in his tracks and chose not to press his luck with what probably appeared to be a delusional couple might have saved his life.
    I fear that the next time we hear from Farmer it will be from behind bars after he’s shot a teenage boy trying to sell magazines on his porch.

  28. So to be a “not paranoid”, nice guy, I need to possibly endager the life of my wife? Would it be worth the risk? No, sez I.

  29. ENGAGE ! ! ! Engage I say! Or Retreat to the patch of ground you will bear your bones to time, on.

    Make the world fear you and people play nice. Either way, make them think it’ll cost them everything.

    Don’t have to take my word for it, go back and take High School Latin, and read Cesare’s “Commentarii De Bellico Gallico” [Pax Romana through widespread opened cans of whoopass] wherein Cesare codified that portion of human nature that needed to be commanded to obtain “peace”.

    Cesare had to conquer England twice, due to the wild nature of the inhabitants lack of a recording of their even being an invasion. Cesar went back and said ‘Welcome me as your conqueror’ and England (whom Cesare said had very good chariots). Cesare then said that it took TWO GENERATIONS (8 YEARS – 2 X 4 YEARS PER GENERATION) of occupation for an conquered/occupied nation to hatch enough generations to even adequately record the event [REMEMBER THAT YOU “HEY LET’S PULL OUT OF AFGHANISTAN / WHY ARE WE IN IRAQ SO LONG? – aholes”].

    If people are aggressing you, it’s only because you didn’t provide adequate motivation to make them turn and run the other way.

    • First, a quote: “They rob, kill and plunder all under the deceiving name of Roman Rule. They make a desert and call it peace” Tacitus

      The reason why we should leave Afghanistan and Iraq is because we are not going to do what the Romans would do, which is destroy completely, without restraint. And you know what? That’s good, because the U.S. is better than that and it would betray the ideals upon which this country was founded.

      • “we are not going to do what the Romans would do, which is destroy completely, without restraint. ”
        This is about as far away from historically correct as it could be. The Romans conquered and killed, but they then included the conquered in the political and military process, taxed them and demanded tribute, and then built infrastructure throughout the conquered lands for the benefit of all. They essentially made the conquered lands Roman, and that’s what made them so powerful. They often took care to not destroy everything and kill everyone, because they wanted more soldiers and more stuff.

        • the Romans in their prime were able to change cultures, permanently. often for the better, when technology transfer, rule of law, and infrastructure is taken into accout.

  30. windows and door locks are first line of defense/warning.

    just like at home.

    you immediately know that someone breaking in or attempting to so so is a threat.


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