Episode 177 with Andee Reardon O’Brion


Rob- Welcome to episode 177 of Self-Defense Gun Stories. Perhaps you’re well trained, or maybe you’re only curious about self-defense. I’m Rob Morse and I’m glad you found us today. We’re joined this week by self-defense instructor Andee Reardon O’Brion. Andee, I hope you had a Merry Christmas. I see that you and Bob have been very busy.

Andee- Hi, Rob.  I hope all our listeners had a great Christmas! I enjoy watching people give firearm and self defense classes to their loved ones! I also enjoy people using the holidays for an opportunity to gather friends and family for an opportunity to learn how to protect themselves and their families. Bob, my target dummy, is a big hit with the ladies. I’ve been taking him to a lot of self defense classes lately. 

Rob- We were popular with our audience. We received eight more ratings and nine more comments on iTunes (120/72). We’ve never received that much feedback in one week, so thank you our new and to our old listeners. 

Andee- We’ll talk about recent examples where gun owners were in a life threatening situation. Were they lucky, or did they have a plan? What should we do if we were in their place? We give you the links back to the original news article in our show notes. Our first story took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rob- First story- Are you armed as you drive at work?

You work as a package delivery driver. It is a week before Christmas and you are very busy. At seven in the evening, you drop off another package at a home and turn to leave. A stranger is moving toward you. This stranger has a gun in his hand and he tells you to go back to your truck. You have your Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms. You’re armed. You do as you’re told and go back to the truck. You give the robber your wallet. Your robber also grabs a package you were going to deliver. Then he tells you to hand over your employee identification card, so you give that to him as well.

It isn’t clear what happened next, but the robber shoots you in the stomach. You draw your gun and defend yourself. You shoot your attacker several times, and now he runs away. You drive to a shopping center and park next to the policeman who is standing in front of the grocery store. You shout that you’ve been shot. The policeman calls EMS. You give the cop a description of your attacker. The EMTs take you to the hospital. The police find your attacker in an alley nearby and take him to the hospital as well.

Andee, what did our defender do to save his life?

 Andee- Our delivery driver recognized that he was at risk months before he met his attacker. That is when he started planning for his defense. He went to class and got a carry permit. He found a gun and holster that fit him. He learned to carry concealed and to present his firearm from concealment. He practiced until those motions were automatic. People who deliver packages and anyone else who go from door to door are a target for crime. I’m glad he was prepared. A lot of businesses have a no gun policy for their employees and I’m always concerned the wrong person will get punished in these situations.

Our defender faced a robber who was pointing a gun at him, so he faced a lethal, immediate and unavoidable threat. Our defender studied self-defense enough to know when he had a right to use lethal force, and this was one of those times. Self defense is a lot like chess… the more moves you have planned ahead, the more likely you are to win.

But you have to read your opponent and wait for the right opportunities.

He didn’t try to present his gun immediately after he saw a threat. Our driver waited his turn. We don’t know the exact situation when the driver was shot, but our defender faced one attacker and defended himself. He didn’t chase his attacker, but moved to a safe location and summoned help.

Rob- We read about delivery drivers being attacked. What makes them so vulnerable? 

Andee- They are strangers who are alone and carry boxes of presents. Why steal one box when you can take a bag full of packages. Amazon boxes are a calling card for theft and often carry very expensive items that can quickly be sold for cash. 

Pizza delivery guys are often robbed because they are alone and expected to carry money. Social workers, home care nurses, dog walkers and people with occupations that require going from one place to another are also at risk for being watched, followed and more. Criminals love to watch people for patterns.  Patterns are opportunities.

Rob- Is there anything else you want us to do if we’re in a situation like this one?

Andee- Plan ahead. Walk through scenarios in your head that could present you with danger. Make a plan, 

Think about your self-defense so you will recognize the situation where you should defend yourself. Yes, that is a threat. Yep, that could hurt or kill me. Nope, I can’t step out of the way and get to safety. No one is standing behind the bad guy. I see an opportunity when my attacker is bending down to pick up a package off the floor of the truck, or bending down to pick up the purse I dropped. That is when I move, sweep away my coat, put my hand on my firearm, point my gun at my attacker and press the trigger until the threat stops. Then, I move to safety and call the police. That is a plan.

Rob- You make it sound simple, but it took you several seconds to describe, and our defender didn’t have seconds.

Andee- Exactly. You don’t have time to think and run down a list. Our emergency plan is like stepping on the brakes of your car as you drive. You’re already trained about when to do it and what to do to avoid a car accident.

Rob- How many students have you had this year? 

Andee- Funny, I would have to go through my records because I don’t know! I do know that over 200 women have completed my NRA Basic Safety Course since last year. But that’s only one course I teach.
Rob- And you talk to them about self-defense situations like this?

Andee- I am always talking about those “real life scenarios” and to prepare mentaly and physically for them.  When I talk to women about safety, I can ask them “what are your safety concerns?” and they will always have a few things they immediately think of.  Start with those. Make a plan on how you would react to a threat. If you feel vulnerable walking to your car at night, what are you doing to make a plan to be safe while doing so? 

Rob- Anything else?

Andee- That is enough for now. Our second story happened in Myrtletown, California.

Rob- Second Story-  Are you armed at work?   

A woman walks into your shop and says she has some baseball cards to sell. You look at the cards and offer to buy them. You’re ringing up the sale when a man wearing a mask walks through the door. He says to give him the money. She says, you’d better do what he says because he has a gun. One of the cards in your pocket is a concealed carry of weapons license. You’re armed today. The man pushes you out of the way and you push back. The woman tries to get behind you. You push your attackers away and draw your firearm. Now they run for the door. You call the police.

 Andee- Our store owner faced two robbers. Does your safety planning include more than one threat? Criminals don’t fight fair. As usual, the attackers ran away when the defender presented his firearm. Criminals usually don’t attack a policeman who has a gun pointed at them. Likewise, criminals usually run away from an armed defender because this wasn’t the crime the attackers planned. They decide to run away and attack someone else.  I do wish I didn’t read that the store owner fought over the money. Stores should be insured, but even if they are not, that money is not worth your life. Please do not fight with an armed robber about giving up your wallet or keys… protect people, items can be replaced.

Rob– You teach people how guns work. You teach them to hold a gun and how to aim at a target. You teach people how to live with a gun. When do you teach your students to present a gun while they are grabbing someone else and being grabbed, because that isn’t what I learned in my first class at the range?

Andee- That’s called close-quarters defense or in-contact combat. The good news is that we teach it in small, simple steps.

Rob- It seems like you want to combine wrestling and armed defense. How do we get there safely?

Andee- You’ve already learned to keep your finger off the trigger until your firearm is pointed at your target and you’re ready to fire. You made that a habit by practicing a few minutes each week. Knowing where the muzzle of your gun is pointed is really important when we fire the gun close to our body.

You already learned to lower your elbow and rotate your gun towards your target as soon as you lift your gun from your holster. Now we’ll teach you to shoot your gun from that position, and part of that training is where to put your other hand, the hand that is pushing the bad guy away from you. We practice moving our support hand out of the way so we don’t shoot ourself.

We practice this with a plastic gun, then with an empty gun on the range, and finally with live ammunition. We’ll end with you leaning against the target and pushing the target away as you draw and shoot. It is much better to take a class and to practice than to learn on the job.

At some point, hopefully you also took some self defense courses and learned a lot about situational awareness and how to fight with your hands until you can create distance. That way you can safely create enough space to unholster your gun.

Rob- That sounds like a lot to learn.

Andee-  That is because this is a podcast. If we were at a real training course, I could show you and you could see how it works a few times from several different angles. We’ll practice each step, and make the small corrections so it is safe and efficient. It’s easy to learn, slowly using baby steps to build good muscle memory and then work on speed after your technique is safe and smooth.

Rob- You can’t put your firearm out to arms length and aim it if your attacker is grabbing you. Isn’t that particularly important for women, because they have a harder time creating distance from their attacker?

Andee- I teach a lot of self-defense classes for women. I teach self defense from a very nasty approach; I want their hits to really count. Men are usually bigger and stronger. Criminals target women who look like they can’t defend themselves. I teach women to use their hands to create the most damage possible and to uses non-lethal tools like pepper spray and kubatons to give them more options, but I  try to encourage my students to consider lethal force as a tool in their defensive toolbox.

A gun is such a valuable tool because it works at a distance and keeps the bad guy away from you. Your gun hits harder than your fists. Guns are the great equalizer! It doesn’t matter how little I am or how big you and your 5 friends are, my gun allows me to still protect myself when the odds are stacked against me.

Rob- And there were two attackers. Your one gun hits harder than their four fists.
Andee- Those are my student’s you’re talking about. What if the two attackers were hitting a middle-aged woman, or a woman who was walking with her children.

Some of my students say they couldn’t use lethal force to defend themselves. It’s a serious choice to carry a firearm. Many of my students tell me they would never want to own a gun, until something bad happened. Some people don’t think guns are a good thing to own until they are put into a situation where they wish they had had one and knew how to use it. I’ll use lethal force to defend my children, and you should too.

Rob- You should defend yourself because your children deserve to have a mom.

Andee- and a dad, grampa, cousin.., whatever.  We all have people who love us and we should defend ourselves with the same level of force that we would defend our loved ones with.

Our third story happened in Houston, Texas.

Rob- Please support the Crime Prevention Research Center at http://crimeresearch.org/

Rob- Third story- Are you armed at home?

It is a few minutes after noon when you hear shouts outside your home. One of the voices is your husband yelling for help. You grab your gun and move from your bedroom toward the front door. Three strangers are attacking your husband in your front room. They are demanding money. One of them is armed. The armed attacker shoots at you. You raise your gun to fire, and the attackers run away.

You check on your husband and then call EMTs and the police. Your security camera has pictures of your attackers.

Andee- Hmm. Now we have one wife versus three attackers. I’m noticing a trend.

Rob- Yes, Ma’am, and we have one story left to go. In this story, our defender had a gun, but she didn’t have it on her.

Andee- Let’s back up a step. First, our homeowner recognized that her husband was in trouble. Even though she was in her home where most people drop their guard, she was being situationally aware of her surroundings enough to recognize her husband was being chased and forced into the house.  Her gun gun was quickly accessible and ready. We don’t know yet if her gun was actually fired from but we do know she did not shoot an innocent person, and that she scared the bad guys away. They didn’t chase the bad guys either, they called the police.

Rob- What would you tell your students to do so that they are ready for a situation like this?

Andee- About a third of assaults are in or next to our home. Let me say that another way. If you say, I’m safe at home, you’re going to be wrong for one out of three attacks. People, lock your doors and windows, don’t just open the door when someone knocks, find out who it is.  Having stationary weapons and keeping your pistol on you while in your home increases your chances of survival for a home attack. So many people lock up the gun in the safe when they come home. I hope you can reach it fast when some masked men force their way through your door.

I’d like both of you to be armed. Two guns are better than one. When who people are armed they can work together to cover and protect. This attack took place in Houston Texas, so you can both go get your concealed carry permits. You’re both armed. You’ve practiced together.  I’d also like you to lock your doors.

That might not change a thing, because maybe the husband didn’t have a chance to defend himself, but it also means that he could have helped defend himself and his wife once the bad guys were shooting at her. Also, she might not have had a safe shot when the bad guys were attacking her husband.

Rob- Thank you for saying that. We might have the right to use a lethal tool of defense, but not have a clear shot where we won’t injure innocent people.

Andee- That’s right. Take some courses beyond basic pistol, you should take a concealed carry course that teaches you to think of things like that and helps you understand how to defend yourself so you’re not facing legal problems down the line. I also want you to have a medical kit and know how to stop heavy bleeding.

Rob- Do you put on medical training classes for your students?

Andee-  I’ve started teaching the USCCA’s Emergency First Aid Fundamentals course and think everyone should have those basics down. I’ve used first aid numerous times in my life but I haven’t had to use my firearm. I think both skills are equally important.

Andee- Our fourth and final story took place last week in Turtlecreek Township, Ohio. How many attackers do we have if the pattern continues?

Rob- You’ll have to wait and see.

Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed when you go out at night?

You get a phone call that a friend needs some help. It is dark outside, but you drive over. Instead of finding your friend, you find four young men armed with baseball bats and a gun. They tell you to hand over your wallet and your phone.

You have your CCW permit. You’re armed. Your attackers move to surround you. That is when you step back and draw your gun. You shoot the attacker who has a gun in his hand, then you shoot the closest attacker who has a bat. Your other attackers run away.

It isn’t clear from news reports whether you ran away, or drove away, but you call the police once you’re safe. Police and EMTs take your attackers to the hospital. Five teenagers planned to rob you, kidnap you, and hold you for ransom. The judge sets their bail at a million dollars each.

Andee- That is some finale. You have four people who plan to kidnap you at night in a strange location.

Rob- Andee, I know that I’d drive to a strange place if someone said my friend needed a ride.

Andee- So would I, and I’m glad our defender was armed. He recognized a threat and defended himself. He didn’t chase the bad guys, but moved to a safer position and called the police. I listened to the 911 call, I’m happy the woman who called was smart and stayed in her home, a lot of people may have tried to go out and help and may have also been hurt.

Rob- When do you teach your students to shoot in the dim or in the dark?

Andee- The strange thing is that nighttime works against us and it can work for us too. It is harder for the bad guys to know where you are as you take a few steps to the side. It is harder for the bad guy to recognize that you’re reaching for your gun because they can’t see very well. You have an advantage if you’ve practiced in the dim and they haven’t. I encourage people who carry to practice what we call defensive shooting instead of marksmanship shooting.  Defensive shooting is practicing getting a good group of shots on target quickly relying a lot on muscle memory rather than taking slower shots to hit a small bullseye. Defensive shooting is more effective in an attack and we need to build muscle memory to do it well when it counts.

With several attackers, you defend yourself from the most immediate threats first. That usually means you start with the attacker who is closest and work from near to far. When they run, it is your turn to run.

We teach low light shooting the same way we teach close quarters shooting. We do it step at a time, starting with an unloaded or plastic gun and practicing in the light. Then we practice in the dim with an unloaded gun, and last with a live fire exercise in the dark.

Rob- Do attacks like this happen very often?

Andee- You’re more likely to be attacked at night. You’re more likely to be attacked by more than one person than by a single attacker.

Rob- They don’t fight fair.

Andee- But we know that ahead of time and we can prepare for it. We can practice moving and shooting. We can practice shooting several targets. We can do dry practice in the dim even if we don’t get to shoot at night every week.

There is one other thing I want to mention.

Rob- What’s that?

Andee- The more you practice in the day, the easier it is to shoot at night. Try this exercise at home. Dry-practice a few minutes every other day. After a week, tell us how it felt to draw with your eyes closed. Your body will know where the gun is pointing when you practice regularly.


Rob- That wraps up this episode. Andee, thank you for helping us again. Where can we learn more about you?

Andee- Look for me at EastCoastSchoolofSafety.com and on my facebook and Instagram pages with the same name.

Rob- After you look at Andee’s classes, then leave us a message on the podcast facebook page.

Andee- We share this podcast with you for free.  Please share the podcast with a friend and give us a rating on I-Tunes and Stitcher. We’re also available on Google Play Music, Tunein, Spotify, Podbean and iHeart Radio.

Rob- This podcast is part of the Self-defense radio network at sdrn.us

I’m Rob Morse. Happy new year. We’ll be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.

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