Episode 196 with David Cole
Welcome to episode 196 of Self-Defense Gun Stories. We’re glad you found us if you’re well trained and also if you’re new to self defense. I’m Rob Morse and we’re joined this week by self defense instructor David Cole.
David- Hi, Rob. I’ve been training and…turkey hunting
Rob- We received five more ratings on iTunes this week (158×91). Please go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and tell new listeners what you like.
David- We talk about recent examples where gun owners were in a life threatening situation. 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 last week in San Antonio, Texas.
You’re a 33 year old woman with an ex boyfriend problem. He has been texting you all day. You tell him to go away, but he was waiting for you at your apartment when you come home after work. Again, you tell him to go away. He agrees. You go upstairs to shower and change clothes. You’re upstairs and he texts you that he is coming back. You grab your shotgun and hide in your bathroom.
You changed the locks so your ex can’t get in. You hear someone pry open a window downstairs. You hear them come up the stairs. The intruder searches your home and finds that your bathroom door is locked. Your ex boyfriend breaks down your bathroom door and you shoot him.
Now you call the police. EMTs take your attacker to the hospital.
David, what did our defender do to save her life?
David- She said NO. She has a trail of texts as evidence. (Important note: If you have an ex or stalker calling or texting like this, do not respond!) She changed her locks. She looked after her physical safety and bought a gun and ammunition. She retreated to a defensible position in the interior of the home. She defended herself after her attacker broke down an interior door and entered her room. She stopped shooting when her attacker stopped attacking. She stayed at the scene, she called the police and made a statement.
Rob- What do you mean that the attacker stopped attacking?
David- I’ve been a police officer. You look like you’re a justified defender if you shoot your attacker in the chest as he is inside your bathroom after breaking down the bathroom door. You look like a murderer if you shoot an unarmed man in the back as he is walking down your stairs and running away.
Rob- Is there anything else you’d like us to do if we were in this situation?
David- While a protective order won’t stop a determined attacker, it does give police much more authority to act if the subject violates the boundaries set in the order. Sharing the situation with the people in your life…neighbors, friends, co-workers…can help. What that does is provide extra sets of eyes and ears which can alert you if the “crazy ex” is coming around, if he is telling others about his plans, and so on.
Changing the locks was a good move, but it didn’t keep him from coming through a window. Consider planting thorny shrubs in front of ground floor windows; you can also install bar locks or window bars for extra security.
Long guns…shotguns and rifles…are fine for home defense, but come with some extra storage challenges compared to handguns. Still, there are locking devices and lockable storage containers available which work well, and we always want to keep our firearms secured from unauthorized access. Shotguns are different from handguns. We can drop a handgun and it won’t go off. We store long guns loaded with ammunition, but with an empty chamber because they are not drop-safe. I recommend a mode known as “cruiser carry” or “cruiser ready” for shotguns, particularly pump guns. This is where you have the magazine tube loaded with the internal hammer down, so that you can cycle a shell into the chamber without having to manipulate the slide release. It does cost you one round of capacity, but it is much safer than having a round in the chamber. Semiauto shotguns can also be stored with shells in the mag tube, and you simply cycle the charging handle to load a round into the chamber. Obviously, single-shot and double barrel shotguns should be empty, but with a stock-mounted ammo sleeve, it is easy to have shells ready to drop into the chamber quickly.
One shortcoming of home defense long guns (if that is all you have) is the ability to carry your defensive tools on your body at all times. Attacks often happen very quickly, and it needs to be in reach RIGHT NOW, and you’re probably not going to walk around your house with a shotgun slung over your shoulder. The attacker could have broken into her home before she arrived, and been waiting for her in the house. (If you arrive home and see an open window or door, don’t go in!) That means she would have had to fight through her attacker to get to her shotgun, and that is a bad plan. Get training, get a gun that fits you. Get your carry permit, and have the defensive tools you need.
Rob- I’m glad she changed her locks.
David- Me too.
Rob- Have you had students who had crazy exes?
David- I can’t recall any students, but in previous jobs both in law enforcement and in the corporate security environment, I have dealt with many such cases. The main advice I would share is that you should always take such situations seriously. I know it’s easy to say, but be firm, get help, and talk to local law enforcement if the situation begins to escalate. Finally, be prepared to be your own rescuer.
Rob- Read Gavin De Becker’s excellent book, The Gift of Fear.
David- That is enough for now. Our second story happened in Bartow County, Georgia.
It is just before sunset when you hear your neighbor scream. You run outside and see a stranger beating your neighbor while your neighbor’s wife is trying to stop the attack. Your neighbor and his wife are in their eighties and their young attacker pushes them out of the way. Another neighbor runs up to the elderly couple and tells the attacker to stop. The attacker turns on the new defender and punches him in the face. Then the attacker turns to you and tries to grab your gun. You shoot him twice before he stops his attack.
You and your neighbors hold the attacker for police. You holster your gun when police arrive. EMTs treat the other defender and take your attacker to the hospital. They call in a helicopter to fly your 86 year old neighbor to a critical care facility. You give a statement to the police.
Your attacker is charged with burglary, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of criminal trespass.
David- Our defender was prepared. He had a firearm at the ready and was prepared to respond when he heard his neighbor call for help. He could, and did, respond immediately to help his neighbors. He used lethal force when he faced an immediate and unavoidable threat. He stopped shooting when the attacker stopped attacking. He stayed at the scene and gave a statement to the police.
Rob- That is a lot to get right in a fraction of a second.
David- This sounds like a really bad situation. We always want to be cautious when intervening as a third party, but if you heard the elderly woman next door scream are you going to sit there? Are you going to watch and be a quote good witness unquote while they are getting beaten?
Rob- I am unless I’ve thought about what I’d do.
David- Right. One neighbor ran up to help and got hit in the face. You ran up to help and stopped the fight because you had the physical and the mental tools you needed.
Rob- Tell me about helping a third person who is in trouble.
David- Typically under the law, we are allowed to defend a third person if they would have been allowed to use that same force to defend themselves…although state laws can vary a bit on the specifics. Still, the usual standard is that you may act on their behalf in the same manner they would have been allowed to act under the law. Do they face an immediate and unavoidable threat? Were they the innocent party?
In this case, we had a neighbor try to use less than lethal force, and he got hit in the face and the attacker didn’t stop. This might not have been the best choice in this case, as the victim was being beaten with a blunt instrument, which is normally going to qualify as a justification for deadly force in defense. Still, the tactical situation…the physical position of the attacker relative to the victim…may have made a shot difficult or impossible initially.
Defense of an innocent third party who faces a disparity of force is why you can use lethal force to protect your children.
Rob- When do your students learn about this?
David- This is always discussed in my concealed carry classes. While this third-party defense situation was pretty clear-cut, more often they are not and can get you in a lot of legal trouble if you get it wrong. You really need to understand the legal implications before deciding to intervene on behalf of another, and that’s where training comes in.
Our third story happened in Port Arthur, Texas.
Rob- First this message from FASTER Ohio and Buckeye Firearms Foundation
You’re crabbing on the shore with your wife. The sun is low when a car drives up near you. A man gets out of the car and the man is carrying a rifle. He points the gun at both of you and demands your wallet, your phone,and your keys. You tell your robber that you left your valuables in the car so they would stay dry. That is also where you left your firearm. You wait your turn until your attacker talks to your wife. That is when you grab your wallet and your pistol. You shoot your attacker several times until he drops his firearm. You and your wife run away and then call the police.
You give a statement to the police while EMTs declare your attacker dead at the scene.The police say your attacker robbed someone else a few miles up the road. He also stole a police car a few hundred miles away.
David- Our defender had his firearm nearby. He avoided a gunfight where the attacker could shoot at him or at his wife. He shot the attacker until the threat stopped, and then our defender stopped shooting. He did that in unusual lighting conditions near sunset. Our defenders stayed at the scene and gave a statement to the police.
I also think, but can’t prove, that our defenders didn’t have a concealed carry permit, but were carrying their guns in their car.
Rob- Why do you think that?
David- I watched the video, and the police will often mention that the defender had a carry permit. That permit tells the officer that you’ve passed an FBI background check so you don’t have a criminal record. That immediately makes you look like one of the good guys.
In Texas, you’re allowed to carry a loaded firearm in your car, but it has to be covered. That could mean it is under the seat or covered by a towel. That said, it could have been true that the defender had his permit but didn’t want to get his gun wet.
Rob- What would you like your students to do if they were in this situation?
David- It would obviously be better if both victims were armed. Two armed defenders are much harder to kill in a fight. You can still say that your wallet is in your car, but that way your wife can shoot your attacker when he points his eyes and the rifle at you as you walk to the car.
You want to avoid a race to see whether you or your attacker has faster reactions. You want to wait until you have all the time you need. For you to be armed with a gun on your body in Texas means that you have your concealed carry permit.
Rob- What else did you notice?
David- This attacker died at the scene. Our stories this week are a fair sample of what happens if you’re shot. Most of the time, seeing a gun changes the attacker’s mind. Most of the time, being shot makes the attacker stop. Sometimes, you have to keep shooting until the attacker isn’t a threat.
That is why I want you to have some medical training so you can survive a fight and be in good condition when the EMTs arrive. Imagine if your wife or children were shot and depended on you.
Rob- I know some truckers who go armed. They said they use their medical bag more often than their holster.
David- Our fourth story took place a few miles away in Houston, Texas.
You’re working in a convenience store early in the morning. Customers can’t come inside, but you can take cash through a slot in the window. Three men walk up and try the door. When they find out the door is locked, one of them breaks the glass and pryes open the doors. You’re behind a plastic barrier. You’re armed. The men are wearing hoodies and masks. You draw your firearm and shoot the robbers closest to you. All of them turn and run away. You close the door to your plastic cage, and call the police.
You put your gun away when the police arrive. You show them the security video of the breakin. The police find one of your attackers dead on your property, and a second attacker alive a few blocks away. EMTs take the wounded attacker to the hospital for treatment.
David- I’m glad the defender stayed in his protective plastic cage. I’m glad he was alert and saw the robbers as they worked to break into the convenience store. He defended himself and didn’t chase the robbers. He called the police and showed them the video of the attack.
Rob- Being in a plastic cage also means you can’t run.
David- One of “Murphy’s Laws of Combat” states that if you make it difficult for an attacker to get in, you also make it difficult for you to get out!
These attackers were not intimidated by the plastic barrier, and it sounds like they were prepared to force entry. They were either going to loot the store or were going to pry their way into the plastic cage. The clerk was outnumbered by adult men, so the assumption is that if they used violence to enter the store, then they would use violence to get money from the clerk.
Rob- Tell me more about that.
David- It is more than a matter of numbers. You don’t have the right to use lethal force if you faced four girl scouts. You have to show that you faced a credible threat and did what a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances.
Rob- So I’ll be judged as if I had time to think about my actions even though I have to act with only a second to decide what to do?
David- Not exactly. The law says that your actions must be judged against the standard of what a reasonable person would have done at that time, knowing what a person in your position could have reasonably been expected to know. That’s how the legal question would be addressed, and the legal fight is the second fight. But you have to survive the first fight…for your life to even get to that question, and that is what we train for.
Your body follows your mind. You will only do what you’ve considered beforehand. You want to consider when you should act, and when you should let a teenage kid run out of the store without paying for a bag of chips.
Rob- How do your students learn about that decision?
David- I’m a big fan of mental rehearsal, or “wargaming,” and we discuss that in all of my classes.
Rob- ‘Until you have the courage to let yourself surrender to the brave task of envisioning the story of things going well, you are destined to walk another path. The body cannot go where the mind has not gone first.” -Brian Stuart Germain
Rob- that wraps up this episode. David, thank you for helping us again. Where can we learn more about you?
David- Look for me at deltabravocharlie.com
Rob- After you look at David articles, then please leave us a message on the podcast facebook page.
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I’m Rob Morse. We’ll be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.