Episode 222 with Heather Reeves

Rob- Introduction- Welcome to episode 222 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 firearms instructor Heather Reeves. Welcome to the show, and tell our listeners about you.

Heather- Hi, Rob. I have been an NRA certified instructor in Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle, Refuse to be a Victim, Personal Protection Inside the Home, Personal Protection Outside the Home, and a Chief Range Safety. I’ve done that for the last 10 years. I own a gun store and training business with my husband. I am also a Rangemaster certified instructor and an instructor for our state’s 2nd amendment advocacy group Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners.

This week I’ve been teaching license to carry classes as well as many private firearms lessons mostly for beginners right now.

Rob- That must keep you very busy. I’m glad you made time for us.

We received two reviews and a comment on iTunes this week. (209/124). The comment came from Binge Listener in the Houston area. He found us in December and listened to all 200 episodes. Thank you. Please go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and let new listeners know what you like.

Heather- I wonder how Binge Listener found us.

Rob- Maybe he’ll tell us.

Heather- We defend ourselves with a firearm tens of thousands of times each week. We’ll look at a few of the recent examples. Were these gun owners lucky, or did they have a plan? We’ll try to figure out the best thing we could do in their place. We put links back to the original news article in our show notes.

Our first story took place last week in Columbus, Ohio.

Rob- First story- Are you armed as you shop for groceries?

You left the market and are walking back to your car in the dark. Two young men cross between the cars. They shout at you. A second later, one of them has a gun pointed at you. They want your money and your phone. Just that fast you’re being robbed.

You have your Ohio concealed carry license. You own a gun and you’re carrying tonight. The news story doesn’t say how, but you shoot your attacker. He shoots too. He is critically wounded. You are shaken, but unhurt. You and the other robber run away. You call 911.

Police arrive and take your attacker’s gun. EMTs take him to the hospital. You give a brief statement to the police, including a description of your other attacker. Police arrest the other attacker nearby. Your first attacker dies in the hospital. Now,  the second attacker is charged with murder.

Heather, what did our defender do correctly?

Heather- He was armed. He had his permit. He defended himself. The witnesses say they heard three or four shots, but at least one of those shots was from the attacker. Our good guy stopped shooting when the other attacker ran away. Our defender moved to safety and called 911. He returned to talk to the police and he gave a brief statement. I noticed that he did not talk to the news media.

Rob- That is a lot to get right, so I think the victim thought about his defense before it happened. What would you like your students to do if they were in a dark parking lot at night?

Heather- First, what happened to the groceries? Use a cart so your hands are empty. If you can, have a flashlight in your hands. That means you don’t look like the last victim these guys successfully robbed. If someone comes up to you in a dark parking lot then yell STOP while they are still 5 yards away. I have my students practice this.

Rob- It takes practice to yell STOP?

Heather- Yes, it does. In an emergency, it is easy to do the things you practiced, but hard to do the things you only thought about. That is why we rehearse our plans.

I noticed that the bad guy fired his gun. That is why we don’t stand in the middle of the parking lot and get into a gunfight. If you didn’t see the bad guys coming, and the bad guy already has his gun out, then I want you to create a distraction. That is really important, because I don’t want you involved in a gunfight where both sides press the trigger. Throw your wallet out into the street, then I want you to move to the side and towards cover as you draw your gun. Shoot your attacker until he stops being a threat. If necessary, you can shoot his partner too until the second attacker runs away. 

Try to use a car as cover, which means you might be crouched down behind the hood, the roof, or the trunk. Run to a safe place, and look around. Shout for help so everyone looks at you. When it is safe, then holster your gun and call 911.

We also want to be careful when we talk to the police.

Rob- What should we tell the police?

Heather- Say a little. I called you. I was attacked. I defended myself.

Then say, I’ll answer all your questions and file a complete report after I’ve spoken to my lawyer.

Rob- Why is it important to only say a little?

Heather- You just defended yourself from a life threatening attack. Even if you were not shot or hit, your brain is suffering a chemical injury from the adrenaline. I mean it. You are as incapacitated as if you’d been hit in the head. Your ability to understand and answer questions is impaired. Your memory is damaged. Everything you say will be compared to a perfect recording of the events in a court of law, and you are in no condition to give an accurate statement.

Rob- When do your students learn about all that?

Heather- We go over a bit of it in each class. Training yourself in methods of self-defense is a continuum where topics overlap and get covered to different depths depending on the course.

  • Firearms basics
  • Defending yourself at home
  • Concealed carry class
  • How to fight with a handgun
  • Advanced gun fighting and legal use of lethal force.

Rob- I want you to tell us about that later. Anything else for now?

Heather- Only that attacks like this are fairly common, so we can learn a lot from this story. 

Our second story also happened in Ohio. We’re off to Cleveland.

Rob- Second Story- Are you armed as you drive in a ride-sharing service?

You are a 39 year old black woman and you’re driving for Lyft to earn some extra money. It is after midnight when you get a call that two men want a ride. Supposedly, Lyft screens the riders so they are safe. You pick up the two 20 year old men outside an apartment building, but one of the men insists on riding in the front seat with you.

You take them to the address they requested, but it is a closed sports store. That is when the man in back reaches over the driver’s seat and chokes you. The man in the front seat punches you.

You’re armed. You grab your gun from the console. You shoot the attacker next to you and you turn to shoot the attacker behind you. Both attackers run away. You drop your gun and drive away. Once you’re safe, you call the police. You give them a report of what happened.

The police contact Lyft. Lyft says the riders gave a fake ID and contact information. Lyft also says you can’t drive for them any longer.

What did this woman do to save her life?

Heather- Our defender was working a dangerous job in a dangerous city at a dangerous time of day. I’m really glad she was armed. She defended herself. She stopped shooting when the bad guys ran away. She moved to a safe place and then called the police.

I would not have talked to the news media, but the driver was angry that Lyft put two criminals in her car and then fired her.

Rob- I’d be angry too. Is there something else you’d want your students to do if this happened to them?

Heather- 

  • Our defender could have lost her gun to her attackers because the gun was stored in the car console. She would have been defenseless if they had dragged her out of her car. Also, the criminals would have taken her gun if they’d stolen her car. That is why I want you to get your permit and carry on your body.
  • Our defender missed her attackers when she fired. You can learn to shoot in close quarters. Those classes also include a module on keeping possession of your gun when someone is trying to take it from you.
  • Set boundaries. Refuse to drive with someone in the seat next to you at night. Your car,  your rules.
  • Talk to the local police so you know someplace to go when you think you’re at risk. Usually you’d head for a police station, but some of the stations are not manned around the clock. Because of this, I would recommend heading to the local emergency room. Always well staffed, and more often than not a police officer is on scene if not in the building.

Rob- I heard a recommendation to head for a major hotel because they have video cameras covering their front door. Heather, I know you’re a firearms competitor. In competition, I’ve seen someone miss a target that was only three feet away.

Do you talk about firearm storage, close quarters defense, and defensive mindset in your classes? (name the topic and the class in which it is covered.

Heather-  We talk about storage in our beginning handgun course, as well as in our concealed handgun course. It is important to remember that your car is neither a gun safe nor a holster. While it may seem convenient, it is not practical in many cases.

Rob- The console is there, but it doesn’t work? When do your students learn to defend themselves?

Heather- Defensive mindset is covered in any of our defensive courses, which are all of our firearm courses beyond our beginner handgun. These courses have mindset infused throughout them, because we owe it to ourselves, and our loved ones to view our interactions and intentions through a lens of safety and defense if we truly want to be prepared to act and prevail when the time comes.

While there are statistics that can show averages and where and when you are most likely to be attacked, things can happen to you that create an outlier situation. So we need to practice and rehearse many different situations and scenarios when we are at the range.

Rob- That can be target practice at a distance, or it could be hand-to-hand.

Heather- Defensive living is be ready for as much as possible as often as possible, and always having a plan B.

Our third story happened in Barstow, California.

Rob- First this message from the Second Amendment Foundation.

Rob- Third story- Are you armed at work?

Another customer comes into your tobacco shop in the middle of the afternoon. You’re  working behind the counter. The customer walks toward the checkout line and you step behind the cash register to serve him. The customer reaches into his pocket, pulls out a gun, and points the gun at you. What happened next is unclear. The story doesn’t explain how, but you move and get the gun kept behind the counter. You shoot your attacker several times. Now the attacker drops his gun. You stop shooting. The attacker tries to run, but falls down inside the store. You step back and call 911.

You talk to the police. The police disarm your attacker and begin CPR. EMTs try to revive your attacker, but he was declared dead at the scene. Detectives ask you some questions and interview other customers in the store. You also show them the store security video. No charges are filed against you.

Heather- This story is a little strange. Usually, the story mentions the age of the attacker and whether he had a criminal record. The robbers usually do, and in this case, the Barstow police might be too embarrassed to admit it in public.

Since the store clerk was not charged, we can assume he legally owned his firearm. We’re pretty sure that wasn’t the case for the armed robber.

Our defender recognized a threat. He retrieved his firearm. He used his gun to defend himself, to defend other employees, and to defend the customers in the shop. He also had security video of the store and showed it to the police.

Rob- What else should we do?

Heather- Our defender was disarmed every moment he was away from the spot where the gun was stored. San Bernardino issues permits. Get one even though it is slow and expensive. In San Bernardino you need to say, “I want a carry permit so I can defend myself,  my coworkers, and my customers since I work in a retail store and handle significant amounts of cash. Stores like mine in the same geographic area have been robbed this year.” Carrying concealed puts your defensive tools with you all the time, when you’re behind the counter and also when you step out the back door to carry cardboard to the dumpster.

Rob- I assume you teach your students to carry a loaded gun. What is that like for them?

Heather- Loaded, condition one, vs condition three. Learning to carry loaded and concealed.

Rob- What is involved in presenting a firearm from concealment?

Heather- Clear the garment, I strongly recommend two hands for this task if at all possible because if one hand misses the grab, the other will more than likely make up for it. The biggest error I see with garment clearance is not being aggressive enough with the grab or the movement. Once the garment is clear establishing a good firing grip before even beginning to remove the gun from the holster, as the gun is removed from the holster it is rotated towards the target and at this point the support hand usually meets, this should happen in the high chest area if at all possible. At that point the shooter will want to pick up the sights as the gun is being pushed out toward the target so that by the time you’re extended to the appropriate distance for the fight you are ready to fire.

Rob- That isn’t covered in the concealed carry class. When does a new gun owner learn to do that?

Heather- You’re right. Given the other things we have to cover in the concealed carry class, this typically isn’t possible. I recommend that they learn basic holstering skills as soon as they are able and willing. For the individuals that I work with on a longer term basis I get them doing draws from open carry as soon as I know they have muzzle and finger discipline. For others that I do not encounter until their concealed handgun course, I recommend that they begin dry fire use of a holster as soon as possible. At first open practice with no cover garment, and then once confident start practicing with a cover garment.

Rob- Remind me about the difference between open and concealed carry?

Heather- Open carry involves the lack of a garment or other visual disruption of seeing the gun on one’s person. Concealed carry is a garment or other device being used that is intended to obscure the firearm from view. By practicing skills open first, you remove an added obstacle or barrier to practicing the motion of the skill. They are slightly different skill sets, open is foundational, and concealed  is slightly more advanced.

Rob- What concealment options would you recommend for women who work behind the counter?

Heather- I’m a big fan of strong side hip, or appendix carry. There is nothing quite like having access to it on your waistline. For those who are unable to wear a belt (or do not wish to), the belly band options that are out there these days are incredible and can provide a high level of concealment while still permitting amazing access to the firearm. Key factors with belly band use are the same as with a traditional holster, the firearm should be held firmly in place and should not move once put on, and the trigger guard should be completely covered. Last, one should not be able to cause the trigger to press through the holster.

Rob- That tells me the holster, even a belly band, needs a hard plastic shell over the trigger area. Does carrying that way take extra training or practice?

Heather- Dry practice, dry practice, dry practice. Most ranges will not allow you to draw from a holster, and if they will, then drawing from a non-traditional position or holster will more than likely be out of the question. Therefore, for most shooters, the real work of holstering and unholstering must happen during dry practice. 10 well thought out and executed draws 5 times a week goes a long way toward ingraining those good skills. Work with a professional on the skill first, and then perfect it at home.

Rob- I still dry practice. Where are we going next?

Heather- Our last story took place in Miami, OK.

Rob- Fourth story- Do you have a firearm nearby at night?

You’re at home and asleep in your bed. You wake up when you hear unusual sounds. You grab your shotgun and step into the hallway. At first you hear someone banking on your back door. That door is locked and you don’t let the stranger inside. A minute later, you hear someone in one of your back bedrooms. Then, a stranger comes out of that bedroom and moves toward you. You shout for the intruder to stop, and then shoot the intruder one time. Now your attacker stops advancing toward you. You backup and call 911.

EMTs take your attacker to the hospital. You tell the police what happened.

Later, you found out that your attacker had 12 warrants in cases of child abuse, violating a protective order, domestic assault and battery, burglary of an automobile, larceny, drug violations, concealing stolen property and threatening acts of violence. He was released from jail three days ago.

Your attacker died at the hospital.

Heather- Our defender locked his doors. That is so important, and good for him. He had a defensive tool, in this case, a shotgun. He stayed inside his house. He defended himself when his attacker advanced on him. He called 911 and gave a statement to the police.

Rob- What are the other things that were left out of this story?

Heather- Let’s take first things first. You hear a strange sound. Get your gun. Load it. Turn on the lights inside the house. If you don’t have other people to protect, then stay in your bedroom and lock your door. Get in the corner away from the door with your gun pointed at the door. Call 911 and wait for the police.

Rob- Does that work?

Heather- It is the best plan we have. Your attacker has to break into your house, and then break into your bedroom. Hopefully those two doors keep you from having to shoot someone. Unfortunately, some robbers want to break into your bedroom to get at your bathroom as they search for drugs.

Rob- You mentioned turning on the lights.

Heather- You must identify your attacker. You don’t want to shoot your drunk girlfriend or your neighbor. Turn on all the lights. Hey, Alexa.

Rob- Is there anything else you notice.

Heather- For in home defense, consider putting a laser on your shotgun.

Rob- Do you see many students who select a shotgun for home defense?

Heather- Right now with the increase in ownership, we are seeing a multitude of individuals choose shotguns because of their simplicity, usability, and their notoriety in the media as being distinctly suited for the job.

Rob- Does it take extra training to use a shotgun inside your home?
Heather- In home defense always takes additional considerations. I would encourage anyone new to the home defense mindset to first examine their overall home safety plan and ensure that you understand what you do and do not have in place as far as in home safety before you add a firearm. However, to your direct question any intention to use a firearm as a home safety tool requires practice, and least training in the theory of in-home use.

Exit-  Rob- that wraps up this episode. Heather, thank you for joining us, and I’m looking forward to having you back. Where can we learn more about you?

Heather- Look for me at http://tacticaladvantageguns.net/about/

Classes, A girl and a gun shooting league. https://www.agirlandagun.org/cat/mi-portage/

My facilitator profile: https://www.agirlandagun.org/facilitator-spotlight-heather-reeves/

Rob- After you look at Heather’s webpage, then please leave her a welcome message on the Self Defense Gun Stories facebook page

Heather- 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 Podcasts, Tunein, Spotify, Podbean and iHeart Radio.

Rob- This show is part of the Self-defense radio network. Find more pro-freedom podcasts at sdrn.us

I’m Rob Morse.  We’ll be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.
~_~_


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