Episode 263 with Heather Reeves
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Welcome to episode 263 of Self-Defense Gun Stories. We’re glad you found us if you’re well trained.. and also if you’re still learning about armed defense. I’m Rob Morse and we’re joined this week by firearms instructor Heather Reeves. How have you been, Heather?
Heather- Hi, Rob. I’ve been training and teaching and enjoy the downtime that accompanies the holidays.
How about you?
Rob- I’m over Covid. During our downtime, I also noticed that we have 14 hundred followers on Facebook. Thanks to our listeners for that.
Each week, we post the stories from our podcast on our webpage, and also at Ammoland. Then I expand one of the stories into a full length article. That article becomes the Armed Citizen Column at Ammoland Shooting Sports News. James left a comment on the podcast facebook page and called it a great article.
Thank you, James.
Harold said he is listening to the old podcasts in order. He thought a gunfight would be like the OK corral, but he has slowly changed his mind as we bring him new stories.
Thank you Harold. Good thinking on your part.
We also received a new rating and a new comment on iTunes (is 269, 152). PyroJames said he started listening on a long trip. Now he and his family listen each week as part of their training program.
PJ, your comment means a lot because that is how I hoped the podcast would be used. Thank you for taking care of your family.
Our listeners are our salesmen, so please go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts. We reach more listeners if you leave us a rating and let new gun owners know why you listen.
Heather- Here in the US, we defend ourselves with a firearm thousands of times a day. We study a few recent examples to see what we can learn. The links back to the original news articles are on our podcast webpage.
Our first story took place last week in Chicago, Illinois.
Rob- First story- Are you armed in public?
You saw the advertisement online. The seller has some shoes you want at a price you’re willing to pay. You go to the meeting point after work. You meet the seller. He asks to see the money before he shows you the shoes. You reach into your pocket to show him the cash. As you take your hand out of your pocket the seller shoots you.
You own a gun. You have your Illinois Firearms Owners Identification Card in your wallet right next to your concealed carry permit. You’re armed tonight. You present your gun. You shoot your attacker as you back away. You get into your car and try to drive away, but can’t drive. You call 911 for help. You give the police a description of your attacker.
You’re taken to the hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to your shoulder. Police arrest your attacker at the hospital when he seeks treatment for a gunshot wound to his hand. You are not charged with a crime, but you never did get the shoes.
Heather- I like that our defender was armed in Chicago, and that isn’t easy. He was intentional about his personal safety. He defended himself even though he was hit with a surprise attack. He moved to safety, and then he called for help.
Rob- I know there are things you’d like us to do if we buy and sell online.
Heather- Oh yes. Drug dealers meet in a park after dark, so don’t do that. I looked it up, and there were frequent attacks in this park. Make your exchanges at a police station or a hotel lobby that has video surveillance. Do the exchange on your terms, you name the place and time so that you have the upper hand in knowing the area and circumstances of the exchange.
Rob- Our defender presented his gun from concealment in the winter time. You live up north. Talk to me about drawing your gun in the winter.
Heather- The good news is that the defender had just opened his coat to reach the money that was in his pocket. The bad news is up in these parts, your concealment draw has to take into consideration your layers. Once you’ve taken a course where time is spent on the concealed draw (I recommend one where they are going to go over open front garments and closed front garments), then you can work with your other awkward clothing in a dry fire situation from inside your home. You may need to practice taking your gloves off, or find a pair of gloves that will allow you to access your firearm. You may need to make a concession on coat wearing, layers, and more. I have a really long thick trench coat. While I love it, I have spent a lot of time realizing that if I really need to bundle up it takes me MUCH longer than normal to get to my firearm. (lay out the classes, then talk about working around a heavy coat/gloves)
The good thing is that the car was warm so the defender wasn’t wearing gloves when he was attacked.
Rob- When do your students start carrying a loaded firearm under their clothing in public?
Heather- Not so fast. Let’s learn how to handle a firearm safely. Then we learn how to hit a target. Then we learn how to present from an outside the waistband holster. Then we move the holster inside the waistband and under a cover garment.
Rob- Do you talk to your students about making on-line sales and meeting strangers?
Heather- While it’s not a specific talking point, I do tend to bring it up anytime we are talking about safety strategies. Primarily because stories like this are becoming more and more common as individuals are trying to sell directly to someone they have never met.
Rob- Anything else?
Heather- I think I’ll save some for the other stories. Our second defensive gun use happened in Yakima, Washington.
Rob- Second Story- Are you armed in your car as you drive?
It is either a late lunch or an early dinner. You’re sitting in your car eating some fast food before you go shopping for groceries at Walmart. Your girlfriend is sitting next to you and her teenage daughter is sitting in the back seat. It is about 4pm when a stranger pulls open your driver’s side door and points a gun at you. He tells you to give him your money and get out of the car. You are armed. You take off your seat belt. You move to get out of the car. As you turn you present your concealed firearm and shoot your attacker striking him in the chest and the neck. Your attacker turns away and you stop shooting. You yell for everyone to get back in your car. You drive across the street and call the police.
Police take your statement. They interview you, your girlfriend, and her daughter separately at the police station. You are released and not charged.
Your attacker survived because an Emergency Medical Team was shopping at Walmart and heard your shots.
Heather- Thank goodness that our defender was armed. He recognized an unexpected threat. Give that some weight, because there is a real possibility of sitting there with your mouth full of fries, a hamburger in one hand and a drink in the other, and mumbling, “say what?” when there is a gun in your face. The good news is that the defender used the robber’s commands as an excuse to take off his seatbelt and to turn his body toward the door, and to free his firearm. The frightening part is that he had his family right behind him. He defended them very well. In a fraction of a second he delivered two shots that stopped his attacker. Then he got out of there so his family was safe. Once they were in a safe area, he stopped and called 911 so he could report the crime. That keeps him from being reported as a fleeing assailant.
Notice that the police interviewed each witness separately. Our defender was released because they all described the same event.. And they were not in the parking lot to complete a drug deal.
Rob- This is way beyond what you teach in your first firearms safety class. Where did you learn to present your gun in a vehicle or as you got out of a vehicle?
Heather- A vehicle defense class is an experience I highly recommend to anyone who is looking to go armed while in their vehicle. Thinking in and around vehicles for a weekend is enough to really make you think differently about the car you’re driving and how you can be safer in parking lots.
Rob- You defended yourself from a lethal threat. Now you want to drive for an hour as fast as your car will go; or stop the car, hug your loved ones and get down on your knees and say thank you to god; or go get drunk. Despite what we feel, what should we do after we survived an attack?
Heather- You survived the first fight. Now you are deep in the second contest of defending yourself FROM the legal system. Call 911 immediately. Give them a three sentence description of what happened. Tell them where to find you. Ask your loved ones to call 911, then you call your lawyer.
That might sound selfish, but you’ve reported the crime so emergency personnel are on their way to help the injured. You made yourself available to the police. And now you have to start taking care of you and your legal defense.
Rob- That makes sense to me, but that sounds strange to someone who recently entered the culture of armed defense. When do you tell your students about their legal defense?
Heather- The police and the legal system are there to sort out if there are charges to be pressed. It’s nothing personal against the individual, they are trying to be the impartial, logical side of things and looking at whether or not what you did was justified. I have yet to meet anyone who defended themselves who didn’t think that force was completely necessary and justified when they used it. However, we know that isn’t always the case from a “frozen moment in time” or legal perspective. You have to put up a legal defense of your actions. That can seem scary and overwhelming which is why it is important to continue learning about the laws in your area that may come into play when using force to defend yourself.
Our third story happened in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Rob- First this message from FASTER Colorado.
Rob- Third story- Do you have a firearm nearby as you sleep?
You and your family are at home before dawn on Sunday morning. You hear someone banging on your door and yelling to get inside. You move your wife and children into your bedroom and grab your gun. You lock your bedroom door and call the police. The stranger breaks down your door. A few minutes later he tries to enter your bedroom. You yell to go away, you’re armed, and you’ve called the police. Your wife is on the phone with 911. The stranger breaks down your door. You shoot him. Now he turns and goes outside. You stay inside and wait for the police.
You put your gun away when the police arrive. Police and EMS were already on the way because your neighbors heard the man yelling. EMS transports your attacker to the hospital where he died. His blood alcohol level was three-and-a-half times the legal limit to drive.
It took over six months for the police and the district attorney to rule this was a justified case of self-defense. Finally, you are not charged with a crime.
Heather- This is a textbook story in several ways. You locked your doors. You recognized a threat. You and your partner gathered your family into a safe room. You grabbed your firearm. You locked your bedroom door and called 911. This stranger had to break through two doors, and then you defended your family. You didn’t chase your attacker.
The police and DA were ridiculous to take half a year to figure this one out, but this is why you need self-defense insurance.
Rob- Tell me more about self-defense insurance.
Heather- Some District Attorneys will pile on charges and expect you to take a plea deal even if you acted within the law. They will be more honest in their legal charges if you have a strong legal defense. Having pre-paid legal insurance means you’ll have an experienced lawyer from day one. The prosecutor sees that and has to act more reasonably against you. That starts with setting a reasonable bail and asking to see reasonable evidence for the charges against you.
Rob- It sounds like the prosecutors are not out for the truth, but to abuse you if you can’t put up a strong legal defense.
Heather- Yes, some are, so plan for that, and have insurance so you can afford a legal defense.
Rob- Is there anything else you’d like us to do?
Heather- The story didn’t mention it, but I want you to have a safety plan. Exercise that plan. See what works and what are the weak points. I’d like both of you to be armed and both of you to practice calling 911.
Rob- When do you tell your students about a safety plan?
Heather- During their Concealed Handgun course is when we first discuss building a plan and how important it is to have some pre programmed responses that we have rehearsed and feel really comfortable with.
Heather- Our fourth story took place in York, Pennsylvania.
Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed at work?
The evening rush has slowed a little. You’ll close your restaurant in a few minutes. You are moving between the back room and the counter when a man comes into your restaurant. He talks to the clerk at the cash register and the clerk puts her hands up. You hear the stranger tell her to put her hands down and give him the money. You see the robber’s gun pointed at your employee.
You own a firearm. You are carrying concealed tonight. The news story doesn’t say how, but you shoot your attacker. The clerk steps back and you tell her to call 911 while you keep your gun pointed at the attacker on the floor.
Police arrive a few minutes later. You put your gun away. Emergency Medical Services declare your attacker dead at the scene. You give a statement to the police.
Heather- Our defender recognized that his staff needed an armed defense. He found a gun that fit him. He carried it concealed at work. He recognized an immediate threat to an innocent person. He used lethal force to stop an immediate, unavoidable and lethal threat to an innocent person. He stopped shooting when the threat stopped. He had someone call 911 and summon the police and EMS. He gave a brief statement to the police.
Rob- That is so much to get right. Is there anything else you’d like us to do if we faced a similar situation?
Heather- I want you to have a security plan at home and at work. I want you to walk through that plan. As soon as you do that, you’ll discover that you want many armed defenders. You also want your carry permit. You’ll discover you want your carry permit during your… Try it for yourself and you’ll see. I also want you to have a security video system. Video is a strong factor in your legal defense.
Rob- Why is it important to walk through our plan?
Heather- I want many of the staff armed so the cash register is defended even when you are in the kitchen talking to the cooks. I want you defended if you’re at the cash register and the thieves try to enter the kitchen at closing time when the staff cleans up and takes out the trash. I want several armed defenders so you can stop several robbers. Now I want you to call your lawyer and start your legal defense.
Rob- Business owners are busy running their business. Where should they learn all that?
Heather- Start small, make sure that you’ve got solid fire, severe weather, and lockdown procedures. Make sure that your employees are clear on what to do when a customer needs to be escorted from the premises. If you are an employee and you aren’t sure what to do in those situations, then start asking questions.
As far as designing and executing the specific plans that we’ve been talking about, find some safety and defensive skills courses that you can take and get started. There are some great resources to get your mental aerobics going on youtube and throughout the internet.
My students say that sometimes it’s just empowering the employees. Tell them permission to think about safety in a productive way. If you do not have the skills, then start bringing in area professionals to give them tools.
Rob- Other than the Armed Citizen Stories on Ammoland, that is what I’d do.
Rob- Heather, that wraps up this episode. Thank you for helping us again. Where can we learn more about you?
Heather- Find me at my gun store website Tactical Advantage Guns. I have additional classes listed at A-girl-and-a-gun shooting league at the Portage, Michigan chapter.
Rob- After you look at Heather’s articles and at her class schedule, then please leave her a message on the podcast webpage.
Heather- We share this podcast with you for free, but we ask you to
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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.