Episode 266 with Robyn Sandoval
Welcome to episode 266 of Self-Defense Gun Stories. We’re glad you found us if you’re well trained.. and if you’re still learning about armed defense. I’m Rob Morse and we’re joined this week by firearms instructor Robyn Sandoval. How have you been, Robyn?
Robyn- Hi, Rob. Thank you for having me on the podcast! I am doing great! I am busy planning the 10th Annual A Girl & A Gun National Conference that is coming up in April. We’re going to have nearly 600 women on the range training in pistols, rifles, and shotguns, in a variety of skills and disciplines. I’m finalizing the curriculum with the instructor team and I am so excited about this event!
How about you?
Rob- Nothing that exciting, but I carried every day.
We received a new rating and several new comments on iTunes this week. (now 272×155).
Dexter thinks the podcast is good material for people who are on the fence about armed-defense. Dexter, you and our other listeners are the best ambassadors for the right to bear arms. I hope we helped.
Pastor Mel sent in a story we used this week. He also shared our podcast with his fellow students at a concealed carry class. Thank you for your help and your encouragement, Pastor Mel.
Robbie likes to dig deep, so he likes that we publish the news source we use. He wondered if a defender in one of our stories could have used the gas pedal to escape rather than having to use his firearm.
Robbie, you might do that, now that you’ve considered it as an option. Thank you for bringing a lesson for all of us to see.
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Robyn- Here in the US, responsibly armed citizens defend themselves with a firearm thousands of times a day. We look at a few recent examples to see what we can learn. The links back to the original news articles are on our podcast webpage. Please note that some of these stories are not suitable for young audiences.
Our first story took place last week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Rob- First story- Are you armed as you drive?
It is dark and you’re making a pizza delivery in an area with small shops and homes. You pull down a street and a car is blocking the center of the road. You stop a distance away. A man runs from the sidewalk to your driver’s side door. He has a gun in his hand and the gun is pointed at you. He tells you to get out of your car and hand over your car keys.
You are one of the 1.5 million residents who have your Pennsylvania license to carry a concealed firearm. You’re armed tonight. You turn in the seat and present your gun. Your attacker shoots at you, and you shoot back.. six times. Now your attacker runs to the car blocking the street. You back up the street and go back to the pizza shop to call the police.
You agree to meet the police back at the scene of the attack. You give the police a brief statement and show them your carry permit.
Police arrest your attacker when his two accomplices bring him to a local hospital. Police arrest his accomplices for questioning while your attacker remains under guard and in critical condition. You’re not charged with a crime. You’re 39 years old and your wounded attacker is 35. This makes the hundredth carjacking or attempted carjacking in Philadelphia this month.
Robyn, what did our defender do to save his life?
Robyn- In this situation, the defender was aware of the patterns of crime in the area. He was alert, paying attention to his surroundings, and was properly equipped with his firearm.
He defended himself when he faced a threat and he stopped shooting when the threat ended and the attacker ran away. Then the defender chose to relocated to a place of safety so that he could contact the police to report the crime. Once law enforcement arrived, he returned to the scene and fully cooperated with the police. That is what good guys do.
Rob- It sounds like he paid attention in his concealed carry course.
Robyn- It does. This defender knew that carjackings were on the rise in the area. He had a firearm that he was legally allowed to carry, and was mentally and physically prepared for this kind of scenario. Hopefully he quickly recognized that something was wrong when the car was stopped in the middle of the road. He should have already been scanning his surroundings for signs of trouble and be ready to act.
In one of the news reports there was video evidence from a doorbell camera that was consistent with the defender’s statements. We see more of those cameras in use and they help innocent defenders like us.
Rob- What choices did our defender face?
Robyn- A defender always has choices, but the one thing he can’t do is nothing. Freezing in this situation would be dangerous. To save his life, he had to act. He could have complied and exited the vehicle and handed over his keys. He could have looked like he was complying and gotten out of the car in order to draw his firearm in a more direct firing position. He could have gotten out of the car and tried to run away. He also could have possibly used his vehicle to drive up on a curb around the parked car or in reverse back up the street. He also had the choice to shoot the attacker through the window, and he had the choice of how many times he chose to fire.
Rob- It sounds like the defender had thought about this situation before he saw it that night. When do you talk to your students about thinking through the common risks they might face?
Robyn- The body can’t go where the mind has not been. Classes that teach skills for defending yourself in and around vehicles provide a lot of great and useful information, and give a person practice and repetition in taking action. I encourage people to seek out classes that teach an efficient drawstroke from inside a vehicle, managing shots through glass, understanding muzzle control in a confined space, and other skills that are needed in a situation like this.
Rob- Is there anything else you’d like to cover, or should we go on to our second story?
Robyn- I’ll save some for later, so our second story happened in Bend, Oregon.
Rob- Second Story- Are you armed when you go out on the town with friends.
You, a friend, and your fiance are at a bar. This young drunk man keeps hitting on your fiance. You and your friends decide to leave and the drunk follows you into the parking lot. He grabs your fiance and asks her for sex again. You tell him to stop and he hits you. You present your firearm and tell him to stop. Now, the drunk hits your friend. Your friend pushes him away when the drunk squares up and raises his fist at you for the second time. You shoot him. Now he stops. You call 911.
You give a statement to the police. Your attacker died at the hospital. You’re arrested and charged. There are three videos of your defense. Protesters say you shot your attacker because he was black and that you used racial slurs. You have witnesses and videos that prove otherwise. Your attacker’s blood alcohol level was .195%, or almost two and a half times the legal limit for intoxication. You have a lawyer who knows about self-defense cases. He releases the videos.
Robyn- It is a frustrating and often scary situation when a man keeps pursuing a woman despite her rejection. She made a smart decision to leave the bar, but the man chose to follow her to the parking lot and grab her, even though she was accompanied by two other men.
The defender tried to de-escalate the situation by leaving with his fiance and friend, and was attacked before he presented his firearm. However, when the attacker assaulted his friend and then began to charge towards the defender, the defender was forced to defend himself. He fired one shot, stopped shooting when the attack stopped, administered first aid, and remained on the scene to give a statement.
Rob- I noticed that this defender killed his attacker with one shot and the attacker in the earlier story was shot six times and then ran away.
Robyn- We’ll talk about that again in the next story, but our listeners need to remember that where you shoot an assailant is extremely important.
Rob- Are attacks at a bar very common?
Robyn- Yes, when people are intoxicated a lot of situations can be easily escalated because people are not thinking clearly and may have fewer inhibitions than normal. That’s why they call alcohol “liquid courage.” Unfortunately we don’t have statistics for how many bar fights escalate into violent attacks. The law varies greatly from state to state regarding whether or not an individual can carry in a bar, or any other place that serves alcohol.
Rob- What else do you see here?
Robyn- The political climate of an area can be a real concern to a person who uses his or her firearm in self defense. A anti-gun district attorney or prosecutor could make it very difficult to survive the legal fight after the gun fight.
Be mindful when you travel into jurisdictions where a defender may not receive a fair trial. Avoid those areas if you can, including bars and convenience stores in those areas, and have self-defense insurance so you have immediate access to an attorney that specializes in firearms cases.
You also want to talk through your defense with your friends and family. A firearm is a last resort. Maybe the three of you have to tackle the attacker to the ground, or run back inside the bar. Have options ahead of time so a barfight doesn’t evolve into a gunfight.
Rob- Is there anything else you’d like your students to do in a situation like this one?
Robyn- The fiance was taking video of the attack, but perhaps she could have had the command presence to participate in her own defense earlier in the situation. Maybe she could have de-escalated the situation so that he didn’t follow them from the bar, or she could have deployed pepper spray or a nonlethal option when he grabbed her.
Rob- Should we shoot to wound?
Robyn- If there is an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury, then shots must be placed accurately so that the threat is immediately stopped. From a legal perspective, if the intention is not to incapacitate, then lethal force itself would not be justified. And it would be negligent to send rounds that could miss the target and could cause the unintended injuries of bystanders.
Our third story happened in Ville Platte, Louisiana.
Rob- First this message from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
Rob- Third story- Do you have a gun nearby as you sleep in your bed?
It is well before dawn on a weekday morning. You’re jolted from sleep by the sound of breaking wood. You hear someone moving through your house. Your ex-boyfriend comes into your bedroom and tries to take off your night clothes. You fight him off. Your child hears the yelling and comes into your room. Then, your ex leads the child back to the child’s bedroom. You grab your handgun and wait. When your ex comes back, you tell him to leave. He moves toward you and you shoot him. He reaches for your gun and you shoot him again. Now your ex-boyfriend grabs your gun and runs away. You drive to the police station and talk to the officers at the desk. You give them a description of your attacker.
The police find your attacker at the hospital with a gunshot wound in each leg. He is arrested for theft of a firearm, home Invasion, false imprisonment, violation of protective orders, attempted 2nd degree rape, criminal damage to property, and battery of a dating partner with child endangerment.
You’re not charged, but the police are holding your gun as evidence.
Robyn- There is a lot going on in this story. She was prepared because she had taken out a restraining order on her ex. It was clear that he was not welcome in her home under any circumstances. She also made sure her doors were locked and she was armed. She defended herself, left for safety after the attack, and contacted the police.
Rob- What else do you see in this story?
Robyn- My first thought was the safety of the child. She waited in her bedroom with her firearm until her ex and her child were separated, but when she left to the police station, hopefully she took her child to safety, too.
Rob- What do you tell your students to do?
Robyn- The sad truth is that more than half of all female homicides are related to domestic violence and in 93 percent of those cases, the culprit was a current or former romantic partner. A ten-city study found about one-fifth of the female IPV victims who had a restraining order were killed within 2 days of the order being issued; about one-third were killed within a month.
So we tell women in this situation to acknowledge that this is only a piece of paper and the danger is still present. She needs to prepare a safety plan with the help of a professional organization or professional counselor. Have the mindset, training, and equipment that you must stop ANYONE who is attempting to kill you, even if it is your child’s father or someone you love.
If you cannot pull the trigger in the above scenario in less than 3 seconds to stop your attacker, you will need other defensive skills to keep your weapon from being taken from you and being fatally used against you. Seek out a class in handgun retention and practice these skills frequently.
Rob- It is hard to make a plan in seconds when you were asleep only seconds ago. What could that plan look like?
Robyn- If you hear a crashing sound like that, then-
- Grab your gun, and your phone, and a light if possible.
- Turn on the lights.
- Move so you’re between your child and an intruder.
- Get to the top of the stairs or behind a corner so you’re not a target.
- Move yourself and your children to a safe room or secondary exit if you can.
- Shout that you’ve called the police and that you’re armed.
- Shoot your intruder if they advance toward you. Aim for the high center chest. If they come closer, then aim for the triangle between the eyes and the bottom of the nose.
- Shoot until the threat stops.
Rob- That sounds like some mental homework and some emotional homework.
Robyn- Paul Sharp says, “If I could snap my fingers, I’d make it the way it should be. We have to survive in the world the way it is.” The challenge is getting women to acknowledge their reality (yes, this is really happening; you’re not being dramatic), and then helping them take action!
Some women are afraid of escalation. Often a woman won’t get a restraining order because they don’t want to poke the bear and manifest the attack that they are afraid of. It is a delicate conversation, but the most important first step to her empowerment and safety.
Rob- We used to say pants-on-gun-on, but we have so many people working from home that they might spend the day in sweats. Are there other ways to carry a firearm at home that don’t require a gun belt? (and when do your students learn about pocket carry?)
Robyn- Women have more safe holster options now than ever before. There are many holsters that work with any style of clothing. For example, it used to be difficult to carry in yoga pants or pants without a belt, but now there are a lot of concealment garments, clip-on holsters, or even holsters like the Engima system that fits to your body and is independent of your clothes altogether. The important thing is that the holster is made for the make and model of your carry gun and completely 100% covers the trigger guard.
Our fourth story took place in Waco, Texas.
Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed when you stop for gas?
You’re stopped at a convenience store a few hours after dark. You hear a woman scream for help and you see her run into the store. You see a man with a knife chasing her. You see him stab her. You move toward them and shout for him to stop. The attacker stabs his victims again when they are inside the store. You present your firearm and shoot the attacker twice. Now he drops his knife so you stop shooting. Both the victim and the attacker are bleeding. You shout for the store clerk to call 911.
Emergency Medical Services take the victim and the attacker to the hospital with serious injuries. You stay at the scene and give a statement to the police. Other witnesses tell the police what they saw. The store has surveillance video that matches your story. It takes a while, but the police send you home.
Robyn- The defender was carrying his firearm on body. He was paying attention and took the cries for help seriously. He recognized an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat to an innocent party. He acted to stop the threat, and he stopped shooting when the threat stopped. He stayed at the scene and gave a statement to the police when they arrived.
Rob- This reminds me of the previous story where you had to consider what you’d do ahead of time or the attack would be over by the time you closed your mouth and decided to act.
Robyn- Exactly. The defender was planning to get gas and maybe grab a snack, but instead his day went in an entirely different direction in an instant.
As usual, these stories are not as clear as we’d like. The story doesn’t say if the defender was standing outside the store or if he was already inside when he heard the woman scream for help. Also, it isn’t clear when the defender holstered his firearm.
Rob- You did such a good job with the last plan, what should we plan to do if this happened in front of us?
Robyn- The first step is trying to gather as much information in order to make an informed decision. Who is screaming, who is attacking, could this be a law enforcement situation, could this be a mass casualty situation, is it safe and prudent for me to get involved?
The next step is to look at the proximity. The victim and the attacker were close to each other, so the defender has to determine if it is possible to shoot the attacker without hitting the victim or any other bystanders. That may mean getting closer to the attacker and moving so that we have a freezer case behind the attacker rather than another customer.
When the shooting stops you want to make it safe so people can treat the injured. That may mean standing over the attacker’s knife to secure it, and ensuring your gun is in a safe direction and not at innocent people.
Ask everyone if they are injured. Ask them to call 911. Ask them to help treat the injured.
Holster your gun away as soon as you can.
If this were a robbery, we’d want to lock the doors. Always remember that bad guys have friends, so be mindful that there could be additional attackers outside, maybe a buddy who was in the car with him when he arrived.
Rob- When do your students learn to make good plans like that one?
Robyn- Being a responsibly armed citizen means playing the “what if” game on a consistent basis. For example, when you’re pumping gas, think, “what would I do if I saw a person attack someone?” and then play out the scenario in your head. Where is cover and concealment? Where are your exits? How will your plan change if your family is with you?
Look for classes near you that help you with decision making. Some of these classes can be taken on simulators so you’re not even working with live ammunition, but you have the ability to walk through shoot/no-shoot situations. You’ll develop the skills to watch for abnormal movement before it happens, so that you can give yourself time and distance to react or get away. You’ll be able to practice using your words to de-escalate or command a situation. You’ll be able to consider tools you can use with varying degrees of force that can be applied in different situations.
Rob- that wraps up this episode. Robyn, thank you for helping us today. Where can we find out more about you?
Robyn- If you’re an experienced gun owner, or simply interested in self-defense, then look for me at A Girl and a Gun dot org, and at and A Girl & A Gun on all of the social media pages.
Rob- After you look at Robyn’s classes, then please leave her a message on the episode webpage.
Robyn- We share this podcast with you for free.
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I’m Rob Morse. We’ll be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.