Episode 272 with Robyn Sandoval
Welcome to episode 272 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. We’re joined this week by firearms instructor Robyn Sandoval. What have you been doing since we talked?
Robyn- Hi, Rob. I’m putting together the final touches for the 10th Annual A Girl & A Gun National Conference Presented by GLOCK that is coming up in just 3 weeks! We’re going to have over 550 students with 73 nationally recognized instructors training live-fire and dry-fire with pistols, rifles, shotguns, as well as gunsmithing, archery, legal discussions, all methods of self-defense, and so much more. It will be 4 days of awesome training and camaraderie.
And if you’re not an A Girl & A Gun member who is attending Conference, find a training class near you. Here in the US, responsibly armed citizens defend themselves and their loved ones thousands of times a day. In today’s episode, we’ll look at a few recent examples and see what we can learn. The links back to the original news articles are on the podcast webpage.
Our first story took place last week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Rob- First story- Are you armed in public?
It is just after noon and you’re playing a video game at the corner market. Two men wearing hoodies and masks enter the store. One news story says the two men tried to rob the cashier. Another news story says they tried to rob you. Both of them are armed with a handgun.
You own a gun too. You also have your Pennsylvania license to carry a firearm. You are carrying concealed in public today.
Neither news story explains how you did it, but you shoot the closest robber. Again, one story says the attacker was shot twice, and another article says your attacker was shot twice in the abdomen and twice in the chest. You stop shooting when the attacker drops his gun and falls down. The other robber runs from the store. You and the store clerk retreat and stay at the store. The news story didn’t report which one of you called 911.
Police recover the attacker’s firearm. They also take your firearm as evidence. Emergency medical personnel transport your attacker to a nearby hospital.
You give a statement to the police. You show them your identification and your carry permit. The clerk makes a statement also.
Later, you found out that your attacker died in the hospital. You are not charged with a crime.
Robyn- Let’s first look at the big picture: our defender was equipped to protect himself at all times. He had already taken a training class, bought a gun, gotten his permit, and learned how to carry. He also learned how to defend himself.
And just as important, although he was playing a video game, he wasn’t fully immersed into it and oblivious to his surroundings. In today’s covid environment masks and hoodies don’t necessarily indicate a threat, but when he saw the two men try to rob the store, he recognized an immediate threat and was legally justified in using lethal force to stop that threat.
He stopped shooting when his attacker was no longer a threat. He either contacted 911 or made sure that emergency services were contacted. He stayed at the scene, and he gave a statement to the police.
Rob- Is there more you’d like us to do in a situation like this one?
Robyn- About half of assaults take place away from our home, but most of our armed defense takes place in or near the home because most of us don’t have a carry permit. You need a permit in Pennsylvania, but in a lot of states you don’t.
More people should take training classes with their concealed carry handguns, holsters, and their everyday clothing, so they are comfortable and confident to carry in public. That way they will be ready to defend themselves, just like this man had to do.
Also, I hope they had security video in the store, but it doesn’t mention that in the story.
Rob- The news articles aren’t that clear. I know I can defend myself if the robber is pointing his gun at me, but what can I do if the bad guys threaten the store clerk? What should I do?
Robyn- In general, a person may lawfully use deadly force to defend another if the person being defended themselves had a right to use deadly force in self-defense. In this case, the clerk is an innocent party faced with deadly force, so there is justification to using deadly force in his defense. It’s important to know the laws of your states. Most states follow the “reasonable person standard” which basically states that our defender can act in a way that a hypothetical reasonable member of society would act if he or she was found in the same situation.
Rob- How do I defend myself and not get shot?
Robyn- The best protection is to close your reactionary gap. This is the time between when you identify the threat and you act on it. If you spend that time panicking or searching for options, then your defense may not be as swift and effective. In training we often say, Your body can’t go where your mind hasn’t been. It’s important to front-load these kinds of situations into your mind so that you can quickly spring into action without delay.
One of the advantages about carrying concealed is that your attacker doesn’t know that you’re armed. Typically a robber will enter a store with tunnel vision and not see all of the potential threats around him. Carrying concealed gives you the element of surprise, and combined with basic tactics, can definitely improve your odds. We talk about this in our concealed carry class and our armed defense classes.
If the attacker is focused on you, then you have to act even more judiciously. Drop your phone and back up. Drop your wallet and back up. Drop your keys and back up. Wait for a moment when the attacker isn’t looking at you and his hands are full. Then move, present your firearm, and shoot until the threat stops.
Rob- So we cheat?
Robyn- It’s not cheating – it’s what the situation requires for us to survive. This isn’t playing a game or being lucky; it’s about being smarter than the other guy, better skilled and equipped than the other guy. We have the good fortune of video camera documentation and analysis of gunfights similar to this, so we know what we need to do in such a moment to prevail.
Rob- That makes sense, but it is a lot to absorb the first time I hear it. How do I make those ideas available when I’m being attacked and I’m about to panic?
Robyn- You have to practice. You think about what to do, and then you do it. Learning to be a responsibly armed citizen is only partly about the marksmanship, and also about the mindset. Take classes, but mostly practice a lot – live fire and dry fire – on a variety of targets, not bullseye targets, but some that might be humanoid or have vital organs imposed on them.
We’ll talk more about that in our other stories. For now, let’s go to Byron Township, Michigan.
Rob- Second Story- Do you have a gun nearby at night?
You and your wife are woken up by a man’s voice and a crashing sound outside. It is midnight and you look outside and see a stranger smashing the windows of your truck. You open the front door of your home and yell for him to go away. He moves toward you, so you close and lock the front door. The stranger yells for you to give him the keys to your truck.
You see that he is armed with a handgun, so you go and get your shotgun out of your gun safe. The intruder goes to the back of your house and tries to open the back door. He manages to tear the back door open part of the way. You shout for him to stop and the intruder shoots at you and your wife. You shoot back. Now, he stops shooting so you stop shooting. You and your wife call 911 and ask for the police.
Police and Emergency medical services find your attacker outside. He dies at the scene. You give the police a brief statement, show them your truck, and show them the bullet holes inside your home.
Your attacker has a criminal record going back two decades for drug offenses, vandalism, robbery, and armed robbery. He was wanted for parole violations when he broke into your home. Police also think your attacker stole two other cars this morning.
You’re not charged with a crime.
Robyn- Wow, how scary! I wonder what the toxicology report of this bad guy would say. But let’s look at what our defender did right. First, he woke up in the middle of the night and still had his wits about him. He didn’t approach the attacker and simply yelled from the front door.
When he was faced with lethal force, he retreated, created a barricade between them, and retrieved a firearm. In this case, it was a shotgun he used for deer hunting. He had the long gun stored where he could get to it quickly, as well as ammunition that he needed.
He returned fire when he was fired upon. He stopped shooting when the attacker was no longer a threat, and he called 911.
Rob- That is so much to do in the middle of the night when you were asleep a few seconds ago.
Robyn- It is! That is why podcasts like this one are so important. It’s another way for us to close that reactionary gap, so we’re not sitting there in confusion or denial. We need a model of what to do so we have some options sitting there when we ask ourselves what to do in the middle of the night. It’s important to refresh that memory more often than renewing our concealed carry license every five years.
Rob- So I’m reminding my hands what to do with dry practice, and reminding my mind what to do by listening to podcasts?
Robyn- Yes, but it isn’t that black and white. They work together. Presenting your firearm in dry practice to a realistic target is also training your mind. Listening to this podcast, listening to the news, watching videos like Active Self Protection, they load our mind with options of what we might do in similar situations. If you pay attention and feel the video unfold, then you’re reminding your body what to do too.
Rob- Is there anything else you’d like your students to do if they were in this situation?
Robyn- Working as a team could have really helped. While he went to gather information from the front door, his wife should have been on the phone with 911 to get help there sooner. She could have also been armed, so that they could not have been ambushed by either the front door or back door before help arrived.
Also, if this scenario had happened when he was not home, would she know how to access, load, and shoot this particular firearm? What is her self defense plan if she’s alone? Would an alternate firearm be better for her? Regardless of the firearm used, have plans for different situations is important – both as a team response and if we’re on our own.
Another point about this story is that the defender spoke to the news media. I’m going to caution our listeners on that. Let your lawyer talk to the news.
Rob- Where are we headed next?
Robyn- Our third story happened in Los Angeles, California.
Rob- First this message from Jews for the preservation of firearms ownership.
Rob- Third story- Do you have a firearm nearby in your apartment?
It is 1:30 in the morning when you hear a crashing sound from downstairs. You are up and answering email, so you walk into the center of your apartment and grab the gun you keep in your closet. You hear a sound outside in the hall, and a few seconds later two masked men break down your apartment door. They run into your home and you shoot them twice. Your attackers turn and run, so you stop shooting. You stay in your apartment and call 911.
Police arrive several minutes later. The news story does not describe any evidence that your shots hit your attackers, or that the attackers sought treatment for their wounds. You think the attackers sought you out because they went directly to your apartment after they broke through the common door in the apartment complex.
You are not charged with a crime.
Robyn- Our defender recognized that he was his own first responder. He first went through all the hoops and steps to legally acquire a gun in Los Angeles, and that isn’t easy. He kept his firearm where he could get to it quickly. He recognized a threat. He defended himself. Then he didn’t chase the bad guys, but stayed inside and called for help.
Rob- Is there anything else you’d like us to do in situations like this one?
Robyn- He kept his gun in a closet near the front door. I don’t spend a lot of time standing near my front door, so it might be a better strategy to stage a gun where you are most of the time, if not multiple staged guns in different areas of your home, or even better yet, on your body. Also, he didn’t mention a gun safe, but make sure your firearms are always secured from unauthorized persons. There are a number of quick access safes on the market that don’t compromise security for accessibility. If he had not been home, and his guns were not secured in a safe, the criminals would have taken it. That’s how criminals get more guns.
Also, it looks like our defender missed. Not to diminish that this was a stressful situation, but training could help close in on his accuracy. We want to touch it enough that we are so familiar with our gun that safety is automatic. We want to train live fire and dry fire frequently enough that we are accurate at inside-the-house distances. Spend 15 minutes a week with dry practice and you’ll be so much better in two months. Try it. It doesn’t cost any money, and you’re going to be two months older in two months anyway.
Rob- Is this a pretty common crime?
Robyn- It is, particularly in cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia that release their criminals back on the street.
Rob- How should your students learn about patterns of crime in their area?
Robyn- Technology is your friend! There are apps like Citizen and websites like AreaVibes that allow users to view crime trends in the area and compare them to national statistics. NeighborhoodScout is another one that will give your neighborhood’s crime rate. Social media can also be helpful. NextDoor is a great app that will inform you about crime in your area, as well as every barking dog and helicopter that flies overhead, and there may be a Facebook group for your community where people and local police departments can share info about what’s going on. Your local police department will also likely have crime/offense maps like Community Crime Map and CityProtect. Check out your city website to see if they have these maps that allow you to cast a wide (or narrow) net as you search for red flags around you.
Rob- Where are we going for our last lesson?
Robyn- Our fourth story took place in Port Angeles, Washington.
Rob- Fourth story- Do you have a gun nearby in your motorhome?
It is after midnight when you hear someone at the door of your motorhome. Your son answers the door. You hear an angry argument, so you grab your gun and get out of bed. A stranger is pointing a gun at your son and threatening him. You shoot your attacker one time. Now your attacker turns and runs. You and your son stay inside the RV and call 911 for help.
Police arrest your attacker when he seeks treatment for a gunshot wound to the mouth. He is transferred from the local hospital to a larger medical center. Police also arrest the woman who drove your attacker to the hospital. She says she found him on the highway, but your son knows her.
Your son helped the woman a few weeks ago when she was trying to get her children back from Child Protective Services. Your son became afraid of her.
Both of your attackers were charged with first degree armed robbery. The female getaway driver was also charged with possession of methamphetamine.
Robyn- So the bad guy stated that he only wanted money that was owed to him and did not intend to hurt anyone, but he brought a gun and came to collect at midnight, so… that’s not typically the best way to have that conversation. He must have had some liquid courage or was on some other drug that prevented him from rational decisions at that moment.
Rob- Most assailants are intoxicated.
Robyn- I’m glad our defender was armed because that might have saved his life and his son’s life. We can’t expect reasonable behavior from addicts. The defender recognized a lethal threat. He defended himself and his son. He stopped shooting when the attacker turned and ran away. He called for help and gave a statement to the police.
Rob- What else do you see in this story?
Robyn- Let’s go back to his words vs his actions. He said he didn’t want to hurt anyone, but pointing a gun at someone is a lethal threat. Look at all the evidence and decide if your life is in danger. What would a reasonable person assume from this man’s actions? Addicts don’t make sense and criminals will lie, so the defender did the right thing.
Rob- This defender shot the attacker in the head in the middle of the night.
Robyn- Yes, he shot him in the mouth, which anatomically is in front of the brain stem, a vital organ for incapacitating the threat immediately. Our eyes are drawn to the greatest threat, which is why after action analysis shows that often defenders shoot the hand holding the weapon instead of a vital organ to incapacitate the threat, so as a defender, it’s important that we see the threat and move our sights to our more desired point of impact. If someone is pointing a gun at our loved one then we might want to stop them immediately with the first shot.
Rob- Information like that isn’t required by state law to get your carry permit. When do you talk about armed defense in that detail?
Robyn- If a person comes to me with the intention to get a firearm for self-defense, I immediately encourage the student to take a defensive pistol class. Learn about the human anatomy and the importance of defensive accuracy. In the movies, the bad guy may fall to the ground with one shot, but in real life, especially if someone is intoxicated, it may take many well-placed rounds to stop a threat. Understanding how impact areas affect your ability to effectively stop a threat will give you information that will save your life during the gunfight as well as the legal fight afterwards to ensure that your actions were legally justified. It’s about surviving both fights so that you go home to your family at the end of the day.
Rob- That wraps up this episode. Robyn, thank you for helping us again. Where can we learn more about you?
Robyn- 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. We have chapters all across the country.
Rob- After you look at Robyn’s events, 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.