Episode 286 with David Cole
Rob- Welcome to episode 286 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 self-defense instructor David Cole. I know that you’ve started competing in USPSA again. How about in Aikido?
Dave- Hi, Rob. I’ve been back to aikido on a limited basis (injured), and in addition to USPSA have been shooting a little steel and some skeet.
How about you?
Rob- We received two more ratings and a new comment on iTunes (is 296×166)
BikerBird said he listens to become a responsible gun owner, and for his future family.
Dave- Please go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and tell new gun owners why they should listen.
Here in the US, we defend ourselves 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.
Our first story took place last week in Pierce County, Washington.
Rob- First story- Are you armed at home at night?
It is after dark when you hear a knock on your door. A woman asks if she can come in. She is your neighbor and also your neighbor’s girlfriend. She said they had a fight. You let her in. Later, your male neighbor starts pounding on your door. He demands to come inside. He threatens his ex-girlfriend. He threatens you. You’re armed. You shoot your attacker when he tries to force his way through your locked doors. You call 911 and ask for help.
The police arrive. You put your gun away. EMTs declare your attacker dead at the scene. Now you find out that there is a no-contact order between your neighbor and his girlfriend. Both of them used to live next door.
You are arrested and then released. You are not charged with a crime.
Dave- I like that our defender was armed. I like that he stopped the attacker and then stopped shooting. He called the police and got help on the way. He also gave a statement to the police when they arrived.
Rob- Dave, the defender was arrested. Does that mean he now has a criminal record? What does it mean to be arrested, booked, charged and to be arraigned?
Dave- Without a conviction, the incident would not go into the defender’s criminal history, though it may show that there was an arrest *if* he was formally arrested and not just detained for investigative purposes. The article did state that he has not yet been charged with a crime.
Rob- What else do you see here?
Dave- I looked at the article and it looks like the defender lived in a mobile home. Mobile homes are often flimsy construction and can be relatively easy to break into. Also, the man from next door would probably have been in violation of his restraining order if he was in the home with his girlfriend. This would hinge on whether or not the woman actually resided in the home, versus being a visitor.
Rob- Is there more that you’d like your students to do in a situation like this one?
Dave- Please go armed at home so you can defend yourself and others. Since the article states that the attacker “attempted” to break into his neighbor’s home, it implies that he hadn’t yet gained entry, and the defender shot through the door, a window, or a wall. This may be why law enforcement detained him initially, since it might not have been as clear a case of self defense as it could have been. Had the defender waited until the back door was actually breached before shooting, it might have been a more obvious case of self defense to the police. If safe to do so, it may be better to hold off until the bad guy breaks into your home before you resort to lethal force. A factor to consider would be whether or not he is armed. If he’s armed, he can shoot through the door at you just as easily as you could shoot at him. He’s a greater threat, and especially so if he gets in. If he’s unarmed, as appears to be the case here, it might be better to wait until he gains entry. MIGHT BE. There are lots of factors in that decision, but he must be a lethal and immediate threat. If he is just standing on our steps and shouting at you, that probably isn’t the case. Learn the self-defense law in your state.
Rob- Why is a good understanding of the law so useful?
Dave- You want to know what you can do and when you can do it. We don’t want to do too much too soon, or too little too late.
Rob- When do your students learn about the legal use of lethal force?
Dave- The concealed carry classes for both Kentucky and Ohio cover the law regarding legal use of force.
Rob- Is there anything else before we move on?
Dave- Note that the guy standing on your porch breaking down your door is an easy target since he has to come through the doorway. Also, why not call the police as soon as your neighbor comes over and says her boyfriend broke the restraining order. Maybe the police can remove him before you have to use lethal force.
Let’s move on to our second story that happened in Big Pine Key, Florida.
Rob- Second Story- Are you armed at home?
You are at your mothers house and you hear her scream. You see your step father hit her. You shout for him to stop. You call 911 and ask for help. Your step-father threatens you and moves toward you. You’re armed. You tell him to stop. You shoot him when he advances toward you. Now he stops. You apply first aid. You stop first aid when the police arrive. You tell the police that your attacker injured your mom and threatened to kill both of you. The police notice that your mom is injured and that she also shows the bruises from earlier injuries. She said she has been beaten by her husband and that her husband threatened to kill her and to kill you. In front of the police, your step-father says he’ll kill you when he gets out of the hospital. It is 7:30 in the evening.
Your attacker is taken to the hospital. Weeks later, he is charged with battery when he is released from the hospital.
You are not charged.
Dave- I like that our defender was armed. He tried to use verbal commands to de-escalate the situation. He recognized that a full sized man hitting a smaller woman is a lethal threat. He shot the attacker until the threat stopped. Then, he called for help and applied first aid. When they arrived, he obeyed the officers instructions. He gave the officers a statement. That is important because the abuser first claimed that you attacked him without warning. Saying that the attacker was beating your mom prompts the officers to examine your mom and to talk with her away from your attacker. This a perfect example of how the internet advice of “never talk to the cops” would not be helpful.
Rob- Is there more you would do if this happened to you?
Dave- There are other considerations in deciding to use lethal force. For example, would it have been reasonable to expect the stepson to intervene with physical force, such as pulling the attacker off of his mother? We don’t know the relative size and strength of the two men, so it’s hard to say with certainty. There is also the reality that physical fights are unpredictable, and engaging in such a way might present an unacceptable risk. Being a black belt, I have some empty hand skills, but the attacker is used to hitting people so I’d have to be careful he doesn’t get in a lucky punch.
After shooting someone, I don’t know that I’d try first aid. That is particularly true if I was armed because I don’t want the attacker to grab my gun. In this story, the defender used a 22 caliber firearm. That would be an unusual carry gun, so the defender probably didn’t have a holster.
The first thing we do as a police officer is to cuff the suspect so he is no longer a physical threat. Also, I’d call my lawyer so he can help me fill out the police report.
Looking at the larger picture, I’d get a new place to live and ask my mom to move with me so she is safe. I’d also ask her to seek a restraining order against my stepdad, and I’d seek one as well since he threatened me. We want to do what we can to avoid a lethally violent encounter.
Rob- That is hard because it admits our relationship with our family is broken.
Dave- I agree. It is still better to avoid a violent person than to have to shoot them to protect yourself. Moving out and getting a restraining order is a move to avoid violence. If your step dad hits you then someone is going to the hospital and the other one is going to jail or to prison. I also want you to get your carry permit, learn the law, and go armed since you now have someone who said they will kill you.
Rob- When do your students learn about defending themselves at home.
Dave- In my concealed carry classes, we do talk about the legalities of defense in the home, but unfortunately we don’t have much time to discuss strategies and tactics in detail. That would come in more advanced training.
Rob- Talk to me about using a 22 for self-defense.
Dave- A .22 can be an effective self defense firearm, but it has limitations. Unless a shot is very well placed, it is unlikely to result in a physical stop right away. A physical stop is where there is actually enough damage done that the attacker’s body shuts down and he is physically unable to continue. More likely would be a psychological stop, where after taking hits, the attacker changes his mind and breaks off his attack. This is obviously less reliable than a physical stop. My advice would be to carry a firearm in one of the more common centerfire calibers if you can. But if a .22 is all you can do, it’s better than nothing. Just make sure that you can place accurate hits quickly under stress (same as any other caliber).
Our third story happened in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rob- First this message from the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Rob- Third story- Are you armed in public?
It is 10PM when you’re waiting for a train to take you home. Two strange men approach you. You say you’re not interested and move away from them. They advance again and you shout for them to stop. They advance and you present your firearm. You back away as fast as you can but the two young men rush you. You shoot them and now they stop. You call 911. You put your gun away when the police arrive. You give them a brief statement. One of your attackers died at the scene and the second is taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Security video shows you backing up over 30 feet to get away from your attackers. The District Attorney says you backed away and the two men clearly ran you down. The train station has become more dangerous as people with drug addiction have taken over the area.
You are not charged.
Dave- That is a tough spot. You try to back away and your attackers run at you until you have to shoot them. I like that our defender was armed and carrying in public. He recognized a threat and tried to de-escalate. He used verbal commands and then moved away. He shot his attackers until the threat stopped and then he stopped shooting. That takes planning before the attack and presence of mind during the attack. He stayed at the scene and called for help.
I like that there was security video to show what our defender did.
Rob- Is there more you’d like us to do?
Dave- What might have been safe practice years ago became unsafe today. If there is a new pattern of crime in an area then assume that you could be the next victim and avoid that area. That might mean you have to change your commute, or change when you leave a club to go home. Maybe it means it is time to move to a safer area because the police let the criminal element take over.
I’d also like to note that the news story states that our defender fired a warning shot. Although I like to avoid absolutes, this is really never a good idea. For starters, in most places it is illegal to discharge a firearm except in self defense. If you aren’t justified in shooting AT your attacker, why are you shooting at all? There are also concerns with the safety of any bystanders, and the fact that you are expending ammo that you might need to save your life.
Also, it’s a good idea to get your carry permit even if your state is a constitutional carry state.
Rob- When do your students learn to present a firearm from a concealed holster as they move backward?
Dave- This must be done one step at a time. First we want you to practice enough that you can safely present your firearm from an exposed holster without thinking about it. Then we’ll add a concealment garment. Then we’ll unload and practice it on the move. Then we try to put it together on the live range. That happens in an advanced carry class or with private lessons.
Rob- We forgot to add that we’re doing this at night with people who are only a few yards away.
Dave- That is when we add shooting from the retention position.
Rob- Would you describe that for our new gun owners?
Dave- The simplest explanation would be that you are rotating the gun muzzle forward as soon as it clears the holster, and firing from that close-in position. Obviously, the muzzle of the gun so close to our body, this is a technique which should be learned under the supervision of a competent instructor, as it is very easy to injure yourself if done incorrectly.
Dave- Our fourth story took place in Beaumont, Texas.
Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed at work?
You’re working behind the counter at a convenience store. It is almost midnight when an older man walks into your store. He has a knife and demands the money from the cash drawer. You back away and let him have the money. You call 911 and report the crime. The robber advances toward you. You present your firearm and he attacks you. You shoot him. Now he stops. You get your phone again and tell the dispatcher you had to shoot your attacker. Police arrive a few minutes later and you put your gun away. EMS takes your attacker to the hospital.
You give the police a brief statement. The police recover your attacker’s knife from inside your store. You are not charged with a crime.
Dave- I like that our defender was armed at work. She recognized that a man with a knife was a lethal threat. She retreated and called the police. She defended herself when the attacker tried to close the distance to her. She stopped shooting when the attacker stopped advancing. She kept in contact with the dispatcher and put her gun away when the police arrived. She gave the officers a statement. That is so much to get right in such little time that I think she had a plan.
Rob- Is there something else you’d like us to do if we were there?
Dave- Ideally, we’d like the clerk to retreat to the back office and lock the door before she makes the 911 call. We don’t know if there were other customers in the store at the time, and that may have been why she didn’t feel safe leaving the front of the store when a customer who walks in might be attacked by the robber. We just don’t know.
I’d also like her to have her concealed carry permit even though Texas is another constitutional carry state. The story says the robber attacked her but we don’t know if she was injured or the extent of her injuries. I’d also like some security video to give to the police.
Rob- Should she have drawn her firearm when she first moved away from the attacker?
Dave- That might have deterred the attacker. It would have reduced the amount of time she needed to shoot. It also filled her hands so it is harder to use a cell phone and call for help. That said, if she is presented with an immediate deadly threat, she’s got to save her own life before worrying about calling 911.
Rob- None of this is simple. I read about this all the time.
Dave- There are about a third of a million robberies a year, and about 10 percent of those are at convenience stores. If you have a district attorney who decided that robbery of less than a thousand dollars isn’t really a crime, then we’ve seen some areas where convenience store robbery increased five-fold. This robber is looking at aggravated assault and robbery. He is lucky he wasn’t shot dead.
Rob- It sounds like a responsible store owner would walk through these scenarios with his employees.
Dave- They should, and many do. They know they have a dangerou job.
Rob- That wraps up this episode. Dave, thank you for helping us this week. Where can we learn more about you?
David- Look for my written articles at deltabravocharlie.com
Rob- After you look at Dave articles, then please leave us a message on the podcast episode webpage.
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I’m Rob Morse. We’ll be back in a few weeks with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.