Episode 295 with Robyn Sandoval
Welcome to episode 295 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. What has been keeping you so busy?
Robyn- Hi, Rob. I just got back from taking a 5-day pistol class at Gunsite. It was my first time visiting that academy and it was a great experience. I love seeing what other instructors around the country have to offer. How about you?
Rob- We didn’t receive a rating or a review on iTunes. (was 307,172). John sent us a picture of a sign he saw at a Jewelry store. The sign said “Guns are Welcome.”
Robbie sent us a comment.
Quote, On the story about two armed men breaking through the homeowner’s fence and approaching the back of the house. You and Heather mentioned that, “Who fired first” matters.
I would consider two armed men, approaching the rear of my home after crashing through my gate as a lethal threat, with clear intent and would negate me waiting for them to fire first.
Did I misunderstand something? Close quote.
Robyn- Lethal force is only justified if you are in immediate, otherwise unavoidable danger. If you’re locked inside your house and a criminal is in your backyard, they probably lack the ability to seriously injure you at that moment. You have a barrier between you and have some options at that point. If they force entry into your home, then the circumstances may be different. Using your firearm should always be a tool of last resort.
Rob- We’re looking for an assistant to help produce this podcast. If you want to contribute then please leave a message on our episode webpage.
Robyn- Please help new listeners find our podcast. Go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and tell new gun owners why you 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 Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rob- First story- Do you have a firearm nearby at night?
You and your family are at home in bed. You hear a crashing sound from downstairs at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. Your wife runs to lock the bedroom door. You grab your gun and then help brace the door. Your daughter is in the bedroom with you. The attacker says to open the door that you don’t have much time left and that he is here to kill you and your family.
You do not open the door. Your wife calls the police. You shout that you’re armed. You fire a warning shot into the ceiling. The attacker keeps beating on your door. You fire a shot through the bottom portion of the door and the attacker stops.
Police hear your gunshot. They break down your front door. They hear your attacker screaming upstairs. They handcuff him and take him outside. He is writhing on the ground with a shattered shin bone. You put your gun away and open the bedroom door.
You give a statement to the police. You point out the knife marks on the outside of your bedroom door. EMS takes your attacker to the hospital for treatment of his wounded leg. Police say your attacker called them earlier and complained that people were following him no matter where he went. The police don’t know if he is drugged or mentally ill. He is charged with burglary with a deadly weapon and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
You are not charged with a crime.
Robyn- That sounds like a really scary situation. It was great how quickly the family sprang into action – like they had an emergency plan for a scenario like this. They had locked doors and windows, and she immediately locked the bedroom door, too, to have another barricade between the family and the intruder. That bought them time. We don’t know how old the couple’s child was, if she was a baby or young child, but they got the child into their room and secured themselves there. They called 911 and braced the door.
Rob- That is a lot to get right at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. Is there more you’d like us to do that wasn’t mentioned in the news report?
Robyn- We want to have a plan for our entire family. If your children are old enough to walk then we want to include them and have them practice the plan with us. Their role might be to stay still, or to come to us, but they are part of the plan.
Although the situation worked out for them, it may be a different story in court. Warning shots are never advisable, nor is shooting through a door. This situation may have been improved if the mother was also armed so that they could reinforce the situation. They weren’t 100% sure what or who might be coming through that door. But if the door was breached, they could ensure that any threat would have been stopped immediately before reaching the family.
Rob- I understand that we don’t like to shoot through a door because we’re not sure who and what we’re aiming at. It also sounds like the defender saved the attacker’s life by disabling him. If an attacker makes it through my bedroom door then I’m going to be aiming for the high-center chest until he stops.
Robyn- Both the defender and the attacker were lucky. In court, the defender will have to articulate why he felt he was in immediate danger of being killed or severely disabled. It’s hard to claim this in a court of law how the attacker was a lethal and immediate threat to your family when there was still a door between you and him. He will also have to explain why he deliberately shot a firearm up into the air when he didn’t know where that round would come down. That isn’t best practice.
Rob- Good points. Thank you.
Suppose I’m listening to this podcast and I don’t own a gun yet. What are the milestones on my way to defending my family?
Robyn- Depending on the laws in the state, you may not need to own a gun for the adults in your family to take a basic firearms safety class. Either the instructor will loan you firearms or you’ll rent them from the range for that class. You’ll learn safety rules and basic gun handling, and also see which gun fits your hands and is right for your goals. With that basic knowledge, you can go to the local shooting ranges and rent other guns until you find one you like. Now you can buy your own range gear. It’s like trying on shoes… you could buy them without trying them on, but we all know that some look amazing and are terrible to wear. A smart consumer tries them on first to make sure they are right for you.
Some shooting leagues have a share-and-compare-night when you can feel and try other people’s guns. Many of my A Girl & A Gun chapters have “Speed Dating Nights” where you get to fire a few rounds through a gun, and then move to the next gun. Ask questions and take notes about that make and model. When you find a gun that fits you, then you might become a firearm owner, but keep in mind your goals for that firearm. Does it just need to fit you, or do other adults in your home need to use it or have their own?
After you find the firearm, then start learning about concealed carry. 25 states allow you to carry without a permit, but you still need to take a training class to learn the applicable laws of when and how and where it is lawful to carry. Also learn the laws of self-defense and the levels of force. Then start carrying at home, dry practice with your holster, take more concealed carry classes that help you balance speed and accuracy. Finally, let’s take a defense-of-the-home class with your family and tune-up your safety plan.
Rob- That lesson plan makes you well prepared to stay safe and to stay inside the law.
Robyn- That is the plan. Let’s go on to our second story in Tampa, Florida.
Rob- Second Story- Are you armed as you drive?
You are checking your phone messages as you’re sitting in your car in front of a friend’s house. A man stops his car in the street behind you and gets out of his car. He runs up to your window and yells at you. You don’t understand what he is saying, but you understand the gun he has in his hands and the gun is pointed at you.
You roll down your window and present your firearm. You shoot your attacker until he drops his gun. You get out of your car and call 911.
You put your gun away when the police arrive. They try to revive your attacker. EMS declares your attacker dead at the scene.
You give the police a statement. You are not charged.
Robyn- Most of us don’t think we’re at risk when we sit in our car minding our own business. This defender learned the hard way that sometimes we can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m glad he was armed.
I like that he recognized an immediate lethal and unavoidable threat when the attacker pointed a gun at him. He may have used distraction by trying to talk as he also reached for his gun. He then defended himself until the threat stopped. He called the police and asked for help. He put his gun away and gave a statement to the police when they arrived.
Rob- Is there more you might want us to do?
Robyn- Let’s see if we can avoid the problem in the first place. Like many Americans he was buried in his phone and maybe didn’t see this man coming up in the distance. Instead of sitting in the car on the phone, go inside. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t assume it’s just one lone guy. Go inside to a safe location and call 911. Ask your friends to call 911 too, because they were ear-witnesses even if they were not eye-witnesses.
Call your lawyer and have them help you fill out your police report.
Rob- How do I explain that to the police officers?
Robyn- Tell them that you’re the one who called 911 because you were being attacked. They might handcuff you until they take care of the wounded person on the ground. Sooner or later they will ask you what happened. Keep it very brief.
They will ask for your ID and give them your carry permit at the same time.
A man came up to my car door and threatened me. He pointed a gun at me. I defended myself. I called you and stayed at the scene. I’ll cooperate and answer all your questions, but I want to talk to my lawyer so I have help filling out the official report.
Then you be quiet. Don’t guess about anything.
- Why were you in your car at this hour? Silence.
- Have you ever met your attacker before? Silence.
- How many times did you fire? Silence.
Don’t present your legal case when you’re standing on the curb. Don’t repeat yourself either. Ask if you can call your lawyer so you can get started on their questions.
Rob- When do your students learn about defending themselves in public?
Robyn- When you start taking concealed carry training classes, you start thinking about this topic.
Rob- The police report says that the attacker had a fake gun in his hands. Does that make any difference to me as a defender as long as the gun looks real?
Robyn- If there is furtive movement and a reasonable person would have done what the defender chose to do, then it would probably not be a legal issue. The “reasonable person” standard is a good litmus test for judging your actions.
Our third story happened in Kokimo, Indiana.
Rob- First this message from the Second Amendment Foundation.
Rob- Third story- Do you have a firearm nearby at night?
You and your roommates are at home asleep on a weekday morning. You are woken up by a crashing sound. You meet your two other male roommates in the center of the apartment. You see an armed intruder wearing a mask. He waves his gun around pointing it at each of you. Your roommate bats the gun away, grabs the robber’s wrist and takes the robber’s gun away. All three of you are heading toward your attacker when he reaches for a second gun in his pocket. You hear the attacker’s gun go off and all three of you pile on and take that gun as well. The three of you are on top of your intruder. You tell your roommates to hold him as you go and get your gun and a phone. You hold your attacker at gunpoint while one of your roommates calls the police.
You put your gun away when the police arrive. They handcuff your attacker and then take him out of the apartment. When the police are ready, you give the officers your attacker’s guns and the ski mask he was wearing.
EMS takes your attacker to the hospital for cuts and bruises to his face. Your attacker is charged with felony burglary. He is 18 years old. None of you are charged with a crime.
Tag- No shots fired.
Robyn- Wow – two guns on the attacker. That is a good reminder to always be ready for another weapon to appear or another attacker to appear. Good for our defenders for taking action to defeat the pistol presentation. I’ve gone hand to hand in training, and there is a school of thought that says if your attacker is close enough, then it is better to fight for his gun before you reach for yours. That is what these three men did.
The attacker could not watch all of them at once, let alone fight all of them at the same time. The defenders kept throwing hands until they overwhelmed their attacker. Then, one of the defenders got his own gun and another defender called the police.
It is really important to have empty hands when the police arrive. The good news is that there are three of you there. One can answer the door and talk to the police. He can act as a messenger that the police are there. When the police come inside you want your gun, and the attacker’s guns, sitting on the table and out of reach. You want the attacker face down on the floor. Two of you can sit on him until the police take control of your attacker.
Eventually the police will want a story from each of you.
Rob- I’m surprised that the attacker wasn’t charged with three counts of attempted murder since he fired a shot during the fight.
When do your students learn what to tell the police and what to tell their lawyer?
Robyn- There are a lot of good training courses that can guide you on these conversations. At A Girl & A Gun, many of our chapters have clinics to address legal considerations in coordination with our partners at USCCA and US Law Shield. Both of these organizations have training departments that host discussions around the country. I also recommend reading the monthly newsletters from the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. If you can take a MAG 20 or MAG 40 class with Massad Ayoob or his team, it is well worth the investment.
Your concealed carry class should also get you started. Andrew Branca’s book, The Law of Self-Defense is like a graduate course.
Rob- My carry license is good for five years, but my instructor says I can retake the class any time I want a refresher. Have you heard any other instructors make that offer?
Robyn- I’m not surprised to hear this because there are fantastic instructors out there that absolutely love what they do, and want to see returning students time and time again. The good thing is that everytime you take a class you will learn something new that you didn’t pick up before.
Rob- Is there anything else you’d want our defenders to do?
Robyn- A doorbell camera would be nice. Perhaps if one of the defenders had a phone and firearm accessible on body or in the living room they would have given themselves a little more time, especially if there are multiple attackers. Like the rest of us, these guys need a home safety plan.
Rob- Where are we going for our last story?
Robyn- Our fourth story took place in Largo, Florida.
Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed in public?
You are walking across the supermarket parking lot when you hear a woman scream. It is just after 5 in the evening when you turn and see a man punching a woman in the head. She is hit several times and then falls to the ground. Her attacker stomps on her head and chest. You close the distance, present your firearm, and shout for him to stop.
He looks at your gun and backs away. You shout for someone to call 911.
The story doesn’t say if you held the attacker until the police arrived. Emergency Medical Services takes the victim to the hospital with a broken nose and to check for broken ribs.
The attacker has a restraining order forbidding contact with the victim. The victim is pregnant. The attacker is charged with aggravated domestic battery on a pregnant female. You are not charged.
Tag- No shots fired.
Robyn- Oh, my heart is sad to hear this story. I wish she had been armed and was able to defend herself. But thanks to our defender for being there, being aware to see what was going on, and being armed to stop it. Since the defender was armed, he was able to stop the attack, and perhaps he saved this woman’s life and the life of her child. The attacker could have been big and strong – he was definitely violent – and the defender had the great equalizer with him.
The defender shouted for help so he created more ear and eye-witnesses. He stayed at the scene. He put his gun away when the police arrived, and he gave a statement to the police.
Rob- What other things do you notice in this story?
Robyn- Other than making sure that she is armed? It’s my mission to for more women to be in charge of their personal safety.
But in this situation, since our defender got involved, he needs to have a big command presence. Order the attacker to the ground. That said, you should not shoot him if he turns and runs away. Ask if anyone can help the wounded woman until EMS arrives. You want to ask every eye witness who was near the attack to call 911. Say, You, come here. She needs help. Come here and call 911.
For bonus points, ask one of the people talking to the dispatcher to stay at the scene and to tell you when the police are about to arrive. Often, if this happens outside of a large grocery store, then a store manager will come outside and you can ask him to call 911 for you, too.
You want to either put your gun away, or have someone meet the police, have your firearm at the low ready or the sul position, and then have your assistant guide the police to you. At that point, you do what the police tell you as they take control of the scene.
You want to make sure the victim is protected. It is not your job to restrain the attacker.
Rob- Tell me why other witnesses are important cases like this.
Robyn- You want lots of witnesses in cases of domestic violence. The reason is that the victim will often refuse to testify. The police don’t need her testimony if they have four witnesses, security video, and the victim’s restraining order that the attacker clearly violated. With that restraining order in place, the attacker goes directly to jail before he has an arraignment.
Rob- How would your students learn about defending a third person?
Robyn- That is a really tough decision and one that you may have to ponder well in advance. Many of us become gun owners to defend ourselves and our families, and it’s ok if you don’t want to stray from that mission.
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 podcast episode webpage.
Robyn- 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.