Episode 319 with Heather Reeves


Rob- Welcome to episode 319 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 Heather Reeves. What has been keeping you away from us?

Heather- Hi, Rob.  I’ve been busy working on the firearms curriculum for our State of Michigan Concealed Pistol Licensing program and just got done taking MAG-40 from Massad Ayoob Group. Great information, had a blast, and took top shot in the class. I’ve also been working to get a new podcast launched for female shooters, we’re working through a few bugs, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to launch the first few episodes in early July!

How about you?

Rob- I’ve been practicing for my instructor requalification and going to the range. My wife is looking for a new gun, and I’m surprised by how well some of the newer guns shoot. After a decade, maybe I should change guns. I’ve also been writing on my blog.

We received a new rating and comment on iTunes (is 351,191)

JAC said he considers himself new to self defense even though he has been shooting for several years. The podcast is a great source of knowledge and training tips. He shares our episodes on Twitter and on Facebook.

Heather- He thanks us, but we should be thanking him for the way he shares this podcast with his friends.

Rob- I agree. Please go to the iTunes store and to Listen Notes 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 look at a few recent examples to see what we can learn. As always, the links back to the original news articles are on our podcast webpage.

Roger Temple gave us great help with the questions again this week. We don’t use all the comments, so there is bonus content on the episode website.

Our first story took place last week in Houston, Texas.

Rob- First story- Do you have a firearm nearby at night?

You are a 60 year-old man. It is 3AM Saturday morning when your video security system wakes you up because of movement outside your home. You look at the cameras and see two strangers breaking through your fence. You think they are after your cars that are parked outside. You approach them and shout at them to leave. One of the intruders pulls a gun and shoots you. You are armed and you shoot back. You shoot the nearest attacker until he turns and runs. The injured man retreats back through the fence and hides in a stairwell.   

You call 911 and ask for help. First responders take your attacker to the hospital where he dies. You are taken to the hospital and treated for a bullet wound to your leg. You give a brief statement to the police. They tell you that there have been a number of break ins in the area recently.

You are not charged with a crime.

What did our defender do correctly?

Heather- I like that our defender was a gun owner.  He had a video system around his home. The security system was turned on and he didn’t ignore it at 3 in the morning. He took his gun with him when he went to investigate the disturbance. He tried verbal commands. He defended himself when he faced an immediate, lethal and unavoidable attack with a firearm. He stopped the attack even though he was injured. He stopped shooting when the threat was over, and he didn’t chase the bad guys down the street. He called for help. He gave a statement to the police.

It doesn’t say so, but I wonder if he was able to give the police a copy of his security video and if that video captured the attack.

Rob- Is there more that you’d want us to do when we hear a fence being ripped down at 3 in the morning?

Heather-  I want you to stay inside from a defensible position and call the police right away. While it is tempting to go out and confront individuals doing damage or stealing property, I’d rather you stay safe and get the police on route.

The use of verbal commands cannot be underestimated, but we have to be prepared to take more action if they do not work. Our defender was and it worked out well for him. I want you to practice your verbal commands, and variations of the verbal commands. Avoid profanities and work on your command voice coming from the diaphragm. This is especially important if you are a soft spoken individual as it will not come naturally for us to be loud, confident, and commanding.


  • The defender had a video alarm system and he didn’t ignore it. His system gave him good information. 
  • The defender recognized a potentially lethal threat and took a gun with him to confront two suspects. However, the threat was neither immediate nor unavoidable. 
  • The defender tried shouting at them first but one of the suspects shot him in the leg. Sometimes verbal warnings work and sometimes they don’t. Be prepared either way.
  • The defender stayed in the fight even though he was injured. He shot back at the suspect who shot him. Once a gunfight starts you need to keep fighting until the threat is neutralized or the suspect retreats. If you quit, you might die.
  • The defender stopped shooting when the suspect turned and ran away. He did not pursue the suspect.
  • He gave a brief statement to the police. Save the details for your lawyer.  

Heather- The most important thing is that I want you to think about this now because you’re not very smart when you wake up at 3 in the morning. Have a plan.

Call the cops. Turn on the outside lights. Call your neighbors and have them turn on their lights too. If you have to, then bring a flashlight and friends. Can your neighbor meet you outside? Can your roommate or your family meet you outside? If you are outnumbered and you don’t know how your attackers are armed, then don’t go outside into a fight you can easily lose. Can you turn on the sprinklers and wet down your burglars?

This was not a lethal threat when you walked outside. That means you can’t shoot first. If you’re going to yell at the robbers, then do that from cover so you’re hard to shoot. Our defender is lucky he survived a leg wound.


  • He should have called 911 as soon as he saw the suspects on the video. The sooner you call for help, the sooner it arrives. 
  • Don’t engage in a gunfight unless your life or someone else’s life depends on it! Texas is the only state that allows the use of deadly force to protect property but it’s not usually worth it. Property can be replaced, lives can’t. 
  • He was only one defender against two suspects outside, in the dark. Best practice would have been to call 911, turn on exterior lights and remain in the house so he could effectively defend himself and other family members if present. (Barricade and defend.)  The suspects may have fled from just the sight of exterior lights and someone shouting. Install motion-activated exterior lights.
  • When the defender confronted the suspects, he should have taken cover before he shouted at them. Most suspects are armed and they will use their weapons if confronted. If you’re not prepared for the suspects to put up a fight don’t start one. The only gunfight you win is the one you don’t have. 
  • Did he have a flashlight and did he know how to use it properly? Don’t shoot at shapes, shadows and sounds. Know what your target is and light it up so you can get effective hits. Usually, the first one to get a good hit in a gunfight wins.
  • If you don’t bring friends…bring a gun. If you bring a gun…bring plenty of ammo. A five-shot revolver or a single stack semi-auto may not have enough ammo for a gunfight. Carry extra rounds or a spare magazine. Also, 90% of all semi-automatic malfunctions are caused by defective magazines. Carry a spare. 
  • The defender was shot in the leg. Did he have the training and the equipment to stop the bleeding? Could he stop his own bleeding if no one else was around? You can lose consciousness and bleed-out from an untreated leg wound in a couple of minutes. Are the EMT’s going to arrive in time? Did he know how to treat shock? If you carry a gun, trauma training/equipment is critical.

Rob- Anything else?

Heather- That is enough for now. Our second story happened in Columbus, Ohio.

Rob- Second Story- Are you armed at home?

It is just before midnight on a Saturday night. Both you and your brother are at home. You hear someone pound on your door. You open the door to see what is going on. Two men force their way inside. One intruder picks a fight with your brother. You and your brother try to push them back outside. The second intruder draws his gun and threatens you. You present your handgun too and tell them to leave. One of the armed intruders drops his gun as both intruders run from your house. Your brother locks the door. A moment later, the two intruders break down your door. Again, one of them is armed and you shoot the armed intruder until he drops his gun and turns around.

You and your brother stay inside and call 911 for help. Police arrest the wounded robber outside. You put your gun away when officers arrive at your door. You and your brother give the officers a brief statement about what happened. EMS takes your attacker to the hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his hip. Police take your firearm into evidence. Your attackers are both charged with aggravated burglary. News reports are not clear if the intruders were after you and your brother, or someone else who once lived in the home. You and your brother are not charged.

Rob- What did our defender do correctly?

Heather- His door was locked. Both he and his brother responded to the knock at midnight. He was armed when he and his brother went to the door. He recognized a threat that justified lethal force in response when he saw two armed intruders in his home. He tried to diffuse the situation and that worked once. He used lethal force when they broke down his door. He stopped shooting and didn’t chase them. They called for help and talked to the cops.


  • The defender had his gun on him while at home. POGO. Carrying at home doesn’t make you paranoid, it makes you prepared. 
  • The defenders closed and locked the door after pushing the intruders out. Could the defenders have retreated to cover while the door was still closed? The armed intruders could have shot through the closed door.
  • The second time, the defender recognized a lethal, immediate and unavoidable threat and shot the armed intruder in the hip. Did he shoot one-handed from a retention position or with both arms fully extended? Were the intruders close enough to take the firearm away from the defender? Shooting the intruder in the hip proved to be a psychological stop, not a physical stop. The intruder could have stayed and kept shooting instead of running away. Don’t depend on a suspect to run away if you shoot him. Keep shooting until the threat is neutralized or they retreat. And don’t ever turn your back on anything but a corpse. 
  • The defender stopped shooting and reframed from pursuing him when the intruder turned and ran away.
  • The defenders stayed onsite and gave brief statements to the police.

Rob- What do you tell your students to do in this situation?

Heather- Do not open the door. Reinforce your door with longer screws and extended strike plates. Our defender was lucky that the attackers didn’t shoot him and his brother when the defender drew his gun but didn’t shoot. It isn’t true that we should only present when we intend to shoot, but think ahead so you know when you can present and when it is wise to use lethal force. I don’t know what I’d do if I were facing two armed men who had their guns pointed at me and my family.

I want both family members armed and trained. Call the cops while one of you talks to the strangers through the door. Again using a strong command voice as we talked about with the last story. A loud commanding voice speaks to your commitment to protect yourself and your family and can provide a moment for the intruder to rethink their actions. It won’t work every time and you may not have time in certain circumstances, but when you do have time, it’s worth the effort.

Again, I don’t know what to do if your ex-roommate was into drugs and the enforcers show up to collect on his debts. Choose better roommates. I’m reminded of the idea from business, “Be slow to hire and quick to fire.” Vet your potential roommates well and be quick to kick them out if they are engaging in behaviors that may endanger you.


  • The defenders should not have opened the door. Especially when someone was pounding on it. Answer your door from cover, at a window or through the closed door instead. Don’t stand directly in front of the door in case the suspects decide to shoot through the door. 
  • Was the door reinforced? Probably not since the intruders broke it down the second time. Using long screws in the hinges and locks makes a door much more resistant to being kicked in. Safety film applied to glass on or near the door stops an intruder from breaking the glass and reaching inside to open locks.
  • The first time the defender presented his gun but then told the armed intruder to leave instead of shooting him. The defender gave the armed suspect the opportunity to shoot him first. If a suspect is armed, you have to assume that they are willing to use their weapon. You don’t have to wait to be shot in order to defend yourself. 
  • The police took the defender’s gun into evidence. Did the defender have a spare gun available to him until his gun is returned weeks or months later? Suspects are often released on bail. The defenders may need another gun in the meantime to protect themselves in the event the suspects or their friends return. 
  • The unarmed brother should also get a gun and training since they may have been targeted. 

Our third story happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Rob- First this message from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.



Rob- Third story- Do you have a firearm nearby at night?

It’s 4:00 in the morning when an intruder climbs through a window. Your mom hears him and the robber points a gun at your mom. The intruder demands your valuables. She tells him that she doesn’t have any. He threatens her and she opens the safe in her home. The robber takes the contents of the safe, a cell phone and the keys to your car. He drives away and you call 911. You also grab your shotgun from your room.

While you’re on the phone with the dispatcher, the intruder returns and kicks down your front door. The intruder has a gun in his hand and you shoot him. He turns and runs back out the door. You stop shooting and stay inside.

You tell the dispatcher that you had to shoot someone. Police find your attacker outside. They handcuff him. EMTs transport him to the hospital. You put your gun down and give the police a brief statement. So do your mom and your sister. The police find a very realistic-looking black pellet pistol on the suspect. 

Your attacker dies at the hospital. You are not charged with a crime.

Rob- What did our defender do correctly?

Heather- I see what you did here, we have a theme. This is the second story where the attackers came back. I like that the defenders did not put up a fight against a man with a gun when they were unarmed. They locked their door and called the police. They armed themselves. When armed, they recognized a lethal threat when the attacker broke down the door. The defender stopped the threat and then stopped shooting. They gave a statement to the police.


  • The defender and his family cooperated with the suspect when they were unarmed. You have to wait your turn if a gun is already drawn on you. 
  • The defender contacted 911 as soon as the intruder left.
  • The defender retrieved a shotgun after the intruder left in case he returned. It was a good thing that he realized that they weren’t out of danger yet. 
  • The defender shot the intruder after he broke down the front door. This was a lethal, immediate and unavoidable threat.  The defender had already called 911 and they were on the way but he had to deal with the situation until the police arrived. 
  • The defender did not pursue the suspect into the street.
  • The defender cooperated with the police investigation. 

Rob- What would you tell your students to do ?

Heather- I want your windows locked. Let’s put a motion detector in the main hallway. I want all of you to have a plan so you don’t stumble into the middle of your house and find an armed intruder waiting for you. I want all of you to have a gun in a bedside safe at night. I want you to call the police from a place of safety rather than clearing your house on your own.

I also want you to have a lawyer to call so he can help you fill out your official police report. The crazy druggie may have a corrupt lawyer for an uncle.

Rob- There is more, isn’t there.

Heather- It is going to be hard on you if you have to kill someone. The more you think about it ahead of time, the better you will cope afterward. Some self-defense insurance plans include going to a counselor, social worker, or a therapist. There are some aftermath pieces that we can deal with on our own, but sometimes you need a professional who has background in trauma. The one caveat here is if you are working with a lawyer because of potential legal proceedings then please have a discussion with them about seeking help first because not all health records are completely sealed to the courts.


  • The defender should have been armed when he first confronted the intruder. Keep a response kit by your bed with a gun, ammo, flashlight and a cell phone.
  • Could the defender and his family have retreated to a defensible room at the first sound of a break-in? Did they have a plan for a home invasion?
  • The fact that the intruder’s gun was only a pellet pistol is irrelevant. If someone points a gun at you with intent, you have to assume that it is real and act accordingly. 
  • Fortunately, the defender realized that the suspect might return and he retrieved the shotgun.
  • The defender was forced to kill the intruder. That’s not an easy thing for the defender and his family to live with. It’s a good idea to seek professional help if this occurs. Also, be prepared for the intruder’s family or friends to retaliate.
  • The defender and his family “fully cooperated” with police. Hopefully, they only gave the police the bare facts. They should wait 24 hours and only give the details to their lawyer so he or she can make a complete statement to the police. Adrenaline causes memory gaps and cognitive errors which cause discrepancies in your statements. Any alterations in your statements make the police suspicious that you aren’t telling them the truth. 

Rob- Where are we going for our last story?
Heather- Our fourth story took place in Tulsa Oklahoma (again)

Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed at home during the day?

It is summertime and the grass is getting taller by the minute. You’re doing yard work at 10 on a Sunday morning.  You’re working in your front yard when a neighbor comes up and shouts at you. You back up and ask him to leave. He keeps shouting and you back into your garage. Your neighbor follows you and attacks you with a set of shears. You’re cut.

The news story isn’t clear if you had your gun on you or if it was somewhere in the garage with you. You present your firearm and tell your attacker to stop. Your attacker turns away and walks out of the garage. A few seconds later, he runs back into your garage and charges you. You shoot him before he reaches you. Your attacker turns away a second time and runs into your backyard. You step back and call 911 for help.

Police and EMS arrive. You put your gun away and tell the police what happened. EMS declares your attacker dead at the scene. Police ask you questions. They check with the neighbors and look for security camera video.

You are not charged with a crime. It isn’t clear how much medical treatment you needed for your cuts.

Heather- We think we’re safe when we’re at home cutting the grass. I know that feeling and I wish it were true. I like that our defender was armed. I know that it is hard to carry a firearm when it is so hot outside. It feels like you’re swimming even if you are walking across your front yard.

Our defender tried verbal commands. That gave him a lot of ear-witnesses. Our defender retreated. That makes it very clear that the other neighbor was the aggressor.

The defender recognized a lethal threat when the person who had already cut him then charged him. Our good guy defended himself, stopped shooting, and then called for help.

Rob- Is there anything else you’d like us to do in a situation like this one?

Heather- Know your neighbors. Maybe they could have called the police when they heard you shout for help. Retreat to a position behind a locked door if you can. Call the police when you’re safe. 

If you couldn’t retreat safely, then you’re going to have to shoot with an attacker running at you. Do you know how to shoot from the retention position so you don’t hand your gun to your attacker?

Have you timed yourself during your practice sessions so you know how quickly you can get your gun out and get shots on target? We can’t predict how long we will have for the fight that we are going to be thrust into, but we can have confidence that our skills are up to the task, and so we know the limitations.

After the fight, get medical treatment because that documents your injuries. Then call your lawyer and do what he says.

Rob- Why is that lawyer important?

Heather- Your neighbor attacked you. His four ex-wifes and 10 step-children can sue you. You want to win those cases in civil court as well as in criminal court. I don’t do that for a living, so I get help from people who do.


  • Retention Shooting: Do you know how to draw and fire your handgun from the retention positions? If you and your attacker are within 6 to 8 feet of each other, the attacker may try to grab your gun if you fully extend your arm(s). Learning to shoot from either the fully retention or the partial retention positions takes time and practice. You’re not going to magically figure it out while you are under attack. 
  • An attacker with a knife or an impact weapon can run about 21 feet in the same amount of time it takes you to draw your gun and fire one shot- about 1.5 seconds. This is the Tueller principle/drill. You don’t have to just stand there! Maybe you can evade the attack or step sideways at the last moment. Maybe you can start running away from the attacker. This gives you more time to find cover and/or draw and fire. The more time you have to react, the more options you have.
  • Draw and Fire: Practice drawing and dry firing your carry gun until you can do it under 1.5 seconds and still get a good hit on the target. MAKE SURE YOUR GUN IS NOT LOADED AND POINT IT IN A SAFE DIRECTION! All the rules of safe gun handling still apply. If you can’t do this with your real gun try it using an airsoft gun. 
  • Point Shooting: You also need to practice shooting while you are moving- preferably to cover. At close range, say under 15 feet, you should be able to hit a 9” circle multiple times while you are moving away from it, towards it and sideways from it without using the sights. Again, if you can’t do this with your real gun, you can use an airsoft gun. The airsoft training is valid since your brain doesn’t know the difference.

Rob- When do you tell your students about that?

Heather- We talk about legal insurance in our concealed carry class. Defense costs money that you might not have in the bank today.


Rob- That wraps up this episode. Heather, thank you for helping us again. Where can we learn more about you?

Heather- Find me at my gun store website, Wolverinedefenseacademy.com.

I list more classes at agirlandagun.org under the Portage, Michigan chapter.

Rob- After you look at Heather classes, then please leave her a message on the podcast episode webpage.

Heather- 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. Leave a comment on Listen Notes.

We’re also available on
Amazon, 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 in a few weeks with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.




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