Episode 322 with Robyn Sandoval


Rob- Welcome to episode 322 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 Sandoval

Robyn- Hi, Rob.  I just got back from hosting A Girl & A Gun’s Women’s Clays Extravaganza! We had over 100 women come to this annual shotgun tournament in Ft Worth TX. It was so much fun!

How about you?

Rob- I’ve been trying new guns and trying to get some of my old guns and holsters repaired. I’m writing about what I learned in the class at FASTER Colorado. I’m headed to Detroit to help Rick Ector to teach the basics of armed defense to 1500 women this weekend.

We didn’t have any comments this week.

Robyn- Please 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 Atlanta, Georgia.

Rob- First story- Are you armed at home?

It is 11 at night. Your ex-boyfriend is arguing with you. You ask him to leave. He hits you. You step back and grab your gun. Now you tell your ex to leave. He rushes you and grabs your gun. You shoot him. Now he lets go of the gun. You call 911 and ask for help.

Police take your attacker to the hospital in serious but stable condition.

You don’t press charges. Since he attacked you in front of your children, your attacker is charged with cruelty to children. He is taken from the hospital to the county jail. You are not charged with a crime.

What did our defender do correctly?

Robyn- Long before the shouting and slugging started, our defender recognized that she might need to defend herself and her children. She bought a gun and learned how to use it. She kept her firearm nearby. She recognized an immediate, unavoidable and lethal threat when her ex started hitting her. She tried verbal commands. She shot her attacker, then she stayed at the scene, continued to defend her children, and called for help. She gave a statement to the police when they arrived.

(Talking points by Roger)

  • There was a disparity of force. The defender recognized that she was in an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threatening situation and she did not freeze. She realized that she had to defend herself from the attacking ex.
  • The defender stepped back, gaining distance and grabbed her gun.
  • The defender tried to use verbal commands to stop the threat but the suspect charged her and grabbed her gun.
  • The defender fired the gun and hit the attacker instead of herself or the kids.
  • The defender stayed at the scene and presumably gave a statement to the police. 

Rob- What would you like your students to do in a situation like this?

Robyn- Recognize that a restraining order is just a piece of paper. It will not keep you safe; in fact, it often can escalate a situation to violence. A ten-city study found about one-fifth of the female domestic violence victims who had a restraining order were killed within 2 days of the order being issued; about one-third were killed within a month. Nearly half of those with a restraining order had been protected by multiple orders. However, it does give you legal protections in court and can be a critical piece of evidence to put him in jail. 

So what can you do? Prepare a safety plan with the help of a professional organization or professional counselor.  Ensure that any weapons in the household are in your direct control. Keep your gun on body or within arm’s reach no matter where you are, even at home. Your gun should be readily available when you sleep, work out, take a shower, cook, etc. If a partner who you have recently separated with asks you to meet them to talk (and if you feel comfortable meeting with them), take your gun, meet in a public area, and be extra alert. 

In this situation, the defender retreated, but she did not retreat far enough and shoot early enough to stop the threat before he reached her and her gun. This is why marksmanship training classes are so important. And not only develop and perfect the physical skills of shooting, but also the mental fortitude. Have the mindset that you must stop ANYONE who is attempting to kill you. You must be willing to shoot the father of your children, the man you slept with last night, a mentally ill family member, or the neighbor you have known for 20 years. If you do not pull the trigger quickly enough, they will kill you. Your life is worth defending!

Be aware of where your family is when you’re shooting inside your home. You might have directions where you can’t shoot. Train to shoot at close distances with your gun, drawing from concealment.  Train to protect your weapon from being taken from you. Obtain self-defense insurance.

What would you tell your students to do (that the defender should have done? Talking points by Roger

  • Did the defender have a restraining order against the ex? The piece of paper probably would not have stopped the attack but it would have been a critical piece of evidence if a court case follows.  
  • The defender had a gun within reach when attacked. Was she wearing the gun? There were children present in the house so the safest place for her gun was on her body where it was available if she needed it but also safe from her children.
  • The defender stepped back from the attacker but not far enough. Nor did she put a table, chair or furniture between herself and the attacker. 
  • The defender did not hold her gun in the “retention position” which allowed her ex to charge her and get ahold of the gun. Knowing how to shoot your gun one-handed from either the full or partial retention positions and hitting your target area is critical when your attacker is close enough to grab your gun. 
  •  The defender was smart not to attempt to render first aid to her ex. Getting close enough to treat him would have just given him a chance to continue the attack. She could have thrown him a towel from a distance and told him to put pressure on the wound until EMS arrives.
  • Was the defender aware of where her children were when she fired the gun? The attacker had grabbed the gun and they were struggling over it. Sometimes bullets can go through an attacker and harm an innocent if they are in the line of fire. You have to know where the bullet is going to land when you pull the trigger. 
  • The defender’s decision not to press charges against the ex may turn out to bite her later. I’m not a lawyer but it’s possible that the ex-husband may decide to file a lawsuit against the ex-wife for shooting him. The fact that she didn’t press criminal charges against him may be used against her in a civil suit. 

Rob- Anything else?

Robyn- Let’s go on to our second story in Chicago, Illinois.

Rob- Second Story- Are you armed in public?

And here.

You are talking to two friends next to your car. It is after midnight when a stranger comes up to you. The stranger is wearing a ski mask. He pulls a gun and tells the three of you to hand everything over. You own a gun too. Unlike your robber, you have your Illinois concealed carry permit and you’re legally carrying concealed this morning. You present your firearm and shoot your attacker. He runs away into an alley. You stop shooting and call 911. You re-holster your gun when the police are nearby. The three of you give statements to the police.

Police find your attacker nearby. They direct EMS to the scene. EMS takes your attacker to the hospital in critical condition. The police find a gun in a trashcan in the alley.

You find out that you shot your attacker in the chest and you grazed his head. You are not charged with a crime.

Robyn- The defender had a gun and his concealed carry license in Chicago. Also, he was carrying his gun at the time of the attack. Getting his license there is not easy nor is it cheap so this shows good planning on his part. 

The defender recognized an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat to himself and his friends.

In this situation, verbal commands may have agitated the situation, so the defender acted decisively. 

The defender fired multiple shots until the attacker retreated and then the defender stopped shooting. 

The defender didn’t chase the bad guy down the alley. The defender called 911, stayed at the scene and gave a brief statement to the police.

The defender waited until the police were nearby to re-holster his gun so he met the police with empty hands.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Talking points by Roger)

  • The defender recognized an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat to himself and his friends.
  • The defender had gotten his concealed carry license in Illinois and he was carrying his gun at the time of the attack. Getting his license there is not easy nor is it cheap so this shows good planning on his part. 
  • Verbal commands probably would have been useless so the defender acted decisively. 
  • The defender fired multiple shots until the attacker retreated and then the defender stopped shooting. 
  • The defender did not pursue the suspect.
  • The defender called 911, stayed at the scene and gave a brief statement.
  • The defender waited until the police arrived to re-holster his gun and he did not present them with a threat. 

Rob- Are there other things that you want your students to do?

Robyn- This is the perfect example where you should follow John Farnam’s Rules of Stupid: “Don’t go to stupid places; don’t associate with stupid people; don’t do stupid things.” Being outside at 3 in the morning could be considered stupid. Perhaps carry a flashlight so you can identify a stranger who approaches you. This act alone will catch your robber off-guard because a light in his face probably doesn’t happen every day. With three of you being robbed, you may have to wait your turn until the robber’s attention is on your friends. Again, close quarters combat will teach you to shoot quickly at targets under three yards away.

This is Chicago, so I want you to have a pre-paid legal plan and a lawyer to call. Let your lawyer fill out your official report.

Rob- Why is that report so important?

Robyn- A prosecutor can ask why the three of you didn’t overpower your attacker. You want to put into evidence the facts that you faced a man with a gun in his hand and that the man threatened your life and the life of your friends. Since that isn’t what you do for a living, get help from someone who does.

(Talking points by Roger)

  • Standing next to your car with a couple of friends after midnight in any city is not the best place to hold a conversation. They were in a “transitional space” and made themselves a target. They would have been better off going to one of their homes, a restaurant or to a store. Lights, cameras and witnesses are your friends. Since they were in Chicago they could not sit in a bar because the defender was not allowed to carry his gun.  Could the defender have left his gun secured in his car while going to a bar? Leaving your loaded gun in your car is not very safe even if it is secured in a locked container. Not only are you separated from your gun if you need it, the car may be broken into or stolen and you lose your gun. 
  • Did the defender have a flashlight in his hand? Blinding an attacker, even for only a few seconds gives you a better chance to draw your gun and fire. 
  • Was the attacker close enough for the defender to use hand-to-hand skills or even disarm the attacker? If you are well trained, it takes about 1.5 seconds to draw your gun from concealment and get one good hit. The attacker already has his hand on his gun and is pointing it at one of you. So what’s he going to be doing while you’re drawing your gun?  Maybe you can create a distraction like dropping your wallet, keys or throwing a hat in his face?
  • The defender intentionally or unintentionally used a very effective shooting technique called the “Zipper (Drill)”. This is where the shooter starts hitting the target in the center mass first and then pulls the trigger at the top of the recoil cycle so each subsequent shot lands higher than the last. This technique is critical if an attacker is wearing body armor.  

Rob- Where are we going next?

Robyn- Our third story happened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rob- First this message from FASTER Colorado.

FASTER Colorado


Rob- Third story- Are you armed as you drive at work?

You’ve almost finished your first day on the job. You are a pizza delivery driver. It is just before midnight when you pull up to your next stop. As you get out of your car, two strangers come out of the darkness. They are masked and armed. They have a gun in your back. They tell you to get in the back seat of your car and they push you inside.

They demand your keys and your wallet. One of your attackers is armed.

You own a handgun. You have your Pennsylvania license to carry. You are carrying concealed tonight. You manage to get out of your car. You shoot the armed attacker closest to you. He turns and runs. Your second attacker is already running and you don’t shoot.  You stay at the scene and call 911 for help.

You put your gun away when the police arrive. You give them a statement. You say the attacker shot at you as he ran. The police find your wounded attacker about a hundred yards away. EMS transported the attacker to the hospital where he was treated for gunshot wounds to his buttocks. The police can’t find your other attacker.

You were on the phone with your brother when you were attacked. He heard everything. The police interview your brother and compare his story with yours. The police compares the number who called in the pizza order and it matches the phone found on your attacker. You call your boss and quit.

You are not charged with a crime.

Robyn- The defender understood that driving strange places at strange times to meet strange people is dangerous. He bought a firearm and got his carry permit. He took it with him even on the first day of the job, and I would guess that it was part of his EDC on a regular basis. 

He recognized a threat. He waited his turn. He defended himself, and then stopped when the attackers ran away. He called for help. He put his gun away and gave a statement to the police. 

What did our defender do correctly?

(Talking points by Roger)

  • The defender knew he had a dangerous job. He got his license to carry and brought his gun with him on his first day on the job.
  • The defender had a plan. He probably visualized this situation before he started the job and he was mentally prepared. 
  • The defender recognized that he was in an immediate, lethal and unavoidable situation. He did not freeze.
  • The defender exhibited “Tactical Patience” by waiting to react until the situation was in his favor. When the time was right he acted decisively. 
  • The defender was able to get out of the car. Staying in the car makes you a sitting duck and shooting at two attackers from inside a car is very difficult. It also stops you from moving which makes you a more difficult target. 
  • The defender did not try verbal commands since there were two attackers and they were armed. 
  • The defender got out of the car, pulled his gun and shot the closest attacker even though he was fired upon. 
  • The defender did not shoot at the second fleeing suspect nor did he pursue him.
  • The defender stayed at the scene, called 911. He put his gun away and gave a statement to the police. 
  • The defender quit his very dangerous job. He decided that his life was more important than this job. 

Rob- Are they other things you want us to do?

Robyn- Pennsylvania doesn’t require live fire training, so I encourage gun owners to take it upon themselves to get training. You probably don’t want to be on the phone when you drive up to a strange location. It is a mental distraction, and you don’t have your hands free for armed defense. Use the tools you have available… your flashlight as well.

Rob- That is more than gun safety. That is more than marksmanship. When do your students learn about armed defense?

Robyn-In this situation, where the defender was pushed into the back seat, he didn’t have a choice but to get out of the car to engage the attackers. The best case scenario would have been for him to get into the front seat, throw it in drive, and get away. We train for these scenarios at the A Girl A Gun DRIFT Academy, where women learn all aspects of vehicle defense. It is specialty training, so seek out opportunities where you can learn these skills.

What would you tell your students to do (that the defender should have done? Talking points by Roger.

  • Did the defender have a “BUG” (back up gun)? He had two attackers with at least one gun pointing at him. His life depended upon his gun working properly when he fired it. What would have happened if his gun had failed to fire? Having a back up gun on you to deploy is faster than trying to clear a malfunction. There are many other advantages to carrying a “bug”. Most cops and many well trained civilians do so every day. 
  • Was the defender well trained or just lucky? Pennsylvania does not require any training in order to get a license to carry a firearm. The more training you get the better the odds are that you survive a life and death situation. 
  • Talking to his brother on the phone while the defender was in a “transitional space” was not a good idea. If the defender was not on the phone he might have seen or heard the attackers sooner and had more time to react.
  • Were both of the defender’s hands occupied when he was attacked? Was he holding a pizza in one hand and his phone in the other? Always try to keep your gun hand free (empty). It’s unnatural to intentionally drop what you are holding, so most people have to train themselves to do it. Get rid of whatever is in your hand(s) and draw your gun. We tend to hold onto whatever we are holding unless we visualize and practice dropping it or even throwing it at the attacker in order to give us time to draw and fire. 

Rob- Where are we going for our last story?
Robyn- Our fourth story takes us back to Chicago.

Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed in public?

You’re walking on the street in a suburban neighborhood. You see the mailman stop his truck to make a delivery. A young man runs up to the mail truck and points a gun at the mailman. He says to hand over the keys. You know the mailman. You walk closer and the robber points his gun at you. You have your carry permit. You are carrying concealed this morning. You present your firearm and shoot the attacker. He shoots back as he runs. He runs back to the car that dropped him off, and the four robbers drive away. You stay at the scene.

It isn’t clear if you or the mailman calls 911. One of the neighbors asks the mailman to come inside and sit for a minute. You put your gun away.

You give a statement to the police. So do the other neighbors. The police look for security video. The office of the postal inspector puts up a 50-thousand dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robbers.

You are not charged with a crime.

 Robyn- Self-defense is complicated anytime you defend a third party. That said, the mailman driving his mail delivery truck is presumed to be an innocent party. Recognize that you could get sued, arrested, or killed by putting yourself into this fight. You have a big decision to make if you want to leave the scene or get involved. 

Our defender recognized that the mailman faced an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat as he was being carjacked. He acted immediately so I think our good guy had a plan. He shot at the attackers while being shot at. The armed citizen stopped shooting when the threat stopped, and he didn’t chase the bad guys down the road. He stayed at the scene. I like that they got the mailman to safety, and that he gave a statement to the police. Again, have a lawyer to call.

(Talking points by Roger)

  • Another DGU in Chicago. The defender took the time, effort and money to get their concealed carry license in Illinois and they were carrying a gun when a deadly situation occurred. Just because you have a permit and a gun doesn’t mean that you have to defend a third party. A permit and a gun don’t make a bulletproof shield. You are putting your life, health, wealth and freedom on the line in order to defend someone else. You’re not required to help someone else. Technically, neither are the police. You need to think long and hard as to whether you will get involved long before it happens. Trying to make that decision while in the middle of a life and death situation is impossible and leads to freezing. 
  • The defender recognized an immediate, lethal threat to a third party. But was it unavoidable? That depends on the jurisdiction and the District Attorney who will take months to make a decision about what you did when you only had a fraction of a second to respond. 
  • The defender decided to help, drew their gun and fired while being shot at.
  • The defender stayed on the scene, put their gun away and gave a statement to the police.

Rob- Is there any other advice for us? 

Robyn- If you’re not sure what’s happening, you can move closer to get more information. Because the defender saw the gun pointed at the mailman, verbal commands weren’t necessary. But be aware of your tactics – get behind cover. Aim small, hit small. 

So often people imagine a scenario like this out of a movie scene, but that’s not real life. Know when to talk and when to engage an attacker. Once innocent people face a lethal threat, the only reason to talk is to create a distraction to draw attention to yourself.

Rob- When do your students get that good advice?

Robyn-  Advanced training classes for carrying in public. It’s important to take firearms classes that specifically address the issues related to shooting in the open and around other people. There is a marked difference between a shooting classes that focuses on marksmanship, and one that focuses on defense. Both are valuable, and both teach skills that can help you, but advanced defensive classes really give you the leg up to survive this kind of situation.

What would you tell your students to do (that the defender should have done)?

(Talking points by Roger)

  • The story says the suspect pointed a gun at the defender as they walked closer. Decreasing the distance for the defender was an advantage but they should have made their approach using the truck’s blindspot to conceal themselves until they were ready to pop-up and shoot. Remaining visible to the suspect allowed him to fire at the defender and at that point they were both engaged in a firefight. If you are fighting fair, your tactics suck! 
  •  Maybe the defender could have thrown a trash can or something noisy to distract the suspect’s attention before popping out from behind concealment and shooting.
  • Could the defender have moved to cover before engaging the suspect? “Distance and cover are your best friends. Concealment is only an acquaintance.” Shooting from behind cover at a distance is preferable to getting closer if you have to stand out in the open and be exposed.
  • What type of ammunition was the defender using? Frangible ammo is usually the best choice in high density population areas. Hollowpoint ammo is great for stopping power and to reduce ricochets. (Only New Jersey prohibits using hollowpoints). Full metal jacket ammo should only be used for paper target practice since it over-penetrates and is prone to ricochets.  
  • If you’re going to carry a gun for defense, you need to know the laws in your area and have a legal defense plan to help craft your statement and defend you in court both criminal and civil. 


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 Listen Notes.
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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.


4 Replies to “Episode 322 with Robyn Sandoval”

  1. Dan Blake

    Thanks Rob and Robyn for another great show.
    The straight forward story format is a breath of fresh air from typical radio show banter nonsense. And each recording is better than the last.
    I look forward to your show each week.
    Thanks for the great work

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