Episode 323 with David Cole


Rob- Welcome to episode 323 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 David Cole. What has been keeping you so busy?

David- Hi, Rob. I’ve been shooting USPSA and steel, and getting ready for hunting season. I am also heading to a class in Louisiana next month, and I’m really looking forward to it.

How about you?

Rob- I helped introduce 35 women to shooting a handgun. I only got to spend about 15 minutes with each of them as part of Rick Ector’s free training weekend for women in Detroit. We had about 50 instructors and taught about 1400 women over two days.

There was an informal target shooting contest with the guns we set out for the students to use. I drew a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. At 25 yards I was an inch and a quarter off the center of the bullseye. That put me in second place.

I also got to meet some of our listeners. Hi, Charlie.

I’ve been working with my SIRT pistol at home and I went to the range this weekend.

We received a new rating and comment on iTunes. (194, 356) ShedHuntingDad said he used a firearm to hold an intruder at gunpoint. He didn’t have to shoot. He said the intruder was not afraid of him or his gun.

Stephen asked us to please post as many verifiable stories as we come across. I shared some of our sources with him.

David- John Petrolino at Bearing Arms wrote about the most-listened to gun rights podcasts, and put us in the top 1% percent, which means we are in a 4-way tie for the third-most listened to gun podcast in America.

Let’s break the tie. 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 Oakland, California.

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

You are a 75 year old woman. You are at home asleep in bed. It is one in the morning when you hear a horrible sound. Someone broke through your front door and you hear them turning your home upside down. There are three of them. You grab your gun from your night stand. You open your bedroom door and shoot at your robbers. They shoot back and run. You call the police and ask for help.

You stay inside your home. You put your gun away and talk to the police. The robbers took valuables and jewelry. The police counted 20 gunshots into your home as the robbers ran away.

You are not charged with a crime.

What did our defender do to save her life from three armed intruders?

David- I love that the homeowner locked her doors and windows. That might have saved her life. I like that the defender paid attention to the noises rather than pretending they were harmless and rolling over in her bed. She had her gun near her and she took it with her when she investigated the sounds in her home. She realized that her life was in danger when she faced three robbers in her home. She shot at the intruders. She stayed in her home and did not pursue the attackers. She called 911 for help. She put her gun away before the police arrived, and she gave a statement to the police.

Rob- What else do we want our listeners to do?

David- Let’s assume you live alone like the defender in this story. You hear a break in and then you grab your gun. Next, I want you to lock your bedroom door. Grab your phone and your flashlight. Turn on the room lights and get behind the bed. Now that you are safe for the moment and in a defensible position, that is when you call 911.

Once you have help on the way, then for bonus points you can push some furniture in front of the door, and set off your car alarm. If you’re 75 years old and can’t push furniture…or just don’t want to…consider keeping a couple of door wedges handy (for inward opening doors) How about you have a plan with your neighbors that if they hear your car alarm in the middle of the night, then they can call 911 too, turn on their outside lights, and grab a gun to protect their families.

The reason I don’t want you to go outside to hunt bad guys is that you and your neighbor don’t know how many attackers there are or how the bad guys are armed. Moving through a structure safely while armed is a more advanced skill and is always risky.

I don’t want you to make a bet you can’t afford to lose. Our defender was lucky she wasn’t shot by the 20 shots the attempted murderers threw at her house.

Rob- That plan of locking your bedroom door works for almost everyone who lives alone. When do gun owners who don’t listen to this podcast learn to think like that?

David- The easy way is to take a class. The one you want is called something like personal defense in the home.


  • The defender heard noises and paid attention instead of ignoring the situation.
  • The defender had her gun near her and took it with her when she investigated.
  • The defender realized that her life was in danger and shot at the intruders.
  • She stayed in her home and did not pursue the suspects.
  • She called 911 for help.
  • She put her gun away and talked to the police.


  • The defender should have called 911 as soon as she heard the sound of the home invaders. The sooner you call for help the sooner it arrives.
  • The defender should have stayed in her bedroom and prepared for the intruders to come through her bedroom door rather than go out and confront an unknown number of armed intruders. Doors, hallways and stairs are called “fatal funnels” because the bad guys are stacked up behind each other with nowhere to escape. 
  • She could have piled chairs and objects at the door to slow them down when they entered the door. 
  • She could have positioned herself behind the bed or bureau for cover/concealment and pointed her gun at the door and fired as they broke through.
  • The defender was very lucky that none of the 20 shots fired hit her. Good tactics are far more dependable than good luck. 

Rob- Where are we going for our second story?

David- We’re headed to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rob- Second Story- Are you armed at home?

You are at home alone on a Thursday night. It is after 9pm when you hear a crashing sound at your front door. Three men break into your apartment. You’re armed. You shoot your attackers. You retreat to your bedroom and jump out the second story window. News reports don’t mention what happened to your firearm as you jumped.

Police respond to reports of your gunshots. EMTs treat your injuries. You tell the police what happened. Police find one of your robbers across the street. He went to a gas station and said he’d been shot. They followed the trail of his blood back to your apartment. They also found another robber in the elevator where he died. It looks like the third robber got away.

You are not charged with a crime.

David- Again, the front door was locked. The defender heard the sound of his front door breaking and he reacted immediately. If the defender wasn’t armed, then at least his gun was very close. He fired at the intruders until they ran away. We don’t know if he was in his bedroom or if he retreated to his bedroom. I like that too. Our good guy didn’t chase the attackers down the street. He told the police what happened when they found him outside his window.

Rob- Are there other things that aren’t mentioned in the news stories that you want us to do?

David- There are some states where you have to retreat IF YOU CAN DO IT SAFELY. States like New York. In Nevada, you don’t have to retreat like that. But many times, retreating can give you a tactical advantage. I’d also much rather find a way to avoid getting into a shootout if possible. No matter how well prepared you may be, there are no guarantees. But if I have to fight, I’d rather fight with three intruders who have to come through my bedroom door than jump out a window and lose my firearm. What is worse is I don’t know what is under me. Am I landing in bushes or worse in the dark? That’s a pretty risky move. Again, door wedges can help secure a door.

Rob- When do home defenders learn about making attackers come through a doorway or up a stairwell? They call those the fatal funnel for a reason.

David- You could have a bunch of attackers, but they can only come through the door or up the stairs one at a time. That gives you an advantage. In a perfect world, the room they are coming from is brightly lit, and you are in the dark so you can see them and they can’t see you. Second best is to have the lights on in your room. The worst for you is to fight in the dark because your gun is a distance tool and it doesn’t work as well when you can’t see what you’re doing. A good, bright flashlight is also an advantage all its own, as it can blind an attacker.

Rob- I remember taking a low-light class from Ben Branam. I also competed in IDPA stages where we had to use a flashlight. You can do it too.


  • The defender heard the sound of his front door breaking. He reacted immediately.
  • The defender was armed and fired at the intruders.
  • He retreated to his bedroom.
  • The defender talked to police when they arrived.


  • The defender had a gun available and accessible. If the gun wasn’t on him, at least he was able to get to it quickly.
  • Jumping out of a second story window to get away from intruders may not have been the best decision. Not only did he get injured but what happened to his gun. Also, the intruders could have shot him from the building when he was out in the open. Once the defender retreated to his bedroom it probably would have been better for him to barricade his door and wait for the intruders to break through. (See the notes for the above story.)
  • Good thing this happened in Nevada where Castle Doctrine is the law and you are not required to retreat like in New York and several other states. You need to know the laws in your area. Some states still require a homeowner to retreat if they can do so safely. 

Rob- Where is our next story?

David- Our third story happened in Dothan, Alabama.

Rob- First this message from Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership.


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

You are at home in bed. It is just after midnight when you hear breaking wood and shattering glass. You get up to see an intruder in your home. You tell him to leave. He pushes you out of the way and goes to your guest room. The intruder finds his ex-girlfriend and he hits her. You run back to your bedroom and grab your gun. You run back to the guest room and shout for the attacker to stop. He turns and charges you. You shoot him one time at extremely close range. He runs from the home and drives away.

You stay at home and check on your guest. You call 911 and ask for help. You put your gun away when the police arrive. You and your guest give statements to the police.

Police find your attacker at the hospital. He is treated for a life threatening gunshot wound to the chest. Police find the driver who brought the attacker to your home and then drove him to the hospital. Your attacker died in the hospital.

The news stories don’t mention if there was any relationship between the homeowner and the woman who was attacked. A police spokesman said you acted in self-defense and they did not expect to press charges.

David- I think this is a record with three stories in a row where the doors were locked. The defender tried using verbal commands- twice. Once with the gun and once without the gun. Both times it failed. The defender recognized an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat to the guest and also to himself/herself when the intruder charged him. The defender shot the intruder when being charged and did not pursue the bad guy when he turned and ran. Our defender stayed on scene, checked on the guest then called 911 for help. The defender put his gun away when police arrived and he gave a statement.

Rob- That sounds like a good job. Is there more we could do?

David- This is a different situation from our first story with the 75 year old woman who lived alone. There was another person in the home so the defender had to investigate the noise. I want you to have your gun with you when you investigate who broke into your home.

I also want to emphasize verbal challenges. All too often we hear about tragedies where mistaken identity results in an innocent person being shot. Many of these could be avoided simply by calling out “Who’s there?” And although this attacker seemed quite determined, oftentimes a burglar will flee when they realize someone is home and prepared for them. Have a flashlight so you see what is happening and can better locate and assess the threat…before an attacker can close distance on you.

A gun lets you stop a threat from a distance and from behind cover or concealment. Letting an attacker get close enough to grab you means that you could get disarmed, stabbed, or beaten. If the attacker does get close to you then I want you to shoot from a retention position and get good hits to the upper chest.

Notice that the defender was able to shoot the intruder in the chest with one shot but that wasn’t enough to stop the attacker. The bad guy was strong enough to run away and then drive to the hospital. It might have been a fatal shot, but the attacker could have injured or killed the defender before the attacker finally stopped. I want you to shoot until the threat goes away. Sometimes that won’t take any gunshots at all, or it might take the entire magazine.

I want you to have a medical kit and some training so you can save your family until the EMTs get there.

I’ll bet that the homeowner put longer screws into the door when he had it repaired. Let’s do that before the bad guy breaks in. It might buy us half a minute, and we can do a lot in that time.

In the best scenario, your guest is armed to protect herself so she doesn’t get beaten up. If you’re the one facing threats, then please get a restraining order and let your friends know that you and they are in danger. You owe them that.

I also want you to have a lawyer to call. This story makes it sound like the defender did the right thing, but you might be sued anyway. I have a pre-paid legal plan.

Rob- There could be good reasons that the defender didn’t shoot the attacker while he was beating up the woman. Do you think this defender was surprised and hesitated because he hadn’t thought about using lethal force to defend a third person? Do your students understand that?


  • The defender heard the sounds of breaking wood and glass and reacted.
  • The defender tried using verbal commands- twice. Once with the gun and once without the gun. Both times it failed.
  • The defender recognized an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat to the guest and also to himself/herself when the intruder charged. 
  • The defender shot the intruder when being charged and did not pursue him. 
  • The defender stayed on scene, checked on the guest then called the police.
  • The defender put the gun away when police arrived and gave a statement. 


  • The defender should have had their gun with them when they went to investigate the sounds of a break-in.
  • Because there was another person in the home in another room, the defender could not barricade their own bedroom door and wait for the intruders.
  • The defender and the intruder got too close to each other. A gun is a tool that gives you the ability to neutralize a threat from a distance and from behind cover or concealment. Letting an attacker get too close could mean that you get disarmed. Learn to shoot from retention positions and get good hits to the upper chest. 
  • The defender was able to hit the intruder in the chest with one shot but that wasn’t enough to immediately neutralize the threat. The suspect was able to move to the car and didn’t expire until sometime later at the hospital. The article doesn’t say if the gun was a rifle or a pistol. Statistics say it takes an average of 1.5 shots from a rifle or 2.5 shots from a pistol to the upper chest to neutralize a threat. 90% of the time a threat can be stopped just by presenting a gun and using verbal commands. The object is to neutralize the threat whether that takes 0 shots or a whole magazine. Keep shooting until the threat ends or the suspect retreats.
  • Did the defender have a powerful flashlight? Sometimes a good flashlight can be a deterrent. And if you have to shoot, it will help identify the target and assist in getting good hits. Don’t shoot at shapes, shadows and sounds!
  • Did the defender have the equipment and the training to treat the injured guest? Get the training and the equipment to treat a trauma victim. 
  • Doors with long screws in the hinges and lock boxes are 5 times harder to break down. Also put hurricane impact film on any glass in or next to the door. The glass breaks but doesn’t fall away. 4 millimeter thick film is available online for about $20 per square foot. 
  • Every bedroom should have a fire extinguisher next to the bed. Primarily to put out a small fire or create a path of escape in a large fire. But it also makes a great improvised weapon. Spray an attacker in the face first and then hit them with the metal canister. 

Rob- Where are we going for our last story?
David- Our last story took place in Cassopolis, Michigan.

Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed in public?

You walk into a convenience store. It is just before 10 at night. You’re standing between the shelves and looking for your items when you hear the clerk cry out. A robber wearing a ski mask is behind the counter holding the clerk at knifepoint. You hear the robber threaten the clerk.

You have your Michigan concealed pistol license. You’re armed and carrying concealed. You present your handgun and shoot the attacker several times until he drops his knife. The robber falls down and you stop shooting. The clerk calls 911 and asks for help. You keep your firearm at the low ready until the clerk says the police are nearby. You reholster your firearm.

Police handcuff and search the robber. They find the robber’s car parked behind the store, and a woman is sitting in that car. They search the car and the police search her. She is arrested for possession of methamphetamine and for outstanding drug warrants. Your attacker is taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

You are not charged with a crime.

David- The defender probably had his earbuds out and his eyes open. Our good guy didn’t have time to figure out what to do, so I think he had a plan before he walked into the store. Our good guy had his license to carry and he had his gun concealed on his body that night. The defender recognized an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat to an innocent third party. He did not use verbal commands because that might have put the victim at greater risk. The defender shot the robber multiple times until the bad guy dropped the knife and fell down. He stopped shooting when the threat was gone. It sounds like all his shots hit the attacker. The defender stayed on scene and kept his gun at low ready until the police arrived and then he reholstered his gun. He was careful that he did not present a threat to the police.

The defender gave a statement to the police. The news story doesn’t say so, but the store clerk gave a statement and probably handed over security video that showed the robbery.

Rob- One minute you’re buying beef jerky, and the next minute you’re saving someone’s life. What else do you see in this story?

David- You might have to move so the innocent clerk isn’t positioned behind the bad guy. Rule 4 isn’t just for the range.

You also may need to shoot someone in the back. Think about that now. It is the right thing to do in this case, but you’ll hesitate If you haven’t thought about defending another person.

Think about this too. Bad guys often come in packs. This robber had an accomplice. Don’t stand in the open with a gun in your hand. Assume the bad guy has friends outside, so I want you to get behind cover after you’re done shooting.

If you’re working retail, then plan to move any other customers to safety after the robbery. Lock the doors and turn off the lights until the police are outside.

If you’re not making the 911 call, then make sure the person with the phone tells the police what both of you look like, and what the attacker looks like.

Also, I want you to have a lawyer to call. Yes, you just shot a criminal during an armed robbery, but his ex-wife might know an ambulance-chasing lawyer. You need one too.


  • The defender was paying attention and reacted quickly. (Situational awareness.)
  • The defender probably considered using deadly force in defense of a third party long before he needed to act and he probably had a plan.
  • The defender had his license to carry and he had his gun with him. 
  • The defender used the right tactics in this situation. He did not try using verbal commands. The clerk was in an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat situation and trapped behind the counter. If the defender tried verbal commands the clerk could have been injured or killed. 
  • The defender shot the suspect multiple times until he dropped the knife and fell down so the threat was neutralized before he stopped shooting. 
  • The defender hit the suspect multiple times without spraying the store in a hail of  bullets. Aim small, miss small. Accurate hits to the 9-inch critical circle of the upper chest are more important than speed. 
  • The defender stayed on scene and kept his gun at low ready until the police arrived and then he reholstered his gun. He was careful that he did not present a threat to the police.
  • The defender gave a statement. 


  • The defender should have held the suspect at low ready from behind cover or concealment from the front door and the windows in case the suspect had friends who might have come to help him or shoot the good guys from outside. It’s common practice for one bad guy to stay in the car with the engine running while others go inside. Always assume there’s more than one bad guy!
  • The defender should have told the clerk to clear any other customers out of the store and then lock the front door. Then the clerk should go check that the back door was also locked. This would have kept the suspect’s friends and other customers from entering the active crime scene. 
  • The clerk should have also turned off the store’s interior lights until the police arrived. The bright overhead lights made the defender and the clerk easy targets. 
  • The defender should have told the clerk to give the police a description of both of them and also tell the cops that the defender was holding the suspect at gunpoint. Don’t assume that the cops arriving at the scene of a  “shots fired” call are going to know who the bad guys are and who the good guys are.  


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

David- Look for my written articles at deltabravocharlie.com My latest article is about the media finding violence in a song, and ignoring the tragic violence in our communities.

Rob- After you look at Dave articles and his videos, then please leave us a message on the podcast episode webpage.

David- 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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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 might be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.


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