Episode 328 with Heather Reeves


Rob- Welcome to episode 328 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 have you been doing since we talked?

Heather Reeves

Heather- Hi, Rob. I’ve been working on a new project, a podcast called Every Day Carry Chicks. My friend and fellow instructor Cass Crago is my co-host and we talk about issues we have encountered in the world of shooting.

How about you?

Rob- I’m trying to write more articles on my SlowFacts Blog. A few of them were reposted at the Truth About Guns. I went to the fall fundraiser for San Diego County Gun Owners. Tomorrow I’ll go to the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Phoenix.

I’ve been carrying every day when I’m at home, and I’ve been dry practicing the FBI handgun qualification. I’m ready to shoot it at the range.

Dwayne recommended a news story for us to use. Robin said she likes the show and listens to us as she eats dinner.

Heather- We also received new ratings and a new comment on iTunes (is 358 and 195) J Friedmann called us one of his favorite podcasts. He thinks of the podcast as dry-fire practice for the mind. He also shares us with his clients and friends who own guns.

Rob- Thank you, Dwayne, Robin, and JF. I’d also like to Thank Roger and Michael for their help with this episode.

Heather- Please go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and let new gun owners know 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 Nashville, Tennessee.

Rob- First story- Are you armed at home?

You’re at home on a Tuesday night. Your ex-boyfriend enters your home and you tell him to leave. You have a restraining order out against him. He has been arrested and prosecuted once already for violating the judge’s order. He grabs you by the throat and chokes you.  You fight your way free. He says he is going to kill you. You grab a gun from your purse and again tell him to leave. He walks toward you and you shoot him once in the head. He stops advancing and you stop shooting.

You call 911. Police and EMTs take your attacker to the hospital. You give a statement to the police. Officers make a note of your injuries. Detectives refer you to the Domestic Violence Unit.

You are not charged with a crime.

Rob- What did our defender do to save her life?

Heather- Oh wow! what a scary situation our defender is put in. I am glad she thought ahead and purchased a firearm to defend herself.  It looks like she took excellent steps to deal with the situation. Not only does she give firm verbal commands to her attacker to leave her alone, she also is able to fight her way to her gun that she thankfully had in her purse. After the attacker again ignored verbal commands and our defender was in immediate, lethal and unavoidable danger of her life she shot her attacker once in the head and stopped when the threat was over. Once our defender was safe, she went and called 911. Well done! 

She also had a restraining order.

Rob- Heather, you’ve had students who had stalkers. That isn’t as simple as telling them to get a gun, is it?.

Heather-  There are many hurdles these individuals face. They can often face skepticism from those around them and potentially law enforcement, which can make it more difficult to take the threat seriously. In addition, a gun comes with a learning curve for a person who needs it right now. Obtaining a restraining order is a great step, but ultimately it is only a piece of paper. I highly recommend individuals in a stalking situation get a security system, and really lock down on their social media. Report everything you think may be connected to this to the police.

Rob- Are there other things that were left out of the story?

Heather- I want her doors locked. Our defender managed to fight herself away for her attacker. Maybe she had some form of unarmed self defense training. You may find yourself in situations where you may not have your gun to keep you safe. This is where learning close-quarter self defense with empty hands can be invaluable to keep you protected.

I also noticed that her firearm was in her purse instead of on her person. It took our defender time to get to her firearm so be aware that you need extra time if you decide to purse carry. If your firearm is carried on your body it is always available to you if you need it. It also greatly reduces the chance of it being taken away from you if your purse gets taken.
Rob- There are always trade offs and compromises, but we want to do them deliberately. What else do you see?

Heather- That is enough for now. Our second story happened in Memphis, Tennessee.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender realized that her ex-boyfriend could be a threat to her. She wisely obtained/enforced a restraining order AND had a gun nearby for protection. 
  • She tried using verbal commands twice but without effect.
  • The defender recognized that her life was in immediate, lethal and unavoidable danger from the ex-boyfriend’s words and actions. 
  • She fired a shot when he advanced on her and that stopped the attack.
  • Shooting an attacker’s head is a difficult shot to make but it is usually very effective in neutralizing a threat. Was the head shot intentional?
  • The defender stopped shooting, called 911, put her gun away and gave a statement to the police. 

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

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • Carrying her gun in a purse could have cost the defender her life if she hadn’t gotten free to get at it. Your gun is always at hand if you carry on-body. That also greatly reduces the chance that unauthorized hands can get a hold of it. 
  • The defender stayed in the fight and she was able to break free from her ex-boyfriend. Did she have close-quarters, unarmed, self-defense training or was she just lucky? Anyone who carries a gun should also get some unarmed self-defense training. How many times and how many places are we disarmed by short-sighted “no-guns allowed” laws? The gun we carry should only be one of many tools we have in our self-defense arsenal. 
  • Did the defender know how to shoot from a retention position? From the story it sounds like she and her ex-boyfriend were probably very close to each other when she fired at him. The closer an attacker is to the defender, the greater the chances are that the attacker can take the defender’s gun away from them. A large portion of self-defense gun uses occur within 6 feet so shooting from a retention position becomes a critical skill.

Rob- Second Story- Are you armed at work?

You and your sister are closing your restaurant for the night. You’re about to lock the front door when a stranger pushes his way inside. He is naked except for his tennis shoes. He says he wants a glass of water. You and your sister back away from him. He rushes you and hits you in the chest. You draw your gun from your purse. Your attacker picks up a chair and moves toward your sister to hit her. You shoot him until he stops. Your sister calls the police.

When the police arrive, you put your gun away and open the door for them. EMTs take your attacker to the hospital. Both of you give a statement to the police. You are detained while you talk to detectives. Your attacker died in the hospital. You are released and not charged.

Rob- What did our defender do to save her life?

Heather-  A nude guy is probably not what you want to see when closing the store. That is gross! It sounds like our defender recognised how dangerous it is to work in a store at night and she was wise enough to buy a firearm to protect both her and her sister. It sounds like our defender did a good job. After the attacker pushed his way into the store. Both sisters backed away from the attacker. Our defender recognized that she was in fear for her life and her sister’s life, so she pulled her firearm from her purse and shot the attacker until the threat was stopped.

Rob- Are there other things that were left out of the story?

Heather- I want both of you to be armed. Don’t talk to the news media or social media about your defense. Have a lawyer and call them. Have the gun on your body and not across the room with your purse on the shelf under the cash register.

Rob- Remind me why this was a lethal threat that justified the use of a lethal tool like a firearm.

Heather- The man was larger and stronger than either of the victims. He was acting in a strange and threatening manner. He ignored verbal commands. He picked up a chair and threatened to hit someone with it. That was a lethal threat that justified the immediate use of lethal force.
Rob- Anything else?
Heather- It might have been an option to run to the back of the store and leave out the back door or lock yourself into the storage room. You have to study your situation.

Rob- Where are we headed next?

Heather- Our third story happened in Fayette County, Georgia.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender realized that she had a dangerous job and that she needed to carry a gun.
  • Both the defender and her sister backed off when the attacker pushed his way into the store. They even told the attacker to leave.
  • The defender recognized that she and her sister were under an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat when the attacker picked up a chair and tried to injure them with it. 
  • The defender shot the attacker twice and stopped shooting when the attacker stopped advancing. 
  • The defender’s sister called the police for help.
  • The defender and her sister stayed at the scene, put the gun away when the police arrived and both of them gave statements to the police.  

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

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • Just like in our last story, the defender’s gun was in her purse instead of on her body. On-body carry is always a tactical advantage.  
  • Since the intruder was not armed, could the defender and her sister have retreated to a defensible room and barricaded the door?
  • Could the defender have stopped the unarmed intruder with pepper spray before he picked up the chair?
  • The news report says that the defender’s sister “live-streamed” after the shooting and the website also has multiple quotes from the defender. Making detailed statements or postings on social media can be detrimental to the defender’s case in both criminal and civil courts. Whatever you say can and will be used against you. Nothing you say can help you. Only talk to a lawyer and let them craft any statements to law enforcement or the media. 

Rob- First this message from FASTER Colorado.

FASTER Colorado


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

You are at home asleep with your family. It is after midnight on Thursday morning when you hear a crashing sound. Your security alarm goes off. You call the police and report the intrusion. You hear someone in your basement. You open the basement door and shout for them to leave. The intruder moves toward you with a knife in his hand. You shoot him. He turns away and you stop shooting. You move to the stairs that lead to your children’s rooms. The police arrive several minutes later.

You put your gun away and let the police inside. They arrest your attacker. They notice the broken basement door. Your intruder is taken to the hospital for treatment.

Police identify your intruder. He got out of prison a few days ago. He is wanted for a murder that happened yesterday in Ohio where he stabbed a 77 year old woman to death. He carjacked a truck that is parked in front of your house. He is also charged with home invasion and burglary to your home.

You are not charged with a crime.

Heather-  I’m glad our defender was prepared and had a plan. He had alarms in his house that warned him of a threat coming into his home. He immediately called 911 and reported the break-in. He heard the intruder in his basement, took his firearm and gave verbal commands for the intruder to leave. The intruder ignored the defender and came toward him with a knife in his hand. Our defender recognised he was an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat and shot the attacker until the threat stopped. He then took a defensive position in front of his kids rooms to keep them safe from any other potential invaders. He also did the usual good things like putting his gun away and giving a brief statement.

Rob- Heather, where do your students learn to defend their home?

Heather- We teach a class called defense in the home. One report says that the defender was on the stairs leading up to the bedrooms. That is good, but you also want to be behind cover or concealment as you defend your family. Don’t get shot.

Rob- Are there other things that were left out of the story?

Heather- Walk through your plan with your family. That keeps you from making bad decisions in the middle of the night when it is hard to think. We practice a plan so it is a routine rather than a thinking test. Secure your family. Call the police, and let them deal with the crazy murderer who broke into your home. Work so that everyone is part of the plan.

If there isn’t a defensible pinch point like a stairway, then get everyone into one bedroom and learn how to defend that doorway. I want all of the adults in the house armed.

You know how your firearm instructor said you don’t know who is down there? It could be an armed murderer, well in this case it was. I am an extraordinarily good shot with a gun, but I won’t go exploring my basement in the middle of the night. Let the police dog and a handful of armed officers do that for you. 

Rob- Where are we going for our last story?
Heather- We’re going to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender’s home had a locked basement door and a security alarm. The noise from breaking the door and the alarm going off gave the defender a warning.
  • The defender called 911 immediately. 
  • The defender also had a gun and took it with him when he went to investigate the noise. 
  • The defender tried using verbal commands but that failed.
  • The defender recognized an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat when the intruder moved towards him.
  • The defender stopped shooting when the intruder turned away.
  • The defender did not pursue the intruder.
  • There may have been more than one intruder so the defender stood between the stairs to his kid’s rooms and the intruder(s).
  • The defender put his gun away when the police arrived so he did not present a threat to the police.  

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

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The basement door was a weak point. That door should be reinforced with longer screws and hurricane film.
  • Since the noise came from the basement and the defender had a warning from the alarm, best practices say to collect everyone into one, defensible room, barricade the door and prepare to ambush the intruder if he comes through the door. If the intruder had been armed with a gun instead of a knife, the defender could have been shot when he opened the basement door and that would have left his family vulnerable and defenseless. 
  • Could someone else in the family also have been armed? Did they have a plan for home invasion? Did everyone know what they were supposed to do when the alarm went off? Having a security alarm gives you a little bit of time to act. What are you going to do with that time?
  • After he shot the intruder, the defender moved to the stairs that led to the children’s rooms. Did he stay at the bottom of the stairs where he was probably in the open or did he climb to the top of the stairs? Did he position himself behind cover or concealment? Did he use the stairway as a “fatal funnel”? Tactics are more important than firepower. 

Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed as you leave work?

You are closing and walking out of your business for the day. You hear screams and shouts from the business next door. You see two men beating one of the store employees. You walk inside the store. You present your firearm and order the man to the ground. One of them is armed. You tell him to drop the gun or you’ll shoot him. He drops the gun and gets down. The other robber runs. You let him go. The injured store employee calls 911 and asks for help.

You put your gun away when the police arrive. They arrest the robber. The two robbers robbed the store and then beat the employee. He is arrested and charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, grand theft of a firearm, and illegally carrying a concealed firearm.

The employee is taken in for medical treatment. You are not charged with a crime.

Tag- no shots fired.

Rob- What did our defender do to save lives?

Heather-  Our defender recognized someone in trouble and went to investigate. He had his firearm on his person. He saw two men beating the store employee and he gave verbal commands to them to both stop the attack and to drop their weapons. One attacker ran away and the other dropped his firearm and then went to the floor. Our defender refrained from chasing the running attacker and kept the other attacker held at gunpoint while he waited for police to arrive. When the police arrived, our defender put his firearm away so he would not pose a threat to police.

 Rob- Is there more you want your students to know about a situation like this one?

Heather- Let’s talk a little more about defending a third party. We’re allowed to defend someone else if that innocent person had the right of self-defense. Your kids can’t defend themselves. They have the right, so you use your capacity and step in to defend them. If you’re being beaten, you don’t have to give verbal commands before you defend yourself. Likewise, we don’t have to give verbal commands if the person we’re defending did not have to give them either. Our victim could get killed while we’re talking.

Rob- What else do you tell your students about defending strangers?

Heather-  There is a risk. You don’t know that the store clerk is innocent. Is this a robbery, or is this a drug deal that went wrong? You are betting your life and your family’s fortune that the clerk is the innocent party. That is a big bet and you want to be sure.

Rob- Is there more you want your business owners to do that wasn’t mentioned in the news report?

Heather- Don’t open or close the store alone. Have both employees armed and have a plan. One of you talks to the person outside and the other is behind cover with his hand on the gun. Just like at home, you can talk to someone through a closed door. I’m surprised that they didn’t have the robbers on camera. Make sure you buy good quality security cameras for your store.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender paid attention when he heard the screams and shouts from the business next door. 
  • The defender was armed when he went to investigate. 
  • The defender drew his gun and used verbal commands to stop the attack and tell the armed attacker to drop his gun. .
  • The defender let the unarmed attacker leave without shooting him. 
  • The defender did not pursue the running attacker.
  • The defender held the armed attacker at gunpoint while the employee called 911. 
  • The defender put his gun away when the police arrived so as not to present them with a threat. 


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

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender was under no obligation to stop the attack on the employee. Defending a third party is a choice and something that every gun carrier needs to think about and decide long before the situation occurs. 
  • The story doesn’t say but the defender should have sought cover or concealment before telling the armed attacker to drop his gun. Engaging someone who already has a gun drawn can get you shot. The first goal of self-defense is not to get shot. 
  • The defender giving the armed attacker a verbal warning put the defender and the victim in great jeopardy. If you are justified in using deadly force, you are not required to give a verbal warning first. 
  • Did the defender have the proper training in order to hold the attacker at gunpoint? Did he know to keep the attacker at a distance and hold him from a position of cover or concealment? Did the defender know what to do if the attacker got up and ran away or towards him? 
  • This incident took place in Florida. Did the defender know what the laws in that state are concerning citizen arrests and warning shots? Use of deadly force? Learn the laws for the jurisdiction where you live and also for where you travel. 


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

Heather- Look at my classes at my gun store website Wolverinedefenseacademy.com.

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

Rob- Please leave Heather a message on the 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 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’ll be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.


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