Sometimes The “Nail” Is Your Best Defense

By Major Van Harl

Milwaukee Nail & Waukesha Spike
Milwaukee Nail & Waukesha Spike
Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Major Van Harl USAF Ret

Wisconsin –-( It ‘s Milwaukee, it’s Christmas week vacation, and you just want to take your dog for a walk. It had been very cold and lots of snow.

Milwaukee normally does not get snow until January-February time frame, so we do not always have a white Christmas.

It finally warmed up enough to melt the snow on the sidewalks. The hard winds we had been experiencing dried up the melted snow that could have formed dangerous ice on our dog walking path.

So let’s do it, let’s go walk the dog.

The Colonel and I have a young two year old lab-boxer mix dog who wants her exercise and even in bad weather we try real hard to get the dog out for a walk. I however never walk the dog without a handgun and a collapsible baton.

I have had dogs for over forty years and cannot count the number of times someone else’s dog that was off leash rushed up to my pets. I do not want to strike someone else’s animal that is not what the baton is for. I want something that can be positioned between me and a strange animal, hopefully keeping that animal at bay until its owner shows up to take control.

If the strange animal does attack me or my pet the baton is already deployed and I am more capable to take action if needed.

As for the handgun I have never had to pull it and my plan it to keep it that way.

Now, when I lived in Colorado we had a number of coyote-on-dog attacks on my street while owners were walking their pet on a leash. The coyotes were so brave they would swoop in between the owner and the animal and attempt to kill the pet, especially if it was a small dog.

One lady was heard screaming for someone to shoot the coyote as it kept moving in on her little dog. Of course it never dawned on her to go prepared to defend herself or her animal when she went for a walk. She did however expect someone else to rapidly move in to protect her and her little animal and oh yes, bring a gun to accomplish the deed. When asked later why she did not have a handgun she was incredulous about the very suggestion.

Come on everyone knows a cell phone and 911 will stop a coyote or other forms of evil…

Back in the early 1990s I was an Air Force cop stationed in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was before shall-issue civilian conceal carry permits were the law. Nevada had a very hard-to-get permit and I was able to acquire one because of my military police status.

The Colonel and I had come home from a late night on the town in Las Vegas. I do not drink so I felt no problem with carrying my handgun that night. She went into the house to check on our daughter and the baby-sitter. I took my three geriatric dogs out into the front yard. They were off leash but old and under control.

I lived on a corner lot and was standing about as far away from my front door as I could be watching my dogs water the lawn. A low-rider car with all the windows tinted so dark I could not see in pulled up next to me and all four doors opened at once. This was about 3:00 am in the morning and no one else was out on my street.

All I did was reach back and put my hand on my firearm. I could not even see the driver because of the tinted window. I assumed there was at least four people the way the four doors opened together. I knew I could not win if they were armed and got out of the vehicle. I was reaching into my pocket for a spare magazine, I had made the decision there was going to be a gun fight as soon as the first one got out of the vehicle.

I never pulled the handgun out but I looked right at the driver’s window and said “not tonight gentlemen.”

Man Walking Dog Shoots, Kills Would-Be Robbers
Man Walking Dog Shoots, Kills Would-Be Robbers

All I heard was “oh sh… he has a gun” as the doors closed and the gang banger mobile drove away. I was ready and they were not that night, I won without anyone getting hurt. But what if I had gone in to pay the baby sitter and the wife had taken the dogs outside? I always wonder about that.

A couple of nights ago right after Christmas when the weather had warmed up a Milwaukee man decided to take his dog for a walk. Two diversified youths were out allegedly driving around looking for a victim. One was eighteen with no released name yet and the other was seventeen year old Deonte M. Thomas (according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Thomas had a record of arrest for armed robbery in 2015. The nameless eighteen year old man had an arrest record for auto theft. Allegedly they had been involved in a crime earlier that evening.

At some point while driving in their vehicle the decision was made to rob the dog owner. That was their second mistake, their first was not learning from personal experience after being caught committing other violent crimes.

The dog owner was carrying a handgun and he pulled the firearm to defend himself. Of course the newspaper had to make sure their readers understood the dog owner had his concealed carry permit. Somehow if he did not have a permit then defending himself with violence would be tainted.

The Milwaukee public will not have to worry about the life of Deonte Thomas anymore, it just does not matter. He is dead from what appears to be multiple gunshots. The other alleged violent criminal is still in the hospital recovering from his multiple gun shots. I suppose his life is going to have to matter but what will really matter will be all the tax payer money it will take to patch him up, try him in court and then house him in a state prison.

The defending shooter is fine and no animals were harmed in the writing of this story.

When I read this story in the Milwaukee paper I instantly remembered that late night in Las Vegas many years ago. What if I had not been armed? What if they had got out of the car and a gun fight had happened? Even if I was innocent in the eyes of the State of Nevada the Air Force would have crucified me and my career would have been over.

Of course you have to be alive to be politically crucified. If the gang-bangers had killed me in the gun fight the Air Force would have made sure I got a great death-on-active duty military funeral.

Military or civilian, dove or hawk, pro 2nd amendment or not, you may have no interest in evil, but evil is always interested in you.

In Milwaukee we have what is called a Milwaukee Nail . It is a large, blacksmith made knife designed to use in personal defense. I recommend everyone own and carry a knife at all times. However there is never a substitute for a firearm if evil is stalking you. There is no such thing as a fair fight. If evil has a knife you have gun.

Sometimes the “nail‘ has to be a gun. Always assume that evil wants to harm you “and your little dog too.”

29 Dec 2016 / Major Van Harl USAF Ret

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

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Whiskey For My Men Beer For My Horses

I liked reading the part where Deonte got ventilated for being a dumb ass. If my radar starts going off because a strange car pulled up to in the dark with tinted windows I don’t believe I would show my gun immediately. That could be a good way to get shot and I hope some readers don’t think it is okay to show your gun every time you feel threatened. Further, if you were pulling your spare mag out what were you going to do with it while shooting at someone. Would you hold it in one hand while shooting… Read more »

Greg Burch

Major, I just found your article and am reading more of them from you! Your stories and lessons are awesome!!!! By the way how does one acquire a Milwaukee Nail? I wish to thank you for what I have because of you and those like you and the Colonel. See from my side of the tracks we owe you greatly as Americans, and as civilians sadl we fail to respect you and say only “thank you for your service” and walk by. I apologize for all we have done to you my freind, and if you wish to speak it… Read more »