It is 10:30 on a weeknight when you drive up to the address. You grab the pizza-bag in the passenger seat and carry the bag to the door. That is your job. You are a pizza delivery driver. Two young men run up to you. They are wearing masks. One of them has a gun pointed at you. He tells you to give him everything.
You have your Texas license to carry in your wallet. Your personal firearm is on your hip. The news article doesn’t say what you did with the pizza, but you present your firearm and shoot both of your attackers. Your armed attacker drops his gun so you stop shooting him. The other attacker runs away. You back away and call 911 for help.
You stay at the scene of your attack and holster your firearm. You call your store manager and tell her what happened. You give a brief statement to the police. Officers find the second robber nearby. Emergency medical services transport both of your wounded robbers to the hospital. One robber was treated and released. He is arrested on charges of aggravated robbery. He also faces charges of felony murder after his accomplice died in the hospital. The robbers are 15 and 17 years old.
Last week, another delivery driver in town was shot five times. You are not charged with a crime.
I couldn’t find recent statistics on crimes committed against delivery drivers, but I am seeing more stories like this one. More of us are ordering food to be delivered. More of us had to take a side job to pay our bills. That means there are more occasions when delivery drivers are at risk. There are sound reasons for us to learn what we can from this driver’s experience.
Most of us are about to be in a similar situation. We already know that half of violent crimes happen at night. Soon, millions of us will be walking across the dark parking lot at the mall with packages in our hands. We will take packages home, and deliver them to friend’s homes as well. Welcome to the increased risks during the holidays.
This delivery driver recognized that his job put him at increased risk of being robbed. He found a firearm that both fit his hand and that he could carry every day. He got his Texas license to carry. That usually means he was at least 21 years of age or older. The carry class includes a classroom lecture on the use of lethal force and a live fire portion at the range.
Our defender recognized a lethal, immediate and unavoidable threat when the robbers threatened him with a gun. He defended himself with his firearm. He also stopped shooting when the threat was over. He stayed at the scene and called for help. That sounds like a perfect defense, but there are a lot of things we don’t know.
Our defender started at a disadvantage. The bad guy has his gun out and pointed at us before we recognized a problem. We want to create a diversion so the bad guy is distracted. We want to move as we present our firearm from concealment so we’re not in the last place the attacker saw us. All that is nice, but we absolutely have to get the packages out of our hands.
The standard response is to give the robber what he asked for so that his hands are full and ours are empty. Maybe you put the pizza bag in his hands and then move to the side. In a perfect world, we can move towards cover as we draw. That might be hard to do on the front walk of a stranger’s house. In contrast, there is often concealment nearby if we’re being robbed in a crowded parking lot at Christmas time.
Our defender faced two assailants. At least one of them had a firearm in his hands. The defender was also in unfamiliar territory. That makes me think he had thought about his defense ahead of time and had a plan about what to do.
If you can execute a plan that has a number of moving parts, and do it smoothly in the dark, then you probably thought about it and rehearsed your plan.
Our defender was shooting at night and probably in low-light conditions. We don’t know the distance to his attacker, nor do we know if any of his shots missed their intended target. These are the conditions where some training really helps us. I’m glad I’ve had some close quarters training as well as some practice shooting at night. There is a lot to say about that, but it will have to wait for an article of its own.
Taking a training class may sound time-consuming and expensive, but it costs us almost nothing to do some of our dry practice in dim light. It doesn’t cost a penny to step to the side as we present our firearm during dry practice. We can also include our flashlight in our dry practice routine as well. Add some realism by including a box or a bag that we drop before we move and present our firearm. Again, that practice might sound simple but it is vitally important.
A number of short practice sessions let our hands know what to do when our brain feels frozen.
We are responsible for every shot we fire. We are responsible for the missed shot that bounces off the street and comes to rest in a neighbor’s home. We are justified to use a firearm in self-defense as long as we face a lethal, immediate and unavoidable threat. The unarmed robber who is running away from us probably doesn’t qualify. If you have a chance at the range, practice with turning targets that will show you their back after a few seconds.
You might be safe now that one of the armed robbers has stopped shooting at you. It is better to judge that situation after you’ve caught your breath and moved so you have a solid wall at your back. Look all around and check on your surroundings. It is better to stay at the scene, but you might have to drive to the local convenience store to be safe. You have to judge the circumstances. Put your gun away as soon as you’re safe.
If you can stay at the scene, now is a great time to shout for help. You will probably have more ear witnesses than eye witnesses. Shout that you need help and ask everyone who can hear you to call 911. Now you and the police have a telephone log of people who heard what happened.
Call 911 even if everyone on the block has already called. You want to be talking to the dispatcher so you know when the police arrive. Tell them what you look like. In this case, the pizza store logo on your shirt and the lighted sign on the roof of your car are a pretty clear clue for the arriving officers.
Adrenalin makes us do and say foolish things. Give the officers a few sentences that describe the facts of what happened. Point out any obvious evidence like the robber’s gun and the shell casings where he shot at you. Tell the officers you’ll cooperate fully and your lawyer’s report will answer all their questions. This is where you call your lawyer. This is where you are glad you have self-defense insurance so you have a lawyer to call.
Self-defense happens millions of times a year, but a lethal encounter is an unusual situation for everyone. Even if you were not hit in the head during the fight, you are now suffering a chemical-induced brain injury from the adrenalin dump. Give yourself a few days to recover.
A good lawyer can recommend a therapist. You had to fight for your life on the street. Talk to a counselor so you have every chance to put your life back together. What you’re doing isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone.
-Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, at Second Call Defense, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.