It is about five in the evening. Your 11-year-old daughter is with you, and you’re both hungry. You order from McDonalds, and the two of you enjoy your food sitting in your car. You look up a few seconds later. A young man wearing a mask is yelling at you. He has a gun in his hands. He starts shooting at your car, at you, and at your daughter.
You own a gun. You have your Illinois concealed carry permit. You’re armed. You present your firearm and shoot back. The robber shoots at you as he runs away, and you keep shooting at him. The story isn’t clear how you shot back, but you hit your attacker three times. You check on your daughter and call 911.
Police are already on their way. They inspect your car and see the bullet holes. They look at the security cameras from the McDonalds and see the unprovoked attack. They follow your attacker to a nearby house and arrest him. He is wounded in his foot, his arm, and his hand. He is out on bail for three previous felony charges. You are not charged with a crime.
Yes, there really is concealed carry in Illinois and even in Chicago! This dad started protecting his family a long time ago. He first recognized that the world was not a safe place. Next, he got his Firearms Owners ID Card. He bought a gun that fit him and he eventually got his carry permit. None of that is easy or cheap. In Illinois, that took months, if not years, of work. It is even harder to do in Chicago. Our defender took his daughter’s safety seriously and he carried concealed even on a weekday afternoon when he and his daughter did something as ordinary as going out together for fast food.
When the masked and armed attacker walked up to the car, the defender recognized a lethal threat and responded with lethal force. The defender stopped shooting when the attacker stopped shooting. The bad guy threw shots that hit several areas of the car. The good guy shot the attacker and didn’t injure anyone else. Our good guy stayed at the scene and called the police. When officers arrived, he showed his ID and gave the police a statement.
This news report is more detailed than most, but there is still more information we’d like to have. Was the car window open or did the defender shoot through the glass? Did the defender open the window or did he open the door? Did he get out of the car to shoot? The best response depends on your level of training. If you’ve only presented your firearm and shot from a standing position at the range then you’ll probably stand up to defend yourself when you’re attacked. Note that in most states you don’t have to present your firearm from a concealed holster in order to get your concealed carry permit.
I want to slow down and give our defender full credit for what he did. Firearms instructors know lots of tricks to break down complex tasks into manageable steps. First you learn to present an inert firearm from an exposed holster while you’re standing. Then we’ll move to the range and replace the plastic “blue gun” with your unloaded firearm. When that becomes consistent, then we’ll load up and present a loaded firearm at the range.
Each step is demonstrated by the instructor and then you perform the same action and receive corrections. Millions of people have learned how to efficiently and safely present their firearm. That skill doesn’t have to be fast, but it does have to be sure and consistent before we move on.
We haven’t reached concealed carry yet. Practicing with an openly carried firearm lets the instructor see problems early. We want to be subconsciously competent at keeping our trigger finger on the slide of the firearm before we conceal our firearm. Our trigger finger stays there on the frame until your hands have merged, the firearm is near full extension, and you’ve made the decision to shoot. You’re also learning how to safely re-holster a firearm. Remember when you learned all that?
Now you can add a garment to cover your firearm and carry concealed. Again, that is explained and demonstrated before the student does it with an unloaded firearm.
That seems like a lot to learn, but we’re not done. We basically back up and repeat those lessons from a seated position. The disadvantage is that our legs are in the way and it is easy to point the muzzle of our gun at important body parts we don’t want to shoot. We might practice from a chair facing down range. Later, we can practice with an unloaded gun in a car and add in the complications of a seatbelt and a steering wheel that are in the way. I have shot from inside a vehicle before during training. It was loud. I was warned so I wore both earplugs and earmuffs.
That training is out there and it is available in manageable steps. I’m told that the side windows of a car will shatter and fall at the first shot but I haven’t done that. Not yet.
Back to our story, I’m glad there was a security video that showed the attack and the defense.
If you end up like our hero protecting his child, remember our car is a tool. We can use it to escape or to defend. If that doesn’t work, then we can turn to our gun.
Thank you to each of you who carry every day and protect your family.
-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.