Why I Carry–It Happened to Me

Editor’s Note: We’ve been exploring the idea of teachable moments–those events that shape who we are, or why we believe what we believe. This one is my story. One of them. There’s a video at the end, if you’d rather hear me talk than read. It is a long video–close to half an hour. And it is just me talking, so don’t complain. It has been raining for weeks, and my range is underwater. So I broke out the camera and too a break from cleaning out the shop to talk through this event.


“Drive,” the man says. He kneels behind me in the minivan.  He looks vindictive and oddly satisfied as he tucks a gun behind my ear. How did I expect him to look? He presses the snub-nosed barrel in the divot between my jaw and my skull, twists it. It’s a Smith and Wesson .38 special. The silver S&W medallion on the walnut handle glints in the rear-view mirror. His hand isn’t quite big enough to hold onto the flared grip. He’d said to call him Lefty. He isn’t even left handed. Doreen, if that’s her name, breaks character and screws her face into the passenger side window.

Drive,” he says. I drive.

Let’s go back…

When had I decided this was bad? At lunchtime, I left MindSpring Enterprises, began the five block walk to Capella’s, an Italian sandwich shop in Midtown. In the crosswalk at Peachtree and 14th, the compact black man had caught my sleeve. Thinking he was going for my wallet, I grabbed his wrist in my left hand. The move was reflexive, aggressive. It surprised him and me. He cowered. An even smaller white woman ducked behind him, as if I was going to hit her, too.

“Easy, fella,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.” I let him go, but he reached out and touched my forearm with the careful consideration of a politician. “We need some help.” When I said nothing, he continued. “Our car broke down. While I was looking for a garage, it got towed. My wallet, luggage…. My wife,” he said, acknowledging the woman in his shadow.

We stood still in the crosswalk. Though the winter sun had stalled above the Atlanta skyscrapers, the concrete canyons were still cold. The woman tucked her hands beneath her belly, hid them in the pleats of a grey maternity dress. I will spend hours, days, debating this second. I could feel it. It was as if my watch, everyone’s lunch hour, and all the mounting traffic had slowed to a cinematic stop.

That's me on the left, a few months before this happened. I'd been busking in Santa Fe and had only just returned home to take my first real job.

That’s me on the left, a few months before this happened. I’d been busking in Santa Fe and had only just returned home to take my first real job.

Painfully Self-Aware

This happened to me in 1997. I was 23. Even at that age, I could smell a confidence scam. Whatever it is that passes for instinct said walk away, but I didn’t. I stood still. And then I asked the inevitable question: “What’s wrong with your car?” The blinking man above the crosswalk flashed his small warning.

“I’m a doctor,” he said. “A pediatrician. Don’t know a thing about cars.” The stoplight changed. “I’m supposed to present a paper this afternoon at a conference. All I need is a ride to the impound yard.” We stepped onto the curb.

I’d parked in a pay lot two blocks over. We made small talk. He said he has a practice in Manhattan. His name is something Frizzel, but I could call him Lefty. His wife’s name was Doreen. Either he was trustworthy, or their grift was decently scripted.

This isn't my van, but I couldn't find a photo of it.  Same model, different color. Chicks dig the ragged out minivan.

This isn’t my van, but I couldn’t find a photo of it. Same model, different color. Chicks dig the ragged out minivan.

I drove a blue 1984 Dodge Caravan, a hand-me-down from my uncle. I opened the passenger door for Doreen. Lefty opened the sliding back door himself. He made some small joke, and we laughed a little. “You listen to me, son. Your charity will be well rewarded.” He scooted in where the first seats should have been, but they are long gone. I buckled my seat-belt and made polite apologies for the inconvenient state of the van.

“Drive.” he says,

I am positive that this is why I was in this situation: I’m white. I am so liberal I’m a libertarian. And I’m overly educated. If that wasn’t enough, I have what I had always thought was a healthy dose of xenophobia. But as a white man in the new south, I go out of my way to avoid any situation that might betray any trace of racism. This jackass looked professional enough—huaraches, black slacks, a Heathcliff Huxtable sweater that resembled a Jackson Pollock painting.

Here’s the crux of the biscuit. Had Lefty been white, I would have made some excuse—regardless of how well he was dressed. We were in downtown Atlanta before cell phones were everywhere, but I still would have walked away. That’s what you do when you’re in the city. You shrug it off and walk away. But I didn’t. And the man put a gun to my head.

“I’d like to ask you, boy—are you a Christian?”

This is what you think about when you have a gun to your head. I’d read a news story about a man who was shot in the head three times. The bullets grazed miraculously around the contour of his skull. They cut furrows in his scalp but he lived. And then I’m thinking about Lincoln, who was shot with a .45 caliber ball that squirreled around inside his skull but couldn’t get out. Someone got JFK from some incredible distance with a bullet the size of my pinkie nail and scattered his brain over half of Dallas.

I'd just seen When We Were Kings, a documentary that changed the way I looked at boxing. - Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

I’d just seen When We Were Kings, a documentary that changed the way I looked at boxing. Ali let Foreman beat on him until Foreman was too tired to raise his arms in defense. I was the same size and weight as Ali at the time, though we couldn’t have been built more differently- Image~Bettmann/CORBIS

At the time, I was 6’4″, 211 pounds—the same weight as Muhammad Ali in 1974 when he worked the rope-a-dope against Foreman. But I wasn’t not built like Ali. And then I’m questioning this man’s judgement for carrying a revolver. Cops had stopped carrying .38s years ago because of limited stopping power and inadequate capacity. But this .38 was pressed right up behind my ear. It might as well have been a cannon.

My mouth filled with an electric tinge, as if the gun were stuck through a hole in the back of my head and into my mouth—the barrel where my tongue should be. It tasted like pennies.   The heater in the van blew cold air from the cold engine. January cold and I was sweating.

A weird history of violence

And this is how the mind spirals down the rabbit hole. I saw a man get shot once, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I went with my uncle to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo. We’d seen Chickamauga and Rock City; all that was left was the city’s historic train. This was the summer of 1984. My parents went to L.A. for the Olympics and I went to Chattanooga, which was fine with me as I liked singing Pardon me boy, is that the cat that chewed your new shoes? I had just finished the fourth grade, a fact I know by the number four in the year column—a coincidence that seemed mystic at the time.

My friend Wayne Lee had taught me the song. We were ten and drunk on White Russians, our favorite, and whatever else was left behind in half empty glasses after one of Wayne’s parents’ parties. Mr. Lee, a North Korean general, defected in the late seventies. He ran a karate studio, made a name for himself by tightening his abdomen and inviting grown men to hit him. By the time we were ten, Wayne was built like a white oak. He’d lift his shirt, tighten his abdomen. I’d let loose a worthless jab. He’d laugh and hit me just hard enough to sit me down. This was our relationship.

Once, while I sucked wind, Wayne sang “Pardon me boy, is that the cat that chewed your new shoes?” I wanted to laugh, but I couldn’t.

“Hey,” he said, after finishing up a chorus of the song. “How many one-armed naked ladies does it take to screw in a light bulb?” There was a new kid in our class, Jeffrey Askew, who only had one arm. His name may have been Asquith, but I called him Askew–with the stress on the Ass part. He had two arms, but one was paralyzed. Jeffrey’s arm hung like a tube of flesh. If he didn’t like you, you were ignored. If he liked you, he would snap his torso and the momentum would carry the arm around like a wrecking ball. It hurt. Nobody liked him.

“It’s not a joke,” Wayne said. He tried to look sophisticated, gagging down the dregs of a lukewarm martini. “I’m asking.”

The moment was so funny that a part of me still aches. This is the stream of consciousness. A man put a gun to my head, and I drifted back to elementary school. I hadn’t talked to Wayne in years, and right then it was all I wanted to do.

“It is so wonderful that you agreed to give us a ride,” Lefty said.

“You can’t just talk about mercy, or helping the poor,” Lefty said. “You have to walk with the poor, live a life of mercy. ‘What you do unto the least of God’s creatures….’” He stopped and changed his tone. “You never said—are you a God-fearing-Christian?” He wasn’t looking at me. He was checking where we were.

“Yes sir.” I said.

“Sir,” he said and he chuckled. “You are so polite. Would you mind driving us to a bank?” The barrel of the gun slid down the back of my head. He pressed it into my neck. It was warm.

Jeffrey Askew didn’t find the one-armed naked lady joke all that funny. But he liked me, so he whacked me with his arm. At home, I tried to empathize with his one armed-ness. I let my left arm dangle. But I could feel the bones.

Our teacher had told us to treat Jeffery like we would any other student, but still—it wasn’t like you could hit him back. No eye for an eye. He was special, and he knew it. At his birthday party, I gave him a GI Joe man wrapped in the Sunday comics. He was happy, I guess, and whipped that limb into my face. Then I hit him in the nose with a punch I learned from Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I had been saving that punch for my first Nazi. Jeffrey’s head snapped back. He fell sideways into the wall. He smiled a toothy smile and checked the blood with his good hand.

End of party.

“Will you be attending church this Sunday?” Lefty asked.

I drove, but I didn’t know where I was going. “I pray every day,” he said. “Not for riches or health. No. I say ‘Lord shape my heart like Jesus’s heart. Let my heart be as large as his.’ That’s how to be a Christian.” He tussled my hair with the gun. “Perhaps we could come to church with you, then have a nice lunch.”

Should I have wrecked the van? Driven into a telephone pole? What if the woman really was pregnant? She wouldn’t pull her face off the glass.

“Where exactly do you live?” He asked.

Maybe that was the change. Suddenly I wanted to catch his neck and crush his throat. There are long networks of interconnected neighborhoods in Midtown and the Highlands. They have zoning ordinances and few commercial enterprises. Boutiques, the occasional restaurant. No banks. I had turned into this green maze, under the canopy of old oaks, and past quiet Craftsman bungalows. But this lacked subtlety. He watched the cross streets, too. “Now son. Let’s not avoid the inevitable.”

Back in Chatanooga

We were at the Choo Choo and I was bored. I pretended to be one armed again, let my left arm droop heavily. My uncle stopped and asked me what was wrong. A tall white kid stumbled backwards through the front door of the hotel, a purse in his hand. Someone inside yelled some cliché, and a barrel-chested black man stepped into the kid’s path. They collided. The black man fell backward on the cement walk. The kid pulled a pistol from the waistband of his pants, and shot the man as he tried to get up.

I don’t really remember being there. But I remember watching the recap on the evening news and thinking how weird it was that I’d been there and could not remember it.

“How about you turn right on Monroe, and left onto Ponce.” The gun whispered in my ear, I think you will. “You know the parable of the good Samaritan? There is this man, right, who finds himself in the wrong part of town. He’s in a bad way ‘cause he knows he isn’t right with Jesus.” The man was pleased with this statement; I could see it in the way he smiled. He had scary British teeth. “But remember this: if you walk with the lord, than you have nothing to fear, not even death. So this dude gets all cut up. These punks just leave him lying on the side of the road, bleeding, and nobody wants to touch him. He doesn’t look rich, see, and bad luck is catching. But the angel of the lord takes pity on him…. Turn here.”

I’m not sure if I was supposed to be the Samaritan or if Lefty thought he was the Samaritan. The way I saw it, I was about to need a Samaritan. Or something.

The bank was unavoidable, but I had to wait in traffic to turn into the parking lot. A guard, a local deputy, stood in front of the walk up ATM, but I was the drive-thru. Lefty lowers the gun, pushed it through my coat.

I held his eyes in the mirror as he leaned his weight on the tip of the barrel in the ravine between two ribs. He strummed abrasively. At last, there was a tangible pain.

Doreen leaned her head just slightly to one side. I still can’t get a good look at her, but I could see enough. She had a large triangular nose and no chin. She looked like a rat.

“What happened to the Sumerian?” She asked. I guess she hadn’t heard the story.

The ATM was on the far end of the drive-thru lanes. I waved to the woman behind the green window, safe in her bulletproof cage. I could only take out two hundred dollars. The machine spit out ten twenties.

As I turned to hand Lefty the bills, he shifted forward on his knees and connected with my hand. The bills slapped across his forehead, and my knuckles popped on the bridge of his nose—not a punch exactly, but he fell backward. I nudged the gas. He pulled himself up with the back of my seat and pistol-whipped my head. Only once.

I could feel that I was bleeding, but he did not shoot me, and then I knew he wouldn’t.

“Now,” he said, straightening his collar under his sweater, “you made me lose my cool.”

He didn’t shoot me

Odd thing about Jeffery Askew—he kept coming back. I wrecked him regularly for three years, like he was my best friend. He loved to fight. After a while, I lost my taste for it, and he found someone else who would hit him.

Wayne Lee went off to a prep school, and we slowly lost our ability to communicate. We fought once our senior year. I spit in his eye. He broke two of my ribs, but he knew it wasn’t an accomplishment.

“Son,” lefty says form behind me. “Will you enter into the kingdom of heaven ahead of me? You have to fly right. Jesus wouldn’t want you to say he is the way and the light and stumble around all day praising him. Live your life as he lived his. The meek shall inherit the earth. That’s what this is, see, a small part of my inheritance.”

“I have to get back to work,” I said. “Can I drop you two….” Lefty slapped the back of my head. There was a damp matted thwack. He sat back on his heels, repulsed by my blood on the lighter skin of his palm then wiped it on the back of the seat.

“You might want to call in sick.”

I had never killed anything, though I understand, then, how it was possible. Not possible—easy. This was enlightening; all of my pseudo pacifistic, anti death penalty rhetoric. Bullshit. I would have, in that moment, killed this man.

I turned out of the bank, looked for the accident I was about to cause. My best plan was to make a run at a light pole, but two blocks west on Ponce de Leon, we slowed down. Cars clogged the intersection behind a limousine parked diagonally across one lane and most of the sidewalk. The lunch-time walkers congregated at a less than respectable distance. A man and a woman stepped out of the limo. She draped an overcoat around his shoulders like a cape. He looked like the a black version of the Captain Morgan pirate. Even then, at his advanced age, he looked like the hardest working man in show business.

“Goddamn. Louis,” Doreen said from the passenger seat. “I think that’s James Brown.” Louis looked up and I locked the brakes. He crumpled face-first between our seats and into the dashboard. But what did I care? I was free of the seat-belt, out the door, and dodging through the growing crowd.


So that’s it. The end. I walked away. Actually, I kind of ran for a bit. The video of me talking is below. But first, I owe a debt of gratitude to my accidental savior. Bask in the glow of the hardest working man in show business, circa 1974.

James Brown from the concert in Zaire for the Foreman/Ali fight. This is my favorite era for Brown, mainly because of my theory that this moment in history serves as the inspiration for Lando.

James Brown from the concert in Zaire for the Foreman/Ali fight. This is my favorite era for Brown, mainly because of my theory that this moment in history serves as the inspiration for Lando.

His belt isn't emblazoned with the GFOS logo, but it might as well be.

His belt isn’t emblazoned with the GFOS logo, but it might as well be. Lando was Lucas’s answer to the critics who wanted more diversity in Star Wars.

FILE - In this Oct. 30, 1974, file photo, perspiration flies from the head of defending champion George Foreman as he takes a right from challenger Muhammad Ali in the seventh round in their world heavyweight championship bout dubbed "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali regained the world heavyweight crown by knocking out Foreman in the eighth round. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky)

Foreman going down. This is what I’d wanted to do to the man who hit me with the gun, but instead I ran. The gun put the odds in his favor and I was powerless. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky)

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  • LJ January 12, 2018, 11:49 am

    Sadly this day and time your motto has to be – TRUST NO ONE! We had a case recently in our fair city where a gentleman stopped to help a ‘damsel in distress’ broke down on the side of the road. Of course it was a scam and her dirt-bag accomplice popped out of nowhere and shot the guy and took his car. Luckily, he lived.

    Now if I see someone broke down on the side of the road I call the police or state patrol …

  • Slam Ram June 7, 2015, 10:55 am

    Sam Ruger woulda given that perp an ocular pat down and assessed the situation in approximately 2.2 seconds.

    Sam Ruger woulda stared into that .38 with his Xray eyes and immediately seen that it wasn’t loaded.

    Sam Ruger woulda leveraged his years of secret training to smell the woman’s phermonal secretions and known instantly that she wasn’t actually pregnant.

    Do any of these skills sound familiar? They might, to the astute reader… that’s because Sam Ruger is none other than C H U C K N O R R I S ! ! !

  • Methadras May 19, 2015, 9:07 pm

    Trust no one but those you’ve already vetted. Everyone else is non-existent unless you need to interact with them. Anyone asks for help like that and relies on other people for it and you fall for it makes you an idiot. That was mistake number one. The first thought should have been, why are you asking me? You should just call a taxi Mr. Pediatrician and been about your business. Crisis averted. Instead in your own words, your liberal ideology sucked you into this because you thought not looking like a racist was more important than your own self-preservation. That is idiocy part two. One of the things I’ve learned a long time ago is that when you are unabashed in your principals, it doesn’t matter what the color of the skin is of those you interact with because it’s their character is what you see and in that seeing their evil. Hopefully. Glad you are alive to tell the tale.

  • judy May 19, 2015, 12:58 pm

    I liked your experience. I remember a time when I was repossessing video equipment and found myself looking down the barrel of a gun. I reasoned with the guy, told him to get the Bill paid by the end of the month, then I went back to my video store and when I walked in, it was as if I were much taller. The ceiling seemed lower so I made a mad dash for the mirror in back to see my pupils in my eyes were so tiny you couldn’t see them! Fear! What a rush that was! I now keep my gin handy, too.

  • Jared May 19, 2015, 6:39 am

    What did you actually teach us? I know…. that you can go off on tangent, speak metaphorically, and find it difficult to stay on subject. This article should have been condensed!! Give me the cliff note version. Quit writing a novel and stick to the article and the meat of the information. Great article minus the novel build up! Do you write hiku ? Thanks Jared

  • JD HATCH May 18, 2015, 9:31 pm

    This is the most salient and common sense approach to, why I carry. Eloquently put into words by another retired Marine. Enjoy. Some of us do not need to go through such an event to realize there is good and evil, force and reason !

    The Gun is Civilization by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

    Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force.

    If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding
    under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

    In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social
    interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

    When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate
    your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal
    footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats.

    The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender. There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, but that only makes it easier for the [armed] mugger to do his job.

    That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat–it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society.

    A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a
    force monopoly.

    Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is
    fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

    People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

    The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply
    wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.

    When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means
    that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid.

    It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation… and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

    So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.

    By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

  • skindog May 18, 2015, 7:06 pm

    I did the same thing after watching you exhibit poor handgun protocol. What audience do you think your are speaking to? Hint…we dont vote democrat, we dont drive cadillacs, and we sure as hell know a thing or two about firearms.
    You are a firearms instructor? Jesus Christ…I wouldnt send my 19 year old cat to your instructional school.

    We train and train and train CQB firehouse, vehicle roadblock, direct contact, knife 22 second rule…etc over and over. You were a guy with a kick me sign on his back. Most of us never wouldve fallen for that bs..but a fool is born every minute. I hope you put the guns down and go get on the leaf pile in your back yard. Sir you have no business in this business…that is a fact JACK.

  • Mark Wynn May 18, 2015, 6:19 pm

    Entertaining story in the style of Rolling Stone. You’re a writer. I get it. But this story is fictional. Thanks.

  • John May 18, 2015, 1:04 pm

    From one ex prof. to another, well spoken, and a lesson well taught. I live in Iowa and it is a pretty simple step to get a concealed carry license. I have waffled back and fourth. You made such a powerful impression, I just decided, I will become a member of the concealed carry community. I do believe in the responsibility of learning how to safely carry and use whatever a person chooses to carry. Thanks for a great lesson. As you know, it is simply a presentation unless someone listening hears and takes action. I assure you, for me it was a lesson well given and learned.

  • dancinbill May 18, 2015, 12:37 pm

    are you right with Jesus yet?

  • Kirk May 18, 2015, 11:12 am

    I will add two things-

    First, I enjoyed reading the story.

    Second, I started watching the video but when you start futzing around with the Glock- racking it, then letting your finger dangle inside the trigger guard, I bailed. If you are going to be teaching people about carrying a gun, please don’t teach them poor safety habits. Get that finger up on the slide or frame, well out of the way of the trigger when you are not shooting.

  • Darrell May 18, 2015, 10:04 am

    Those of you who are commenting that having a gun would not have helped in this situation seem to be assuming that the couple were just going to let the author go free when they were done. Yes it was bad judgement that allowed this situation to happen but a gun could have definitely came in handy when they said the inevitable “get out of the car”.

    • Sam Ruger May 22, 2015, 1:32 am

      First, let me comment that you are a first class writer. I’m pretty sure you have a degree in journalism. If you ever write a book, I’ll buy it.

      But, while your writing style is impressive,you fail to link “Why you carry” to the story. If you’d actually carried and drawn, you might not be here to tell the story. So where’s the lesson? I’m not against carrying. I carry. Most of us here do. But when someone writes an article claiming to teach then there should be a lesson taught. I didn’t see it. What would you have done different if armed? That’s not in your story. You wasted my time and others.

      Saying it “definitely would have come in handy when they said the inevitable ‘get out of the car’,” is a start. But you never went there. Learn from your mistake. You’re a very good writer. Next time, don’t leave out the lesson. Because, if you tally up your number of blind supporters (and they are blind), they number about three ON A GUN FORUM. Think about that. Where does that place them on the scale of human evolution?

      Write it again. I’ll read it. We all will. I can help if you want.

  • David Witheld May 18, 2015, 9:46 am

    I know what you mean my man.

    During the 7 and a half hours (well, okay, maybe it was 90 seconds absolute tops) I spent staring down the barrel of a WWII vintage 88mm anti-tank gun (okay, probably a $50 Saturday night special in .22 caliber) I learned many things. First, you can actually see red if you get angry enough. Second, you can actually have several thoughts in your mind at the same time. One of them was “if you get killed in this you city bred sonofabitch I hope they put ‘died of his own stupidity’ on your gravestone.”

    I also learned why the guys that went back to Vietnam (my generation) or go back to the sandbox do it. One of the reasons anyway. It’s a rush fearing for your life.

    But I made a decision too. That will never, EVER happen to me again and me not at least have a fighting chance. So I never, EVER leave home without at least my wife’s Ruger LCP in my pocket and preferably my Colt Defender on my hip.

    .45 acp because it’s just silly to have to shoot it twice

    molon labe

    • Mossbergman May 19, 2015, 10:53 am

      It’s NOT silly to have to shoot twice.. Wash that out of your head. If you need to us deadly force it must be such that the perp is stopped . One shot astops are rare and even though a little 22 can kill you need to put the guy down fast enough he can’t do the same to you before he’s out. Police practice two shots ctr mass third to the head (in case of body armor) even with the 45 n double tap if ya ever need to survive ..Just saying in real life it not like the TV or movies.

  • W May 18, 2015, 9:32 am


    Glad you made it out. This shows us how unprepared and fragile we really can be. Thank you. You’ve helped further educate me.

    To the haters,

    The story is well written. It is not too long. Unless you have been on the verge of death and are going to publish a narrative, hold your negativity. Dave made it out by a great stroke of luck, and at a loss of $200. What what would have happened had James Brown not swooped in and gave cover, is the great unknown unknown. A million things could have happened. Maybe a gun for team Dave would have helped, maybe not. But it sure beats having no gun.

  • Mark May 18, 2015, 8:53 am

    Good grief people..you’re missing the point here. This episode in his life taught him to never be unprepared, its not about shooting or shooting as the case may be. Its about knowing the difference, this chapter taught him to be more self reliant, to carry and shoot if need be. Not in this type of situation, this type of situation had he shot likely would have gotten him killed.

    I too am trained, was trained, as a police officer first in the U.S. Army, then as a civilian police officer for the next ten years. Then as a correctional officer for the Florida Dept of Corrections for 14 years. Due to an unfortunate incident back in 1990 the natives got restless one day and I had my knee blown out for me, by a convict that I had him do some work for me, and he was for lack of a better word a trusty, don’t have in the state pen, what we called house men. I was trained, trained as well as could be, thing is, the unexpected happens and our training goes down the toilet like a big brown turd.

    Dave, knew after this incident that he would never find himself unprepared for whatever life had to throw at him from then on. Only thing is, you never know when the unexpected will happen. Now at age 58, I’ve been retired 15 years now, that knee injury I suffered turned into a neurological disease, and I am slowly, rapidly now loosing the ability to walk. I’m on a walker and partly on an electric scooter. Had I not been in the situation I as in, I would still be in law enforcement today. after 24 years in service to the public, THAT incident when during the riot I had my knee blown out was MY teaching or rather learning moment, because I learned about pain, pain I live with 24/7/365 pain most people cannot even fathom.

    Dave, you did alright, that was your learning moment in life, you survived, $200 poorer, but alive, that’s the main thing. Thank you for your story. Be well, be safe, God bless..

  • Chuck May 18, 2015, 8:51 am

    I’m afraid you haven’t learned anything, you’re still apologizing for being White..

  • Jadwinjim May 18, 2015, 8:13 am

    A dull story that could have been told in 2 minutes.

  • BB May 18, 2015, 8:10 am

    “So in other words you got yourself into this situation because you were afraid of looking like a ‘racist’.
    Had you been a ‘racist’ you would not have had any problems.”

    Political correctness got him into this situation, racist or not

  • John Smith May 18, 2015, 7:39 am

    “I have what I had always thought was a healthy dose of xenophobia. But as a white man in the new south, I go out of my way to avoid any situation that might betray any trace of racism. ”
    “Had Lefty been white, I would have made some excuse—regardless of how well he was dressed.”

    So in other words you got yourself into this situation because you were afraid of looking like a ‘racist’.
    Had you been a ‘racist’ you would not have had any problems.

    • Mississippi May 18, 2015, 8:51 am

      I don’t think he’s saying only a racist would have walked away. I think what he’s saying is that as a young leftist he really had no choice but to “walk the talk” and ignore his urban instincts. Hopefully hes saying that he learned that using race in any decision is being racist. Good or Bad.

  • Magic Rooster May 18, 2015, 7:10 am

    Once he was in your car, it was all over. A gun would have gotten you and possibly an innocent bystander killed. The take away? Tell strangers to “bugger off”. Just my opinion, but I use that phrase every time and I don’t feel the least bit racist.

  • John Evans May 18, 2015, 7:01 am

    The article was interesting when you weren’t lapsing into some mental recall of childhood events.
    Teachable moment?
    – not at all
    But I did learn that you can’t spell…..
    How many errors can one person have when this is their profession?

  • JGTinNJ May 18, 2015, 5:47 am

    Made me feel better about episodes of terror I had, thankfully many years ago.

  • Sam Ruger May 18, 2015, 5:20 am

    You call this a “teachable” moment. Teach us what?
    To carry a gun?
    Because if you were packing in the incident you described, the only way it would have ended up any different would be if you shot him or he shot you, or you both shot each other. I would say losing the $ 200 was a bargain considering two of the above three alternatives.
    I was professionally trained to deal with thieves. I was trained first to recognize and avoid the situation while on the job. Off the job, I could have fallen for the same thing you did (On the job, we never gave anybody a ride.). Sounds like he had a good story. Most con artists do. In fact, it makes them feel superior to you when you fall for their scam. It’s why he was asking you about being a Christian. He was playing God. He was enjoying the power and the control but it wasn’t from the power of the pistol. It was the power of intellectual superiority.
    To him, you were just plain DUMB.
    And, if your story is true, the reason he needed $ 200 was to get a “fix” for his girlfriend. That’s why she was with him and that’s why she ignored you. She was waiting for him to get the money to solve her problem. You were nothing but a means to her end.
    As I said, I’m trained to deal with thieves. And the very first step is recognize the situation. If your avoidance training fails and you find a gun to your head, you must then assess the motive of the man holding the gun. Is it to get $ 200 or is it to kill you?
    Being trained, I would have known immediately he did not intend to kill me. That’s why you were able to type your story. Being armed or not would have zero effect on that outcome. The only thing you were in danger of was having to listen to his sermon.
    Again, I’m trained. I pack. I’m trained on how to kill him if I have to, or not if I don’t have to.
    Anyone who shoots an armed robber runs the risk of being shot back. If that’s worth $ 200 to you, go ahead. You’d have gotten a FAIL from my instructors if you had drawn – win or lose. Packing or not has NOTHING to do with you’re being alive today.

    To be honest, I can’t even be certain to believe your story. I don’t know the laws of the state this happened in but, by 1997, most states had laws TRIPLING jail time for armed robbery. It’s why criminals use identity theft today and not guns (far less jail time).

    Concealed carry serves a purpose and I’m one who does and sometimes you have to shoot BUT you did not describe a “shoot” situation. So I have only one question. Do YOU recommend people draw and shoot on a hitch hiker holding a gun on their head and telling them to drive to an ATM?

    • robert kling May 18, 2015, 7:51 am

      Settle down Mr. Loss Prevention Agent, you missed the whole point of this very good story. You are so wrapped up in your store’s policy on resisting shoplifters, you are missing a great opportunity to learn.

      • Walt May 18, 2015, 5:03 pm

        LMAO. I didn’t know Store security was trained in CQB and were such trained killers. I have a new respect for them now for sure…

    • George Wesson May 18, 2015, 7:53 am

      I’m with Sam Ruger on this one.

      You definitely lost me at “I’m so liberal, I’m Libertarian”

      I don’t think you know what Libertarian means, and I DO think your bleeding heart liberal mindset got you into this mess.

      • Don Donoho May 18, 2015, 9:19 am

        You are right about that George. The author and entirely too much of the population doesn’t know what the libertarian platform stands for.

        LP.org to find out. The platform is plainly stated, unlike other parties that a so vague and flip flopping. LP is a party built on principles.

    • apd1004 May 18, 2015, 8:24 am

      Relax, Sam.

      The author never recommended anything in the article. The teachable moment was relaying a story (doesn’t matter if it is true or not) about a guy getting robbed and kidnapped at gunpoint, and his post-incident revelation that he never should have even talked to the guy in the first place and how the experience turned an anti-gun guy into a concealed carrier. And, here’s a news flash for you – if you think criminals use identity theft today and not guns, then your experiences in Mayberry are different than mine in the big city. That was most definitely a “shoot” situation. Not tactically, but legally yes. Of course the guy wasn’t going to shoot him. At least not until he got his money. I’ve seen murders over a cigarette, and I would never bet my life on pondering whether or not a guy who has nothing to lose and no regard for human life is going to shoot me or not.

      While reading the article, I put myself in the author’s shoes and it only took me a couple seconds to think that the best course of action would have been to get the heck out of dodge (or THE Dodge in this case…) as soon as possible, and that is ultimately what happened in the end. I carry on the right side so my gun would not have been available and hopefully the guy wouldn’t have caught a glimpse of the butt through my shirt. I think in this situation I may have even opted for a 10-15mph bail out and let the van crash into something. The best time to do that would have been as he was pulling up to the ATM but timing would have been everything. Let the guy run away with the deputy standing there, at least there would be a witness to my crashing of the van and then two suspects bailing out of it.

      Great read.

      • Winz May 20, 2015, 11:56 am

        I totally agree, even if you were carrying, fleeing is the best course of action in this case. I would have tried to at the earliest opportunity that would have been what occupied my thought the whole time not some guy you knew once that got shot, not assassinations of the past, liberal or not, your “educated” brain was wasting calculation time on useless stuff . BTW, on the whole racism thing, “had the guy been white, I wouldn’t have…” that in it self is also racist. Do what you would do base on a person’s color is racist, so in your “going out of your way to not be racist” accomplished the exact opposite. So Mr. Higginbotham, as a Christian, it is our commandment to LOVE our neighbors as ourselves, had the guy been white, I certainly hope you would do the same now. Granted, if your instinct (I believe it was the Spirit) told you to flee, you should have done so, not having factored in appearances.

    • R.J. May 18, 2015, 8:38 am

      Hey, Sam, could you clarify something: are you trained? With training? From instructors? I wasn’t sure.

      One thing I CAN tell: no one ever taught you that nothing good ever comes of mocking and belittling someone for sharing a traumatic life event. Uncool, dude. Did you make valid points? Who cares!? People don’t respond well to humiliation. If you hope for someone to benefit from your competence and expertise, you have to show them your respect and decency first.

      And if you just commented to brag on yourself, then you’re doing it wrong AND in the wrong place.

      • grifhunter May 18, 2015, 12:04 pm

        Well said. Sam’s a tool, training and all.

      • Sam Ruger May 21, 2015, 12:01 am

        I had three instructors. The first was sentenced to 20 years for the murder of an undercover police officer during a bank holdup. He taught me how to recognize “drug” driven situations and how to kill people (It was supposed to be in self defense but he never taught anything but how to make it look like self defense.). Because he was on parole, we had to practice with rubber knives and squirt guns. He never told me how many people he’d actually killed. The scenarios we went through did not include hitch hikers as I was not allowed to pick them up.

        The second instructor was an attorney. My employer paid for a one hour session with him of what constituted Self Defense. Being liable for what I did with my gun under Agency Laws, they wanted to make certain I understood when I was legal and when I wasn’t.

        The third actually worked for some finance company (I think it was Household Finance) repossessing cars. He trained me on how not to use a gun (The exact opposite of the first instructor) by using proven FBI “hostage negotiation” techniques – only I had to use them from the position of being the hostage (About the same as having a gun held to your head while driving.).

        Everything you said after asking your first question proves you’re a dumass. Your statement “Who cares if I made valid points” proves that. I hope you do get your life’s ambition of having a gun held to your head and drawing on the SOB behind you. But I doubt you’ll live to post about it.

    • Robert Irwin May 18, 2015, 9:06 am

      Avoidance was and is the answer here. Sans the avoidance, you played the game well and took opportunity as it was given. I agree, no real opportunity existed to use a concealed weapon but it still feels better to know its there if there is no other alternative.

    • William May 18, 2015, 9:24 am

      Dang Sam! Chill dude. Everyone and their grandma hasn’t received the same specialized “thief training” you have, especially the “mind reading” classes that allow you to determine if someone’s intent is to kill you or not. I’d like to sign up for that one!

      The author crossed a boundary when he ask about dropping off the man off somewhere and got whacked in the head for his efforts. He tested the water with that question and had the sense to adjust and make a run for it first chance he deemed appropriate. I consider that smart for that situation. Taking chances to be macho usually end up totally different than expected. Chances mostly make bad situations worse.

      That’s $200 worth of well learned education, in my opinion. Carrying everyday is a good thing, but I’d bet the author wouldn’t even allow himself to be drawn into that situation again even if he wasn’t carrying. Nice of the GFOS to be so accomodating!

      Welcome to Atlanta, by the way!

    • Ram Suger May 18, 2015, 10:37 am

      oh look! another Mall Ninja thinking he knows more than anybody else on an anonymous public forum. You seem so brave!

      Clearly you’re a security guard because you’re not smart enough to do anything else. Please be quiet and let the adults talk.

      This story serves as a great glimpse into why people decide to carry a gun and serves as a reminder that crime can happen anytime, anywhere and you had best be prepared.

      • Sam Ruger May 21, 2015, 12:18 am

        I was not a security guard. My job required a college degree.

        The author of the story never describes how being able to carry would have changed the outcome. So what’s the “reminder” you’re claiming?

        The fact that I carried (and still do) should be evidence that it was necessary. I don’t question why you carry. That’s your business. Everybody’s got their reasons but the author provided a story that doesn’t back up why he carries. All he had to do was stop picking up hitch hikers. You don’t need a gun to do that. I did need one for my job. But I would certainly not draw on someone with a gun to my head. That’s called “After the fact” or in words you can understand, “Too late”. I would know by where he was directing me whether he wanted to kill me or not. Is he directing me to a remote, dark location? Then – Yes – I better kill him first. To kill him at an ATM over $ 200? No. Learn to recognize the situation.

    • Joe May 18, 2015, 3:33 pm

      That is a complete asshole answer. Even with all your training you would not tell if something similar happen to you. And if it does, every situation is different. There may be opportunities to defend yourself or not, and your stupid rethoric of –loosing 200 is a bargain–is out of place. You dont know if that person is going to ask you for 200 or 500 or just take your life. Yes, he was lucky, but not because it was 200 dollars but because possibly he was dealing with 2 crakheads. Know-it-all’s like you with their training are the ones that get in trouble when not everything goes “according to training”.

      • Fred May 23, 2015, 3:26 pm

        Joe Joe, You don’t get it do you? $200 or 500 is not worth going jail even for questioning. Or living with the fact that you shot someone. Even a scumbag. You and others on here sound like you are willing to do anything to keep scumbags from getting what they deserve. I have to agree that is just how I feel. But Sam is the kinda of guy that looks at tomorrow as well as now. He would of lost a couple hundred dollars but that is all. Think about your tomorrows. What ever you do you will have to live with for the rest of your life. What is that worth?

    • William Thornburg May 19, 2015, 10:54 pm

      David has probably become more alert now that he is carrying a weapon. All of us should be cautions about happenings around us that could lead to helpless problems no matter if we have a gun or not. In the future I’ll bet that David will not have reason for praying to non-existing deities to come to his defenses in most instances. It’s a shame that it is not legal in most areas for us to carry a defensive weapon in schools, places of religious worship, military bases, movie theaters or other usually deadly areas where murders are often carried out. Thanks to all who try not to become a victim!

    • JPHamilton May 20, 2015, 11:36 am

      Mr. Ruger – he was in a legally defensible lethal force situation as soon as they forced him into the vehicle. Not being armed at the time, he probably played it as correctly as he could in that situation. And YES, both the male and female accomplice DESERVED lead poisoning at close range. The author rambles a bit, and could probably have disposed of the flashback portions of this story, but that’s a critique for another day. The author survived an attempt at filtering the gene pool, and thereby became a better-educated, stronger person! Someone dares to try that with me, there WILL be a gunfight, and I WILL go home safe and sound.

      • Fred May 23, 2015, 3:29 pm

        BS JP

  • Slim May 17, 2015, 5:58 pm

    Thank God your Okay. Thanks for sharing your story. I have to say you made a lot of mistakes leading up to that but I’m sure you already knew that. Let none of us say that couldn’t happen to me because we all are vulnerable at some time everyday. Think about it even if you take a shower with a loaded gun you still could have a arm holding a snub nose come over that curtain when you have shampo in your hair. I know somebody’s thinking I have clear curtain or no curtain well. Seriously God is keeping us more safe than we would like to give him credit for.

    • skindog May 18, 2015, 6:24 pm

      Good read, i was confused by a few things which didnt get your spidey sense on. When you were approached, the first out of the box red flag was the girl. You were the mark and dont know when you are is evidence you havent been street educated.Next, the bleeding heart liberal Im Sorry for slavery BS got you there..on you.3. you smacked a wad of 20’s in his nose and he still didnt shoot you? guess what…he was never gonna shoot you, and that is when we use a term called controlled-violence. You are 6’4. 200+,….similar incident happend to me in 60 185…i put the guys head through the windshield and he came close to dying.
      your lack of proactive behavior and foolish bs ing with this perp almost got you killed..probably by mistake.
      You were never in the military…I can tell, we are killers ALL OF US it has to be harnessed…and GRIT is something you are born with. Glad you grew up!

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