LADIES, GUNS AND ARMED DEFENSE - Citizen's Guide to Armed Defense (2015)

Citizen's Guide to Armed Defense (2015)


Women can defend themselves, and with proper training, mindset and awareness, can stop violent attacks against them.


Cindy was the office manager for a trucking company who had arrived at a local bank to make a deposit in broad daylight. As she sat behind the wheel of her SUV in the parking lot afterwards, she was approached by a suspect who began by asking her directions and then opened up the door of her truck and forced himself on top of her. Cindy scrambled to grab her .38 Taurus revolver she carried in the center console of her vehicle. Once she got her hand on it she fought against her attacker’s attempts at grabbing her arm, and was able to fire a shot which went through her vehicle door but was enough to cause her attacker - a registered sex offender who had just gotten out of prison earlier that year - to run away. He was apprehended by police a short distance away.

Good outcome, certainly a success story. Cindy went home, and her attacker, who was making sexual comments as he lay on top of her, went to jail and then back to prison. It certainly could have ended much worse. This 40ish-year-old lady had recently gotten her CCW permit and, except for firing her revolver at the range for the course, had never fired her gun before.

“If you consciously tell yourself, ‘This person is trying to charm me,’ as opposed to ‘This person is charming,’ you’ll be able to see around it.”

Like most encounters, we can and should learn from Cindy’s. Let’s examine some of those learning points:

· Carrying concealed can and does save lives. We have no idea what could have happened had Cindy not had a gun. Nationwide from mothers in Detroit to the streets of mainstream America, armed female citizens are saving lives with their guns.

· Cindy was not prosecuted. She was the victim of a crime and was treated as such.

· She did not curl up into a fetal position and submit to being a victim, she acted decisively and that made a difference.

· The suspect began by “interviewing” Cindy. She didn’t even realize his intent was nefarious from the start and he was using dialogue to attempt to disarm her and lower her guard. Gavin de Becker in his excellent book The Gift of Fear (Little, Brown; 1997) states, “The capable face-to-face criminal is an expert at keeping his victim from seeing survival signals, but the very methods he uses to conceal them can reveal them. Charm is almost always a directed instrument, which, like rapport building, has motive. To charm is to compel, to control by allure or attraction. If you consciously tell yourself, “This person is trying to charm me,” as opposed to “This person is charming,” you’ll be able to see around it.” We are reminded of serial murderer Ted Bundy and how he would disarm and charm his victims.

· “Having a gun” is different than being ready. The mere presence of a firearm in a home or in a vehicle is not enough. We must be ready and prepared to act.

· Cars are not holsters. Carrying a handgun in the car (in this case in the center console) is tantamount to being disarmed, as seldom will the perfect opportunity to access the gun be possible, and what happens if you are separated from the gun by circumstance?


An off-duty officer was shot and killed in a convenience store parking lot while refueling his vehicle at the pumps. An armed robber approached him between his vehicle and the gas station. He had left his firearm in his truck.

Basic CCW training in no way prepares anyone to effectively defend themselves. It is the start, but we cannot imagine that Cindy’s training prepared her to draw and fire within these circumstances. But our very survival is based on our training. It must address and prepare you to win the day in situations other than on flat ranges at 21 feet, which is the average distance and conditions that most instructors work at.

Jan Jones and her excellent book Self-Defense Requires No Apology was a trendsetter in armed defense for women.

There were the trend setters, those trainers who dealt with this important topic years ago such as the first firearms book for women by a woman (and I’m proud to say I own an original copy…) was Self-Defense Requires No Apology by Jan Jones (Security World Publications; 1985). From Jan’s book we read:

“When people learn of my interest in self-defense and guns, they typically respond, “But you look like such a nice girl.” I may not be a girl any longer, but I do think of myself as nice, which is exactly why I do have this interest. A belief in my own self-worth has enabled me to make the decision that no one has the right to harm me. With this as the basis of my thinking, I have learned to be more assertive, self-reliant, and confident.

We have the right to live unmolested lives, and preparing to do so is a positive rather than a negative.”

Other early writers and trainers are: Paxton Quigley author of Armed and Female (Dutton Adult; 1989); Vicki Farnam and Diane Nicholl Teaching Women to Shoot: A Law Enforcement Officer’s Guide (D.T.I.; 2002); Gila May-Hayes with her titles - Effective Defense, (Firearms Academy of Seattle; 2000), Personal Defense for Women, (Gun Digest Books; 2009), and Concealed Carry for Women, (Gun Digest Books; 2013); Clint and Heidi Smith from Thunder Ranch with their excellent DVD Ladies Basic Guide to Concealed Carry (FMG Publishers; 2009). Massad Ayoob has championed the cause of the female armed citizen and has trained and focused articles about distaff shooters for years in his courses, books and columns.

Additionally, concealed carry issues specific to women, such as holsters and training, have been getting more attention from gun manufacturers, holster makers and firearms instructors. But we still have a long way to go.


Patty was a friend who had gone to a gun store and was talked into purchasing a little .25 acp semi-auto pistol more than 30 years ago. She asked me if I would take her to the range. At that time there was no decent ammo but hardball for the little guns. One trip to the range was enough to convince her the gun was not suitable for her armed defense. She invested in a two inch .38 Chief’s Special, which was at that time the most reliable of the smaller guns, and learned to shoot it effectively.


A young female teacher was a student in an armed teacher and school staff program. Her husband insisted that she use his full-sized .40 caliber Glock pistol for the course. I’m sure he was all impressed with its “stopping power” and that any pistol less than the .40 didn’t have the kinetic energy needed to drop a suspect in his tracks. The problem was that his petite wife was not him and she was very conscious of the felt recoil and failed to qualify with that pistol during the final test. The following week, she came back with a 9mm Glock and had no problems.


A young female police officer was a student in an “Officer Survival” class. The double stack 9mm pistol she was issued by her agency was simply too big for her hand. Despite installing a trigger designed by the factory for smaller hands, to fire the first shot she had to compromise her grip and come around the frame. Her agency would allow male detectives to carry pistols with single column 9mm magazines but not uniformed officers. This was done out of an outdated concept of “uniformity” in the patrol officer ranks.


Over the years female officers would call and ask if I was working the range for qualification or training because they felt denigrated and stressed when some other staff members were working. A group of female officers would call several weeks before their scheduled range qualification session and just want to work with the fundamentals of marksmanship in a positive environment.


There is no “cookie cutter” approach to female armed defense. Just like what works for men (as indicated by the case study above) may not work for women, what works for one woman may not work for another. Age, size, hand strength, upper body strength, build, experience level and much more are determinants of how a woman (or a man, for that matter) can carry concealed, as well as how they can shoot and operate other firearms.

Michelle Cerino from the Chris Cerino Training Group on concealed carry for the ladies:

“Personally, I almost always carry my firearm in a purse. When carrying a gun in a purse or bag, never allow it to mix with the contents inside. Keys, pens, and other small objects can find their way into the trigger guard and can cause an unintentional discharge or render the gun inoperable. A purse specifically created for concealed carry is the best option. This keeps the gun in a separate compartment. Often these specially designed purses offer multiple access points for retrieving your gun.

“Making the decision to carry your pistol in your purse doesn’t limit you to having to draw before firing. Outside the box thinking and training will prove that you can shoot from within your purse. A quickly approaching threat may cause this to become necessary, especially if the target threat is in close proximity. Firing through the purse if the suspect is close and time is of the essence. Although I’m a proponent of sighted fire, sometimes it isn’t going to happen. Possibly, when you get that strange feeling that something isn’t right and you reach into your purse to orient the gun in your hand in preparation, there may be no time to remove it and fire.

“At times, I choose to carry my handgun on my person. There are three criteria I look for in a holster: comfort, conceal-ability and access. Trying various types of concealed carry holsters I came to find the outside the waistband, cross draw holster to be the most comfortable. Cross draw didn’t poke me or rub my side when seated. Conceal-ability came simply by untucking my shirt. With the empty gun I practiced drawing while seated in my car. Certainly ready at hand and easily acquired.

“Remember, the body won’t go where the mind hasn’t been, so if you think you will improvise a new tactic when your life depends on it, you are probably wrong. You have to open your mind and train. Whether you chose to carry in your purse or on your body, practice is essential.

“The decisions are many once you commit to carry concealed. Mental preparation, situational awareness and honing instinct are paramount and continuous pursuits. All of which are done by training in classrooms and reading. Regardless of how or what you arm yourself with, it is important to train. Train the body, mind and warrior spirit. Before you walk out the door, practice a draw, orient your gear and prepare yourself for the unthinkable. Place your mind where your body needs it to be.”


For years female officers have dreaded “shotgun qualification.” Based so much on poor equipment (stocks which are entirely too long, and full charge 00 buck), as well as instructors who taught them poor technique, the ladies would literally hate shotgun training and quals. Give some of them better training on isometric pressure and buttstock placement, reduced recoil 00 buck loads or even low-brass birdshot for training and a reduced sized stock so the officer is not so stretched out and angled, and the results can be impressive. Give them (and male officers as well) an AR-15 or M-4 and they love it.

Strong-side outside the belt holsters which may work great for one female shooter may be incredibly hard for another lady to draw from, as the flair of her hip presses the grip panel into her side. Appendix, actually inguinal channel or inguinal crease, may work for some but not for others. A blue jean wearing lady permit holder from the country may need an entirely different type of holster than a female officer worker from the city.

Guns are as diverse as holsters, with some ladies loving smaller-barreled 9mm single stack pistols, while others like .45 autos of a 1911 design. It is flawed thinking to believe that ladies cannot handle full-size pistols. I’ve trained enough female officers with Glock 17 semi-auto pistols to know that, with the right hand size and training, they can be quite effective with that 18-shot capacity pistol. That said, off-duty that full-size pistol may be all but impossible to conceal as the weather gets warmer and we start dressing lighter and tighter.

The inherent problem with carrying smaller pistols and revolvers, for both men and women, is that they are harder to shoot. The sight radius - distance between front and rear sights - is usually a couple of inches (my Glock Model 19 with HiViz front sight is 512 inches, as is my G26, but my Smith and Wesson M&P340 is about 314 inches) and that makes them harder to shoot.

Size, body type and attire have a lot to do with what and how a woman can carry concealed.

Further, many small-frame pistols and revolvers have long and heavy trigger pulls. It is hard to manipulate and accurately fire a handgun when trigger weight is heavier than the actual overall weight of the gun. In my experience as an instructor, female shooters have a tough time holding the handgun on target as they work through the trigger press. This is certainly caused by a longer trigger press (in some cases close to half inch of trigger “take up or slack”) that is gritty and around ten pounds in some cases. This is one of the reasons, for both men and women, that double action/single action pistols, known as “trigger-cocking” pistols, which require a long double action first press of the trigger (causing the hammer to cock and then release) are not as popular as striker fired pistols such as the Smith and Wesson M&P and the Glocks (the late great Jeff Cooper called double-action/single-action pistols “crunchentickers”). The harder and heavier the trigger pull, the more prone the shooter is to move the barrel, i.e. slap or jerk the trigger, causing a miss.

We don’t want “hair triggers” in defensive handguns, but we want a trigger we can manage successfully to maximize accuracy on target.

Over the last few years, manufacturers have focused on smaller and better-designed handguns for the CCW market. The Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380, the new Glock 42, Springfield XD-S, Beretta Nano, Bersa BP, Ruger LCP, Taurus models as well as others offer compact packages for female concealed carry. Just make sure that the trigger and sights are acceptable to you. For instance, if your .380 pistol is stoked with 80 grain DPX from Cor®Bon or 50 grain Civil Defense® from Liberty Ammunition, you can maximize the performance from these smaller framed pistols. In terms of smaller .380 pistols, we have come leaps and bounds in ammunition performance today versus the round-nose ball ammo of yesterday.

A recent informal poll I conducted of female law enforcement officers and CCW permit holders showed that many ladies struggle with the same issues - how and what to carry concealed. Many ladies love their full-size pistols but opt for .380 pistols or five shot revolvers when carrying concealed. Fashion dictated by circumstances, such as while at work or in a more formal setting or function, often makes concealed carry on the person a tough proposition. This often results in many ladies relegating their handguns to purse carry, with one CCW permit holder commenting, “They (the purses) are ugly, by the way…”

So what we seek is a balance, we want to carry as much gun as we can manipulate, operate, shoot well and conceal effectively.

My recommendation is to shoot a variety of different pistols and revolvers before settling on “the one” that you want to purchase. Same thing with holsters, look around and try different rigs before spending your hard-earned money. Do understand though that anyone who has been carrying for a few years has a bag of holsters sitting around that are unused, and that we all have a couple or three holsters that we tend to use on a regular basis.

LEFT TO RIGHT:Young woman’s hand holding a 1911 semi-auto pistol, Smith and Wesson 5906, Glock 26, Smith & Wesson M&P 340, Glock 42.

Don’t go into a gun store and get talked into buying something you’ll regret later, “Come on little lady, let me walk you down to these pretty pink little pistols…” Don’t feel pressured to purchase a firearm that has deplorable sights, a long and weighty trigger, and doesn’t reliably function, a firearm you may be able to conceal but can’t shoot accurately or operate smoothly. This is a purchase or selection that may have tremendous impact on your survival. Do your homework, try out different handguns, shoot them if possible before you buy. I would recommend Emily Miller’s Emily Gets Her Gun for a look into how she went about selecting her home defense handgun. (Unfortunately in Emily’s case she is unable, based on Washington D.C. law, to carry concealed, but at least she can own a firearm for home defense now…).



Paxton Quigley in her excellent book Armed & Female (Dutton; 1989) recounts this story, “Kate Petit’s car sputtered to a stop on the interstate highway between Lake Kissimmee and Tampa…Kate was stranded, all right. What looked to her like a mixture of smoke and steam was pouring out the top, bottom, and sides of the engine compartment.” She thinks a good Samaritan motorist has come to her aid, the vehicle was driven by, “respectable looking gentlemen who stopped an expensive-looking car on the highway and backed all the way up in front of me and my burning car.” What Kate didn’t know was that she was being “interviewed” by a suspect who, like Gavin De Becker has written, was an expert at hiding his intent. “After being polite and sympathetic, the man took a knife from the inside pocket, of his suit coat and pressed it sharply into Kate’s ribs, telling her that if she didn’t cooperate he would push the knife into her heart.

Kate was forced into the suspect’s trunk and driven to a remote location. During the drive the suspect yelled at her, telling her what he was going to do. But during the drive Kate physically positioned so that her head was away from the trunk opening and armed herself with a revolver she carried in her purse. “Kate doesn’t remember when the man stopped yelling at her in the trunk, and doesn’t remember what he said as he opened the trunk. All she remembers is the flood of daylight momentarily blinding her when the trunk lid popped open and an almost slow-motion sight of the bullet holes being made in the man’s chest by the .38-caliber revolver she took out of her purse. She had planned to shoot every bullet in her gun at the man when the trunk opened, but after three shots he slumped into the trunk on top of her, dead.”

Kate had carried her revolver for years, stating, “But I frequently recognized a feeling of being safe or being less vulnerable when I had my gun with me. You’re not going to believe this, but when he put me in the trunk with my purse I was very relieved.”

Author Quigley writes, “The suspect was a twice-convicted felon who had previously been found guilty of eleven counts of sexual assault, including sodomy, child molestation, and rape.” He was on parole after being recently released after serving 22 months for raping a woman and her 12-year-old daughter.

A potential victim was turned into a victor after using a gun in self-defense and saving her own life.

Most violent encounters are ambushes.

I will state as a husband, father of two beautiful daughters and the trainer of countless ladies, you have the ability and capacity to learn to defend yourself with a firearm. Don’t let rampant testosterone persuade you that you are incapable of winning the day in a violent and armed encounter. There are some amazing stories of armed female citizens confronting and overcoming hyper-violent criminal suspects.


“Officer Stacy Lim of the Los Angeles Police Department would get involved in a shooting on June 9th, 1990, off-duty and far removed from her law enforcement job. Stacy had played softball with her partner and his family and then they went to a restaurant to get something to eat. At 1:45 a.m. she began to be followed by five gang members after the 14-year-old girlfriend of one gang banger saw Stacy’s SUV and said to her gangster boyfriend, “If you love me. You’ll steal that car for me.” Stacy would usually drive with her semi-auto pistol under her right thigh and when she got out of the vehicle would place the pistol under her left armpit, as she walked up to her house. But this time as she stepped out unaware, the gang member had approached her driver’s side door pointing a .357 magnum revolver at her. She states, “I saw the barrel of the .357, it looked like the size of a canon. As I raised up my gun, we were probably five feet from each other. He fired one round. He shot me just left center of my chest, went through my chest out my back, nicked my diaphragm, my liver, my intestine, shattered my spleen, put a hole in the base of my heart, and left a tennis ball sized hole in my back as it exited. But I think I was just more mad than hurt at the time. I figured I could feel it later. As he turned, I fired one round, then he turned and ran, I hit him in his shoulder, as he went across the corner (of the car). I came back from behind him, I slowed down, I didn’t know where he’d gone. As I got about here (rear driver’s corner of the car), I started coming out, I saw him come back at me with his handgun. I fired three more times. I hit him in the shoulder, the back, and the base of the neck. He went down. He fired five more rounds, that went high left (missing Stacy). When I saw him hit the ground, I knew I was bleeding bad, so I had to get back.”

“Stacy checked her own wound and knew she was bleeding badly. She attempted to walk up her driveway to the house, she knew she was going to pass out. She states however, “It was a survival thing for me. I wasn’t scared because I knew I’d been shot and I knew it was bad, there was something inside of me, that I knew I wasn’t going to die.”

Her roommate called EMS. Paramedics lost her pulse once on the ride and they brought her back to life with the defibrillators. She was on 70% life support in ICU. She went through 101 units of blood after surgery. The second time she went to surgery she went into full arrest. After massaging her heart for 45 minutes, they sewed up an artery the doctors had missed the first time. Now on 100% life support she was given no chance to survive but, “My parents and family yelling at me to ‘Survive! Survive!’ Because of my strong will and desire to survive, and that it wasn’t my time, I basically starting fighting back and then after 15 days in the hospital, I walked out on my own, with no restrictions. Eight months after my shooting I went back to work. For me, I did what I had to do to survive and that was it. There was nothing heroic about it. I did what I was trained to do. What I was taught to do.” (From LAPD: Life on the Beat (TV series))

Awareness and intent coupled with skill at arms can save the day.

We don’t examine these incidents and tragedies to criticize, but we can learn from Stacy’s encounter to avoid similar confrontations.

· Most violent encounters are ambushes. We can avoid these by maintaining our awareness levels and monitoring who is around and behind us in traffic as well as on foot.

· Driving with a gun under our thigh versus in a holster is dangerous. If intentional contact is made with the suspect(s) we can lose our firearm. Sadly in the infamous Miami shootout with suspects Platt and Matix, one of the FBI agents lost his revolver when his vehicle collided with the suspect’s. He spent the entire shootout unarmed and was wounded as a result.

· Prior to getting out of the car, check your surroundings. Getting into and out of cars we are vulnerable, and if an ambush is perceived we can drive out of it.

Stacy Lim was not acting as a cop when she was attacked. Sadly, California prevents concealed carry by anyone other than law enforcement, the politically connected or celebrities, but here we see in Stacy Lim, an ultimate survivor who is a shining example of what a female can do with the will, training and tools to win.


Jennifer Fulford-Salvano was assigned to the patrol division of the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office in May of 2004 when she and the rookie who she was training that day responded to a residence after an 8-year-old boy called 911 to report that strangers were in his home with his mom. quotes the officer:

The woman told her there were three men in the house and she didn’t know what they wanted or why they were there. She wouldn’t give any more details. The officers told the woman to wait by the street. “I was trying to get to the kids. Everyone else was saying ‘pull back, wait for K-9.’ But all the intruders had to do was put a hand out and put down the garage door.”

She entered the garage door through the open door and crouched down on the driver’s side of the van. She could see 2-year-old twins but she couldn’t see the little boy who made the call. The door handle was locked so she couldn’t get in.

A black male, George Jenkins, came around the back of the garage, positioned himself behind the van and began firing out through the garage. Then he spotted Fulford-Salvano and began firing directly at her. The deputy returned fire and ducked behind the van. Jenkins fell against the garage wall.

Fulford-Salvano then heard movement from the front of the van. Another man, John Dzibinski, began to fire at her from the hood. She fired back and began oscillating between firing at Jenkins and firing at Dzibinski. She emptied her magazine and reloaded.

I kept on thinking, “I need to keep them away from me.”

The last time she leaned out to fire at Jenkins, she landed a head shot, but not before one of his rounds hit her in the right shoulder. She didn’t notice the injury until she was done firing. With her right, dominant hand out of commission, she picked up the gun with her left hand.

At this point, Dzibinski popped out again from the front of the van and Fulford-Salvano fired, hitting him in the head as well.

Knowing for sure that Dzibinski was done fighting, but not sure the status of the other gunman, Fulford-Salvano took a minute to check her own injuries. When she looked at her body she saw blood coming from lots of different places. She knew she needed to concentrate, control her breathing and focus on staying conscious.

According to, only 47 seconds passed. She said her recent training was the key to her making it out alive. “Training in off-handed shooting really, really helped me. I just reacted.”

“In her weak hand development training she held a tennis ball in her strong hand and learned to use her off hand to do everything, including reloading using her shoe or the ground.”

Fulford-Salvano stated ten bullets hit her. Three hit her equipment and didn’t injure her. She recovered and returned to full police duty.

The suspects were at the house to rob the female occupant of 341 pounds of marijuana and $60,000 in cash from her illegal dope trade.

Lessons to learn:

· Oftentimes things are not what they appear to be. In this case it was an armed home invasion robbery of a residence used for dope dealing.

· Don’t overextend yourself. By entering the garage, alone, Deputy Fulford-Salvano had to contend with two armed suspects by herself. Could she have just as easily protected the children in the garage from an outside corner versus entering?

Here a female officer learns to properly utilize cover while shooting.

And rolls out to successfully engage her target.

Once again we see that heroes are not made, they are cornered, but when Jennifer Fulford-Salvano sprang into action, she took care of business!


2007: Jeanne Assam had left the State of Minnesota where she had served as a police officer and relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado. She had been attending services at New Life Church for about six months when she answered a spiritual calling to join the volunteer-plainclothes security team. On the 9th of December she was at home not planning on going to church that day when, after surfing the net, she had come across a news blurb which stated that a Christian mission - “Youth with a Mission” had been attacked in Arvada, Colorado 70 miles north of Colorado Springs. A white male suspect had killed two mission staff members and two others were wounded. The suspect had escaped. Jeanne Assam made the decision to go into church that day.

Around 1 p.m. Assam was in the lobby area when someone alerted her to something going on at one of the entrance doors. She recounts her experiences:

Jeanne Assam wrote about her violent armed encounter in her church in her book God, the Gunman & Me.

“I was standing in the front lobby, still very crowded, and a volunteer behind the big round volunteer desk, says loudly, “Security!” So I turn around at him and he points towards the front doors “That guy says there’s something weird going on outside.” So I go talk to this man and he says, “Yeah, there’s like a smoke bomb outside the steps.” So I was just thinking, should I call the fire department? Or what is this device, is it a dud? Is it going to explode? And still trying to keep everybody back, some people said it was one white male in a red car, and another couple people said, it was three white males in a white car. I was going to make note of both and so I went inside and before I could start writing down the names, before I’d forget, the volunteer said, “There’s another smoke grenade outside the cafeteria doors,” which was far from where I was standing. Before I could even see another one, I hear this muffled - pop, pop, pop - coming from the east hallway, which was on my left. The east hallway is over 100 yards long and 30 feet wide. It is the busiest hallway in the church. I immediately go over there and as I’m making my way to the beginning of the east hallway, these loud thundering cracks of a high powered rifle just start ringing out and I hear everybody screaming and someone’s like, “Get down he’s got a gun!” And I thought the gunman was inside our church. A security guy behind me says, “There he is Jeanne, he’s coming in the doors right now.” Well, the gunman’s entering the complete opposite end of the hallway from where I stood, so he had been shooting through the doors of the church. He’d been shooting into the masses of people. So I pulled my gun out of the waist of my jeans where I keep it and just sprinted down the hallway toward him.

And all of a sudden everyone’s gone. There was no one left in the hallway except for me and the gunman. And he’s pulling open the second and last set of these heavy glass doors. So, I took cover in this hallway on the right that was perpendicular to the east hallway that he was walking down. I put my gun in the high-ready and I was just going to wait for him to come up to me and I was going to shoot him. You know perpendicular and then I’d shoot him. I stepped up to the corner of the hallway and I shouted at him, “Police Officer drop your weapon!” And he turns toward me and I shot rapidly five times and knocked him back, completely on his back. And he sits up and I walked toward him and I said, “Drop your weapon or I will kill you!” And he’s shooting at me now, so we’re shooting at each other. Obviously I’m gonna keep shooting at him if he’s shooting at me. And then he tried to duck behind this hallway and I couldn’t let him, couldn’t lose sight of him because then I’d have another situation. So I shot him again, for a total of ten times. And I told him you know, “Drop your weapon!” I gave him fair warning and I just knew he could kill me and then he’d kill those other people, so I had to take his life.”

According to news reports, Mathew Murray was on a mission to kill many more before Jeanne Assam stopped him that fateful day in December.

Learning points:

· Even “quiet” Sundays in December in church can result in violent encounters.

· More and more churches are asking parishioners to volunteer to arm themselves for security purposes. Churches can be the target of anti-religious fanatics as well as the mentally ill or even terrorists.

· Jeanne Assam states that during her police interview she couldn’t remember everything because she was taken downtown immediately afterward for a statement.

· The Detectives collected Assam’s clothing for evidence because they had the suspect’s blood on them.

Jeanne Assam would meet with President George W. Bush who told her “Good job, I’m proud of you.”

Three amazing women who faced death and, based on their intense will to win and their training, overcame hyper-violent criminal suspects.

You can too.




T.K. is an old friend, now retired from her fiscal job at the local sheriff’s office where she also held a commission as a deputy sheriff. She and I and a few others worked together for years. Recently asked about what she carried she responded, “Smith & Wesson .357 in purse. In the barn I use an inside the belt holster.”


A young recently hired female officer was asked what she carried off-duty (on duty it is a Glock 17). She said she carries a Glock 26 in an inside the belt holster.

Ideally we want the same pistol or operating system carried outside and inside the home. If you need a smaller version to conceal while in public, try to obtain a smaller version of the pistol you may use for home defense. In this way, you only have to master or operate one system in an SNS response, versus making the mental switch from a striker fired pistol to a manual safety handgun when someone is kicking in your front door. In the home you do not have to limit yourself to a possibly smaller barreled pistol or revolver. Though these handguns are easier to carry and conceal, they are not necessarily easier to shoot and by design have less ammunition than their full-size counterparts. There are certainly benefits to having a pistol with more ammo onboard. We must remember though, as trainer Clint Smith states, “We don’t have a higher capacity firearm to shoot more. We have it so that we have to reload or mess with it less during an encounter.”

There are other items, besides our handgun, carried openly on the belt or secured in a weapon safe, that we may want to consider for home defense. These include weapon-lights and lasers, which increase the girth of the pistol in concealment, but may be useful in the home.

Having a white light affixed to your pistol for home defense makes extreme sense as we have indicated in the section of this book dealing with lights and low-light shooting. Red or green lasers can certainly aid you in home defense (attached or as part of a white light) as well.

If you are responsible for protecting your children or homestead, carrying a handgun on your person certainly reduces response time to a threat. When all your instincts are calling for you to run toward the children to protect them, running upstairs instead to access a firearm is counterintuitive.


As we have noted, the ballistic performance of a rifle or shotgun on target (even pistol caliber carbine) is certainly better than a handgun. With four points of contact - both hands, cheek-weld and upper pectoral/shoulder - a long-gun can certainly improve accuracy on target.


Very few female officers I’ve worked with over the years enjoy shooting the 12 gauge pump or auto-loading shotgun. With 00 buck or other substantial high-brass fodder such as slug, #1 or #4 buckshot, the kick or recoil of the smoothbore shotgun is just not pleasant for them to shoot. Yes, we can train with birdshot in practice, but uncomfortable recoil makes it less likely we’ll train or more likely we’ll flinch. The recoil is even more pronounced due to the longer length of pull (LOP), which tends to be designed more for men than women. A standard 12 gauge pump shotgun may cause the female shooter to have to absorb more energy into her shoulder based on her arm length. By shortening the LOP, the female shooter can oftentimes get more of her body in line behind the stock to absorb felt recoil, versus taking it all in the pectoral/deltoid tie in area, an area with a lot of nerve lines. A better-fitting shotgun that allows the female shooter to square off on the target a little better, and proper technique of leaning into the shotgun by distributing weight forward onto the balls of the feet, does much to mitigate recoil. As pro-shooter and instructor Todd Jarrett has instructed, both pushing and pulling the shotgun (the support hand pushes forward away from the body on the forearm, and the strong hand pulls back toward the pistol grip - it is as if the shooter were trying to break the shotgun in two at the receiver) helps to further absorb or compensate for recoil.

We can downscale to a 20 gauge shotgun. Older male shooters of my acquaintance have done this because, at advancing age, they simply can’t take the stout recoil either. Mossberg, for instance, makes several 20 gauge shotguns, such as the 500 Special Purpose, with: Ghost Ring Sights, compact stock, extended magazine (eight round capacity) which is highly suitable for home defense, as well as the 500 Special Purpose, 20 gauge “Muddy Girl” model which features a kinda cool forearm and pistol grip adjustable paint job which is black, white and pink. Remington also has the Model 870 Express Compact Jr. with a LOP - length of pull of 12 inches might be just the ticket in 20 gauge for the ladies. There are even .410 shotguns for even less recoil.

Though many trainers don’t recommend long-guns for home defense based on their contention that manipulation is a problem, I believe this is a training issue, as is clearing a home or structure with a handgun for that matter. I would recommend shotguns and carbines with 18- or 20-inch barrels for this role, however. A 28-inch barreled shotgun is just too hard to move with and is relegated to static home defense in my opinion.


Here are excellent choices for home defense that are just plain fun to shoot as well. Carbines of the 5.56, .223 or .30 caliber M-1 carbine varieties have virtually no felt recoil, yet provide accurate fire on target with the ballistic performance that has made them sought after by modern law enforcement.

Easily upgraded or purchased direct from the factory in packages - lightweight, with white lights and adjustable stocks that improve shooting and handling characteristics - modern carbines offer an excellent choice for home defense and allow you, with training, to be effective in both static and moving/clearing roles.


“Sheri” was a very petite police officer of some seniority. Weighing only 90 lbs. soaking wet on her five foot frame, she “suffered in silence” at her agency’s shotgun qualifications. She just didn’t like it, the recoil hurt her but she knuckled down and did it because she had to. When the agency picked up some surplus M-16s from the federal government and she shot one, she immediately liked it. If a shorter adjustable stocked model M-4 had been given to her, she could have really improved and excelled with her long-guns skills while improving her performance on target and on the street.


There are professional female shooters who shoot 9mm, .40 or .45 caliber pistols and who can smoke me on the range (heck, there are some good amateurs who can as well). Certainly I look at Stacy Lim, Jeanne Assam and Jennifer Fulford-Salvano and the intense gun battles that those three ladies won, and as Wayne and Garth used to say, “I’m not worthy…”

So what have those pros mastered that I need to continually work on? The same thing they work on with diligence on a regular basis, the fundamentals of marksmanship. The FOM - grip, platform, trigger management, sight alignment, sight picture, breathing, follow-through and recovery applied to solve problems - is what they mastered (of course, my bet is that if you asked them, they would say that they have yet to master these, but rather work on them on a regular basis…).

The next thing that is vitally important is to take those FOMs off the static target line and “pressure test” them. By engaging in competition, shooters are forced to deal with and overcome match nerves, which are a milder but still stressful version of an SNS response. On a regular basis, they practice and learn to breathe to reduce their stress, and focus on their task. The “myelination,” which is so important to build successful motor programs, is practiced on a regular - daily - basis. Their training is not one time, in time, it is continual and regular.

This officer came into the author’s “use of cover” course with marginal abilities with her handgun. After training in the fundamentals, she ran a scrambler with a partner from 25 yards in, using different cover positions. She is very happy with her target.

We see female shooters use the weaver stance promulgated by Jeff Cooper and the Gunsite Academy as well as the modern isosceles stance. We see efficient use of grip, with a solid 360-degree grip with both hands controlling the handgun, and platform - with proper weight shift used so that the entire body is controlling the pistol and its recoil.

Trigger management has been honed so that sight picture (based on kinesthetic awareness of where the sights are in relation to each other as well as the target) is not disturbed while efficient pressure is exerted straight back on the trigger. Follow through on the sights and trigger is maintained through the break of the shot before another target is shot or transitioned to. Recovery is fluid and consistent without compromising a 360-degree situational awareness.

This mastering of the fundamentals is no different for women than it is for men. It takes time and attention and is not arrived at easily and not maintained without practice. But we are not talking about making shooting your life. We are just talking about receiving proper fundamentals through solid instruction and practice. This does not require daily practice of long duration. It simply takes a few minutes after the fundamentals are learned to hone and maintain the skills.

And it can be a heck of a lot of fun, something that you can enjoy with family members or friends.



Two Indiana grandmothers, aged 52 and 57, have started a new shooting club called WAR - Women Armed and Ready. Both women have been robbed in the past. According to news reports (; Hannah Haney; 5 August 2014), Konnie Couch, one of the founders of the club, which formed in May of 2014, stated, “The thing of it is, bad things happen to good people all the time, and, if something bad is going to happen, it’s gonna happen without warning,” Couch said. “It’s gonna be very quick, and you’ve gotta be prepared for it.” According to the same news report:

Gun ownership among women is on the rise. A 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 15 percent of gun owners are women, up from 13 percent in 2005. Indiana alone has issued 123,536 firearms licenses to women in the first quarter of 2014. (Ohio and Kentucky don’t break down concealed carry permit holders by gender). There are numerous female gun groups nationally, including Armed Females of America, Women & Guns and The Well Armed Woman.

“(Our main objective is) to get women trained and where, if they have to…they would be able to react and save themselves. Or at least make a valiant attempt to save themselves,” Couch said.

According to a report at News21 by Lauren Loftus and Natalie Krebs, “Women emerge as a forceful voice in the business of defending firearms” - Nearly 79 percent of firearms retailers reported an increase in female customers between 2011 and 2012, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. From this surge in popularity comes classes, specialized apparel, custom firearms, shooting-group memberships and conferences for women.

Women have already hit societal and economic milestones: More women than ever before are living alone, marrying later and earning more than their husbands. Firearms are arguably another part of the equation. As Carrie Lightfoot (founder of The Well Armed Woman) put it, owning a gun as a self-protection tool mirrors this shift of women from “being the protected to being the protector.”

“Women are taking on that role — they have to,” she said, “And they’re taking it on pretty fiercely.”

It has been my good fortune to be able to train stout-hearted persons of both sexes in both law enforcement and private citizen’s firearms training programs. There are differences in the sexes, and we appreciate those differences, by the way. But there are differences within the sexes as well. What firearm a 6'2" 220 lb. man can conceal, shoot, move with and operate may be different than what a 5'5" 110 pound female can, but it is also different for a 5'7" 150 lb. man.

Women are purchasing and training with firearms like never before.

Now there are those ladies who are just tougher than most men. They are strong and aggressive and easily pick up physical skills, period. I can think of three ladies, right off the bat, who have better empty-hand striking skills than 90% of the male police officers I’ve trained. All three were taught by their fathers at a young age to box, so they learned to develop power through correct body mechanics. All three have and do work hard to maintain these skills. These same learning principles can be applied to shooting as well. Correct tutelage and practice can allow any shooter to learn and master the fundamentals as well as control over their fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system) response.

Violence, in its many forms, may be foreign to you. Don’t wait until after an incident to learn and train. You can and should do it now! Fortunately now is a great time, based on the many professional instructors, books, DVD’s, equipment and firearms geared just for the ladies. Go learn the fundamentals through a qualified and professional instructor. Then expand that training with pressure testing in confrontation simulations. Learn to take that SNS response and allow it to improve and strengthen you versus over-stimulating you in a hyper-vigilant state and caught like a deer in the headlights.

There is no time like the present and no place on earth more conducive to developing the skills and attributes of the female armed citizen. Armed self-defense is not just for men, everyone can empower themselves, take control of their own safety and security, and protect their loved ones from violent criminal attack, and that is true equality.

tricts want to portray that they are doing something, but sometimes it’s just feel-good training. It is also true that many schools have “policies,” but most teachers are unaware of what they are and there is little to no actual training. In addition, few schools conduct drills. Colonel Grossman points out that schools do fire drills and tornado drills each year and have for decades, but the actual incidence of school fires is virtually nonexistent. Yet, schools don’t want to drill in their response to an active killer.

Teachers train in the F.A.S.T.E.R. program designed by John Benner and implemented by the Buckeye Firearms Association.

The F.A.S.T.E.R. program as implemented in Ohio provides excellent instruction - in the classroom, on the range and in dynamic confrontation simulation - to teachers and school staff members. As a prerequisite, all of the applicants must already have their CCW permit. In my state this requires both classroom and range activities. This is not to say that these programs are the end-all, just that this is the minimum standard for entrance into FASTER training.

Having conducted several of these programs, I can state that I did not teach these educators and school support personnel any differently than officers and SWAT personnel. They learned the skills in a repetitive fashion and then were tested in multiple scenarios.

I found that these teacher/staff students were extremely motivated and hardworking, dedicated professional educators from colleges, high schools, school boards, elementary schools, even private academies. I would certainly feel more relaxed knowing that an armed citizen educator was walking the halls of my child’s school, than training my child, to “run away from the sound of the guns!”


Some FASTER students complete the Ohio Peace Officers pistol qualification at a higher score than police officers.

As these incidents have occurred during my police career, I have seen the evolution of police tactics to deal with them. We have gone from a lockdown and SWAT Team deployment to a four-man rapid deployment philosophy. Time being the crucial issue, my friend and law enforcement trainer Ron Borsch refers to this as “The Stopwatch of Death®”. Law enforcement has modified its approach to the active killer even more with the recommendation that a solo officer should make entry if back-up is not present. One officer aggressively attacking the threat can make a difference and save lives.


In Columbus, Ohio, the heavy metal band Damageplan featuring guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was playing at a local nightspot when a lone gunman open fired, killing Abbott, security man Jeff Thompson, employee Erin Halk and audience member Nathan Bray. A band support team member, John Brooks, was taken hostage after he attempted to disarm the assailant. Columbus PD Officer James Niggemeyer entered through a back door armed with a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun and killed the suspect with one shot to the head.

Of course, this is dependent on training and competency. General George Patton said, “Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.” Sadly, police agencies across the U.S. have cut staff and are operating below authorized manpower levels due to the economy.

I have also seen the widespread issuance of concealed carry permits throughout the United States. Sadly, but maybe fortuitously, these two will meet.

There are no magic tactics in dealing with an active killer. You just need to apply the basics and fundamentals, aggressively, to solve the problem.

This is not about being a “Jack Bauer” wannabe. It is about contemplating, planning and preparing for the unthinkable to occur and saving your family, friends or your own life. This is not just a police problem. Ron Borsch’s “Stopwatch of Death” concept clearly indicates that as seconds tick away an armed hyper-violent active killer is going about his business. He will not be talked to, negotiated with, cajoled, or rationalized with. He may find perverse pleasure in the pleadings of his intended victims as they beg for their lives only to execute them with headshots while laughing. Someone who is capable of such an evil and unfathomable act as shooting their way into an elementary school classroom and slaughtering five-year-olds is incapable of negotiation. Law enforcement has learned that, the armed citizen must come to accept and understand it as well.


On 16 April 2007, Professor Liviu Lebrescu, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, was shot and killed as he barred the door to a classroom from the active killer attempting to enter. While holding the door with his body, he shouted to his students to hurry as they escaped through the windows. Though shot through the door and killed, his actions saved a reported 20 innocent lives that day.

We can only imagine how many lives might have been saved had one trained CCW permit holder in class or on staff been in that area on that day. Yet colleges, universities, elementary schools and malls don’t see the logic that survivor Suzanna Gratia Hupp has said “is so painfully obvious to her,” that these active killers seek gun-free zones with many “fish in a barrel” to shoot. Let us hope that things change and common sense finds its way before other innocent lives are lost.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

- Edmund Burke

This chapter is dedicated to Professor Librescu and all those who have stood up to active killers while empty-handed.

Note - I have intentionally avoided using the names of the perpetrators involved in these atrocities. They have gained enough attention in their infamy. Let us hope we can cleanse their names and the memories of their acts from history as we prepare for and stop those yet to come.