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In the late 1980s, I was making a trip across Indiana when tragedy struck. The rear-passenger tire on my pickup went flat while I was going down the interstate. I pulled to the side of the road and surveyed the damage. Yes, I was going to have to change the tire right then and there. Thankfully, the flat was away from traffic—at least I didn’t have to worry about getting sideswiped. At the time, I worked for a driving business that required me to wear a suit. I cringed at the thought of changing a tire in it, but I had no other option. I made quick work and had the spare out and on the truck in no time. I just had to put the lug nuts back on.

Then an old, beat-up junker of a truck with trash piled in its bed suddenly braked and turned off the interstate just in front of me. I immediately realized that my wearing a new suit and driving a new truck may have marked me as an easy target. I reached into my truck’s glove box and pulled out the Rossi 851 .38 Special revolver I carried with me. I had been in possession of a CCW license for just a few years, and the Rossi was the only handgun I owned at the time.

I didn’t know the other men’s intentions, so I concealed my gun beneath my jacket. Three men piled out of the old truck: two were young, about 25 years old, while the third was an older man of about 50. They were all dressed in ragged clothes and looked like they hadn’t had baths in quite some time. I greeted them with a friendly hello. The older man seemed to be the ringleader and spoke.

He explained that they had stopped because they thought I needed some help. I politely declined, saying I was almost done and would be on my way in a few minutes. They said that was great and would stay just to make sure I got back on the road safe. Alarms went off in my head, but they hadn’t really done anything hostile yet, so I went back to putting the lug nuts on while trying to keep an eye on the three of them.

As soon as I bent down, the two young men began spreading out—one circled behind me. I was startled, and one of the lug nuts slipped out of my fingers, underneath the truck. I turned. The old man just smiled and asked if I was sure that I didn’t need help. I again declined and tried to put on another lug nut. Again, one of the young men circled in closer. The second lug nut slipped free and tumbled beneath the truck. I wasn’t about to crawl under to get it with the three of them standing around. And at the rate I was dropping stuff, I wouldn’t make it out of there.

I turned with my back to the truck and faced the three men, telling them very plainly and directly that I did not need any help. The old man started laughing and responded, “You dumb S.O.B., we’re not here to help you.” The boys started moving in.

I pulled the revolver, keeping it pointed at the ground, then said, “Boys, like I said, I don’t need any help.” It was a complete game changer. The three of them hightailed it back to their truck and peeled off, thankfully never to be seen again. I finished with the tire and drove home very thankful for the money I had spent on the Rossi, money that may have saved my life.

As a result of this experience I have carried concealed since then. Although new, more-expensive handguns have come and gone, I still have the Rossi .38 Special revolver as a memento of that fateful evening.


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