In 2006, I was living in an apartment in the center of a small rural town. One night at about 11:00pm, I found myself out of cigarettes, which, as many smokers know, led to an overwhelming urge to run to the store and pick some up. It was a nice night, and rather than drive, I decided to take the 10-minute walk to a local gas station. It was just a few-hundred yards’ walk down an alley and across the highway. Naturally, the alley was dark and the area was not without crime, so I brought with me a state-licensed 9mm CCW handgun. Since it was late fall, I kept the pistol concealed nicely underneath my heavy jacket.

The walk down the alley was uneventful. I soon found myself approaching the well-lit comfort of the convenience store. There was only one other customer in the store; he promptly paid for his gas and left. I took my turn at the counter and selected my brand of cigarettes when the bell chimed and two males came in. There was a third outside, standing next to the door and facing the parking lot.

One of the two men that came inside headed to the restrooms, pulling open the doors to both of the restrooms and going into neither. He then walked to the backdoor and just stood there, looking out. The second man stood a few feet behind me, waiting for his turn at the counter. I instantly knew the place was about to get robbed. I looked at the girl behind the counter. Her eyes widened—she knew, too.

I had no idea who the girl was, but I broke into conversation with her: “How’s your brother doing? He’s still going to school for engineering right?”

She gave me a puzzled look, and then recognition splashed over her face. She could tell I was trying to stall for time. She played along, “Oh, yeah. He’s got a full-ride scholarship and is going back this spring.”

“That’s great,” I continued. “How’s your dad been doing? He’s still working for the steel mill?”
She replied, “Yep. He’s been there almost 10 years now. They made him the division safety officer at the central office.”

I nodded and turned to see if the man was still standing there. I was praying that they would get nervous and bail out or that another customer would come along. No such luck. The man behind me gave me a menacing look, then nodded to the door as if to say, “It’s time for you to leave.” I responded by lifting my coat and adjusting my belt, flashing him the 9mm on my hip. His eyes bulged. He turned and shouted something to his partners. Then the man at the rear door sprinted out and disappeared around the corner, followed closely by the second thug.

I spun to check the front sidewalk and saw the lookout had gone as well. I told the girl to call the police as I went out to make sure they weren’t regrouping behind the store or laying an ambush for me. I moved along the side of the building. Cautiously, I turned the corner. I saw no one. I returned to the store.

A few minutes later, a squad car pulled up. The cashier and I explained the situation to the police officer. I showed him my concealed carry license and advised him that I was armed. He was very courteous, and after checking that my driver’s license corresponded with the CCL info, he didn’t ask about my weapon again. He put out an APB regarding the trio. In a few minutes, police cars were racing up and down the side streets. I don’t know if they ever captured the trio, but I’m confident my CCW saved a business from being robbed and kept a young girl from getting physically and emotionally hurt.

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