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What would you do if your life were in danger? This is a question many of us hope we’ll never have to answer. Sometimes, however, one is forced to answer it. The following eight stories you are about to read are true tales of average, everyday citizens from around the country who, when faced with an imminent threat, displayed remarkable courage, bravery and resourcefulness to diffuse the situation. Click through to read about these eight heroes and their stories.

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Justified Deadly Force

Gwinnett (Minnesota) Police have released a recording of the 911 call made by a Duluth woman after she shot the knife-wielding intruder who attacked her at home this past May. Her assailant died a short time later from the gunshot wounds.

According to a Gwinnett Police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter, the incident occurred at about 6:30 a.m. when the assailant entered the home as the resident was coming out of the shower. “She was exiting the shower when the man wielding a kitchen knife entered her bathroom.”

The woman tried to fight off the man with the shower rod after she had fallen into the bathtub. Her attacker then forced her into the bedroom. He apparently was going to sexually assault her. She was able to retrieve a pistol and shot him multiple times, according to Ritter. The assailant then left the house through the rear door and collapsed in the backyard.

The woman ran to a neighbor’s home, who placed a 911 call, then put her on the telephone. Sobbing hysterically, the woman managed to tell the dispatcher about the attack and give her address. “I was in the shower and the lights cut out in my house, and a man came in… and he had a knife in his hand… He told me to be quiet. He told me to get out of the tub, and he tried to force me on the bed.”

The woman was able to retrieve a .22 caliber pistol that she kept in a nightstand. “I took my .22, and I shot him as much as I could.” The woman informed the dispatcher she locked the rear sliding glass door after he ran out, and she rushed out the front door to the neighbor’s house. She said she wasn’t sure of his whereabouts.

The assailant was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville where he later died from his injuries. The woman was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center in Duluth and was treated for minor injuries. No charges are expected to be filed against the woman. “It was apparently a justified use of deadly force,” Cpl. Edwin Ritter said.

Reprinted with permission from Duluth Patch. Authored by Faye Edmundson

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Deadly Perspective

This testimonial is an account from a LaserMax customer. For further information on LaserMax’s entire line of products and even more testimonials, visit their website lasermax.com.

I have had a LaserMax on my Glock 27 for about a year now. I have trained with it at the range, and practiced its activation until it became muscle memory. A week ago, at about 2 a.m., I was returning from the hospital following a friend’s death from cancer. I realized I was almost out of gas and, despite the hour, needed to stop to refuel. As I began to fill up, I heard a lot of screaming, both male and female, from the other side of the station.

I ran to see what was the matter, and as I turned the corner I saw a woman on the ground bleeding from the head, and a man standing above her with a tire-iron. I immediately deployed my Glock, hitting the laser as I cleared the holster, and placed the dot on his chest from about 15 yards. I yelled, “Drop it or you’re dead.” The man looked up at me, saw the blinking light coming from my weapon, then looked down at his chest. He dropped the tire-iron and raised his hands in one motion. I ordered him to his belly, arms out.

The worker at the station had called the police, and poked his head out of the locked door to tell me they were coming. The woman was beginning to stumble to her feet, and I told the attendant to let her into the station with him and lock the door behind them. When the police got there, they saw the flashing coming from my weapon. Instead of the anticipated “drop your gun, get on the ground,” they simply said, “Good job. Holster your weapon, and we’ll take it from here.”

I think the LaserMax saved this woman’s life as she didn’t get hit a single time after I arrived. It certainly saved the man’s life, as I would have shot him dead had he appeared to begin another blow. And it helped the police see exactly what I was pointing at, and potentially saved my life.

— MS, TX

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Want Fries with That .45?

In the spring of 2008 I was a college student on a spring break road trip to San Antonio, Texas with my girlfriend at the time. We were late in leaving and had to stop just south of Dallas at approximately 11 p.m. for fast food from a drive-through at a 24-hour restaurant.

I had just rolled down my window to order when a rather unkempt looking “gentleman” stepped out from behind the large menu board and began approaching my vehicle from the front, blocking my forward egress route, and the drive-through lane snaked around the building, preventing me from backing straight up. The drive-through lane also had a high curb and large shrubbery on the passenger side to direct traffic and prevent cutting into the line, which as events unfolded I realized (as the man approaching my vehicle probably had) effectively boxed me in.

As a Kansas CCW holder, with reciprocity in Oklahoma and Texas, I had my Springfield Armory Operator in a Galco Royal Guard IWB holster attached to the seat adjustment bar under the driver’s side seat using the snapping belt loops. There is a method I have grown very fond of since this incident, as the weapon rides securely and is still very accessible with the grip forward and in front of the seat between my legs while driving and not digging a hole in my lower back, where I carry it when outside the vehicle. As soon as the “gentleman” appeared I slid my right hand down and drew my pistol, while keeping it below the window frame and out of sight from anyone outside the vehicle.

As the man approached my driver’s side window he called out, “Hey man, you have any cash I could have?” I responded that I did not have anything for him at which point he began to start forward again and reach for something in the front pocket of his oversized Starter jacket. As he reached the window and said loudly “Hey man, just give me your f***ing money!”

Recognizing his movement as possibly going for a weapon, I simultaneously brought my gun up and leaned toward him, presenting the muzzle of my gun just inside the cab of my truck and yelling “Get the f*** away from my truck!” Just as I swept off the safety on my 1911, the attacker screamed, “Oh sh**!” in a decidedly higher pitch than he made his demands in and beat a hasty retreat. I sat back up in my truck, re-safed my weapon and was instantly stuck by a the huge surge of adrenaline that I did not realize I was pumping through my body until the apparent danger passed causing, me to break out in a cold sweat and shake uncontrollably.

Unbeknownst to me, my girlfriend had also reacted quickly and was on her phone with 911 before I even realized she was still in the vehicle (auditory exclusion had kicked in and I hadn’t heard her frantically describing to the operator that she was being robbed and her boyfriend was about to shoot the would-be robber).

Police response was very fast, with the first officer arriving within a few minutes of the call being made. The officer had my girlfriend and I exit the vehicle, hands up and asked me where my gun was. I had set it on the dash when I heard the sirens approaching, and he retrieved it and cleared it before sitting us down on my tailgate to ask what happened.

The responding officer that interviewed me after the incident was extremely courteous. I consider myself lucky, both for having the foresight and willingness to go armed on this trip, preventing myself and my girlfriend from becoming a couple more victims in the long list of crime statistics, and for the fact that I didn’t have to go through the emotional and legal ordeal of shooting the aggressor to resolve the incident. Since that night I have carried a weapon nearly every day, and I haven’t been a victim yet.

—DM, KS

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Devils at the Crossroads

Most people in this rural area would think it is perfectly safe to go for an evening walk down a gravel road out in the country around here. This is a small town in the upper Midwest and, until the dark gloom of meth fell over the countryside, nobody would have thought of danger in the surrounding area.

It was an early spring afternoon and I had decided to enjoy a wonderful afternoon walk down one of the gravel roads by our farm. I had only made it about a mile when I came across a couple of down-and-out looking characters in an old beat-up pickup with out-of-state plates. My senses went on alert immediately; we don’t get people that look like this in our part of the woods.

As I walked past the truck the men tried to engage me in conversation, with one doing most of the talking. They asked very peculiar questions such as, “Where do you live,” “Do you go by here at the same time every day,” etc. These were not normal questions and I suspected that they were “casing” the area, so I refused to answer them at all. I simply stated clearly that I just wanted to walk and did not want to visit, but this did not deter them.

Finally, after about a minute of this, they drove on ahead a ways and stopped the truck in the middle of the road. There was a dirt crossroad ahead, I turned to the south they continued straight—for a time it seemed, trouble had passed me by.

After about half a mile I turned back to return the way I’d come. I had reached the main gravel and started down it a short distance when here they came from behind me. I was trapped by the topography of the land; I was on a one-lane gravel road with swamp on both sides, I had nowhere to run. When they pulled up to me this time there were a couple of distinct changes—one, they had a pit bull with them, and two, they now had a 12 gauge shotgun uncased and propped up between them.

This was looking like serious trouble now. There had been no shotgun in sight before, let alone uncased and ready to go (which in itself is a clear violation of the law in this state, and it wasn’t hunting season of any type around here either). The questions resumed and they didn’t even pretend to be friendly about it this time. I could not get away from them, and they were not going to leave me alone. They sneered with amusement at each other; they were going to toy with me, confident that I could not adequately defend myself.

The time had come, as they had crossed my own personal line in the sand, so to speak. I drew my Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP and stepped to the rear of the cab, so as to give me the advantage. If they wanted to shoot me they’d have to swing that shotgun around in the cab and turn to the rear. I’d have the drop on them. Well, I didn’t have to prove that theory; at the sight of the Beretta they sped forward and distanced themselves quickly.

I don’t know what became of them but I did call our neighbors in that area to warn them. Two of the local women walk that same road all alone by themselves almost every evening so I couldn’t stay quiet about it. I also called the sheriff’s department and they said that there had been a string of burglaries just to the north of that location and that they suspected some “meth heads” from the same state as the truck that I saw were committing them.

I can’t prove that they were going to shoot me and bury me in the swamp, but it seemed likely. And my living to tell the tale and warn our neighbors may have saved those women from a similar fate.

Yeah, it’s still a lot like Mayberry around here, but I’ll keep carrying, just in case.

—DL, KS

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Parking Lot Showdown

I’m a professional sports photographer specializing in coverage of college basketball, and from late November to early March there’s not a weekend where I’m not on a campus photographing a game. Concealed-carry restrictions at the colleges where I work are very clear and very consistent from school to school: Leave your sidearm off campus. So, my Heckler & Koch stays locked in the trunk of my car in the parking lot I’m assigned to, off campus.

It’s not unusual at the conclusion of a game I’m shooting (no pun intended) for a fan to make his way down to the court to talk to me. Including remotely mounted cameras around the arena, I break down and then pack up to five different camera/lens setups. This constitutes a lot of expensive equipment, a lot of cases, and a huge monetary investment laid neatly across the corner of a basketball court for anyone and everyone to see.

A man approached me last winter after a game, but he wasn’t curious about what lens choice or lighting techniques I use to make basketball photos (the usual conversation), but how much my equipment cost. How much was this camera worth, what could I get if I sold that lens, is this thing expensive, how much did I pay for that, and on and on. I played it very coy, gave him extremely vague answers and quickly he left, albeit a little irritated. “Whatever,” I thought to myself.

With my game images transmitted and gear packed, I made it to my car and then made the short drive to a local hotel where I was staying, not far from this college town. It was about 9:00 p.m. or so when I began the unenviable yet necessary task of unloading photo cases from the car’s trunk to my hotel room. I popped the trunk, and the first thing I did was clip my HK in its holster to my right hip. I’m embarrassed to say that this was more for not wanting to forget it and less about the mindset of protecting myself. I got about three cases out and a car pulled up right to the corner of my driver’s side bumper—blocking me in perfectly. I looked from around the trunk lid and saw the exact same guy from two hours ago in the arena with all the money questions. At first I was politely surprised, like he wanted to talk photography and we happened to be staying in the same hotel. How wrong was I.

This time, Mr. “How Much Does That Cost” was with two other guys—one who stayed back, the other at his side. I remember his face—very serious, worried almost. This wasn’t about basketball photography anymore. My fixation on his face was broken by something he had clenched in his hand. It was a long, black flashlight, but it wasn’t turned on and he was holding it at the very end of the shaft. I don’t remember which of the three then talked because I kept looking at that flashlight, but I heard the words, “Don’t be stupid, dude.” I took a step back and went for my right hip. I know there are those out there who prefer very slim, very compact carry guns, but there’s one reassuring thing about a HK P30—it doesn’t take long to find.

I unholstered and moved my hands into a low-ready position. At this point I know I should have said something, but I just stood there squared off with the closest guy. I raised the gun up a little more from low ready so there was no mistaking what I had in my hand. One of the guys behind the one with the flashlight said, “F*** this!” and they all scrambled back into the SUV. The driver barely backed up enough to clear my bumper as he sped off, and I remember only seeing one silhouette in the passenger compartment, like the other two were ducking.

I may not have done everything as perfectly as my concealed-carry instructor taught me, but I’m positive those guys weren’t going to just let me stand there as they robbed me. I wake up every day thankful that I have the right and ability to protect myself with my handgun.

—DC, KY

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Self-Service Mugger

Everyone should be aware of the dangers of using a self-service car wash, which allows someone to come from around a wall and be in your personal zone very quickly. I stay alert at all times when using one—there are many cases where people were robbed of money, or had their car taken. Plus, a self-service car wash gives a rapist a good opportunity to push a woman into her own car and drive to a spot where she can be attacked.

A few years ago, I had stopped at a car wash in a nearby city. No other cars were using the wash at that time. I placed my coins in the slot and turned the knob to my selection. As I was washing my car, I noticed that a single adult male was walking toward me from the street. As I noted him, he walked up to where I was. My self-defense mode clicked in and I was on full alert in case the situation escalated. Once he was close, he aggressively yelled out that he needed change for a dollar, at the same time approaching me even closer.

I immediately knew something was not right and shouted out for him to stop and stay back from me. He walked even closer toward me with a total disregard for my command. As he closed in, I stood my ground and I yelled again for him to stay back, stating that I would talk to him once I had completed my car wash. At the same time, I positioned the washing wand that I was holding between him and myself. I once again yelled for him to stop. He was now about 4 feet from me when he reached to his back pant pocket. Everything seemed to go into slow motion for me at this point. I watched as he pulled a hunting knife out of his pocket with it’s blade gleaming in the sunlight.

At this point, his intent was clear to me. Before he could even point the knife at me, I thrust the wash wand into his gut with enough force that he screamed out and fell to the ground. He got up, and I could tell that he planned on trying to use that weapon on me. I pulled my North American Arms .22 Mag from my pocket, pointed it at him and yelled at him to get out of there. I consider it disrespectful for someone to violate my space and try to compromise my security. He put himself in a situation that could have cost him his life.

As he got up and ran away, I called the police to let them know what happened. I only used what force was necessary to defuse the situation. The guy was lucky that I knew restraint—the last thing I ever want to do is hurt someone more than is absolutely necessary.

—GH, SC

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Watchdogs On Duty

One Saturday night last February, I was at home with my wife and two sons enjoying a leisurely weekend—that is, until I heard someone prowling outside. I got up to investigate. Before I could even reach the door, two intruders barged into my house, both brandishing guns. They said nothing to me as I froze in terror, utterly defenseless and unarmed. This pair of armed burglars had caught me off guard. But my three dogs weren’t fazed a bit.

Before I could react, the dogs pounced into action. They ran at the burglars, snarling, jumping and nipping with such fury that the men gave up on their mission. Instead of advancing into the house, they ran off into the street. The dogs chased after the armed burglars.

As the men disappeared into the night, they fired several shots. It took me a minute to realize that they hadn’t been aiming at me. I pieced together what had happened when I saw one of my dogs, Sharlee, limping toward the house and bleeding profusely from a front and a back leg. She’d been struck by two bullets. As I knelt beside my beloved dog, I felt certain she wasn’t going to make it.

While we waited for the police, I gathered my wife and sons around Sharlee to say goodbye. We thanked her for saving our lives, and we wept at the realization that we couldn’t save hers.

Through some miracle, she was still hanging on when the officers arrived. Since my wife and I couldn’t afford to get her to an emergency vet on our own, an animal control officer took Sharlee to the North Central Animal Shelter in Los Angeles. Still, once I heard the cost of Sharlee’s surgery, I worried that I couldn’t put up the $4,000 needed to save her. That was when Karri Lowe Armstrong, who works as a technician at the shelter, stepped in. She set up a page to solicit online donations for Sharlee’s lifesaving surgery. The $4,000 poured in from donors in under an hour—and an additional $4,000 came in over the next few days! Most of the donors were total strangers, and their generosity was overwhelming.

Sharlee ultimately had her right front leg amputated. Less than two weeks after the attempted break-in, the shelter brought her home to us. Despite missing a leg, Sharlee has adjusted wonderfully and now seems as happy as ever. The burglars were never caught, but I am forever thankful that our hero dog took a bullet for the entire family that night.

—AC, CA

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Home Invasion Repelled

I always try to keep my senses about me when my family and I are out and in unfamiliar surroundings. To make sure I have the means to protect them in situations where danger might catch us off guard, I got a concealed carry license and bought a 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P pistol. I also spend time at the range every month to keep my skills up.

However, with all my planning for threats or attacks when we are away from the home, a string of robberies in my hometown made me realize that I needed to be prepared for attacks inside my home. I purchased a handgun safe for the 9mm pistol that I kept on my bedside table so I could get to it quickly in an emergency. Boy I am glad that I did, because of what happened to us not too long ago.

At about 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night, I heard what sounded to me to be breaking glass from the direction of our kitchen downstairs. My home is two stories, with our three bedrooms on the second floor. I told my wife to go to our son’s room while I stood guard at the staircase up to the second floor.

Once I was there and knew my wife and son were protected, I called out that I had a gun and was calling the police (my wife had her cell phone and was doing this as I was talking). Just at that moment, a masked man stepped around the corner at the bottom of the staircase (I think he did not see me), and had a gun in his hands.

It seemed like I reacted before I even realized what was going on. I saw him raise the gun up toward me, so I pointed the 9mm at him and fired. He moved back around the corner, and I moved back a bit into the second floor hallway and waited to see if he was going to make a move up the staircase. I heard what sounded like a lot movement through our kitchen, and my wife said she saw through a bedroom window two men running across our backyard (I guess there was another one down there with the guy I saw).

The police arrived, and let me know that they had found a wounded man not too far from my house and had arrested him. They did not catch the other guy. I guess there is no honor among thieves. Needless to say, I was very happy that I had that pistol with me that night, as I cannot even think about what might have happened if I had been unarmed.

— HM, AL

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