Editor’s Note: Combat Handguns pays $100 for each “It Happened To Me!” letter that we print. Send yours to Combat Handguns, 1115 Broadway, New York, NY 10010. Attention: “It Happened To Me!” or e-mail to [email protected]

A few years ago, I got married and moved to the west coast where my wife was in her last year of training as an Emergency Medicine Physician. We lived in a modest, well-maintained neighborhood. She worked 80 to 100 hours a week at the hospital, and I worked and went to college part-time.

One afternoon while walking off campus alone, 5 to 6 gangbangers in a car drove by slowly, while screaming about how they were going to kill me. and worse. Having lived and traveled in some rough places, I knew not to make eye contact or any sudden moves, I did not want to be the guy that got popped in an initiation ritual so some punk could join a street gang. After a minute or two that seemed like an hour, they drove off.

About two weeks later, the same thing happened. This time it was some really angry prison tattooed white guys screaming, even worse threats than the other guys. And like the previous crew, there was no mistaking that these bad guys were no non-sense stonecold killers. (I’m an unimposing looking guy, 5’9” 150 lbs, dark blonde hair, you’d be hard pressed to remember me an hour after meeting me).

We had the better part of a year to live in this town (at the time, some of the very highest per capita violent crime in the whole country). I thought, “If nothing else, I will not be killed in this once nice town.” My dad and grandfather had both been in combat while in the Marines (Korea and World War I) and I learned from an early age gun safety and shooting skills. After a talking with my dad, who had me read Ayoob’s In the Gravest Extreme, a background check and a couple of weeks of waiting, I bought a 9mm Smith & Wesson M39, used, and practiced at the range a couple of times a month.

Later that spring, my wife was as usual working at the hospital and I was studying at home. It was around 11:00 pm and I heard at least two guys coming up the front walk semi-whispering about how their invasion robbery was going to go down. Problem! I quickly and silently got my gun from its safe and went to answer their knock. I held my gun at ear level right behind the door, slowly chambered a round and opened the door about 6 inches against my firmly planted foot. When I peered around the edge of the door, it was perfectly clear that all three bad guys had not only heard the slide, but that they knew exactly what it was and were, if possible, even more tense than me.

The first guy, who had one hand behind his back, probably holding a knife or screwdriver, asked some lame question if “so and so” was home. I politely told him the obvious, that they had the wrong house and also that there was nobody named “so and so” in the neighborhood. They then disappeared so fast it was like they simply vanished. A few years later, I told the story to a good friend who works as a County Deputy Sheriff and he said quietly, “Sounds like your S&W paid for itself that night.” I still get an adrenaline shot just thinking about that night and it’s a no-brainer that if I hadn’t been armed with my 9mm, the outcome would certainly have been disastrous.

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