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]

It is not unusual for the mere presence of a firearm to end or even prevent a criminal encounter. I learned this lesson first‑hand at the age of seventeen. Although I was too young to own one myself, the availability of a legally owned gun allowed me to instantly avert a potentially lethal encounter.

The occasion was my high school senior prom. I had managed to finagle the use of a my brother’s sports car. As dictated by tradition I had rented a tuxedo and my date wore an expensive evening gown. Our attire combined with the mode of transportation gave us the appearance of a “well to do” couple. Our “Grand Occasion” combined with other factors led to what could have been a deadly confrontation.

My date and I were excited to be attending the prom, which was held in the ballroom of the local college. As in many cities, the college is located in a less than desirable neighborhood. I was aware of this, but had not considered the possibility of having to defend myself or my date from predatory criminals. I believed that such things only happened to other people.

We made it to the prom without incident. This was the only night of the year that our parents “allowed” us to stay out late. We left the prom around midnight, with plans to attend “breakfast” at a friend’s house. Before leaving I removed the sports car’s top. It was a warm evening and we enjoyed being seen in a “cool” car. This vanity nearly proved to be our undoing, for we had no idea of the danger that was only minutes away. As we cruised down main street, a red light brought an end to our parade.

I did not notice the three males until one of them stepped in front of the car. He stood several feet away and (upon reflection) attempted to keep our attention by making gestures at my date. Realizing a possible danger existed I reached into the center console where my brother normally kept a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Luckily it was there. I cleared the console just as another male, knife in hand, approached the passenger side. I felt a hand on my left arm a split second before the third offender leaned down to meet the 9mm’s barrel. The cold steel on his forehead caused him to jump backwards against the curb while frantically yelling “Gun!!! He’s got a gun!!!” The passengers side assailant dropped his knife (into the car) and I barely missed the gesticulator as we sped away.

This happened over a decade ago, but the lesson has remained. I have since married and have a child of my own. I keep guns for the protection of myself and my family. I am now an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor and regularly teach others to use guns for personal protection. All of this came about from my sheltered and unwary existence. Luckily, my brother had been on his own long enough to realize the importance of self-reliance. If it had not been for the presence of a gun, two young peoples’ lives could have easily come to an untimely end.

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