By: James Yeager
One of our brothers, a student, is dead. We will call him Rob. Rob was murdered September 13th, 2003 about five miles from my home. While some details are sketchy we do know a few things at this point. One of the things I know for sure is that Rob, who was a Carry Permit holder, was shot to death, while unarmed, with his four-year-old daughter standing near him.
We have had many students including men, women, police, military, civilian, American, foreign and every nationality you can imagine. I have had a school since 1996 and quite a few folks have one of my certificates hanging on a wall or lining their birdcage. My students are my extended family, and I tell them that, and they stay in my home quite often. I get a constant flow of e-mails and phone calls from them with a myriad of questions and comments about every imaginable topic. My students are my brothers.
Rob was a "gun guy". He owned many guns, was a reloader, and has some suppressors for several of his guns. He apparently shot often although I had never met him before his class with me and hadn’t seen him since. We corresponded a few times via e-mail as he was applying for his Carry Permit but that was it.
This incident apparently happened because the murderer, a 70-year-old male, thought Rob had shot one of his dogs. This is a big deal in the southern United States. Many people let dogs run wild. Some are vicious, some tear up trash bags and some just walk aimlessly about. The fact is that many dogs run wild and many people don’t like it. Did Rob shoot one of his dogs? Who knows?
The incident essentially occurred like this: Rob went out on the lake with his daughter and two other adults, launching his boat from a public ramp. The murderer apparently waited all day at the ramp for Rob to return. The murderer approached, there was an altercation of sorts, and he fired two rounds from a .44 Magnum Ruger Redhawk and then walked in and did a contact shot to Rob’s head.
Rob, and a friend, took a Tactical Pistol course from us about two years ago. He took the course with a Stainless Para-Ordinance P-14. He was about to apply for his Carry Permit and wanted to get some training. I asked why he was shooting the P-14 instead of his "carry gun". He said he was going to carry the P-14. I expressed my opinions to him that not only are Para pistols too big for daily carry they are not rugged enough. He was content with his decision.
Like with all of our classes we talked about and did a lot of shooting. But our Tactical Pistol class goes into great details about Mindset and Tactics as well. If you Alumni will dig up your handout from my class you will see gunfight rule number one as being “Bring a gun.” Owning a gun doesn’t make you safe. Guns are not Talisman that will ward off evil spirits. To go about daily you must have a gun on your person and a serious attitude that you will be aware of what is going on in your environment.
As an Instructor I must, like all Instructors, unlock my students’ potential and in some cases even change the way they think. Many times the change is profound, even life altering, for some students. I have had students tell me after courses they have made serious life changes like making their personal connection with God, making a Will, buying life insurance and so on. They do this because I tell them you should not be encumbered by these thoughts while fighting for their life.
Firearms Instructors are not unlike motivational speakers. We must motivate and elevate our students to do things they may never do otherwise. One of them is getting them to actually carry their gun everyday. I know that sounds weird because these are students in firearms classes after all. It is true though that many shooters do not carry a gun everyday. There are certainly reasons not too, but I cannot think of one reason that is worth dieing over. Rob would have been carrying illegally. Was that why he wasn’t armed?
I know what the Warrior Spirit is. I know what people who have it look like. I cannot give it to you, you cannot buy it, and without it you are very likely to fail. Without it you are very likely to think carrying your gun is a burden, will get you in trouble, or won’t be needed.
What good is a fireman without water? All of that knowledge and skill goes to waste as the building burns in front of him. Guns are like fire extinguishers. You hope you never need one, but when you do you want the biggest damn fire extinguisher you can pick up.
I have lost sleep over this. I have cried over this. I have gotten angry over this. How do I reach people? How do I motivate them enough to save their own life? What can I do to unlock the Warrior that is locked deeply inside every man?
A good man is dead.
Be alert. Be armed.