You are old, and you can’t move well.  Then just fight!

Very often, prosecutors and juries look at those who use deadly force against an attacker with more “sympathy” if there is a clear disparity in size, weight, age, physical condition, medical condition, numbers, or sex. In other words, the justification for a defender’s use of deadly force is more credible, understandable, and persuasive when the evidence showed that the intended victim was faced with overwhelming forces that could not be stopped by lesser means.

Years ago, I had in my CCW renewal class an elderly gentleman who I will call “Lewis.” At about 85 years old, he was sharp-minded and very protective of his right to keep and bear arms. He told me a story that I will never forget. I retell it in fact, in every CCW class since our meeting long ago. Here is his tale:

In the late afternoon about an hour before dusk, Lewis’ wife asked him to drive to the store for a bottle of wine. He found a parking spot, immediately outside one of the building’s exterior walls, so close to it that his front bumper stopped just inches shy of the wall.

When he exited his vehicle, he was situated in a long box, comprised of his car, another vehicle to his left, and the wall. No sooner did he lock the car door and turn, when a street goblin “materialized” at the rear of his car. He was “boxed in” and the only exit was blocked by the stranger.

“Hey old man, I need some money. Got any money?”  asked the panhandler.

“No! I’ve got nothing for you. Get out of my way, replied Lewis, holding up his hands in the universally recognized stop/ go way position.

“You ain’t going anywhere ‘till I get some money from you” replied the now-agitated panhandler, stepping in closer to Lewis. The attacker did not display a weapon, but that did not mean he was not armed.

Suddenly, smooth and fast, out from concealment came a full sized 1911 .45 caliber handgun into view in Lewis’ hands. He leveled it at the panhandler’s head, now mere feet away

“Take one more step and I’ll blow your #&*@ brains all over this parking lot!” Lewis warned. (Expletives deleted.) His finger was full on the trigger, a round was in the chamber and the safety was disengaged (off). This is a ready-to-fire condition known as “Condition Zero.”

Reacting with alarm and shock, the street bum soiled himself, then held up both hands making the peace sign and backed slowly away, saying “peace, brother, peace…”

After the threat disappeared, Lewis holstered his firearm, and then continued on his original mission into the store. He did not call the police.

That is what happened to Lewis on that fateful day. No one was hurt, and no shots were fired.  There is more to the story however.

The street bum (as do all criminals to a degree) took a calculated risk and chose the elderly man, for he looked like easy prey, a victim who could not fight back. He chose poorly for, you see, Lewis was a WWII Marine combat veteran who was part of the Iwo Jima invasion. He had killed Japanese soldiers then with his rifle and with his bayonet, up close and personal. He was still a tough, hard-hitting warrior in mind and spirit, although his body had worn down.

Lewis told me that “if this was 1945, I would not have pulled the gun – I would have “cleaned his clock,” meaning that he would have taken care of business – with relish -and decked the offender with his bare hands. Although he didn’t have to, he explained that he was not capable of doing that at his age, and that he could not risk being hit and knocked down, an outcome which would likely result in broken bones and an extended hospital stay. Leaving his wife to fend for herself, he went on, was not going to happen, if he could help it.

His gun was an absolute necessity now, he told me. Which, is of course, why he wanted to renew his Nevada CCW permit in the first place.


So, had he fired and killed the aggressive panhandler, and you were on his jury, armed with all these facts, would you vote to acquit him?

It is important to note the disparity in age and strength here between the attacker and defender. It most definitely should be a crucial factor in determining if Lewis acted reasonably. If he were still a young, brawny warrior who shot an unarmed, panhandler, that would be a different case.

At Semper Firearms Training we encourage you to buy a good firearm, get trained in how to use it, get a Nevada CCW permit, and continue your firearms training as part of a defensive lifestyle.

Image courtesy of Oleg Volk