Thank God I Had a Gun: True Accounts of Self-Defenseby Chris Bird
One of the best-kept secrets in America is how often and how effectively ordinary citizens defend themselves with firearms against criminal attack or criminal threat. Criminology professor Gary Kleck of Florida State University estimates that each year about 2.5 million ordinary people in the United States use firearms in confrontations with criminals. In the most cases, a shot is not fired and the incident is not reported to police. Along with the bias of the mainstream media against portraying guns in a positive light, this results in these incidents occurring below the public's radar. The second edition of this comprehensive look at self-defense with firearms lifts the veil by recounting some of these incidents, from warding off a burglar in the home to coming to the aid of a police officer in jeopardy. Each incident is put into context with other self-defense actions and features descriptions of ordinary citizens to determine why they did what they did. The stories are rounded out by suggestions, often from the participants themselves, about what they might have done differently. The book has been updated with several newer and more timely stories.
“Chris Bird has written the book the left-wing media does not want you to read. These stories illustrate that nothing is more effective at stopping dangerous people than well-trained individuals with the firepower to fight back. This is must reading for anyone who believes in the power and importance of the Second Amendment.” —Rick Perry, governor of Texas
“Chris Bird has related real-life accounts of the life-saving results of gun ownership. This second edition has new chapters which, as before, are based on the digging that Chris does to get it right.” —Larry Pratt, executive director, Gun Owners of America
“There is much to be learned from Chris's painstaking, detailed research. I recommend this book highly.” —Massad Ayoob, author, The Ayoob Files
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Thank God I had a Gun
True Accounts of Self-Defense
By Chris Bird
Privateer PublicationsCopyright © 2014 Chris Bird
All rights reserved.
Helping Out the Law: Vic Stacy
Every Monday morning Sheriff Bobby Grubbs attends Brown County Commissioners Court at the county courthouse in Brownwood, a small city of 20,000 in central Texas. The stately brown brick courthouse dates to the 1800s and has been the scene of many dramas.
On Monday, March 13, 2013, the proceedings at the courthouse would be different. Nobody would be sentenced to death or a long prison term, nor would anybody be found not guilty by reason of insanity. It was a bright sunny morning with a nip in the air.
Commissioners Court is a small room on the main floor of the courthouse, and that morning it was full. Every seat was taken, and people were standing at the back. A few local reporters sat at a table at the front of the public area, while most of the commissioners sat in their assigned seats beyond the rail.
One of the men standing at the back was a tall 66-year-old welder with a weathered face and an easy-going attitude. He was dressed in blue jeans and a black vest with a yellow, patterned kerchief around his neck. His name was Vic Stacy, a Brown County resident and a Texan from the top of his hat to the heels of his cowboy boots.
After the regular business of the commissioners, Sheriff Grubbs called Stacy forward. The sheriff read the words on a plaque before presenting it to Stacy. Grubbs praised Stacy for his courage in becoming involved in an incident the previous summer.
"He did a fantastic job. We will never know how many lives Vic may have saved that day."
Two days later, Stacy was called again, this time to Governor Rick Perry's office at the Capitol in Austin. The governor also praised Stacy for his courage. "Vic Stacy is a great example of Texas and what people both intuitively think about Texas and what is real about Texas. That is, when neighbors are in need, Vic is there to help his neighbors."
Perry presented him with what many people would describe as an assault rifle. It was a .308-caliber semiautomatic military-style rifle built by LaRue Tactical.
So who is Vic Stacy, and what did he do to merit such attention?
The Peach House RV Park is a few miles north of Brownwood on Highway 183. Stacy had lived there in his trailer for about a year. There were half a dozen trailers and recreational vehicles in the park at the time.
Vic was raised in Gorman, Texas, about sixty miles to the northeast. While he was growing up, he and his father farmed peanuts on about four hundred acres. In the cab of his tractor, he used to carry a .22-caliber rifle that he used to shoot jackrabbits. Vic said he won some trophies for shooting with a .22 rifle and a .38 Special-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver in the early 1980s at a shooting club in Gorman.
"So I've shot a gun all my life," he said.
Vic said he didn't have a concealed-handgun license, but in Texas he can legally carry a loaded gun in his vehicle without a license due to recent changes in the law. However, he has been doing that all his life. "I'm going to carry it. I don't care who knows it. That's just the way I am. I'm pretty hardheaded about them guns. They ain't gonna take mine; I can tell 'em that."
Vic never served in the military, though he did apply and was turned down for flat feet. He has never been a police officer. Since his mid-twenties, he has been a welder. He carries his welding equipment on a trailer and drives to wherever his skills are needed. He worked out of state for Fleetwood Homes for about sixteen years and worked on drilling rigs at Odessa and Abilene in Texas and in Wyoming.
About twenty years ago, he and his son were returning from a welding job in Virginia. It was about 2 A.M., and they were on Interstate 635 in Dallas. The air-conditioning in their truck wasn't working, so the windows were down. An old car with four men in it pulled alongside, and one of the men yelled that the trailer they were towing, which contained all their welding equipment, had a flat tire. Vic knew by the way his truck was driving that he did not have a flat on the trailer. He ignored the man and kept going. Sometime later the same car pulled alongside, and the guy again yelled that he had a flat tire.
"I said: 'No, we don't have a flat.'"
A third time the car pulled alongside, and Vic pulled out his gun and pointed it at the men. They quickly drove off and didn't bother him again. It was the only time he had used a gun to defend himself or others.
In his spare time, Vic does leatherwork, making gun holsters, gun belts, knife sheaths, saddlebags, etc. He said a customer brought him the harness for a mule to pull a wagon, and he duplicated the rig.
He has been married and divorced three times and was keeping an eye open for wife number four. "I'm 'a looking; I'm 'a looking for another one."
Vic is a Baptist, though he hasn't been to church for some time. "I figure to start going again."
Vic's trailer, his pickup, and the trailer containing his welding equipment were on the west side of the RV park. Phil Brown lived in a motor home on the north side. David Michael House, 58, and Iris Valentina (Tina) Calaci, 53, lived in their trailer nearby. The couple had two dogs: a small, white poodle mix and a black-and-white Border-collie mix.
"They was pretty good people. They had been staying here, helping," Brown said. They had been mowing the area and picking peaches for the park owner, he added.
Charles Ronald Conner, 58, was another resident of the RV park, who lived in his trailer on the south side, about seventy-five yards from House and Calaci.
According to Vic, Conner had been living in the park for about ten months and was always picking arguments. "He was always off to hisself. He didn't want to visit anybody, and if he did, he always got a conflict started. He couldn't get along with anybody."
About a month previously, Conner wanted Vic to build him a trailer hitch with his welding equipment. Vic lent him his equipment instead. Later Conner said he had some things he wanted to sell and invited Vic over to see what he had. Conner had an electric welding set, so Vic asked him why he borrowed his. Conner said he didn't want to unload it.
"I said: 'In other words you wanted to screw me around then.'
"He said: 'I guess you could say that.'
"I sort of got hot about it, but I didn't say anything to him."
A few days later, Vic was doing some welding when Conner came by. Vic asked him when he was leaving the RV park. "He said: 'None of your damn business.'"
Conner said, when he was leaving the news would be on the Internet. "I thought, okay. I let it go. Then he came around the trailer and got right up in my face. I said: 'Charlie, don't get in my face to talk to me. I can hear you just fine back over there.' I said: 'You're getting a little too close, and I'll swat you like a fly.'"
Conner backed off. He was a small man, five feet eight inches, and Vic is six feet three inches tall and weighs nearly 250 pounds.
In the three weeks after that confrontation, every time Vic saw Conner he was writing in a ledger.
"He wouldn't speak or nothin'; he wouldn't wave or nothin'. He wouldn't have nothing to do with me."
Conner also had arguments with House and Calaci about their dogs.
July 29, 2012, was a normal hot summer day in central Texas, with the temperature crowding one hundred degrees. It was the sort of day when tempers can be short and sometimes violent.
But Vic Stacy was in his trailer, relaxing in the air conditioning. He was watching a Rambo movie-Rrsf Blood. He'd seen the movie before, but this time he wouldn't see it through to the end.
About 1:30 P.M. he heard several shots.
"I looked out to see what was going on, but I didn't see anything," he said.
He thought somebody was engaging in a little recreational shooting. It was nothing to get concerned about, so he returned to Sylvester Stallone.
But a few minutes later his cell phone rang. It was Phil Brown. Vic remembers the conversation this way.
Brown: "Get over here quick and bring your gun."
Vic: "What's going on?"
Brown: "I've got a dead body laying out here in the road."
At first Vic thought Brown was joking, but the neighbor assured him that he was serious. So Vic picked up his revolver, a Colt Python with a six-inch barrel. The revolver was loaded with six rounds of Remington .357 Magnum hollow-points. He slid the holstered gun into his waistband, under his T-shirt, and headed for Brown's motor home.
According to a statement issued by Sheriff Bobby Grubbs, Conner had had previous conflicts with House and Calaci. He became angry because their dogs had been defecating around his trailer, Grubbs stated.
Jesse Valdez, a witness who kept a trailer in the park, told investigators he was just arriving at the RV park when he saw Conner and House walking away from each other. House, referring to Conner, said: "He's one crazy SOB."
Conner returned to his trailer, picked up a 9mm-caliber SIG-Sauer semiautomatic pistol and approached the trailer occupied by House and Calaci. Valdez said he was in his trailer when he heard the first shot. He looked out of the window and saw Conner shoot House. According to the autopsy report, House was shot in the upper abdomen and twice in the head.
After shooting House, Conner turned his gun on the two dogs, Valdez stated. He watched while dialing 911, as Conner chased Calaci twice around her pickup then shot her in the head at pointblank range. Valdez saw Conner put the pistol he had been using in the cab of his pickup. Conner then entered his trailer and emerged with a rifle.
Phil Brown's motor home was just across the gravel driveway from the trailer where David House and Tina Calaci lived. He said he was napping, with his blinds down and his air conditioner running full blast. It was noisy, and he did not hear the shots that killed House and hit the dogs. He said he awoke when Calaci bumped into his RV. Brown heard her scream: "No, not my dogs you're not."
When he heard the woman's voice, he raised his blinds and looked out. "I seen him, David, laying over there about like in the fetal position, and I seen the dogs both and the one dog was still alive." That's when Brown called Vic Stacy. Then he called 911.
As Vic rounded the corner of his own trailer, he looked to his left and saw Charlie Conner coming out of his trailer carrying a lever-action .30-30 caliber Marlin rifle with a scope on it. When he saw Conner with the rifle, he knew it was Conner who had done the shooting. Vic said he didn't think Conner had seen him.
When he arrived at the motor home, Brown came out to meet him. Brown told him that House was lying in the driveway near his trailer, apparently dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Vic could see House and the dogs. They then noticed Tina Calaci lying dead in front of Brown's vehicle.
"I didn't know that she'd got shot because I didn't hear the shot," Brown said.
The door to Brown's motor home was on the side away from where Conner's trailer was parked. Vic edged carefully to the front of Brown's motor home and looked for Conner.
"I thought it was him, because he had been acting weird out here for about ten months. The old boy just snapped I guess," Vic said.
Brown, who didn't have any firearms, followed Vic. About that time Vic heard the first police siren from a patrol car speeding north along State Highway 183 from Early. Although the RV park is outside the city limits of Early by several miles, the first officer to arrive was Sergeant Steven Means, 29, of the Early Police Department.
Means was on radar traffic enforcement duty in Early when he heard the call on his radio that two people had been shot at Peach House RV Park. It took him about four minutes to reach the scene. Means pulled into the park and stopped his patrol car about forty yards from Conner's white Dodge pickup. The dash camera on Means's vehicle recorded the action. It shows Conner walking from the cab of his pickup to the bed of the truck, where apparently he retrieved a rifle. He then moved to a tree for cover. He apparently fired two shots at Means, who grabbed his .223-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P-15 semi-automatic rifle and took cover at the rear of his patrol car.
Vic saw Sergeant Means pull into the park and stop. Conner started shooting at the officer as he was getting out of his patrol car. Vic said he could see Conner shooting and working the lever of his hunting rifle.
"He got behind a tree, Charlie did, and sort of ambushed the patrolman as he pulled in," Vic said.
He and Brown had a conversation that Vic remembered this way.
Brown: "Are you going to shoot at that guy or what?"
Stacy: "I don't know yet. I don't know what I'm fixing to do." Then he added: "I probably will if the boy needs some help."
Brown: "I believe he's going to get that patrolman."
Stacy: "Well no, I don't think so."
"At that time I had made up my mind I was going to see if I could hit him," Vic said.
At the time Conner was using an oak tree with a trunk about a foot thick as cover from Means. However, Vic was at right angles to the line of fire between Conner and the police officer. Conner was standing with his right side exposed to Vic's line of fire.
Vic cocked the revolver and took aim at Conner, bracing his arms on the hood of Brown's motor home. The range was fifty-seven yards.
"I shot the first shot, and it hit him in the thigh," Vic said.
The dash camera record shows Conner stumbling forward to the ground.
"He went to scrambling around on the ground there, trying to get turned around. I saw him throw another shell in that rifle. He swung it around and shot at me. It hit underneath the RV there and scattered rocks. Some of those hit me on the leg. He got pretty close, but he didn't get close enough," Vic said with a chuckle.
"I returned four more shots and hit him in the abdomen, so he rolled over, and he never fired another shot."
According to the autopsy, Vic's second hit went through Conner's left arm into his chest cavity and was recovered from the upper left lung.
Vic was counting his shots, because he had only six rounds in the revolver, and he had not brought any extras. One of his follow-up shots hit the trunk of a tree about halfway between him and Conner.
Means also returned fire, shooting seven times with his rifle from the rear of his patrol car. He hit Conner three times. One round entered just below the left shoulder blade and severely damaged the liver and left lung, according to the Texas Ranger report of the incident. A second bullet severed the spinal column and jugular vein. The third hit severely damaged the right lung.
"These wounds were consistent with angles of fire from Stacy and Sergeant Means at the scene," the report states. "Pretty much the gun battle was over after that," Vic said.
In his statement, Means said he yelled several times at a male in a red shirt to get back behind cover, which he did. The officer was not sure that Conner was no longer a threat.
More law enforcement officers arrived from Early, the Brown County Sheriff's Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. A DPS trooper armed with an AR-15 rifle and a couple of other officers approached Vic and Brown. The dash camera recorded the officers yelling repeatedly: "Put the gun on the ground; put the gun on the ground," and "Step away from the gun; step away from the gun."
In his statement, Means said Vic had a stainless revolver in his hand and was slow to drop it. The DPS trooper with the rifle "came over to where we was at, and I still had the gun in my hand. The officer said: 'Get rid of the gun, and get on the ground.' So I did," Vic said.
The trooper was pointing the rifle at him. Once Vic was lying on the ground, the officer handcuffed his hands behind his back. Brown was also on the ground but they didn't handcuff him, Vic said.
Means said Brown told officers that he had called 911. The sergeant confirmed that with his dispatch. "I told Deputy Sliter that my subject was a caller, was a good guy, and to get him up from the ground."
The rocks he was lying on were hot on his chest from the sun, Vic said. After talking among themselves, the police came over and helped him to his feet, but it was another fifteen minutes or so before they took the cuffs off.
"I laid on the ground probably fifteen or twenty minutes before they let me back up."
Means said he left the scene with Early Police Chief David Mercer, leaving his patrol car there. At the conclusion of his written statement, Means justified his part in the shooting this way: "I had been informed that the suspect had already shot two people, and upon arrival, I saw that the suspect was armed with a scoped rifle. The suspect fired shots at me and possibly at other civilians within the RV Park while I was present. I was very fearful of being shot by the suspect, since he had the scoped rifle. I fired my Smith and Wesson M&P-15 rifle to protect myself and the civilians from the suspect that I believed was a deadly threat to all of us."
Excerpted from Thank God I had a Gun by Chris Bird. Copyright © 2014 Chris Bird. Excerpted by permission of Privateer Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Chris Bird is a certified concealed handgun instructor, a former president of the Texas Concealed Handgun Association, and the author of The Concealed Handgun Manual, now in its sixth edition and sold by the NRA. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.
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This book is a must have. Any anti-gunner or person who thinks the government will step in and protect them in an emergancy needs to read this book as well. I think it was money well spent!
Rational, logical and realistic. The victim-heroes celebrated by of the mass media are really the enablers of their predatory attackers. For each unresisted, successful assault on innocent people, there is another example that crime does pay-- even heartless, violent, animalistic, cruel crime pays. For the sober, mature, brave Americans who have taken the responsibility to keep and bear arms, we must show our gratitude. Their resolve provides hope that we can take control of our own security (and that of our loved ones as well as our innocent fellow citizens) and take the "profit" away from the violent parasites that prey on civil society. Each example in this book of the termination of a series of violent assaults represents the prevention of the innumerable crimes and tragedies that would have followed if these people had not acted to protect themselves.