Lessons from a Modern Day Gunfighter

Lessons from a Modern Day Gunfighter
Lessons from a Modern Day Gunfighter
Lessons from a Modern Day Gunfighter
Lessons from a Modern Day Gunfighter

Hopefully, most of us will never be in a gunfight. But the fact is, there are thousands of home invasions and other crimes committed every day. This means there are many Americans who are, unfortunately, likely to experience a gunfight in their lifetime. But the chances of someone experiencing four gunfights (who isn’t in law enforcement or the military) are extremely slim.

One such person is California man Lance Thomas. Lance used to own a high-end watch store in Los Angeles. Back in the 1980s, many shopkeepers on his street were getting robbed and murdered so he decided to get a gun. He purchased a .38 snub-nosed revolver.

Just a few weeks after he purchased his first gun, two men walked into his store and attempted to rob him by pointing a 9mm at his face. As Lance was pretending to gather up watches to give to them he grabbed his .38 and shot the gunman in the face while the other robber fled. Lance was unharmed and grateful to have had a gun.

After this first encounter he decided he needed more firearms training. He began going to the shooting range regularly. He also started getting in shape and joined a gym. He bought several more guns and he put them every three feet along the counter of his store that way he was always close to a firearm. He also practiced different scenarios on how someone would attempt to rob him in the store.

Just a few months later, two more men entered the watch store armed with guns. Another gunfight ensued and Lance ended up killing both criminals. Lance was shot four times himself, but most of the shots were in the shoulder and he quickly recovered.

About two years later, Lance experienced his third gunfight. He was again in his watch store when a single robber approached him with a Glock 9mm. Lance quickly drew his gun and killed the robber. Lance was shot in the neck, but on the side so the bullet passed through cleanly and he had no serious injuries. (He even says he went back to work the next day.)

The fourth and final gunfight involved two gang members who were looking for an easy score. They actually walked into the store with their guns out and as soon as Lance saw this he drew his gun and started firing. During the gunfight both gang members were killed and Lance was untouched.

After this fourth incident Lance decided it was time to close his shop and these days he only does business by private appointment. So what are the lessons we can learn from Lance (besides not to own a watch store in LA)?

  1. Practice regularly. In interviews, Lance mentioned how he went to the range often and how he practiced drawing his gun often too. No doubt, his ability to quickly draw his firearm saved his life more than once.
  2. Get in Shape. I’m not the biggest fan of working out but I know it’s good for me, which is why I run several miles everyday. If you’re not in shape you may not be able to move quickly enough to defend yourself.
  3. Have multiple firearms. I have firearms stored throughout my house. Remember, if you’re watching a movie in your basement and your only gun is in your bedroom that’s a long way to go when someone is kicking in your front door.
  4. Prepare. Besides practicing at the range and drawing his gun, he also practiced different scenarios and prepared ahead of time for the multiple ways he could be attacked. That’s why it’s important to prepare for what you will do if you have a home invasion and even what you will do once the gunfight is over.

The bottom line is, Lance Thomas is a very courageous man who refused to be a victim, and he’s a good example of how practice and preparation can pay off in the most important way of all.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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If you carry, practice drawing over and over. Then go to the range and practice with your gun laying down and picking it up and getting off some quick shots. You must be able to get several quick shots in a circle of 8 to 10 inches in diameter at 7 yards. It could save you and a love one’s life.


We have a jeweler here in Virginia and he took his entire staff to the range ,armed everyone and all went through training. Never heard about this until 2 masked men came into the store with guns out. Big mistake .Both robbers were killed with multiple gunshots in each from different directions. No prosecution on this case. No more robberies either.
Another alarming story here ,A man was standing next to a building at a very busy intersection ,with a rifle threatening to kill himself. He started to raise the rifle and all the assembled police stated to shoot him.
64 shots were fired and the man was hit by 2 shots ,yes 2 shots all the rest missed.
At the store which is a 2 story cinder block building there is a ring of buckshot hits 18 ft in the air. Although the store has been painted the buckshot holes are still there .
And the politicians what me to give up my gun and have the police take care of me?
No thanks ,I wonder if we are getting a decent return on our investment on the police department?


Buck19,we must live in the same neck of the woods,as I know the jewelry shop owner if its b.h.jewelers,all though Im not familiar with the second story.There was also another about three years go where an ice cream shop owner had to defend himself with a firearm outside his shop,no charges were filed.There are as you,and most readers here know,many self defense shootings nation wide,though the anti gun media never reports them.Yall keep safe.


Hit by 2 out of 64 ? That is nothing new, look back at the shooting at the World Trade Center area in August 2012. Those police hit everyone but the threat!


I lived in Detroit Mi. in the mid 1970`s on Michigan Ave. a man dressed as a women, went into a Sam’s Pawn shop to rob it, a cop walking his beat for a Detroit Tiger Ball Game down the street, seen the robbery going down so he called in backup, so when the robber came out he sees cops everywhere he want back in a takes the owner out at gunpoint and walks him to his owners car on the other side of Michigan Ave. i don’t know who shot first but in the end the cops had shot over 100 rounds and i think the robber was in custody and Sam the owner was Dead…. His kid have that shoe American Pawn (on tv) in Detroit out on 8 mile Rd. and he also armed / trained all of his staff. I also remember the 1967 Riot seen a lot of death on through streets of Detroit, i got my family out of there about 25 years ago thank God…….


My Uncle Carson got an awesome red Cadillac ATS Sedan by working part-time from a home computer… view w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m


Look I have carried every day for 9 years. And I know that the statistical likelihood of my ever having to use my weapon to defend myself is very very small. Your opening paragraph is way overstated: “But the fact is, there are thousands of home invasions and other crimes committed every day. This means there are many Americans who are, unfortunately, likely to experience a gunfight in their lifetime.”

I suppose if you lump in writing bad checks and simple theft, yeah, maybe there are ‘thousands of other crimes committed every day.’ Your next sentence referring to ‘many Americans’ likely to experience a gunfight in their lifetime doesn’t mean much. Even if it’s say, 10,000 people or 20,000 people that still doesn’t change the likelihood of a single individual’s getting in a gunfight as being very very small. Is 20,000 ‘many?’ Not compared to the approx. 500 million Americans alive during my llifetime.

So give us the articles, give us the facts, and lay off the alarmist language. Again: this from someone who carries but who also is good at math.


The picture depicting a two hand hold? Give me a break, cup and saucer?
You have to carry your self defense pistol, multiple places to store pistols, dumb. Hi capacity (well, capacity of at least 16 rounds ready to start) I keep hearing of home invasions, 4-5-6 at a time.

Forever Man

Just an educated guess on my part, but I’d bet the photo was purchased from a “stock photo” company. I write a blog and have searched stock photos for usable images for my postings. Almost impossible to find a good gun photo. No concept of safety or proper gun handling whatsoever. Virtually every photo shows the person with their finger on the trigger. A huge number of photos of models pointing a gun to their own head. Unbelievable! So please cut some slack for minor offenses like the dreaded cup and saucer grip. Or better yet, take a lot of good photos and make them available to bloggers like Jason and me. Thx.


How difficult is it to take your own picture and get it right


To yikesarama, ”paragraph is way overstated”. Are you kidding me? From the USDOJ…Nationwide- 1 violent crime every 22.2 sec. – 3 murders every 60 min. – 7 people shot every 60 min. – 1 rape every 1.3 min. – 1 armed robbery every 1.2 min. – 1 aggravated assault every 36.6 sec. – 1 home invasion every 14.4 sec. – 1 burglary every 3.2 sec. – 1 theft every 4.8 sec. – 1 car stolen every 26.4 sec., includes carjackings. – 5 out of 6 citizens will be a victim at least once in their lifetime. The paragraph seems spot on. Of course these are ONLY the crimes reported to law enforcement. Anyone who has lived in an urban area knows that a large percentage of crimes go unreported, and around 45 % go unsolved. Being a resident of Detroit I see it and read about it everyday.

Bigg Gunn

You only need to think about one number. All these numbers are hear say. What matters is you #1 and yours.
Looks like ,if people have time to put this together , they have time to fight crime.


To me preparedness is key and self defence is your personal responsibility not LEO. If you hear an intruder in the process of breaking in and have time, sure call 911, give them the situation and dont hang up but put the phone down and see how things develope and if the intruder gains entry give a verbal warning after you have aquired the target and go from there. Warning shots are rounds out of control and should be avoided.
If you feel threatened remove the threat not the sheetrock.

Bigg Gunn

very good advice….


Linda and Gary Hass from OK, were on I-40 toward Colorado in 2010, with their towed RV and two dogs. Arizona prison escapees, led by John McCluskey, and assisted by his ‘cousin fiance’, followed Linda from the rest room at the I-40 NM rest stop at gunpoint, getting into the truck with Gary. Both Linda and Gary were certified CCW…. ‘Their weapons were both in the trailer’…. Their bodies were consumed in the fire of the, burned to the axles RV trailer, off the I-40 near Santa Rosa NM.

Providence Ranch

Rather than leaving multiple guns around the house/store where someone could pick it up who shouldn’t, like a child or a criminal, how about wearing your gun in a concealed holster so it’s always with you 24/7? That makes more sense both in liability and in availability.

Hopefully none of us will ever have to use our guns to defend ourselves, but if we do then let’s be the best damned shot in the vicinity. ~Keep your powder dry, folks.~

Bigg Gunn

I carry a 22 – .40 cal. all the time since a police officer was killed on the corner
where my dad lives, that was in 1981. Times have gotten worse.

I didn’t like it all that much,but got use to it. Like John Wayne. I would draw aim and dry fire when I am alone. I go to the range every two weeks or so.Through out the years. I have gotten quite well.
To carry full time one has to think different, and keep his eyes open. Have the correct mine set.

I am a vet. and have fired many pistols many times.
I pray that I’ll never have to shoot anything but a target. Who knows? Some day the bad guy may be the target.
I will protect my own and help others if called upon.
I am a lefty- I ware a high ride w/ a Glock .40 G-4, 15+1 it even goes to bed with me. And I sleep light. As far as I have to reach. Is to my side.
My pistol has become a part of me. Just like a watch or ring.
Excuse me while I clean my gun.


:You got it right my friend…I have a concealed carry permit and I carry 24/7. Have done this for years and have never had the occasion to use deadly force and hope that it never happens, but believe this, I will defend my family and myself with deadly force if need be. Carrying a gun is the same as carrying insurance. Just makes good common sense.


Sorry you took umbrage at my “Cup and saucer” Comment.
Reference guns here and there if read about Lance and his Watch Store, he tried the guns all over thing? Not pleased with it, Went to hi; cap, on belt. I think Kydex holster as well.
The overall facts of gun fights, lots of rounds, fired quickly ha to be a consideration. It does happen, so for sure at least 16 rounds up ready to go, and a spare magazine (re malfunctions)
not the added round count.
With lots of rounds ready to fire, you can afford to fire bursts!
People soak up pistol rounds, sometimes with little real effect.
So expecting no instant results, can be a good a good idea!

Sue Smith

Agree on not having multiple weapons lying around. The safest place for my weapon is on me. I carry a LCP anytime I am dressed. Around the house, I use a Pistol Wear belly band under my casual top. Out and about its in my pocket or in the belly band, depending on clothing.

Van Phillips

This is a direct copy of the text from the “old” news feature on Lance Thomas. I use it in my NRA Pistol Classes, as a point that you have to make the choice to use your weapon – before you are in that situation.

As Lance says, “My life is too precious, and I refuse to be a victim. And, the choice of my living or dying would be in the robbers hands.”

Oh, and his shop was in Santa Monica, not LA – a huge difference if you live there.

Van Phillips


I respect you, but credit the source you typed directly from. That was copyrighten you know.



Someone needs to teach the person in the picture how to hold a gun. Teacup, really?


Please show me your picture.


Whew! The point isn’t the picture, the probability it will or will not happen to me or tea cups and saucers. That said, practice accessing, shooting and general handling of the guns I own is a worthwhile activity whether or not I own a jewelry store. Why own a gun at if all you’re going to do is hang it on your hip or look at it every once in a while?


Some very good advice. Most people will never be getting into a gun fight, and may in hindsight consider all the mistake they made (if they are still alive). This advice is that hindsight I hope to never have, but glad to take it in from someone who has had the experience. Gives me a lot now to think about.

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Captian Carry

Well at home I always have a firearm on my hip. And in public where ever it is legal. And I practice often and plan on joining the USPSA which is a great training tool.

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Good stuff, but I’ll say this: Never leave an *unsecured* firearm between yourself and a potential threat. Most criminals aren’t “smart”, but they are experienced. They learn where people hide things. The last thing you want is to arm your foe with your own weapons. Best solution? Always have one on your person. YMMV.

Elden Morris

I lived in VA many years ago. There was a gun shop in town where everyone was armed in the store. One day, a man walked in, picked up a box of shotgun shells then over to the used gun rack picking up a used shotgun. He loaded it and pointed it at one of the clerks demanding money. One of the other employees pulled his pistol and fired chasing the robber from the store. He fired 17 shots and all he hit was the plate glass window, three new cars in the dealership across the street, a stop sign and a telephone pole. He was no longer allowed to carry until he showed some proficiency. Nobody was hurt and the robber left without the shotgun or any money.


Probably made his ego whole but he kept getting shot. Is this what you recommend? Are you nuts? My guess is that if someone pulled a gun on most of the gun worshipers I know, they would wet they pants and plead for mercy. The most likely thing to have happen if you have a gun in your home is injury to you or one of your loved ones. The margin is great, maybe not the 43 times that Kellerman found but would you risk your life on 20:1 odds? Braggadoccio is one thing, this is just stupid.

Wes Baumer

No cowering in fear and relying on the mercy of criminals is stupid…

Paul Lytle

So is drawing a gun on a guy with a gun in your face


when we talk about old gun there are many issue during the using like their voice is enough then latest. Now you can fire without voice. Even near person don’t understand.