‘He’s shooting at my car!’

Q:  If someone is shooting at me while I’m in my car, can I shoot back at them?

A:  Sure, you can.  Although, a better question might be, “should you shoot back?”

Thinking ahead allows us to consider multiple responses before we’re thrust into “fight or flight” mode.  Hick’s law tells us, “More options equals more time.”  Time being the most precious commodity during any fight, knowing and limiting our options beforehand can save valuable seconds during a life-threatening situation. 

If someone is shooting at you while you’re inside your car and the car is in motion, shooting back will be ineffective at best and, at worst, criminally negligent.  Most folks can’t shoot accurately while walking much less while driving.  Before we go any further, let’s cover the universal firearm safety rules:

  1. Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
  2. Never point a gun at anything unless you’re willing to destroy that thing.
  3. Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it.
  4. Keep your finger OFF the trigger, until your sights are on the target, and you have made the decision to shoot.

I don’t like to speak in absolutes when it comes to self-defense.  Other than the four universal firearms safety rules which are omnipresent, there are very few instances of “always” or “never” when it comes to preservation of life.  So, I won’t say never, but I will say that shooting while driving is generally a horrible idea.  Either drive or shoot.  Don’t drive and shoot.

If the car is in motion when some (insert your personal favorite term of endearment) bad guy starts slinging lead at you, do your best to keep the vehicle moving.  Your safest bet is to drive away as quickly as possible.  Know that there are two types of terrain – drivable and non-drivable.  We’re conditioned to view things like sidewalks, people’s lawns, shallow ditches, curbs, and parking stops as things we should not drive over.  You must know the limitations of your specific vehicle, of course, but when you’re fleeing a dangerous situation, traffic laws and traditional driving rules no longer apply, but you must remain cognizant enough to avoid injuring any innocent people. 

If you’re stopped when the shooting starts, I recommend your plan-A should be to get the car moving as fast as possible.  Press the skinny pedal on the right and go!  If the deadly threat is in your route of escape, run him over!  V8 beats 9mm ten out of ten times, and contrary to popular belief, V8 beats .45 too.  If the deadly threat is behind you, put your car in reverse and, you guessed it, press the skinny pedal on the right. 

One important consideration when behind the wheel is the space you leave between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you, especially when stopped.  Whether at a traffic light or in a drive-through line, leave enough space to be able to drive around the vehicle in front of you.  You can accomplish this by making sure the rear tires of the vehicle ahead of you are visible, without you having to lean up in your seat.  I understand that isn’t always possible.  You might get blocked in by adjacent vehicles, which could make a driving escape impossible.  If that’s the case, you might need to fight / shoot your way out of your car.

Yep.  I said, “out of your car.”  There could be a situation where after you shoot, you’re able to simply drive away.  However, if you have no vehicular escape route and you’re forced to deploy other means, you need to get out of that car as soon as possible and beat feet to the closest cover you can find.  Please understand that cars ARE NOT adequate cover.  Bullets zip and zing through auto bodies with the ease of a gas station burrito sliding through a colon – no stops along the way.  Staying inside your vehicle during a gunfight makes you a stationary target in a shooting gallery and using your vehicle as cover is like putting on sunglasses and pretending no one can see you.

Avoidance, avoidance, avoidance.  Don’t be a jerk on the roadway.  Sure, you could inadvertently get caught up in some gang banger turf war, but the most likely thing to initiate a deadly force encounter on the roadway is good, old fashioned road rage.  Be courteous to other drivers.  Don’t tailgate people.  Don’t blow your horn unless it’s necessary to avoid a crash.  And because I know that someone out there needs to hear this, for crying out loud, use your turn signal!  That’s the lever on the left side of your steering column that moves up and down.  Moving it up signals a right turn and moving it down signals a left turn.  Not moving it at all, signals you’re a (insert your personal favorite term of endearment) dork.  

Thanks for reading.  And remember…

Avoid what you can.  Defeat what you can’t.


Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at Ryan@9and1tactical.com

 (Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official, legal advice.)