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How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker with a Gun Trying to Get You in a Vehicle

The Gun Violence Archive states that there have been 13,158 deaths and 26,951 injuries from gun violence in the United States this year.

It’s a scary scenario: someone has a gun pointed at you and they are demanding you get into their vehicle. What do you do? How do you survive this situation?

What you do may depend on the details of the situation. Are you in a crowded area? Is the attacker holding you? Does the attacker have the gun directly on your body? Is there no one around? Are there multiple attackers? Where are they located (some might be in the vehicle, some not)? Is the gunman inside the vehicle or outside?

See how this can go many different ways?

In order to get out of this alive, you must understand your attacker’s motives. If an attacker is trying to bring you to a second location (get you away from where you are now), it’s because he (I’ll use the pronoun he to simplify things, but it could be a female or a group of attackers) wants to get you away from where you are now. Why? Your current location scares your attacker. You can use that knowledge to your advantage.

Before we delve into your options, let’s talk prevention. The first and most important step of self-defense is prevention. Bad things happen in dark alleys? Don’t go in dark alleys. Just don’t be there.

No matter where you are, always be aware of your surroundings. Who is around you? What do you hear? What do you feel? Use your senses. Always be aware.

Sometimes victims of an attack are being followed or watched and the victim doesn’t even realize it until it is too late.

Is someone around you acting strange? Oftentimes, you can see something starting before anything happens. Then you can keep your distance from those potential attackers.

What to do When Someone with a Gun Tells You to Get in the Car

Avoid the Vehicle

Do not get close to the vehicle or the attacker. The closer you are, the more control they have. Don’t allow them the upper hand. Keep your distance. If they take two steps toward you, take three steps away. Stay as far away from the vehicle as possible. That car is one step closer to death. Stay away!

Run

That brings us to the next step – run! There’s a chance that the gun is fake or isn’t loaded. If your instant reaction is to run as fast as you can away from and in the opposite direction of the vehicle, you have an excellent chance of survival.

The attacker may not be expecting this response, and that’s good. If they shoot at you, they have a decreased chance of actually hitting you. It’s more difficult to hit a moving target, especially one that keeps getting farther and farther away.

Some self-defense experts also recommend running in a zigzag away from the attacker, as it is especially difficult to shoot someone running in a zigzag line away from them.

Use Your Gun

Keeping a gun close to yourself is a smart strategy in order to avoid being a victim of an attack. Try to keep your calm and be quick on the draw.

Point the gun towards the attacker and slowly back away, demanding him to put his weapon down. If the attacker doesn’t comply, he means you lethal harm. At this point, you must fire a shot into his chest/torso – the largest area of his body. This should disable him so you can get to a safe place and phone 911.

In most cases, you won’t even have to. The fact that you have one and you’re aiming it towards your opponent is enough to scare the attacker off.

Avoid the Gun

Having a gun pointed at you can be one of the most frightening things to happen, but you have to try to remain calm.

You don’t know if the gun is loaded. You don’t even know if it’s a real gun. There’s a chance that it is a real gun that’s loaded, but even if the attacker pulls the trigger, they have a good chance of missing you (depending on how close you are and how good of a shooter they are).

The whole gun isn’t dangerous to you. Just the hole where the bullet comes out. So, keep your body away from the line of fire. Sidestep, duck, or fight.

Fight

There are a few techniques you can use to fight your attacker. This is a near last resort, but may be necessary depending on the circumstances. For example, if you’re in a remote area, there’s no one around, and/or there’s just nothing for quite some distance they can just chase you for as long as they can and shoot you point-blank. You must be able to think quickly and rationally about what your best option for survival is. If it’s to fight your attacker, these moves can help.

Note: Join a local martial arts academy so you can train in self-defense and practice these moves on a regular basis.

Your goal during the fight is to gain control of the weapon. Get that gun out of his hands and into yours.

Gun Defense 1:

  1. Side Step and Grab: Side step while grabbing the wrist and hand of your attacker. Sidestepping gets you out of the line of fire. Grabbing the wrist and hand holding the gun helps you control the weapon.
    If your attacker is holding the gun in his right hand, step to your left. If your attacker is holding the gun in his left hand, step to your right. Get to the outside of the attacker’s body, not in front of them.
  2. Crossed arms: While the attacker holds the gun pointed at you, use your right hand to side-grab the gun and push it away while your left-hand pushes against the attacker’s wrist. This will cause the villain to lose the grip on the gun, which will allow you to take control of the weapon or run away. Do not worry if the gun falls to the ground, it will not fire. Guns do not fire upon falling on the ground; they are made that way by regulation.

Use an App

I’m Getting Kidnapped: This is a simple, easy to use Android app that you can download for free and keep on your smartphone. You can create your custom alert message and decide who is going to receive it. When you’re in trouble, all you need to do is click on the app icon and hold your finger on the large target image. This will send the alert message to the number(s) you already set up, and activate a GPS tracker so the police can locate you. The app is silent, so don’t worry that your kidnapper could hear some alarming noise or flashing lights.

WeProtect: When active, this app tracks your location, sending a live feed to your friends, family, and police. It also alerts you to possible dangers in your vicinity, temperature, posts news feeds, etc. Activate this device when you feel that you are in a dangerous area or in a country that’s new to you. It works in complete silence and nobody can find out that your iPhone is actually your GPS beacon.

Mace Them

Repel your attacker with some mace. It is effective, quick, and practical. Just make sure you are not in the line of fire. Move out of the line of fire as you first begin to spray. You can also attempt to get the gun from the attacker after they are disabled from the mace. Aim directly for the eyes.

You can pretend that you’re scared and reach out inside your bag or back pocket to “get the money” and instead reach for your mace and pull it out quickly to spray and disorient your attacker.

Screaming for help while doing it helps because it disturbs the villain and alerts people that may be nearby.

Fight Back

  • Use Joint Locks: The most basic technique is grabbing the attacker by the wrist and turn it clockwise while moving it up. Then use your other hand to twist the attacker’s elbow upwards. This will cause pain and throw him off balance. Next, use knee strikes until your attacker is disabled so you can get away. Aim for the groin, inner knee, sternum, and anything else you can reach.
  • Target Weak Spots: Everyone has a weak spot, and everyone panics when those spots are in danger. No matter how stressed you are, the person that wants to hurt you is also under the terrifying amount of stress. You know the spots: eyes, throat, groin, sternum, etc. Jam your thumbs into his eyes as hard as you can. If he can’t see, you can get away. Use strikes, kicks, elbows, knees to hit your attacker and hurt him in any way you can. Use your nails to scratch deep so you inflict pain, cause a visible injury, and are able to take some DNA to the police.

Get the Gun

If you control the weapon, you control the situation.

One of the most effective ways to do it, is to grab the person by the wrist and twist it while holding the gun. As you twist his arm, his grip will eventually become loose and you will be able to take control of the gun.

If you are in a one-on-one situation, this puts you in immediate charge. If there is more than one attacker, you want to hold the gun in their direction while slowly moving backward.

Get Noisy

It’s very unlikely that the person who is holding a gun towards you actually has what it takes to fire. Even if he does, your attacker would be under a lot of stress, sometimes even openly displaying anxiety. Get really noisy if you want to keep the attacker distracted. Noise is very distractive; it builds up the inner tension and blocks our thoughts. People react slower when they find themselves in a noisy area.

So, not only will you be able to distract and repel your assailant but you might also reach out to anyone who is nearby and get help. At very least, someone would notice what happened and help the police find you easier.

Fake a Seizure

Fall to the ground, shaking and turning while keeping your body stiff would draw the attention of everyone in your vicinity. This can also distract the attacker and make it easier for you to grab his weapon or even disable him. As you play your role of a person under a seizure, you can keep your focus on the attacker, and as soon he comes near you, pull him towards you and fight him, reach out for his gun, disable him in any way.

Recently, a woman on public transportation successfully faked a seizure to get away from an attacker with a gun. She says someone behind her said they had a gun pointed at her and that she needed to follow their directions or she would get shot. She immediately faked a seizure, which got the attention of everyone around her who came to her aid. She doesn’t know what they wanted or who they were, but she made it out without a scratch.

Fake Fear

Placing your assailant in a position of power can make him vulnerable. You can play the part of a scared victim, which would make the attacker feel comfortable and he may drop his guard. This is the moment that you want to exploit and use it to your advantage.

You can use his lack of attention and disarm or disable him, which would allow you to run away or call for help. In some situations, you might even overpower your opponent.

There is a self-defense instructor who pulled this off successfully. She was in an elevator going home. A man was there with her. He pulled a gun and attempted to attack her sexually, seemingly planning to rape her.

She slumped to the floor of the elevator and started sobbing loudly, knowing full well that she’s a trained martial artist and teaches self-defense weekly. This is one of the methods she teaches her advanced students.

Her attacker instantly gained confidence and laughed. She grabbed and squeezed his groin and let out a full attack, striking wherever she could. Once he was down, she ran to her car and drove to the police station. He wasn’t caught, but she got away without getting hurt or worse.

Be Hard to Grab

If you decide to fight off or disable the attacker and run away, make sure that you use all the means necessary to make yourself hard to grab and to control. Use your fingernails to scratch at his eyes, face, arms, and neck, anywhere while he tries to take control of you.

This can give you some space to start running away.

If the attacker starts running after you and grabs a piece of your wardrobe, remove that piece of clothing off yourself while you’re running away.

If there are any objects in your way then you can throw them behind you. Some of it may hit the attacker, which would slow him down.

In the end, even if you’re on the ground with the attacker on top of you, use your arms and legs to fight, do whatever you can to make yourself difficult to grab.

Unfortunately, there will only be more gun attacks to come, and we must stay prepared and safe. Practice self-defense in a safe environment on a regular basis.

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About NIcky LaMarco

NIcky LaMarco

Nicky LaMarco is a freelance writer who is passionate about self-defense and survival, having earned her first-degree black belt in Taekwondo.

6 comments

  1. I nearly fell out of my chair when I read your advice to fire a warning shot straight up.
    All RESPONSIBLE gun owners know that the gun owner is responsible for every bullet fired. Where do you think that warning shot is going to land? Possibly in a child playing in the yard blocks away.
    If the attacker does not back down when you aim your gun at him (or her), obviously they are intent on causing you serious harm and deadly force would be justified.
    Fire the warning shot into the attackers center mass and eliminate the threat!!! If you are not willing to do that, perhaps you should not be carrying a gun.

    • Absolutely right. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER Fire a warning shot. First is the perp has a weapon, you’re just giving him additional time to put a slug into you. Second, the bullet you fired into the air, HAS TO COME DOWN SOMEWHERE! How do you think you will feel if that bullet happens to hit a child? Third, a bullet fired into the air is a bullet wasted that you might need later on, especially if there’s more than one perp. The legal liability of firing a bullet into the air, makes such a thought almost idiotic (I hate to say a person who is authorized to carry a weapon is an idiot, but…..

  2. never fire a warning shot. you never know where the bullet will go. you have to take the weapon off your target. if you pull a weapon be ready to use it or don’t pull it

  3. The ONLY warning shot should be into the attacker, not the air. If the bullet striking that person does not cause them to stop, fire as many times as needed to stop them. If a well placed bullet doesn’t stop, more are needed to get the job done.

  4. Warning shots are illegal in some states. If they are pointing a gun at you, they have intent to harm or kill you. FIRE FIRST, STOP THE THREAT!

  5. Yes, I agree. The shot must be fired at the attacker, not as a warning shot. We are editing the article. Thanks!

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