Meet Lance Thomas. Good read.


March 12, 2004, 01:39 AM
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In 2001, Paladin Press published one of the best "reads" of the year
for people who follow the gun culture and understand the principles of
self-protection. The author is Paul Kirchner, who has collaborated
with Col. Jeff Cooper on previous books, and the title is The
Deadliest Men: The World's Deadliest Combatants Through the Ages. It
covers figures as disparate as the French swordswoman known as La
Maupin, such great American war heroes as Alvin York and Audie Murphy;
gunfighters like Wild Bill Hickok and Bat Masterson, and a man named
Lance Thomas.

Over a period of less than 3 years, Thomas was involved in four gun
battles against a total of 11 known suspects. He shot six of them,
killing five. The watch dealer himself was wounded on two of these
occasions, taking a total of five rounds. There are many lessons that
the rest of us can learn: Lessons of long-term strategy and short-term
tactics; of gun selection and ammunition effectiveness; and, above
all, of courage under fire in the moment, and of determination over
the long haul.

August 10, 1989.

Like so many storekeepers, Thomas feels his watch shop would be a
safer place if he had a gun with which to fend off armed robbers. He
has acquired a Model 36, a five-shot Smith & Wesson .38 Chief Special.
He keeps the snubnose revolver where he can reach it easily. On this
day, he'll be glad he did.Two men enter. One appears to have some sort
of weapon, and the other pulls what Thomas recognizes as a 9mm
semiautomatic pistol. Thomas knows he can just give the man his money
and goods, but he also knows that to do so is to trust his life to the
whim of a violent man unlawfully wielding a deadly weapon. Instead,
Thomas chooses to fight.His hand flashes to the Chief Special, and he
comes up shooting. The little revolver barks three times. Two of his
bullets miss, but one smashes into the gunman's face, putting him out
of the fight. The merchant swings toward the accomplice, but cannot
see a weapon at the moment, and so, does not fire. Instead, he orders
the suspect to leave. The now-compliant accomplice does so, dragging
his wounded comrade with him. The robber will survive. Lance Thomas is
unhurt. His decision to be an armed citizen, to fight back, has been
validated. The wounded robber will be charged, and the armed citizen
has the sympathy of the authorities. Thomas has won in every respect.

In assessing the aftermath, the Rolex specialist analyzes what he has
learned with the same precision he applies to the repair and
adjustment of fine watches. It is not lost on him that he has expended
60 percent of his ammunition to neutralize 50 percent of his
antagonists. It occurs to him that a single five-shot revolver might
not be enough if there's a next time, and that there won't be much
opportunity to reload.And what if he had been caught out of reach of
his Smith? Thomas expands his defensive strategy. The .38 is joined by
a trio of .357 Magnum revolvers: a Colt Python, a Smith & Wesson Model
19 Combat Magnum, and a Ruger Security-Six. He arrays them a few feet
apart within the small perimeter of his workspace so there will always
be one within reach no matter where he's standing.If he runs dry, he
won't even think about reloading: he'll simply drop the empty gun and
grab another fully loaded one.

Professional Hit

November 27, 1989.

This time, it's the kind of professional hit that the NYPD Stakeout
Squad warned you about-- a five-man team of thugs who know what
they're doing. There's seeded backup, a perpetrator ambling around on
the sidewalk outside, pretending to be a passerby. The outrider is in
the driver's seat of the getaway car, at once a wheelman and a
potential killer who can murderously interdict responding officers, or
go inside with heavy weapons to rescue accomplices who are captured
inside the premises. The remaining three perpetrators comprise the
raid team.It opens hot, fast and ugly. One of the perpetrators opens
up on Lance Thomas without warning, firing a semiautomatic pistol,
hitting him four times with eight rounds fired. Three of the .25 ACP
bullets bite into Thomas' right shoulder, a fourth into his neck. The
watchmaker grabs the nearest revolver, the Ruger .357, missing with
the first shot but scoring with the next five.The gunman falls to the
floor and so does the Security-Six: it has clicked empty. Thomas drops
it, lunging for the next nearest weapon, the snubnose .38 that had
saved him last time.Now he engages the second suspect, who is shooting
at him. Thomas shoots back. That gun, too, runs dry. He hasn't hit his
antagonist, but he hasn't been hit either, and the second robber is in
no mood to continue the gunfight.The third inside suspect opens fire
at Thomas. Wounded, but furious and still in the fight, the
storekeeper grabs his third gun of the shootout, another .357. As Paul
Kirchner relates it, he "empties it into" the third gunman. That
offender goes down.The little watch shop is filled with the stench of
smokeless powder and the reek of blood. The second offender wants no
more of being shot at, and has abjured from the conflict.Outside, the
two additional robbers realize that three of their colleagues have
gone inside for an easy score, there has been a long volley of
explosive gunfire, and only one has come back out alive. Whatever is
in there, they don't want any part of it. The three surviving robbers

Inside, only one of the combatants is standing. Bleeding but defiant,
the wounded Lance Thomas looks down at the two men he has killed. In
the course of the fight, he has fired 19 shots. Charmed Life. Some people
are beginning to think that Thomas bears a charmed life. Since an
enemy sent into ignominious retreat can certainly be said to have been
vanquished, the score now stands at Lance Thomas 7, Armed Robbers
0.However, it occurs to the storekeeper that his survival armory might
need another firepower upgrade. This time, he decides to try
semiautomatic pistols. He buys four, all SIGs, that operate the same
way. One is the compact nine-shot P-225 9mm. The other three are
assorted versions of the P-220 8-shot .45 auto.As the Turning Point
cameras pan across his gun collection, we see the American-style of
SIG with push-button magazine release as well as the European-style
with the butt heel mag release. There is a Browning BDA, which is a
European P-220 by a different name.Magazine release styles don't
matter. Lance Thomas still doesn't plan to reload. If one gun runs
dry, he'll reach for another. He now has up to eight handguns readily
available. Fully loaded, they hold 56 rounds between them.With his
plan, they all function essentially the same: grab gun, index weapon
on target, pull trigger until it stops shooting, grab additional guns,
repeat as necessary. Thomas commits himself to constant practice in
accessing one or another of his defense guns from any conceivable

Two Year Break

December 4, 1991.

It has been more than two years since the last incident. Some others
would be complacent by now. Not Lance Thomas, who has learned that
vigilance equals survival, and from the beginning has realized he is
responsible for the safety of his customers.On this date a male
perpetrator strides in, accompanied by a female accomplice who shows
no weapon. The man pulls a loaded Glock pistol. He points the gun at
Thomas and orders him to be motionless.No way. Thomas goes for his
gun.The perpetrator fires first, pumping a 9mm bullet through Thomas'
neck, drilling a wound channel that is just a fraction of an inch from
being fatal. But now, Thomas has reached his rarest pistol, the little
P225, and he is firing back.The watch shop proprietor has been forced
into an awkward hold on the gun, and he can only fire three rounds--
all straight into the chest of his opponent-- before his imperfect
grasp causes the usually reliable SIG 9mm to jam. Without missing a
beat, he drops it and grabs one of its big brothers, which he fires
into the opponent five more times until the armed robber falls and
stops trying to commit murder.Frozen in terror, the female accomplice
offers no violence. It's over.Wounded, Lance Thomas will recover. Not
so the criminal who shot him, who will die of the eight rounds-- all
hits, eight for eight-- that the armed citizen has inflicted with his
two SIG-Sauer pistols.

Ever Vigilant

February 20,1992.

It has been just over two and a half months since the last shootout.
Lance Thomas has remained vigilant. Now, his wariness pays off.

Two armed perpetrators enter the store. As soon as Thomas sees the
automatic pistol in one of their hands, he reflexes to his nearest
pistol, one of the P-220s. This perpetrator goes down fast, hit with
what author Kirchner describes as most of a "gunload" of .45 ACP
ammunition. Grabbing another P-220, Thomas engages the second armed
robbery suspect and shoots him four times. The suspect falls. The
danger is over. Both armed robbers are dead at the shopowner's hands.
In four gun battles, Lance Thomas has fired 40-plus shots. He has
killed five men, and wounded another. He has defeated a total of 11
perpetrators, either shot down or driven off in abject flight. He has
been wounded five times.

Word On The Street

By now the word was out on the street. Some of those who had died by
the blazing Thomas guns had been members of the organized street gangs
that infest Los Angeles like an advanced, spreading cancer. They had
declared war. They were going to rake Lance Thomas' watch shop with
drive-by shootings and massacre his customers for revenge. The armed
citizen had to make a difficult decision. Thomas had stood up to the
armed criminals for some 29 months. He was ready to continue to risk
his own life, however, he felt he had no right to risk the lives of
customers and bystanders in the face of this latest threat.
Reluctantly, sadly, he switched to business by mail order and
Internet. The watch shop was closed. The big Rolex sign that some
believed had attracted the robbers like flies came down. Lance Thomas
moved. The epoch of a modern urban gunfighter had ended.

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March 12, 2004, 02:51 PM

If you enjoyed reading about "Meet Lance Thomas. Good read." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!