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 flee. 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 position. 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.