I had a very scary situation today. If only I had one of New Jersey’s rabidly anti-gun legislators in the car with me today, they just might understand why we carry.
We’ve all heard the ignorance of our state politicians. We’ve heard them say how the streets are less safe when/if we carry and we’ve heard the Moms Demand Action say that we’ll use guns to settle our differences with our neighbors. It’s their mantra. No matter how much truth we drop on them, no matter how many armed citizen stories there are, they just don’t care. They only want the criminals to be armed.
Today, Memorial Day 2023, my wife, four-year old son, and I decided to forego the typical burgers and beers and instead take a little road trip down to Princeton, a town we’d never spent any time in. It was a nice afternoon, we walked around, had a bite to eat, walked around a little more. After we’d taken in enough of the town, it was time to drive the one hour up Route 206 to our home in Morris County.
For those that aren’t familiar, Route 206 is just a two-lane local highway where you pass everything from farms, to homes, to strip malls, and local businesses. Of course, at major intersections there’s a third lane dedicated to turns or our famous New Jersey jug handles. I’m explaining this for a reason.
As we were driving in the right lane, there was a raggedy, dented up, tinted out, Nissan with New York plates, missing the front grille, driving in the jug handle lead up lane. With no signal and no warning, this car started to cross the solid white line on a collision course to side-swipe our car. As one would expect, I beeped and quickly glanced left so that I could move to safety in the left lane. I wasn’t shouting or giving the Jersey salute, I simply wasn’t reacting. As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it. Accident avoided.
Well… that wasn’t the end of it. This car got behind us and started tailgating very closely. I could see that there were four people in the car. The two in the front were wearing hooded sweatshirts, with hoods up, on an 80-degree day. I couldn’t tell what was going on in the back seat of their car, I could only see that there were additional people in the back. The driver took his hands off the wheel and started feigning motions of racking the slide of a gun in hopes that I would see it in my rear-view mirror. I did see it. It was pretty recognizable.
He started doing some other things with his hands too, I don’t know if he was doing gang signs, or flipping me off, or whatever. I had to pay attention to the road in front of me so that I wouldn’t rear-end the car of someone else.
What a bad situation that would’ve been. If I had an auto accident, I would surely be obligated to pull over, with my defenseless family in the car and then there would’ve been the real possibility of conflict with these four individuals. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
It was right around this time that might heart decided to jump into my throat. I was absolutely nervous. Four seemingly aggressive individuals and what I saw as the hallmarks of either gang members, drug runners, ex-felons, or just generally bad actors. I don’t know. I don’t have to pinpoint exactly who they were or what they were up to. It was beyond obvious that these were not good people.
Reading this story from a distance, from the comfort of your mobile phone, it might not sound like much. I assure you, it was real, and it was a scary five minutes.
I should also mention that my wife was sleeping through all of this. I wasn’t about to wake her up and invite panic to the situation. I needed as much mental clarity as possible. Remember, aggressive individuals, armed citizen, wife, and small child were all a part of this situation.
We were approaching a red light and they were right up on us. I was carrying my Sig P365XL in a PHLster Enigma, along with an additional magazine. As a precaution, I removed my shirt from over my my defensive firearm and magazine and also made sure that neither was encumbered by the seatbelt. I didn’t unholster, wasn’t resting my hand on my firearm. I only made sure that it was quickly accessible if they were to rush us at the light.
Fortunately, just as we reached the light, it turned green. We continued and, all the while, I was looking for opportunities to bob and weave between other cars and create some distance.
As we continued driving, the general flow of traffic was enough to drive the speed limit but it was dense enough to where I couldn’t do much passing of other vehicles. These guys were still aggressively following us and it was obvious they were trying to get next to us. Their back window, on the side that would’ve been closest to our car, was down. That made me more nervous and even more determined to prevent them from getting next to me, and yes, they were absolutely trying to do so.
That back window being down could’ve meant anything but I wasn’t planning to find out. Maybe they were hot from wearing hooded sweatshirts on an 80-degree day as stupid people tend to do. Maybe they were planning to yell obscenities, maybe they were going to throw something at our car, maybe they were going to brandish or point a gun, or worse yet, maybe they were going to shoot. I have no clue. I don’t even know if they had an actual gun but we’ve seen enough stories in the news to know these things do happen and there always seems to be some poor, innocent child that dies as a result.
For as long as I could, I would drive directly next to other cars so that these guys would be stuck behind us and unable to pull up along side us. During the times when I no longer had a car next to me, I sped up to create as much distance as I could. Keep in mind there was somewhat dense traffic but at least it was moving. Our car is considerably faster than theirs. However, we had limited runway to work with.
Eventually, we came to an interchange where there’s a choice of highways to take. Seeing as they had New York license plates, I purposely waited til the last second so that they wouldn’t know which road I would take and I then veered left at the last possible moment. They went right onto Route 22 towards NYC as I predicted they would.
That was the end of it. I am very happy that nothing materialized from this. However, it was quite the scary five minutes. My heart truly was in my throat.
As for the imaginary anti-gun New Jersey legislator in my front seat, I would point out the following:
- At no point did I think I was “tough” because I had a defensive firearm with me.
- At no point did I think it made sense to “push” the situation or antagonize these guys further to see what might happen.
- At no point did I think it made sense to selectively engage in a potential gun fight.
- At no point did I think it made sense to physically fight. I wouldn’t give them an opportunity to use my own gun on me.
- I made every possible attempt to get as far away from them as possible.
- I uncovered and unencumbered the firearm and spare mag but never unholstered. It was a state of readiness.
- I was nervous as hell but cool under pressure. I never let myself get into that mental state where nervousness makes us do stupid things. That seems to be the hallmark of the anti-gun legislators.
The point here is that this is how responsible, armed citizens act. We don’t look for a fight. We avoid it when possible. We carry defensive firearms to protect ourselves and our families from people like these.
I do believe that if Joe Danielsen or John McKeon or one of their colleagues were in the front seat with me today, I’d be scrubbing the hell out of that seat and Febreezing my car instead of writing this article right now. At least they would have a real understanding of why we choose our 2nd Amendment right to self-defense.