I was in a road rage incident recently where a guy pulled a gun on me. I was driving down a busy road at noon and as I approached the highway the black SUV in the lane next to me suddenly swerved in to my lane. I had to jerk the wheel sideways to avoid getting hit, which caused two of my tires to go off the road and caused me to lose control of the vehicle. I looked over and realized the guy in the car next to me was holding his cell phone up in front of his face and poking the screen with his other hand. No eyes on the road, no hands on the wheel. I managed to get the wheel under control and honked the horn at the other vehicle to alert him that he was in my lane. When I did, he dropped his phone and grabbed his wheel and steered his vehicle back in to his lane and started waving his arms and screaming at me through my open window. I yelled back for him to put his phone down and not run me off the road and then continued on to the off ramp intersection. At that intersection, the light turned red and I had to stop and he pulled up next to me and started screaming at me through the window again. "You wanna get out of your car? Get out of your car! Let's go! We can f**king fight right now! Get out of your car! Get out of your car!" I yelled back for him to roll up his window. "Just roll up your window man! Just roll up your window!" He continued to yell at me and I just continued to repeat myself. At that point, he pulled out a handgun and held it up in between us and said "What now?" And I replied "Now I'm calling the cops bro." At that point, the light turned green, I hit the gas and glanced back to get his license plate and he turned off and went east down the off ramp. At that point I consulted with my wife and some friends of mine and decided to call the police and report the incident. A few minutes later I spoke with a police officer who took my report and then told me they were too busy to look in to it today but they'd have some detectives look the guy up at his home later and if I didn't hear from them in the next few weeks I should call them again.
That was pretty much the end of it. I'm fine. I was fine at the time. Even while it was happening I was thinking to myself, "Just stay in your car man. If you get out of your car, he'll get out of his car, and then you're having a fist fight on an overpass." I also realized that if I got out of my car then this would escalate from a self defense situation to a mutual combat situation, and legally I'd have little or no defense for violence after that moment. Of course, once he introduced a firearm to the situation I did what I recommend to all my students and got the hell out of dodge.
I made a few mistakes here. I shouldn't have yelled at him to put his phone down and I shouldn't have yelled at him to roll up his window, I should have just ignored him and rolled up my window and continued down the road. That being said, I feel alright about how I handled this situation. Where he almost ran me off the road, tried to start a fight, and then pulled a gun on me; I managed to control my vehicle, tried to de-escalate the situation, and managed to not get shot and got away. All things being equal, I call that successful self defense. Based on all my experience with law enforcement, I really don't expect any follow up by the police. But I also don't expect to ever see this guy again either. Just a weird moment with a crazy person in traffic. I'm unharmed and went on with my life. I was shaky for about an hour from the adrenaline crash, but other than that I was pretty much unaffected by what happened. This was the first time anyone has ever pulled a gun on me in anger, but not the first time I've ever had to navigate my way through a potentially violent confrontation.
I don't know what the other guy's problem was. He looked like a relatively successful young man. Late twenties or early thirties, white, very fit, short hair, driving a nice black SUV with his dog in the passenger seat. Other than the whole "pointing guns at people in traffic" thing, I would have guessed that he had his life together. Oh well. Guess you never can tell.
The world is a dangerous place. This could very easily have gone far worse than it did. Stay safe, stay in control, don't allow other people to escalate you in to a violent confrontation, and remember the number one rule of self defense. Live to fight another day.