Car theft in progress at 4am
I'll preface this by saying it happened to me, it's a true story to the letter, and it's the only time I've ever handled a gun expecting to likely fire on another person in any capacity. It happened over a decade ago, when I was 18.
It was the late 1990's, out in cow country. It was a humid, too-warm evening, and the air was still. I was asleep upstairs in my bed, rolled face against the open window overlooking our gravel driveway. I slept fitfully in the heat, wishing for more breeze to push cooler night air my way.
I woke up suddenly, fully, to the sound of a car engine turning over. I glanced at my clock; it was 4am. I knew the only key to my car was on my nightstand, and my family was asleep in bed. I was on my knee, sighting down my shotgun, ready to put five quick rounds of buckshot into my own car if it started moving. The car engine was still turning over, but not starting.
I barked over my shoulder to my sleeping brother in the next room, "Get dad, someone is stealing my car!" as I maintained my position, determined that if my car was to be stolen it wouldn't make it far. I had no desire to kill anyone at this point, but was certainly ready to gut the vehicle.
I abandoned my shotgun as soon as my brother went flying downstairs to rouse dad, and grabbed my .45 off the nightstand. Dad went out the side door, I went out the front, and we swept the yard quickly and approached the vehicle. It was still turning over madly, and unsuccessfully.
From the moment I woke up, to the moment I pulled open the car door was likely under 180 seconds, but felt like an eternity. Opening the car door, checking under the car, and sweeping the property felt like hours. A quick jiggle of the keys in the ignition stopped the car from it's maniacal self starting attempt, and a mechanic determined the next day that a wire had worn through it's insulation and shorted out somewhere, causing the old Cutlass to malfunction.
The scenario unfolded so quickly, no discussion or real plan was made. My dad and I both knew that firing on an unarmed person was out of the question, but we knew full well that if someone was stealing from us, so far from civilization, the person would be suicidal not to be armed to the teeth. By the time I reached the side of the car, I fully expected to have to kill whoever sat inside, and I felt no hesitation.
Looking back, it wouldn't have hurt to camp out for ten minutes with a shotgun trained on the car, and waited until the battery died. But it would still have resulted in needing to approach the vehicle personally. The only LEO in our area would take up to an hour to respond, if they would show at all.
So that is my story.