You and your partner are at home asleep in bed. You hear someone in your house. Both of you get up. One of you is armed. Both of you check on your baby and see a stranger standing near your child’s room. Your gun is up in a heartbeat. You order the intruder to stop. Your partner checks on the baby and calls the police.
You put your gun away when the police arrive. Both of you give the police a brief statement. Your intruder broke into your car and used the remote garage door opener to get into your garage and from there into your home.
Your intruder is charged with felony residential burglary. Your intruder is out on probation for a previous burglary and is held on a $100,000 bond.
Tag- no shots fired.
Our defenders must have been shocked to find a stranger standing inside their home next to your child’s room. Despite that extraordinary stress, the couple did an excellent job of defending themselves and their family. What makes this ordinary story so outstanding is that most of us do the right thing as we’re thrown into a highly emotional situation even after we were asleep only moments before.
I like that this couple was armed before they left their room. That saves time because it prevents us from having to retrace our steps back to the gun we keep in our bedroom. It also means we’re armed if we find an immediate threat. I like that the couple investigated the noise at night rather than ignoring it. I love that looking after their children were their top priority.
The defenders did not face an immediate and life-threatening situation so they did not press the trigger. They called 911 and kept in communication with the dispatcher until the police arrived. That is a great advantage of responding as a team so one of you can hold the gun at the low ready position and the other is free to do other things. We quickly run out of hands and attention if we have to check on our children and call the police as we hold an intruder at gunpoint.
Having a partner also makes things much safer as the partner meets the police as they arrive. They tell the police about the current situation and can help transfer control of the scene from the homeowner to the police. I’d be relieved to hear my partner say, ‘Honey, the policemen are here so we can put the gun down on the floor.’ That is infinitely better than having two cops shouting at me, ‘Drop the gun! Don’t move!’
Let me underscore that point. Homeowners get shot when they have a gun in their hands and turn around to face the police. Don’t do that.
The defenders also gave a brief statement to the police when they arrived. Good job.
The safest thing to do is to avoid the home intrusion in the first place. It doesn’t cost much to lock your doors and windows, particularly at night. Lock your truck so the vehicle alarm goes off if someone breaks into it. We don’t want to leave garage-door-remotes in our vehicles parked outside. Of course, we want to lock the door between the garage and our home. All that is free.
For a few dollars, we can add a simple motion detector inside our home. One time I found my young daughter walking up the driveway in front of our home in the middle of the night. It helps to know when the kids are up and about.
It costs a little more money and time, but I’d like both of you to have a firearm, a phone, and a flashlight on your side of the bed.
The biggest piece of your defense is a plan that you built together and practiced together.
Protecting our family at home is a common question in almost every firearms class. It comes up in the basic firearms safety class. It is the main focus in classes like self-defense in the home.
If I can put on my instructor hat for a minute, we don’t talk enough about not shooting. Have a plan to stop the intruder, but recognize that we won’t press the trigger most of the time when the bad guy either runs away or stops and surrenders. We can practice not shooting as we dry-practice our presentation at home. We can also practice at the range. We can decide to not shoot as we present, as we press out, and even once we’ve touched the trigger. About 80 percent of our armed defense incidents will end without the defender having to press the trigger.
The news report didn’t cover it, but we have to identify our target before we even know what to do with our gun. Yes, we want to stop an armed intruder in our home. No, we don’t want to shoot a drunk relative who shows up unannounced. That means we should turn on the lights so we can see what is going on.
The law is pretty clear about when we can use lethal force. We do so to protect innocent parties when a lethal threat is immediate and unavoidable. Having a plan keeps us from fumbling around in the dark. Turn on the lights as you practice your safety plan.
Castle doctrine laws may apply in your state. They usually remove the duty to retreat. They assume that an intruder intends to do harm. Castle doctrine laws can be extremely useful in a legal defense. Know what your state law says about it. Castle doctrine or no, we don’t want to shoot the co-ed who lives next door and came home drunk to pass out on our couch.
I’ve never heard this covered in the news reports, but I want this couple to have bedside safes so their children can’t touch the firearms. I’ve seen small keypad-activated gun safes that open in a few seconds so the adults can get to their loaded firearms quickly.
-Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, at Second Call Defense, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.