At The Door

Let’s talk about home defense for a bit. Yes, I am shifting gears from competition for my next few posts. After delving deeper into my own situation and thinking about potential outcomes from what I experienced the other night, I have some thoughts that I felt were worth sharing. I offer them for what they are worth.

The Personal Defense Narrative

When a person buys a gun, they seldom plan on not using it. No matter the reason you purchased a firearm, you probably planned on shooting it, unless you are a high-end cork sniffing collector – but even some collectors like to shoot their guns! So many times people “know what they will do” when someone breaks in to their house.  They have created their own personal defense narrative and it normally involves shooting the intruder.

Unfortunately I feel this might lead to problems. When planning your own household defense  should you really imagine someone breaking into your house?  Might you better served imagining ALL probable “bump in the night” scenarios with a solid basis in reality.

Let me offer a scenario; a noise At The Door:

You awake to a noise outside your house. Might someone be there? Maybe, but the fact you heard someone or something doesn’t necessarily mean you are facing harm? Nevertheless, in your head you have played out this scenario countless times and at 3am, it can only be a bad guy, there is no other option. You’re sure of it!

You grab your gun and go investigate only to realize that someone (or something) is trying to beat down your door. Fearing for your life, (or that of your family,) you aim at the door with your firearm and yell STOP! You are greeted with a torrent of obscenities. Assured in the fact your personal narrative is correct you aim, you take a deep breath and pull the trigger.  You open the door to horror.

Congratulations! You fired your weapon at an unknown target and have either wounded someone or worse. Your narrative convinced you it was the only choice you had.

But let’s back up. What if it wasn’t a thug, but instead it was your neighbor? Perhaps he was drunk, disoriented and making a racket at your door because “their” key wasn’t working in “their” door. But, but, what about the swearing? Maybe it was directed at the lock, or maybe they thought you were pulling a bad joke on him. After all, he thought it was “his” house.

Before you comment that my scenario couldn’t happen, make sure you first tell that to the family of Carter Albrecht. This excerpt from the article linked in his name explains it all:

“He was shot to death as he tried to kick in a neighbor’s door in an apparent drunken rage after beating his girlfriend, police say. The neighbor reportedly thought Mr. Albrecht was a burglar and fired a pistol up high through the back door as a warning. The shot hit the 6-foot-4-inch Mr. Albrecht in the head instead.”

Was the late Mr. Albrecht a nice guy? I am not sure, I never met him. The article alleges he beat his girlfriend. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, I don’t know those facts. Did he deserve to die? I would say the odds are in favor of, NO. The take away is you should NEVER assume.

In both the scenario I offered, and in the actual event I linked, Jeff Cooper’s Rule #2 and #4 were disregarded with disastrous results. The end result was a needless death, and a shooter that will live with a horrible guilt the remainder of his life. Why?  Because the person holding the gun never took the time, on a peaceful day when there was time, to explore the possibilities and their options.

The takeaway is simple, you must know what is there; but you must gather information without exposing yourself. There are many different ways to accomplish that and I hope to review them in a later post; but before I do I have some thoughts on the noise inside of your house that I will review in my next post.

Before I sign off, let’s review Jeff Cooper’s 2nd Rule

NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DESTROY – You may not wish to destroy it, but you must be clear in your mind that you are quite ready to if you let that muzzle cover the target.

And Jeff Cooper’s 4th Rule

BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET – You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.

Revised January 4, 2016 for typo – ed.


  1. “He was shot to death as he tried to kick in a neighbor’s door in an apparent drunken rage after beating his girlfriend, police say.”

    Yah, that’ll do it.

  2. I understand what you’re trying to say, and to make people think about how they prepare. But honestly, I feel like I should be reading this on a pro gun control site, where they think all gun owners are paranoid cowboys with itchy trigger fingers….even though nothing could be further from the truth. Speaking for concealed carriers (whom are extremely law abiding as a whole) and gun owners in general, we don’t assume that every noise or “bump” in the night is a violent criminal looking to break in and slaughter our family. We are ordinary people with spouses and children. Seeing as how they are the reason we own and carry firearms (because we feel responsible for their safety), we know that using a firearm is a LAST resort. Because neither being in prison for a bad shoot, nor bankrupt from the legal process for a good shoot, helps our family. Yes, better than being dead, but our family drives our decisions. So I know it wasn’t intended in your article, but it was somewhat offensive to imply that gun owners are just waiting for a bad guy to come through the front door so we can “use” that gun we bought. Good examples of people justifiably defending themselves happen daily. This bad shoot that you ponder in your article, is extremely uncommon.

    1. As a concealed carry holder for 10 years, I fully understand how law abiding 99.9% of us are; but I also have heard some incredibly poor comments and advice by people that are either Gung Ho (Tactical Timmy), or ignorant. Bubba’ at the gun shop telling patrons “just shoot’em outside and drag’em in” or “if they were poking around my house I’d kill’em; we got the Castle Doctrine man.”

      Ultimately, the point of the article was to make you think about your own training, precautions and plans. What you tell yourself influences your actions. Ask any competitive shooter if they have ever told themselves “don’t hit the no-shoot, don’t hit the no-shoot” over and over in their head, only to immediately shoot the no-shoot.

      The entire article was based on outside of the house and can be boiled down to Jeff Coopers 4th rule, Be Sure of Your Target. I don’t find that to be anti-gun at all.

      My next article will address the intruder that is inside, I hope you read and comment on it as well. A frank discussion is never a bad thing.

      1. I appreciate the response, and perhaps I took some of the wording in the article the wrong way. I too have heard the ignorant grand-standing comments to which you refer, but I take them as nothing more than that…just talk. Some guy puffing his chest out in front of others. But your point of “What you tell yourself influences your actions” is valid and worth people contemplating.

        Perhaps I’m overly defensive these days, because it seems all too often gun owners are attacking each other for having differing opinions. “Open carriers hurt our cause”, “Anything less than .45 ACP isn’t worth carrying, “what do you mean you don’t carry in the shower?”, on and on. We need to come together, respect each other’s right to exercise the 2nd Amendment in the way we see fit, and stand against those that are trying to strip that right from us. Because there are plenty of true enemies out there.

        You are correct, open and frank discussion is a good thing…as long as it’s respectful. I look forward to your next article.

  3. I think the article is very appropriate. Gun owners and carriers are ordinary people… and ordinary people are mistake prone. They wreck their cars and kill themselves and others, they fall off ladders, they cut off fingers with power tools. They shoot themselves & other hunters while hunting. Most of these tragedies can be traced back to they didn’t follow established safety Rules.
    Let’s go a couple steps farther in a scenario. You wake up from a dead sleep and someone is in your bedroom and all you can see is the flashlight… Is it an intruder? Or a loved one? Be safe think about the possibilities beforehand.

  4. I just saw these stats on Tactical Professor website: according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, US car crashes killed 22,383 vehicle occupants in 2013 and injured 2,099,000.

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