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.