Home Defense: Use Your Brain Before Your Gun!
Note: Before reading check out my Brainfighting v Gunfighting article. It addresses mindset and knowledge which is more important than having a gun. After reading that you will understand some of the items I reference in this article.
When it comes to come home defense, I hear people say "I have a gun, i'm good". Wow, that is a horrible mindset. Is it good to have a gun for home defense? For me it is, for you I am not sure. With proper training it is an asset in my opinion. But there is so much more to a home defense plan than simply having a gun. There is mindset, knowledge, practice, medical and actually having a plan. It has to be something you work on consistently and that your family, if you have one, knows well. Communication is key here. I look at a home defense plan this way. You have phases like this: problem, confirmation, communication, reaction, conclusion, lawyer. So lets discuss my opinion in detail now.
EXAMPLE SITUATION In the past we had someone, probably on drugs, try to enter our house at 2am. I heard the sound of our front door trying to be opened. I grabbed my pistol, I had a 1911 at the time I was using for home defense. My family was upstairs. My wife called the police and then went to our children's rooms. We did not wake them as the situation did not require that response. I stood on the steps to our upstairs, standing between the potential intruder and my family. I watched the door and was going through the plan to respond I came up with as I awoke to the situation. I figured it was someone on drugs or drunk at the wrong house. They tried to enter to door for a few minutes. These minutes felt longer than a few minutes, but they were there just a few minutes. My wife was looking out windows and had seen at one point the person shuffled down the street away from our house. We had called the police and informed them there was someone wandering around and trying to enter homes. So we saw the police find him down the road and address the situation. Now could I have handled that situation differently? Sure. I could have yelled through the door at the guy, and made the sitation worse. But you have to see what is present in your situation. He wasn't beating down the door, if anything he seemed like a zombie. So I knew he wasn't a foreign assassin coming to collect on a contract on my head.
PROBLEM This is the waking up and sensing something is not right. It could be hearing something, someone standing over your bed, an explosion, fire, etc. There is some problem that needs addressed. Once you have suspicion, do not ignore it. Investigate it. Not every situation requires a firearm, that is up to the individual to determine. But if it is something that does, then strap on your home defense firearm. Every situation is different and there are some that do not require direct action. I recommend you go to a home defense course and learn ways to address situations. In the situation above I woke up and realized someone was trying to enter my home. Knowing that they were "trying" to get inside I assumed no one else was inside our home. In that house we only had a front door, so it wasn't breached. My evaluation was someone was not in the house but was trying to enter. That was the problem.
CONFIRMATION After realizing there was a problem I went to the window to confirm what was going on outside. I looked out and saw the person at our door grabbing the knob trying to get inside. They were not of sound mind and did not have a weapon in their hands. After that I grabbed my 1911 and worked through a action plan. I chose to watch this individual from a position of power if they were to breach the door, our stairs. This is something you will learn at courses, positions of power. Where is the best place to be to set yourself up for success. One thing you will learn at a home defense course, stairs are the worst situation possible if you have to go up them with someone above you. In this case I was in the opposite situation and had the power.
COMMUNICATION I told my wife to call the police on her cell phone and tell them someone was wandering around possibly drunk or on drugs trying to open doors to homes. I then told her to go to the kids room after she calls and where I would be, on the stairs. The point of home defense is not to escalate if not needed. I am not sure what was in the guys coat or on his person. Knowing that sometimes people on drugs can be violent and since they are on drugs can be very difficult to control and erratic. The situation was presented to me to observe and plan if the situation changed to a violent one. Now I said I told my wife to call the police and then go to the kids room. We already have gone over this, we have plans in place. She knew that, but in stressful situations people can forget. So working as a team to get through the situation is key, even if it is just reminders. It is also a time to push feelings aside. If someone is short with you get over it. Time is not on your side if someone is trying to harm you. That does not mean be a dick on purpose, it means short communication might be the best communication in some situations.
REACTION My reaction was to evaluate and observe the person who was trying to enter our home. As I said before there was no reason to escalate the situation. He was not yelling or banging on the door. He was trying to open the door with the knob and bumping the door lightly. This does not mean you do not plan for the worst, you very much so do, but you do not make the situation worse. This is where the dick measuring contest kicks in. Some people want to say something like "I would have yelled at him blah, blah, blah.". The situation did not dictate an overly aggressive response, so therefore I responded as the situation dictated. Address the problem with the amount of violence needed. If someone is standing over your bed with a gun, you better provide some immediate violence of action. In the situation I referenced, I evaluated an overly violent reaction was not warranted.
CONCLUSION The situation concluded when the gentleman was addressed by police down the street. In an opposite type situation you could have been shot or shot someone. If you have to shoot someone in home defense you ask for your lawyer. Remember anything you say can be used against you. You are not obligated to talk without a lawyer. Even if you are fully in the right with defending your home, do not feel obligated to talk without your lawyer. Adam Kraut (Firearms Law Attorney) once commented on one of my FaceBook posts with the following: "The best thing to do is keep your mouth shut until you speak to a lawyer. Saying something at the onset isn't going to help you any more than keeping quiet.".