As an NRA- and state-certified instructor, I realize that personal defense is a deadly business. As a professional, I check my gear on a regular basis.
I have a program for keeping up with my personal handgun, concealment leather, spare magazines and edged weapons.
I am certain that all are worn properly and accessible when going about my daily business. Most of us have a similar program.
But when it comes to home defense, we may be less prepared. We are awoken by a sound in the night. It may be a bump, it may be glass shattering or it may be a take-over robbery in the early stages.
We fumble for our handgun. Is it chamber loaded? Do I need to cock it? Where is my light? Personal defense in the home is different than personal defense on the street.
You may be highly aware on the street. In the home, you are more relaxed (or even asleep). Many of the many tragic depredations by our protein-fed ex-con criminal class occur in the home.
Thus begins the home defense checklist. Here’s what is important when it comes to home defense (and what isn’t).
In a home defense situation, the range is short and gun handling is more important than marksmanship. Practice must be applicable to the problem.
Being able to stand and deliver a gun load into a man-sized target is fine as far as it goes, but dealing with a shadowy figure that is shooting back is another matter.
Home invaders are operating in teams in increasing numbers and there is simply no room for error. You must prepare for the worst.
This means running likely scenarios through your mind and practicing your reaction. There is no need for live fire in the home; you have practiced often enough at the range.
Finding a structure that approximates the home on the range is ideal, but you need to practice tactical movement in the home.
Tripping and falling over furniture should not happen in the place you are most familiar with. You also need to have a plan to bring the sidearm into an advantageous position.
It should not be a challenge simply to find the handgun.
Let’s look at the likely adversary. While the law sometimes isn’t clearly in favor of the home defender, many homeowners do not completely understand the law.
If you live in one of the People’s Republics in the Northern United States, study the law—especially red flag laws. If you are in a castle doctrine state such as Florida, study the law just as carefully.
As an example of local mores, the common prowler isn’t always even charged with a crime. Attempted burglary is a rather difficult charge to prove. Trespass is a misdemeanor at best.
Basically, make sure you’re informed of the law where you live.
Those outside of the home are prowlers and they simply do not constitute the same level of threat as someone who is breaking into the home.
It is not a good idea to step out of the home and confront a prowler. They may be out to steal something, they may be looking for entry, they may be a wandering drug or doper.
Do not expose yourself to such danger. They are possibly on drugs or in a drunken state.
Confronting these individuals will escalate the situation and make it more difficult for both the police and for your family to handle the situation.
It is a much better idea tactically to stay in the home and take a position that gives you a clear field of fire. Avoid target markers such as standing in the doorway silhouetted by light.
Be prepared to illuminate the target.
4. Due Diligence
The 911 call is important. If you have a prowler, officers will respond. Ask the dispatcher to tell you the officer’s names or call letter.
When they knock on the door, you will be able to confirm they are indeed the cops. That is pretty important. There are any number of gangs pretending to be peace officer to gain access to a home.
While we like to think we will not be fooled, some of these gangs are very good at what they do. Always call 911 to confirm the identity of anyone wishing to gain access to your home.
5. Accessible Defense
Another good clue for home defenders is to keep a handgun ready on the person at all times.
While this is a tall order, if you are serious about security, consider the advantage of being constantly armed. In the very least, several handguns stashed about the home are an advantage.
But then again, they should be in the safe when you are not home. It is morally and legally wrong to arm a burglar. I am not paranoid, but recently in a town north of me, this type of thing really hit home.
A man and wife about my age and a young neighbor were watching TV in their home. This is a quiet neighborhood, a good neighborhood we might say.
Some guy and his girlfriend broke into the home and in a horrific incident hacked the three to death with a machete. That is quite an attack and the scene was bloody and brutal.
Next, they ran to Florida and “befriended” a homeless man. He was homeless, like many (evidently due to mental illness), but drew a check and has a bank account.
They killed him for the few dollars on his pay card. The point is, a gun that is not-accessible-but-on-the-person is a good thing to have.
In another incident nearby, a burglar broke in. The homeowner rushed to the nightstand for his pistol. The felon beat him to the gun and killed the homeowner.
When an intruder comes to your home, you are the first line of defense for your family. The police are the second line of defense. You must be prepared to react responsibly and, if need be, decisively.
6. A Plan
Having a plan in place and having practiced obtaining the handgun or long gun and making it ready is important. At this point, we need to discuss safety versus access.
If you have small children in the home, you must be certain that the handgun is secure against their inquisitive nature. The gun safe is perhaps not the best idea for the ready gun.
After all, if you are in a hurry and punch in the wrong code, the safe will lock you out for fifteen minutes. Not a good place to be.
As one example, my grandson is three years old. His arms are short and he is not strong enough to lift a mattress. Having a pistol in the middle of the mattress makes it safe from his busy hands—not that he wanders around unescorted.
After all, kitchen knives and a hot stove may also be present. But when I prepare for rest at night, I do not leave the piece under the mattress. That would seriously impede access.
Rather, I move it to the edge of the mattress or where it will be accessible. There are various gun mounts for the bed that also work well.
You simply take the holster you have worn all day and mount it on the holder that is slipped under the mattress by the bed. A good option.
Others loop a holster belt and holster over the bed. Be aware that one hand will stabilize the holster while the other will draw the gun. This is a trade-off between speed and accessibility.
Another question people have: when is the gun lock applied? When the gun is stored or at all times, is it not on the body?
Better practice unlocking the piece if you think you will have it locked when off the body. Think hard about home readiness and remain alert to danger. You owe yourself no less.
Long guns are a good thing to have and the long gun is much more effective. A relatively short, fast-handling shotgun is the single most-effective home defense shotgun for those that practice.
Load it with Winchester reduced recoil buckshot and relax—the wound potential problem is solved in spades. Rifles are generally less suited to home defense, but can be appropriate at times.
Just the same, a quality .22 caliber rifle that all of the family are able to handle is a formidable option. A final option is perhaps something at the top of the list.
8. A Canine
An animal is a huge responsibility. They deserve an owner that is willing to train them and care for their needs sufficiently.
If you are away from home for long periods or do not have patience, they are not for you. Just the same the love and attention you give them is returned tenfold.
I would never wish to own a true attack dog; they are best reserved for patrolling compounds in Afghanistan.
Inadequate personality types often drift toward a snarling growling prosthesis for their own shortcomings and mistreat the animal, making it vicious.
A canine-type animal is the best burglar alarm ever. There are many breeds that make excellent companions, perhaps all raised properly do.
You simply need an alert. My animal isn’t a dog but a canine lupus dingo, the aboriginal animal that was present in the Americas when Europeans first landed.
While the coloring and her ability to move her paws in a different manner than true dogs—not to mention neck articulation to a far greater degree than most canines—is interesting, she is a first-class alarm and alert system.
She lets me know when UPS, FedEx or the mailman comes, or when someone is walking in front of the house. Dingos, in general, are capable of keeping an acre of land free of snakes, too, if that matters to you.
Her bark or demonstration is different for strangers and for family arrivals. The canine is far more efficient than any burglar alarm. As for actually defending the home—I doubt it.
A grown man can kick a 50-pound animal-like Lucy to death in a real fight.
But then again, the fellow attempting to break in doesn’t know that there isn’t an attack dog on the other side of the door because she is pretty loud and that draws a lot of attention.
Consider your options. There are many. The single most important weapon is a well-developed desire to protect the home. This is followed by training and preparation.
Would you add anything else to this list? What’s the most important thing for you when it comes to home defense? Let us know in the comments below.