Shooting Through the Door is a Bad Idea

By Dean Weingarten

Shooting through the Door is a Bad Idea
Shooting through the Door is a Bad Idea
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Shooting through a door is usually a bad idea.  Your ability to see the target is often obscured or nonexistent, and it may be difficult to show that you believed that you were confronting a deadly threat.

Shooting through an inside door may be less problematic than one that is an entrance to a building that you are defending.

Interior doors  are usually of flimsy construction.  A person who has retreated to a bedroom or bathroom and who has locked the door may have less options than someone who is defending an entrance door.   If someone has already broken into a residence, they have shown themselves to be a threat.  This is the essence of the Castle doctrine in most states.

Shooting through a door violates one of the cardinal safely rules: Know your target and what is beyond it.

In a recent case in Las Vegas, the home owner, a fire department captain, was not prosecuted for firing through his door and severely wounding an innocent bystander.  Prosecutors ruled that his actions were reasonable, given the circumstances.   The “reasonable person” standard applies to what the person making the decision knew at the time, not what the reality was.  From reviewjournal.com:

“There need not be actual danger when somebody defends himself or herself,” the prosecutor said.

Whenever evidence of self-defense exists, Daskas explained, the burden shifts to prosecutors to disprove the claim. In this case, prosecutors determined they likely could not.

“We put ourselves in the shoes of the homeowner, and we ask ourselves, ‘Would a reasonable person in that situation have the right to defend himself and his family members from that apparent danger?’ ” Daskas said.

The shooting occurred at 2 a.m. in the morning.   The homeowner was awakened by the banging on the door.  The person banging on the door was from a nearby party, was intoxicated, and  and had left his car keys at the party.  He thought someone was playing a joke on him.   The shooting took place in a neighborhood where the houses were quite similar to each other.

The victim, who had also attended the party, was approaching the door to tell the other party attendee that he was at the wrong house, when the homeowner shot through the door, a few inches from the peephole.  In this case, the homeowner was sued by the victim.  A settlement was reached for the limit of the homeowner's insurance.

While shooting through the door was found to be justified in the above case, I do not recommend it.   You may not have a great deal of time once the integrity of the door is breached, but you will have some.   A damaged door, locks, or a broken window will go a long way to show that you were reasonable in your actions.  The use of deadly force is more easily justified when the intruder has partly penetrated your defenses.   A good example is this video from Idaho, where the intruder with a machete destroyed the entrance door as he forced entry.

If the attacker has fired through the door at you or others, it becomes clear that you face a deadly threat and are justified in firing back, as happened in another Las Vegas case from September of 2014.

If you are thinking defensively, a stout security door or a stand off barrier of some kind is a good solution.  They will give you more time, and an intruder who has breached them has shown a serious intent to violate the sanctity of your castle.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 7 thoughts on “Shooting Through the Door is a Bad Idea

    1. I had a similar incident happen to me.
      I was awakened one night by someone yelling and kicking the door to my apartment. I was armed, but instead of just shooting blindly through the door, like the idiot in this article did, I carefully (so that I wouldn’t be seen) peeked out a window adjacent to the door. What I saw was four people, two young men and two women, only one of which was shouting and kicking the door. I also noticed that none of them were armed, and they all appeared intoxicated. My guess was they were simply at the wrong apartment, just like the guy in the article. The last thing I was going to do was shoot at them through the door. The second to last thing I was going to do was open the door. I felt this could both escalate the situation and leave me more vunerable. So instead I simply raised the blinds to the windxow (I was standing at an angle next to the wall, not directly in front of the window) and pointed the gun at the guy doing all the door kicking and yelled “get the **** off my balcony”. Worked very well, they left immediately.
      I realize how having someone banging on your door aggressively at night can be unnerving, but that doesn’t mean you can just start randomly blasting away. I was on edge and very angry, but still maintained my composure and acted in a responsible manner. The fire chief on the other hand acted negligently and should have been prosecuted. I’m guessing being the fire chief he received special treatment. I’ll bet if I had just shot through my front door like the chief i would have been prosecuted.

    2. In the wake of Vice President Hairplug’s unfortunate remarks, I heard of a fantastic cartoon that perfectly illustrates the depth of his stupidity.

      A girl scout is knocking on a door with an arm full of cookies. She is throwing beads of sweat everywhere, shaking like a leaf, and has a look of sheer terror on her face.

      The caption below reads, “Gee, I sure hope this isn’t Joe Biden’s house!”

      I can’t find it anywhere. Ammoland should post it.

    3. So you recommend letting them in?

      You think it is good tactically to let the intruder break down the door (your first line of defense) and enter the house with freedom of movement and then, having surrendered the choke point, chase them around the house in the dark? I’ll go 1/2 way, knocking (even vigorously) is OK but once the door begins to succumb to the attack such as glass breaking or wood cracking the intruder has signeled his intent and is, in my state, already committing 1* Burglary (a felony). Nowhere does the Castle Doctrine require the defender to compromise his safety by allowing the intruder to BREACH the walls of the Castle.

    4. Never shoot through a door unless you know for sure the intended target is there.

      We are all responsible for each and every round fired and where each round comes to a rest.

      The Blade Runner made that fatal mistake by shooting his girlfriend through the bath door.

    5. The video has been removed from that site and from YouTube – “violating their policy on spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content.”

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