By 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.