Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.
A woman was asleep in her bed when she heard her husband’s voice. She heard the sounds of a fight down the hall and her husband shout in pain. She rolled out of bed and grabbed the gun they keep between the mattresses. She moved toward the center of the house where she saw several men beating her husband. At least one of the intruders was armed. The armed man hit her husband with his gun, and then pointed the gun at her. The defending woman shot one of the attackers several times. All three intruders ran from the home and drove away.
Police arrested one of the attackers at a nearby hospital and arrested a second man soon after. The attackers were charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Each was held in jail on a hundred thousand dollars bail.
Our defender did a lot of things right during a very difficult situation. It is hard to face a lethal threat when you’re roused from sleep, but hearing your spouse shout in pain is a powerful stimulant. Being hit in the head with a gun can kill you, so our defender’s husband faced a lethal, immediate, and unavoidable threat. The wife saw and also recognized that threat. The husband faced a disparity of force since he was attacked by several armed men. If the husband was seated or kneeling on the ground, then he also was in an inferior defensive position. The wife also has the right to aid an innocent third party, so she, like her husband, could respond with lethal force in defense. It is difficult to shoot an attacker when they are grabbing an innocent party we don’t want to shoot, but our defender did it. Also, our defender stopped shooting as the attackers ran away. She called 911 and stayed at the scene. She gave a description that allowed the police to arrest the attacker at the hospital.
She might have saved her husband’s life, and it is common to need stitches if not surgery following an attack like this. I’m glad she was armed.
There are several things we can learn from their experience. The news report called it a forced entry, but the report failed to mention a broken door or window. That sounds like the front door could have been unlocked so the attackers had an immediate entry with a minimum of warning. We want to lock our doors. The sound of a breaking door is an instant alarm and it buys us time to react. It is visible evidence to the police that the attackers were not invited into the home. To give us more time, we can add a motion-activated light and chime outside our door. Often, we can do that even if we’re renting the house.
The firearm between the mattresses was “in use” the same way a fire extinguisher is “in use” as it sits in its rack on the wall. Both a fire extinguisher and a firearm are critical tools that will be needed immediately for defense. We keep the fire extinguisher charged and we should keep the firearm loaded as it sits “in use”. Unlike the fire extinguisher, the self-defense firearm should be secure from unauthorized users when it is not being carried. The good news is that a secure and loaded firearm can be available in seconds. The bad news is that seconds can be an eternity.
The wife was asleep, so it is entirely understandable that she was disarmed. If the husband was awake and dressed, then he could have been and should have been, armed with his defensive tools. I bet he is today.
Defending an innocent person from a lethal threat should not be a fair fight. Our defender was under no duty to retreat, in part because her retreat would have increased the risks to her husband. The wife did not need to announce herself to the attackers. She did not need to step into the lighted center of the home where the bad guys could see her. She did not need to wait until the attackers threatened her with a gun before she defended herself and her husband. She is lucky she wasn’t shot.. and we don’t want to depend on luck.
Note that her shots stopped the attack, but it was a “psychological stop” rather than physically incapacitating the attackers so they could not continue. It is a difficult shot when attackers are moving and or next to an innocent party. There is no mention if she fired additional shots in her home that missed her attackers.
In a similar situation, we could shoot from the darkened bedroom or hallway. The risk is that another innocent party might step into the line of fire. What we can do, and what we should do might be in conflict. Now is the time to study the laws of self-defense in your state so you know how you may act. Practice armed defense so you know what you can do in an emergency.
If you can, get training on shooting in low-light conditions.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.