You’re started awake by the sound of breaking glass. You get out of bed, grab your gun, and walk into the center of your home. You see an intruder in your home. You raise your firearm and shout for him to get out. The intruder turns and runs.
You lower your firearm and call 911. You give the police a description of the intruder.
The police arrest your intruder a few blocks away. He had a very busy morning. He is charged with two counts of carjacking along with home invasion, and it is only 5 AM.
Our defender did a lot of things the right way. To begin, his doors and windows were locked. That was the difference between hearing a robber break into his home and waking up with someone standing over him. Our good guy was armed. He recognized a threat and decided he had time not to shoot. That shows good judgment. He saw that the intruder was not an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat.
Despite what the media would have us believe, we and our neighbors are wonderfully reluctant to use lethal force. Usually, the bad guy decides he doesn’t want to get shot and runs away when he sees an armed victim. Our good guy called the police even though he didn’t discharge his firearm. His information helped the police arrest the criminal.
There are a lot of details missing from the news account. We don’t know how the intruder left the home. They often leave the same way they came in, even though the nearest outside door might be right next to them. We don’t know if the intruder was armed. I’d like to know if the homeowner turned on the lights so he could identify the intruder, or did he use a flashlight.
We are fortunate to know about the common patterns of crime. When robbers come armed, they usually come in numbers. There is a driver, a robber, and a second robber who also acts as a lookout.
Unfortunately, we don’t know what is waiting for us outside our bedroom door. We might meet the kid next door who got drunk and stupid. On the other hand, if we see one intruder, we don’t know if there is another one hiding behind us at the other end of the house. We might walk into a dark room in the middle of our home and have armed intruders on both sides of us. That is how defenders get killed.
We win by not losing. We have the luxury of calling for help. For now, we expect the police to arrive in about 10 minutes. If you’re home alone, then you can defend yourself the way you planned and rehearsed. Grab your gun, your phone, and your flashlight. Lock your bedroom door and move to a position of safety. That is often behind the bed or a similar piece of furniture away from the door. Call 911 and give your address. Set the phone down so you have both hands free and you’re free of the distraction.
That position gives you an excellent chance to successfully defend yourself. You don’t need particularly fast or accurate shots to defend yourself because the only way the robber gets to you is by breaking through your bedroom door. You know where they will be as they come through the door, while they don’t know where you will be as you hide behind the bed.
Maybe you can’t stay in your bedroom because you want to protect other people in the home. Make a plan with your children. The plan should be simple. For example, if you hear a strange noise, then lock the door and hide under the bed until mom or dad comes for you. That doesn’t work in every situation. You would have to move to protect smaller children who are not mature enough to follow that plan.
It is good to know if someone is outside your home. Motion-activated lights and alarms are cheaper than ever. It is great to know if someone is inside your home. Modern alarm systems link their video right to your phone. It sounds foolish to say this, but modern alarm systems only work when we turn them on.
We want to call the police if we had an intruder in or near our home. You want to call 911 even if you didn’t shoot your gun. The first person to call 911 is considered the victim. Good guys call 911. Criminals will lie, and we want to avoid the situation where three young men say we pointed a gun at them as they walked down the street. Winning the race to the phone gives us a legal advantage.
You survived the physical fight. Now, like it or not, you are now in a legal fight. Even if you didn’t press the trigger, you were in a situation where you brought a lethal tool of self-defense. You may have to articulate why that was justified. 5 AM is the wrong time to formulate and present your legal defense. That is why we say little to the police. For now, call your lawyer and do what he says.
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.
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.