You are at home with your girlfriend. It is just after noon when you hear someone at the front door. It is your girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. You don’t open the door. Your girlfriend has called the cops on this guy before, and she calls 911 again. You and your girlfriend retreat upstairs. Before the police arrive, the ex-boyfriend breaks through the front door. You shout for him to stop.
You have your Michigan concealed pistol license. You’re armed. You shout again and you shoot the intruder as he reaches the top of the stairs leading to your bedrooms. Now your attacker stops.
Your girlfriend is on the phone with 911. You wait for the police and put your gun back in your holster. Emergency Medical Services declare your intruder dead at the scene. You show the police your ID, your carry permit, and the registration for your firearm. The police take your gun as evidence. You and your girlfriend go to the police station to give statements. Then, you go back home.
Domestic violence happens every day so this could be us or someone we know. Assaults in the home are common and happen thousands of times a day. Assault in the daytime is common too. Few of us know when we’ll be attacked and the defenders in this story reacted with little time to prepare.
Look at what they did to improve their situation. They were not surprised by the ex-boyfriend barging into their home. They had a warning because their doors and windows were locked. They retreated up the stairs as she called 911 and got the police on the way. The armed defender used verbal commands to try and avoid a physical confrontation. He stopped the advancing attacker at the top of the stairs. The couple stayed on the call with 911 and stayed at the scene. They also gave a brief statement to the police.
The news reports are always incomplete, but let’s look at the problems they avoided. They could have gone outside to confront the ex-boyfriend. We could sympathize with that response since no one likes it when someone is banging on your front door. Not only is it physically harder to defend yourself in public, but it is also much harder to defend yourself legally when you closed the distance to your attacker. Closing the distance with an antagonist looks like you starting a gunfight.. with an unarmed man.
The couple could have stayed downstairs and fought with the intruder after he broke in through the front door. Consider that the intruder might not be alone and might be armed. The intruders could move toward your loved one after they break-in. Now you’re left with the tough problem of trying to stop several moving targets while not shooting the people you love.
In fact, the couple retreated up the stairs and did not go back down to confront the ex-boyfriend. (We can’t tell from the news reports, but it could have been that they were already upstairs when the ex-boyfriend arrived.) That position upstairs gave them a large defensive advantage. Look at your home. Rather than confront an intruder in the open, it is easier to defend a doorway. Better yet is a hallway or the top of the stairs. From that position, a lone defender could stop a team of attackers even if the defender was a poor shot. Remember that you don’t have to stand at the top of the stairs and expose yourself to an armed attacker. Consider crouching at the back of the hallway at the top of the stairs so only part of your face and a gun barrel is visible from below. From there, you can see them but they can barely see you.
Being on the phone with 911 is also a huge advantage. 911 calls are recorded so you have evidence that you shouted for the attacker to stop. You have evidence that you told the intruder that you were armed and to not come up the stairs. The recording also has you asking for police and emergency medical services. Your case of self-defense gets better when the arriving officers notice that the front door was locked, and the intruder had to break through the door to gain entry.
That evidence looks more and more like you defending yourself and less and less like someone luring an ex-lover over to murder them. Police also noticed that you have your carry permit. That means you have a clean criminal record. You bought your firearm legally. That makes you different from the bad guy who got his gun from a criminal on the street corner. You also have a holster, and that indicates to officers that you are a legal gun owner. All that is to your advantage, now don’t mess it up.
Since you know you’ll be a mess, you can plan to say little.
Make a brief statement to the officers when they arrive. Tell them that you are the people who called. Explain that you retreated and defended yourselves when the attacker moved towards you and you had no other avenue of escape. Say that you’ll testify if they prosecute your attacker. You’ll co-operate and answer all their questions.. after you talk to your lawyer. From there, it is really hard to keep breathing and say little.
Good guys survive an attack by doing many small things right and not losing.
If the police ask you to go to the station, then ask if a friend can drive you. Take a cab if you have to because you are a terrible driver at this moment. Don’t rehearse your answers with your girlfriend because that looks like you are trying to hide something from the police. Both of you need to talk to your lawyer. Your lawyer should ask for a recording of the 911 call.
Consider if your loved ones could defend themselves if you were not there. Maybe they should be armed as well.
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.