When it comes to exercising the right of self-defense against outside intruders from within a private residence, the first weapon most Americans chose is a shotgun.
And while an expert marksman who is well-trained and experienced in the use of handguns or long guns for close-quarter combat might select a gun other than a shotgun, it’s hard to argue against shotguns as the best weapon for home defense.
Still, no matter what weapon you select for home defense, it is critical to think through and practice how you will respond and potentially use your weapon in various home defense scenarios.
Here’s a case in point as reported by KTTV FOX 11 this week in,“Home invasion attempt stopped by woman with a shotgun.”
“’I’m not a sitting duck,’ says Carla. She prefers to keep her last name private. Carla is a Cheviot Hills (California) homeowner who scared away burglars when she grabbed her shotgun and fired.
“Carla told us her dog woke her up when he started barking. She looked outside and saw a man in her backyard, another waiting by a car.
“Carla wasted no time. Wearing her nightgown, she went outside and fired once toward the ground. Carla says, it was just to scare them off. It worked. The two suspects ran back to a white sedan and drove off.
“Carla says she heard one of them screaming, ‘Crazy b**ch has a gun!!’”
According to KTTV, local detectives said two homes had already been burglarized by two men when they were about to hit Carla’s place.
“As they tried to gain access to the home, 59-year-old Carla came out with her shotgun.
“She says, ‘You have to at some point in time, take responsibility for your own safety and that’s all I was doing.’”
Personally, I admire Carla and the intent behind her response. If we had more Americans with the courage and determination of Carla, we’d have fewer punks burglarizing homes.
Professionally, I need to offer a few words of legal caution and offer a safer way to respond tactically if you find yourself in a similar situation. After all, in any life-threatening situation, you want to be the one who comes away alive.
First, the legal caution.
While I don’t know the relevant law in California or the local jurisdiction where Carla lives – and since I’m not a lawyer, I won’t offer specific legal advice – I do know that in many states and localities it is illegal to fire warning shots, even in your yard or home. So, if you own a gun, be sure you know the law for your state and locality when it comes to discharging a gun in various scenarios – including warning shots.
That doesn’t mean you might not decide to fire your weapon in a manner that might be technically illegal if the circumstances lead you to believe that breaking the law is necessary to protect your life or the life of someone else in your home.
It does mean you’ll be better able to explain to your attorney (after any discharge of a gun, do not speak to the police until you’ve spoken with a competent attorney) why you chose the course of action you did. Presumably, that reason will be because you were in fear of serious bodily harm or death if you did not fire your weapon to stop the threat.
Now, let’s talk tactics.
By physically going outside into the yard, Carla exposed herself to additional danger. In other words, it is quite possible the burglars could have shot or overpowered Carla before she was able to act. In fact, there could have been more than the two criminals Carla saw from her windows. In short, Carla increased the threat to her physical safety instead of decreasing it.
Remember, no matter how clearly you can see the individual(s) posing a threat to your safety, that individual may have a weapon that you haven’t observed or may be physically able to harm you with his hands and feet. Therefore, the first rule is to seek or maintain cover as a means toward reducing your exposure to danger.
In this particular situation, Carla would have been better advised to:
1) Call the police and stay inside with the inside lights off – and outside lights turned on – as she monitored what the burglars were doing outside. Almost always, by turning the outside lights on, burglars will run away. (I’ll discuss actual home invasion defense in an upcoming advisory)
2) Be prepared to use her gun (in this case a shotgun) from a covered position within her home if the burglar(s) force entry and she is in fear of serious bodily harm or death.
3) Don’t fire a warning shot. While it may “feel” or “seem” like the better course of action, in actuality it could have placed her and other family members and innocent bystanders in greater danger.
4) Fire at the burglars from a position of cover as soon as she decided she or others in her home (Carla’s mother was in the home) were under threat of serious bodily harm or death because the burglar(s) had entered her home.
5) Continue to fire until the threat is stopped.
Again, I’ll admit that I personally applaud Carla’s courage and determination.
I also recognize that it’s easier to offer advice on how Carla should have responded when I wasn’t there. I’ll even admit that when I lived in Washington, D.C., and I was faced with a situation where a violent man was trying to force entry into my home while family and friends were present, my best friend and I tactically chose to fight the potential intruder outside in the street while waiting for the police – a story I’ll share in detail in the near future.
But, the purpose of these advisories is to offer you the best overall advice and to get you thinking and preparing for how you will handle various situations that can threaten differing aspects of your well-being.
So think about the scenario Carla was confronted with and decide how you will handle a similar situation if it ever happens at your home.
Finally, send me an email and let me know what you think. Did Carla do the right thing? How would you respond? My email address is [email protected]
Be safe and secure,