Home Intruder Scenario
Let’s look at a likely and dangerous in-the-home short duration event: a home intrusion by an armed aggressor. In our blog “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” we talked about making your home defensible.
Let’s re-visit some of those points.
► How quickly could a burglar enter your home? If it is just breaking a window, this comes down to seconds. Look at your home layout and see what you can do to make it more difficult for the intruder to actually get inside. Exterior doors should be solid and have at least one deadbolt. Ground level windows might need bars or a grill.
► How much noise will result when a burglar tries to enter your home? If you have an alarm system, this may deter an intruder once the alarm trips. Little lap dogs that go crazy when anyone enters your home (even friends and family) are worth their weight in gold (I have two). If the intruder’s entry trips the alarm, the dog(s) start going berserk, it gives you time to wake up and react for a more determined threat and lets the intruder know that he does not have the element of surprise on his side. If all goes well, the intruder is spooked and departs; you call 911 and the police arrive to keep you awake for three hours while they write a report. You can make some coffee now, the boys in blue will appreciate it.
Bottom line is if it takes longer for an intruder to enter, as he is trying to enter (there is a lot of noise going on in the house) most burglars will seek a different target.
So let’s talk about the intruder, that for whatever reason, is not deterred. You need to assume that your life is in danger...grave danger. And since when seconds count, the police are only minutes away: Every adult in your home should own and know how to use a pistol. I bought my wife a .380 Ruger LCP and put a Crimson Trace laser aimpoint on it. The laser is turned on when you grip the gun, red dot is on what you plan to destroy.
Your guns should be easily and quickly accessible from your bed (for every adult in the house with a gun). If guns are scary to you or you worry about children getting access (or the law requires) they can be in a gun safe or have a gun lock. When you need it, you will need it quickly so rehearse how you wake up, unlock your gun, load it and get ready to put it in action. You need to rehearse how you get access to your gun. Visualize each step required to take the gun from being locked up to loaded and ready. Walk through each step and gradually increase your speed. Practice it several times a day, it has to become a muscle memory that you can do while half awake. Because when you have to do this for real, that is not the time to be thinking “where did I put that gun lock key?”
Once you have your gun ready, you have reduced your vulnerability. You can now call 911 with your non-shooting hand (plan this call – what essential elements of information do you want to convey to the police? Your situation – someone has broken into my home, your location – your address or your status – you are armed and you are investigating the break-in). Getting the police on the way may reduce the duration of this event and get the authorities on the scene. But you can’t be sure how long it will take for them to arrive. At this point, you are the master and commander of your own destiny until they get there.
Above I just mentioned that you are using your gun to destroy something. If someone has broken into my home, I am not going to be asking a lot of questions about his or her intent (“Oh, you are just here to rob me? No worries, I am going back to sleep. I keep the valuables in the den. Thanks for stopping by.”) You can escalate through several steps to make them aware that you are armed: verbal challenge like “stop or I will shoot”, presentation of the weapon (they can see that you are armed), and then engagement. But here is my advice: defend yourself and then call a lawyer. Several states have the “king in his castle” rule. Get familiar with the laws in your state about home intrusion.
While I strongly urge all of you that own guns to get familiar with their operation and improve your marksmanship. It would be wonderful if you can disable an intruder with a well-placed non-lethal shot… but your primary concern should be with your own self-defense and the protection of your family. In the Army, we use to practice two shots to the torso and one to the head. I saw the Diplomatic Security Service use a slightly different two-to-the-torso and one-to-the-pelvis (which I initially thought was kind of under handed but a round in the pelvis area will deflect off bone and will very likely do a lot of damage that will immediately drop and disable your target). In this instance, you will be making a split second decision.
Remember that gun lights and flashlights may help you spot the intruder but they also broadcast your location. You know your home better than they do. Use this knowledge and the darkness to your advantage.
So I have focused on the head of household actions but let’s talk about other adults in the home and then children. If you have several armed family members, each member should have an assigned sector of the house to cover and a limit of advance – you don’t want to engage your own family members. Remember bullets may travel through interior walls. Develop your plan and rehearse it. Children should know what to do while you defend the home. That might mean getting under cover or concealment in their own room and not coming out until you give them the “all clear”. You may have them move to another room where the family will consolidate. What is key is that each family knows what the other is going to do in this situation.
If you know where the intruder is and can keep him/her pinned down, ensure your family is secure and wait for the police. If you don’t know where the intruder is but your family is secure, you can wait for the police or you can sweep through your home to ensure it is secure (the intruder may have fled). If you have already neutralized an intruder, remember to keep pulling security until you have been able to sweep the house or the police have arrived and they take over the scene because there may be another intruder that you were unaware of.
So in Summary using our four phases
► Review points of entry, upgrade to prevent easy access (make the intruder spend some time and/or make some noise).
► Install an alarm or get a dog that will bark at intruders.
► If you don’t have one, get a weapon (pistol or shotgun), get familiar with the loading, operation, and unloading of the weapon.
► Store the weapon in accordance with your level of comfort and local laws.
► Practice getting the weapon out of storage and ready for action.
► Develop and rehearse your home intruder response plan with all members of the family, include what information you will relay in a 911 call.
► Upon hearing the alarm, assume your intruder is determined. Wake up and get your weapon ready for action.
► Once your weapon is ready, call 911. Calmly relay the necessary information.
► All family members begin their actions according to the response plan.
► Secure your family
► Neutralize the threat
► Sweep the remainder of the house
► Await the arrival of the police, render a report
► Assess any damage to the home, plan repairs
► Return your weapons to their storage spots
► Give Fido a Milk Bone biscuit and pat him or her on the head
De Oppresso Liber