Home Defense Checklist
As an NRA and state certified instructor, I realize that personal defense is deadly business.
As a professional I check my gear on a regular basis. I have a program for keeping up with my personal handgun, concealment leather, spare magazines and edged weapons. I am certain that all are worn properly and accessible when going about my daily business. Most of us have a similar program. But when it comes to home defense, most of us are less prepared. We are awakened by a sound in the night. It may be a bump, it may be glass shattering, or it may be a takeover robbery in the early stages. We fumble for our handgun. Is the chamber loaded? Do I need to cock it? Where is my light?
Personal defense in the home is different than personal defense on the street. You may be highly aware on the street. In the home you are more relaxed or even asleep. Many of the tragic depredations by our protein fed, ex-con criminal class occur in the home. In a home defense situation the range is short and gunhandling is more important than marksmanship.
Practice must be applicable to the problem. Being able to stand and deliver a gunload into a man-sized target is fine as far as it goes, but dealing with a shadowy figure that is shooting back is another matter. Thugs are operating in teams in increasing numbers and there is simply no room for error. You must prepare for the worst. This means running likely scenarios through your mind and practicing your reaction.
There is no need for live fire in the home; you have practiced often enough at the range. Finding a structure that approximates the home on the range is ideal, but you need to practice tactical movement in the home. Tripping and falling over furniture should not happen in the place you are most familiar with. You also need to have a plan to bring the sidearm into an advantageous position. It should not be a challenge simply to find the handgun.
Let’s look at the likely adversary. While the law sometimes isn’t clearly in favor of the home defender, many homeowners do not completely understand the law. Regardless of where you live, study the law carefully. As an example of local mores, the common prowler isn’t always even charged with a crime. Attempted burglary is a rather difficult charge to prove. Trespass is a misdemeanor at best. Those outside of the home are prowlers and they simply do not constitute the same level of threat as someone who is breaking into the home.
It is not a good idea to step out of the home and confront a prowler. They may be out to steal something, they may be looking for entry, but do not expose yourself to such danger. They are possibly on drugs or in a drunken state. Confronting these individuals will escalate the situation and make it more difficult for both the police and for your family to handle the situation. It is a much better idea tactically to stay in the home and take a position that gives you a clear field of fire. Avoid target markers such as standing in the doorway silhouetted by light. Be prepared to illuminate the target.
The 911 call is important. If you have a prowler, officers will respond. Ask the dispatcher to tell you the officer’s names or call letter. When they knock on the door you will be able to confirm they are indeed the cops. That is pretty important. There are gangs pretending to be peace officers to gain access to a home. While we like to think we will not be fooled, some of these gangs are very good at what they do. Always call 911 to confirm the identity of anyone wishing to gain access to your home.
Another good clue for home defenders is to keep a handgun ready on the person at all times. While this is a tall order, if you are serious about security consider the advantage of being constantly armed. At the least, several handguns stashed about the home are an advantage (provided they are only accessible by trained, responsible adults).
At this point, we need to discuss safety versus access. If you have small children in the home you must be certain that the handgun is secure against their inquisitive nature. The gun safe is perhaps not the best idea for the ready gun. After all, if you are in a hurry and punch in the wrong code the safe will lock you out for fifteen minutes—not a good place to be.
As one example, my grandson is three years old. His arms are short and he is not strong enough to lift a mattress. Having a pistol in the middle of the mattress makes it safe from his busy hands. (Not that he wanders around unescorted; after all, kitchen knives and a hot stove may also be present.) But when I prepare for rest at night I do not leave the piece under the mattress. That would seriously impede access. Rather, I move it to the edge of the mattress or where it will be accessible.
The Night Sentry from Diamond Products is another excellent option. You simply take the holster you have worn all day and mount it on the Diamond Products holster that is slipped under the mattress. Other options: loop a holster belt and holster over the bed. Be aware that one hand will stabilize the holster while the other will draw the gun. This is a trade off between speed and accessibility.
Another question: when is the gun lock applied? When the gun is stored or at all times it is not on the body? Better practice unlocking the piece if you think you will have it locked when off the body. Think hard about home readiness and remain alert to danger. You owe yourself no less.
When an intruder comes to your home you are the first line of defense for your family. The police are the second line of defense. You must be prepared to react responsibly and decisively. Have a plan in place. Practice obtaining the handgun or long gun. Practice making it ready. Your life, and your family’s lives, may hinge on your intelligent preparation.
[ R K Campbell is an author with over 40 years shooting experience and more than 30 years police and security experience. He is the author of three books and hundreds of magazine articles. He devotes his time to learning more about personal defense and the human situation. ]