All else has failed. The criminal element was not deterred but the detection tools have provided warning; now what? There is a common saying among the self-defense community: “If you can’t protect it, then you don’t own it.” Many well-off people in contemporary America work hard and acquire a large home and family, diligently securing their household for economic prosperity. Many such individuals, however, give no thought to the fact that a violent criminal actor could take it all away in an instant. Part of securing your household is having the tools and abilities to counteract a home invasion.
The center of a home defense plan is the use of a firearm. Only the gun provides the ability to overcome superior numbers or strength. A single mother, home alone with small children, stands no chance against multiple criminal invaders if she is unarmed. If armed with a firearm and savvy enough to take herself and her children to a defensible location in the home everything changes. The ability to overcome staggering odds is fostered through the skilled use of the gun. The firearm is the most viable defensive option for dealing with a violent home invasion.
However, recall the threat analysis covered in Part II of this series; not all home intruders are necessarily violent. Not every threat warrants being shot. What about the possibility of dealing with a drunk teenager who thinks he is forcing his way into his own home, but is entering yours by mistake? Such a situation could become threatening and demand a lethal response, but more likely it will not. What are other tools to consider for home defense?
Likewise, home security should encompass a fire safety plan. This article series focuses on security against criminal activity, and the threat of fire deriving from the criminal element is a possibility. Another consideration is the need for traumatic medical treatment in the aftermath of a home invasion for yourself or other household members. In addition, there is the important matter of your ability to contact and communicate with law enforcement during or after a home defense encounter. Let us delve further into each of these considerations:
Less Lethal Considerations in the Home
Again, not all threats require shooting. A drunk teenager from the neighborhood, who sneaks through your window thinking he is creeping back into his parents house, is probably not a violent threat. He may be, however, belligerent and turn aggressive. I am a proponent of having a riot sized canister of pepper spray, or even bear spray, available for quick access in the home. I know all of the couch commandos will chime in with “if it is in my house, it gets shot!” Well, if you kill the neighbor’s kid because of that mentality you will live with it the rest of your life. I am all for going to guns as soon as it becomes necessary, but you must be able to judge between necessary and unnecessary before killing someone who does not pose a lethal threat.
Less lethal options may prove beneficial for a host of other reasons as well, even in the home. Consider a relative that becomes intoxicated and belligerent, then turns physically aggressive. Do you really want to shoot your drunk uncle or cousin when he gets aggressive at the family reunion? A face full of OC spray is often enough to end hostilities before they escalate to requiring lethal force. While spraying OC inside of the home will make for an unpleasant afternoon, it is far preferable to dealing with the aftermath of further violence. Less lethal options should be part of the overall home security plan, for a variety of needs.
The Threat of Fire
Let us also consider fire as it applies, specifically, to criminal threat to the home. All households should have a general fire plan, but here we focus on the threat of fire being used as a weapon by criminal actors. Most notably, violent mobs have been seen using Molotov cocktails and other incendiaries of late. While these threats have primarily ravaged inner cities so far, seeing this activity move into the suburbs is hardly difficult to predict at the time of this writing. The possibility of having an incendiary device thrown through a window into your home at the hands of a raging mob or other nefarious criminal element is real and must be considered.
The first step should be the strategic placement of fire extinguishers throughout the house. Obviously, this is part of typical home fire planning and extinguishers should be kept in the kitchen and near any other combustible appliances. In terms of home security under the new normal, having a large fire extinguisher located in an accessible location near front windows is a good idea. Also, consider keeping an extinguisher next to the gun safe or other location where you keep the home defense gun.
In the aftermath of any home accident, or certainly in the aftermath of a home invasion, there may be a need to deal with severe trauma suffered by a member of the household. Having the tools and skills readily available to do so is a priority. You should keep tourniquets, chest seals, hemostatic gauze, and pressure dressings readily available, and you should know how to use them to contain life-threatening hemorrhage. Having several trauma kids available throughout the home is a best practice, and other adults in the household should know where they are. Preferably, having other household members trained in their use is also ideal.
It is vitally important that you be able to call 911 in the event of, or at least following, a home invasion. Even if you are living in a location facing the threat of defunded and compromised law enforcement (the same political party that seeks to disarm you also wants to defund law enforcement) it is important that you call the authorities. Even though there is little hope of police showing up in time to protect you (thus the reason you must prepare to protect yourself) placing the call is very important.
Any call placed to 911 emergency services will be recorded. Having a record that shows you were forced to deal with a violent home invasion will serve as a protection for you going forward, should there be legal action taken against you by an anti-rights prosecutor. If you are in a barricaded safe room with your family members and there are assailants in the home, after arming yourself and preparing, call 911 and ask for the immediate dispatch of police. You also want to notify emergency services of the invasion as soon as possible so that emergency medical help will be on the way quickly.
When dealing with a truly violent invasion of your home, the legitimate and reliable tool for the job is the firearm. However, the necessary skills and tactics to employ the gun effectively are of the utmost importance. Basic training in the use of cover, concealment, and tactical movement will give you a huge advantage in home defense.
Concerning guns, a constant argument is what constitutes “the best home defense gun.” There is opinion and preference in this regard, but the choice is quite personal. However, I am of the strong opinion that the handgun remains the immediate force option for the civilian self-defender whether out in public or in the home. Handguns can be staged for fast deployment more easily than rifles or shotguns, and they can be carried on the body even when home. I am a proponent of home carry, thus the concealed handgun can be truly available to you at all times.
The handgun should be your first tier of home defense weaponry as it can either be on the person or staged in an accessible location and retrieved quickly. The other advantage of the handgun is that it is easer to move through the home with it as apposed to a long gun. A handgun can be carried and used with a single hand. If you need one hand free to open doors, work lights, or pick up a child, the handgun is the weapon you want in hand.
With that said, all home defense plans should also incorporate a dedicated defensive long gun, either shotgun or rifle. Long guns are far more powerful and effective than are handguns. While the handgun serves as an immediate response weapon of protection, a long gun, staged in the dedicated safe room, is worth having. Should you face large numbers of hostile criminal actors, the decisive power of a rifle or shotgun is what you will want to have in hand. While the long gun is not as fast to bring into action in a home defense situation, and likely won’t get used if the handgun is retrieved first, it is still important to have the more effective weapon at the ready should you face a violent and large group of home invaders.
Concerning what guns to choose, it is a personal decision. My advice would simply be, rely on a full size pistol as a dedicated house option, and choose your long gun according to your needs. The ubiquitous AR15 platform is excellent for home defense. If in a location where your rights are compromised and you can’t easily outfit yourself with an auto loading rifle, a lever action rifle, particularly those chambered in 357 or 44 magnum, makes for an excellent home defense weapon. Likewise, a good pump action or reliable auto loading shotgun makes for a great home defense long gun. Bear in mind, all of these options require training to be proficient.
Staging Home Defense Guns
The gun does little good if you can’t get to it in time. With that said, unless a gun is worn on the person, it must be secured against access from children or unauthorized adults. There is a large variety of good quick-access safes now available for both handguns and long guns. To have a gun truly accessible in an instant, carry it at home. Beyond this, all guns must be secured.
Even if you home carry, it is likely you wear only a smaller handgun, so staging a go-to full size pistol for home defense is a sound decision. The gun can be staged in the safe room, which is likely the master bedroom, but other handguns can be staged elsewhere in the home as long as they are also secured in a hand safe. Likewise, securing a rifle or shotgun in a quick access safe in the dedicated safe room makes for a sound home defense arsenal.
The Home Defense Sling Bag
Many home invasions happen in the dead of night when the household is asleep. Realistically, if woken out of sleep to your alarm system going off, you will not be wearing your gun and other carry items. For this reason, I am a proponent of keeping a full-size service pistol next to your bed, secured in a quick access safe. The gun should have a light on it, so that if you only have time to grab the gun you have everything you will likely need in one package.
However, you may need more than just the handgun in your hand, depending on the situation. A good method for quickly equipping yourself with other support gear is through the use of a dedicated home defense sling bag. A small messenger style bag, that can be quickly slung over the shoulder, is ideal for this application. Other options, such as putting on a battle belt or equipped load bearing vest, take longer and prove difficult in the dark and while groggy. A sling bag that can be immediately thrown over the shoulder can be kept next to the bed for fast retrieval. The bag can also serve as a place to holster your gun if you respond to something that turns out to not be a threat, such as someone you know at the door.
Consider the contents you would keep in this bag. My suggestions would be at least the following:
1. At least one reload for both your home defense handgun and long gun
2. A powerful handheld flashlight
3. A trauma kit
4. A knife (more likely needed for administrative or emergency cutting than use against the invaders)
5. A less lethal tool (OC spray)
Other items to consider: how about keeping a cell phone in the bag so that you can place an emergency call as soon as you are able, no matter where in the house you are. Also, do you wear corrective lenses? Having a pair of spare glasses in this pack makes good sense. Also, consider keeping a spare set of car and house keys in the bag. Should you need to immediately vacate the home, having the ability to use your vehicle makes good sense.
The Safe Room
Ultimately, the best response to a violent home invasion is to get the entire household herded into the dedicated “safe room.” In most homes this is likely the master bedroom, but does not have to be. In the event of a home invasion, consider your own home layout: would it be more feasible to quickly move to the children’s room or some other place? If so, make that the dedicated safe room. Part of having strong doors and good alarms is to provide you and your household the time to make it into the safe room and prepare.
Whatever room you choose for the dedicated safe room, make the dedicated home defense handgun and long gun accessible in that room. Also, consider how you will barricade; having everyone hidden behind the bed with the primary defender armed with a shotgun or rifle behind a hard piece of cover in the room is sound. Consider your shooting lanes: what lies beyond the doorway that you will likely be shooting towards? Should you miss, where will your bullets go?
In the event of a violent home invasion the safe room plan should be the top priority and it provides far greater safety than having people scattered throughout the home. Should you have time to get everyone into the safe room and arm yourself with a long gun, your odds are very good and the odds of the invaders are very poor.
Have and Discuss a Plan
Most importantly, determine and discuss the home defense plan with your household members. Explain the plan to immediately move to the safe room in the event of a breach. Designate tasks: perhaps a spouse or older child is to call 911 once in the safe room. Who will collect an elderly parent? Who will grab the baby? Who is the primary defender? Does everyone who is designated a home defender know how to use and operate the guns available? Do the designated home defenders have the combination to the safe(s)?
Also discuss home safety with children; be sure that they know not to ever open the door to anyone they don’t know. Be sure they know where to go in the event of a home invasion while they are in their own bedroom or anywhere else in the home. It can be difficult to have this discussion with children and not scare them, but it can be done, and making your household members aware of the possible realities of the world fosters overall safety.
Home defense is a broad topic with many considerations. This series of articles on the subject should put you well on your way for preparing for it, but home security requires some thought and planning. I urge you to make it a priority.