Defense at Home: More Than Just a Gun

At one time or another, just about every human being has given serious thought to the unthinkable—about what it might be like to be the victim of a home invasion. Those of us who regularly carry guns in public also understand that we may have to defend ourselves at home. Even hunters will admit to having considered how they might have to use their duck gun or deer rifle to protect themselves or their loved ones.

But while having a gun in your home is certainly a good idea, it is (or should be) only one element in your personal protection plan. You DO have a plan, don’t you? Not anything “set in stone”—just some basic steps that you and/or any member of your household understand and follow. After all, as the old military saying goes, “No battle plan survives the first ten seconds of contact with the enemy.”

Where to start? First of all, consider the kinds of simple basic steps that can be done long before an actual confrontation. Burglar alarms are getting more sophisticated and less expensive. Whether you choose the simple motion-activated units that only notify the homeowner, or the more advanced systems that automatically call 911, having some form of warning system is almost a no-brainer.

By the way, as astonishing as it sounds, in a disturbing number of home invasions, police discovered that doors and/or windows weren’t even locked. In warm weather areas, windows and patio doors often have nothing but screens to stop attackers.

Dogs can be very helpful. Even in an apartment or condo (if allowed), a small dog can yelp up a storm, alerting you to the presence of an unwanted guest. As a bonus, they can also act as a deterrent to burglars when you are not at home. Criminals of all stripes prefer to avoid dogs.

But what if you don’t, or can’t (due to allergies or other issues), own a dog? No problem. If you live in a single-family home or townhouse where it is possible, just buy a big dog watering dish and place it conspicuously in the back yard. A “Beware of Dog” sign (or an “I Love my Pit Bull” sticker at the front door) can have the same effect.

Educate yourself, and everyone else in the household, about the wide variety of threats that can materialize. Contrary to the typical “guy in a ski-mask with a tire iron” shown on TV, home invaders can strike at any hour of the day, not just in the middle of the night. Many rapists purposely target at-home women during daytime hours.

By the way, taking the above steps can also help you legally, should you ever have to defend yourself or your loved ones. Your preventive steps can be effectively used by your defense attorney to convince a jury that you were acting as a conscientious and responsible citizen. Conversely, I have sat in trials where a prosecutor attacked a homeowner for their lack of defensive measures. In one such case, the state’s attorney accusingly asked the defendant, “So, Mr. Jones, you could spend $600 on a gun, but not $6 for a dog dish to deter a potential attacker?”

The bottom line is that preparation and deterrence can prevent an attack in the first place, which is always preferable to defending ourselves in court.