Owning a personal defense gun for your home can be a good idea for overall protection and for creating some peace-of-mind for you and your family. But in the event of a home invasion, is it best to retreat to a safe space or to go after whoever may have broken in?
The bottom-line is that safety should always be your top priority. It’s a terrifying prospect to have someone or some group of bad people in your home, typically late at night, that mean to steal from you or do you or your loved ones harm. Even if you are a skilled professional with tactical training, are you likely to go looking for trouble with your kids down the hall? This would definitely not be your best choice.
The only ‘win’ that comes out of a home invasion or a confrontation with an intruder, is that you come away from the situation safely. Obviously these incidences can be maddening, and there’s always a strong sense of feeling violated when you have a break-in. The bottom-line is that there is nothing worth risking your life for if you have the option of retreating to safety or holding your position while waiting for help. Items can be always replaced, and seeking out bad guys in the dark to try and protect your flat screen might not be a great plan.
With the understanding that every home defense situation is different, it’s important to have options as to how you may have to react. As a civilian, actually using your gun (if you have one) would be considered to be a last resort by most experts. There’s a lot packed into the gunfight scenario that most people may not be prepared for. There is also the personal or home defense firearms choice to think about in addition to the very specific technique of clearing rooms, especially if you’re on your own. We see lots of it in movies and on TV, and firmly stating ‘CLEAR’ sounds cool, but this isn’t for the untrained or the faint-of-heart.
A few other items to consider:
Know the Laws
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to the defense of your home. Each State will have variations on Stand Your Ground, Duty to Retreat and Castle Doctrine laws that can directly affect the use of force. This is especially true in cases of firearms use and what may or may not constitute self defense.
Make a Plan
Like any emergency such as a fire or a natural disaster, having a distinct plan for a home invasion will serve you well. Something simple that outlines how to react, how you’ll communicate, who will do what, rally points etc. can help to make things go more efficiently in an obviously stressful and potentially dangerous situation.
Safe Room or Space
As part of your planning process, it is wise to have an assigned safe room or secure space where you can retreat to in case of a breach. It should have a reinforced door, ideally an alternate exit route, and access to water and first aid supplies if you’re feeling ambitious. Having a fully charged mobile phone is also essential. The key is to stay inside until help arrives.
If you do have a personal or home defense weapon, you should give some thought as to how quickly and efficiently you’ll be able to access it. We all know that safe storage is important, but your gun won’t be of much use to you if you can’t get it and your ammo sorted fast.
Handling a firearm under stress requires extensive training and experience. Law enforcement and military personnel for instance, undergo rigorous drilling to be able to react effectively in crisis situations.
Beyond that, actively sweeping or clearing rooms, especially on your own, has a very specific technique that most average folks would not be able to execute. Any gun owner would be encouraged to receive proper training and practice their defensive skills, but with a strong understanding that you have to know your limitations.
Loss of Tactical Advantage
Sweeping rooms with a firearm can definitely put you at a tactical disadvantage. It’s generally not a good idea to let intruders know where you are, and by actively seeking them out, you’re doing just that. Bad guys who are aware of your presence may use cover and ambush techniques to gain an advantage. Instead of engaging in a dangerous game of cat-&-mouse, you’d be better off seeking cover and lying-in-wait yourself.
Home Security System
Invest in a reliable home security system with alarms, cameras, and motion sensors. These can help to deter potential intruders, alert law enforcement and can provide valuable views in and around your home as you determine how to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. Wireless Nest and Ring cameras connect right to your smartphone and can provide valuable intel.
Other Risk Factors
Aside from the factors listed above, there are a number of additional elements that can have a potentially negative impact when clearing rooms with a loaded firearm. These might include:
- The escalation of tension that comes from these types of situations, and the consequent volatility and danger that it can cause
- In stressful, low-light conditions, there is an increase in the chances that you may misidentify a family member or housemate as a threat
- Your risk of an accidental discharge goes up when you’re confronted with this type of scenario, your level of tension is high and your adrenaline is pumping
- Being in a life-threatening situation can be stressful enough, but it can be compounded if you were to actually use your firearm against another. Studies have shown that there can be an emotional price to pay in the form of post-trauma disorders, anxiety and other psychological issues.
Sweeping rooms with a personal defense gun during a home invasion is a dangerous practice that poses risks to both your safety and the safety of those around you. There may be times where you do have to move within your home in defense or retrieval of another, but it should be kept to a minimum. Instead, prioritize safety by being prepared and retreating to safety until help arrives.
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