You’re in your bedroom on a weekday night. You hear your roommate shout from down the hallway. Your roommate is confined to a wheelchair, and he is shouting for someone to go away and leave him alone. You grab your gun and go investigate what is happening. An adult man with a knife in each hand is threatening your roommate. You shoot the attacker until he runs away. You stay inside and check on your roommate. Then, you call 911.
You and your roommate talk to the police when they arrive. You show the officers the broken window where the criminal invaded your home. The police find your attacker outside.
EMS takes your attacker to the hospital. Your attacker is facing charges of burglary and aggravated assault when he is released from the hospital. You and your roommate are not hurt. You are not charged with a crime.
This story is more common than it appears at first. Half of all assaults are committed in and near our home. About half of them occur after dark. More of us live with roommates due to the difficult job market we’ve faced in the last few years. We’re also living longer, so more of us have trouble standing and walking. Criminals deliberately target people who are physically handicapped. People who use a wheelchair have a harder time defending themselves, and they often have pain medications on their kitchen counter or in their bathroom medicine cabinet.
Fortunately, these victims started their defense long before the robber broke into the home. They recognized that the world is a dangerous place and they chose a firearm as part of their defense. They stored that firearm where it could be accessed quickly at night. They also kept the firearm in a condition so it could be used immediately.
That may sound obvious, but millions of new gun owners are still learning how to safely and efficiently store a firearm in their home. We’ve learned how to store a gun so we can get to it, but criminals can’t. I recommend a small, rapid access safe kept by your bedside. The gun is kept loaded, but it is also secure from strangers and from children in the home. A gun in a bedside safe is more accessible than an unloaded gun kept on a top shelf in a bedroom closet. That is particularly true if you have physical injuries so it takes you longer to get out of bed.
The defenders also locked their doors and windows. That made the intruder force his way into their home. We’re not sure, but the sounds of the break-in may have alerted the handicapped homeowner. We know the handicapped homeowner sounded the alarm when he recognized that an intruder was in their home.
We don’t know if the handicapped roommate had a gun in his bedroom or not. If the handicapped homeowner did have a gun, he did not have time to get it for his defense before the armed intruder was in his room.
The other homeowner heard his roommates call for help and responded. This defender took his gun with him when he went to investigate the disturbance in their home. He and his roommate together might have had a plan to go armed during a breaking. We don’t know, but perhaps the defender could tell by the sound of his roommate’s cries that he needed to bring his gun.
The armed defender recognized a problem when he saw the armed intruder. Yes, a knife is considered a lethal weapon at the distance we find inside a bedroom. Recognizing an armed attacker also tells us that either the lights were on or the defender brought a flashlight so he could see what was happening. We should plan to turn on the lights or bring a flashlight with us. A flashlight belongs as part of our home security plan as much as a gun or a cellphone.
Our armed defender recognized an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat to his roommate and to himself. That is part of the justification for using a lethal weapon in self-defense. Our armed defender then used his firearm to stop the threat.
Let’s focus on that for a moment. Lots of new gun owners ask how many times they should shoot their gun as they defend themselves. They are looking for a number, like one, two, or three shots. Instead, consider that we have a reason to shoot our attacker. Shoot until that reason goes away. We also want to behave like this defender and stop shooting when the threat is over.
Our defender didn’t chase the bad guy down the street, or shoot at him as he ran. Those are more good decisions. This has to be a very emotional moment so making good decisions is hard to do. Think about the situation now and plan to stay inside your home after your defense. Staying inside our home should be part of our security plan and included as we walk through the security plan with our roommates or family.
One the attacker ran away, the defender checked to see if his roommate was injured. Then, they called 911 to ask for the help they needed. That saved time and it could save a life if someone is injured. Check if anyone is injured before you call 911. If several members of your family are bleeding then Emergency Medical Services may want to send several units to treat and transport the injured.
In hindsight, we’d like for both occupants of the home to be armed. While that makes them safer, it also takes more planning. We want the adults armed and trained because they are often home alone. Of course, we want to defend our family, but we don’t want our family defenseless simply because we’re not at home with them.
Since there may be several armed adults in the home, we want to plan on what to do if there is an intruder in the home and several of us respond. The concern is that we’ll point our gun at a roommate who is coming to help us. Think that through and then walk it through during the light of day. Do it again at night and notice how hard it is to identify a moving shape on the edge or your flashlight beam. I plan to turn on the lights.
Good for you if you’ve taken a class on defense in your home. It would be even better if several of you took that class so you could work together on your defensive plan.
Much like the fire drills we did as school children, the home defense plan can be as simple as everyone gathering in mom and dad’s room. With several adults in the home, or with 18, 19, or 20-year-olds, then the plans have more things to consider. We want to minimize our risks, defend ourselves from a threat, and then defend ourselves from legal risks after the physical threat is gone.
Please put those plans in place before you hear glass breaking in the middle of the night.
Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, at Second Call Defense, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.