There are a lot of ways to defend your family at home. Several of them work well. There are also a lot of ways to get into trouble in the middle of a confusing situation with a gun in your hand. We want to learn from other people’s experience rather than from our own failures. That explains why a self-defense plan is so valuable. We want to do the best we can so that luck is less of a factor in our family’s safety.
Let me give you a counter example. I’ve heard people say they will figure out what to do when the time c0mes. I have a problem with that since we come up with some terrible ideas in the middle of the night. I’m pretty sure that I can improvise with the worst of them.
My plans are simple. We plan to lock our doors because we don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with a bad guy standing in our bedroom. Locking our doors does a number of good things for us. For one, the robber often moves on to try another home if our doors are locked. That is a win right there. The second advantage of locking our doors is that the bad guy makes a lot of noise as he is kicking down our door or smashing one of our windows. That wakes us up and gives us some warning. Now, we and the bad guy are locked in a race to see who does the best job in a limited amount of time. If we thought about it, we’d know what to do when glass breaks. Our hands and feet would know what to do even if our head is still trying to wake up.
In our case, we no longer have kids in the home so this is what our home defense plan looks like.
As I implied, our doors are locked at night. We are also armed most of the time when we’re out of bed. At night, we store our firearms in bedside safes on each side of the bed. A flashlight and phone is also on each bedside table. That is the hardware side of a plan, but the human side of a plan is far more important. What should we do if we hear glass breaking in the middle of the night?
The easiest way to tell if someone has actually walked through their safety plan with their family is to ask them what they plan to say to their partner when they hear glass break. Unless the words fall out of their mouth then they don’t have a plan. We kept it simple.
“We have an intruder. Get up.”
That seemed a good compromise between information and time. Sure, we’d like to fully describe what we think we heard and what we saw. All that takes time that we might not have.
We chose to lock the bedroom door and turn on the lights. We also want to get on the phone and call 911. You have to do one thing at a time, particularly when you are still waking up. Some couples have planned who does which job. That can be particularly important if you have children in your home.
Given that it takes time to wake up and move, we figured the first person to stand up with a gun in their hand should go lock the bedroom door and turn on the lights. The other partner grabs their phone and their gun, and then moves behind the bed. We are worried about immediately stopping a threat until the door is locked and both of us are behind the bed and armed. Until then, we each have a gun in our hand and our attention on the door. Unless we hear an unexpected noise from inside our house, our guns stay pointed at the floor until both of us are behind the bed.
Should we shout a warning? We plan to. Again, we chose to keep it simple.
“We’re armed. We called the cops. Get out.”
Both of us now either have our guns in our hands pointed at the door or the gun is laying on the bed right in front of us as one of us calls 911. If you’ve practiced this then you know that guns are heavy and police are slow. If we don’t hear any more noise from outside our door then we will probably set our guns down on the bed before the police arrive.
Getting the police at your home is a good step but it also raises the next concern. What do you do once the police arrive?
We want the officers to walk around our house and look for obvious signs of entry. If they find an open door or broken window, then the police clear our home before we leave our bedroom.
If the outside doors are locked and the windows are intact, then we have to open the bedroom door and go meet the police. There probably isn’t an intruder in our home, but we did hear something so we’ll move slowly. We’re not going to clear every room and we are definitely not going to approach our doors with a gun in our hand. We rehearsed getting to our door step at a time.
Our hands are full. One person has a flashlight and a gun. The other person has a gun and a phone. The person with the light leads the way.
We have to leave our bedroom and scan the area with our flashlight. Slowly move to turn on light switches, and look all around your home. It is easy to move faster than you can look. You see new areas with every step and you want to make sure you are not walking into trouble. Keep your distance from corners.
The person with a phone is still in contact with 911. They’ve told the police that you are both armed. They are following the person with the light and they want to be close enough to help their partner. You also want to be far enough away that you have time to see and react to an attacker before the attacker can reach you. It makes sense to tell the person in front of you to slow down if they get too far ahead.
Now we are one corner away from the door where we will meet the police. I do not want the police near the door until I scan the area and am sure it is safe. I’m going to look around the corner and make sure the entryway is clear. The gun is not pointed around the corner because I do not have a target that needs to be shot. I’m going to put my gun and light on the ground if I don’t see a stranger in my home. Then, and only then, will I open the door and meet the police with my hands open and high.
When the officers are at the doorway I’ll ask my partner who is looking at me from behind the last corner to put down their gun and their phone. With the police there, we quickly search our home to make sure it is safe.
That is the simplest scenario. What if you hear someone in your house as the police arrive? What if you see someone in your house as you move toward the front door?
What fits my situation might not fit yours. Why not walk through your plan with your partner tonight. I bet your plan will change as you do.