Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fundamentals of Home Defense

Most people remember where they were when the twin towers went down on 9-11. This cowardly act was terrorism at its worst. Criminals do their own brand of terrorism called home invasion. Law enforcement defines this as an incident where the house is occupied by the family or owner and they are confronted with an imminent and potentially lethal threat by an intruder(s). In recent years, the occurrence of these violent encounters inside the home has been increasing, as has media coverage of their outcomes. This growing concern has prompted a surge of new gun owners who intend to keep that newly purchased firearm for the primary purpose of home defense. There is a void in the training industry regarding this type of incident.
There are many “tactical” courses out there that proclaim to train students in the art of safe rooms, room clearing and building searches. These are concepts that take many more hours and teammates to execute properly than can be taught in a course that lasts just a few days. There are five fundamentals of home defense that are the fundamentals of a solid foundation for the new firearm owner.
The five fundamentals of home defense are Evade, Arm, Barricade, Contact and Cover. I will try and go into more detail about each, but I caution you to know that there are no standard answers for home invasion because every scenario is different.
Avoid the potential impending threat
Though this is a common-sense approach to anything that can cause us harm, we define it early. If we can avoid the threat, avoid it. This includes ensuring your alarm systems are working, windows and doors are always secure, and the dog makes noise when strange people come around. Also, fortify your home with better doors and locks than the standard.
If you can escape, escape and get out. Everyone knows the common sounds of their house and all the ways to get out if you need to. Should you believe there is the potential of a home invasion and you have the opportunity to leave the house, do it and deal with the potential threat from an external location by whatever means necessary. I realize there may be other variables that prevent you from leaving the house during an incident like kids or elderly parents. This is where the second fundamental comes in.
Arm yourself with a defensive firearm.
In the event you are unable to escape, it may be time to arm yourself with a firearm. This brings up many questions for the new gun owner. Two of the most-asked questions are: How do I store my firearm? Where do I store it?
I caution giving standard answers, because it all depends on the individual’s living arrangements. The answers for a family with children may be different than for a single person living alone. But I do recommend a quick-access safe. It should be placed in an area accessible from where most of the time in the house is spent. The contents of the safe should be a quality defensive firearm with an extra magazine or speed loader, and a quality light source. I recommend a stand-alone light, not a weapon-mounted light. You may want to illuminate things you prefer not to point a firearm at. The light should be equipped with a lanyard so it is not dropped should we need to use your support hand for other tasks. The key item often missed by many is a phone. This can be our cell phone grabbed from the nightstand or even an old cell phone. We’ll talk more about that later. Once we arm ourselves, we move to the next concept.
Barricade 90 degrees from the direction of movement or attack.
When you consider your barricade location, you may choose to keep your firearm there. I do not advocate moving with a firearm exposed. When you position yourself, it is very important to remain 90 degrees from the direction of attack. That gives you the greatest opportunity to act before being observed by the threat. The barricade location should be the farthest point that allows you to engage the threat with your firearm beyond two arms’ reach and at full extension. The only caveat to the above would be if there were a strong piece of cover located in the room.
Once in your barricade position, you move to the next phase.
Contact the authorities.
Contact armed professionals as quickly as possible. They are far better equipped to deal with a home invader than you are alone. By offering them the appropriate information, you can make their response that much more efficient. Remember that if you call from a cell phone, the location may not be immediately available to the 911 operator. I advocate conveying these five pieces of information when possible:
• Where – Where are you? The physical address and your location within the house are essential. You can convey the intruder’s location if you know it. If able, it’s also helpful to provide first responders with a way into the house or route information to your location inside.
• What – What is happening? E.g., you have a home invader and they are in or trying to get into the house.
• Armed – The fact that you are armed is important information to tell the operator. Also the invaders weapon status if you know it.
• Your Description – What you look like and are wearing, as well as descriptions of anyone else who may be in the home and did not make it to the barricade location.
• Intruder Description – If you have any identifying information about the intruder, it can be very valuable to responding professionals. You may have gotten a good look at the intruder and can provide a full description. You may only be able to say the intruder was male and short. Any information will be helpful, but under no circumstances should you wait around to get a description before trying to evade.
Counter the threat when presented.
This step has an unlimited number of possibilities. You might need to engage the threat with your firearm. Or the threat may see you with your firearm and flee. Every situation is going to be different. I do not advocate announcing yourself blindly and telling the intruder you are armed. To a motivated intruder, this only gives away your location. The exception here is if they are entering the room where you are located, it may be an option. The best-case scenario is that armed professionals arrive on the scene prior to the Counter phase, but you cannot count on that outcome and must be prepared to act accordingly.
These five fundamentals of home defense are the foundation for creating your home defense plan in the event an intruder attempts or actually makes entry into your home. Of course we could spend much more time on this information, but these are the fundamentals. If you are a new firearm owner, check out one of the Introduction to Handguns courses being offered by a competent instructor in your area.

Semper Paratus
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