One of the most cringe worthy news articles I read concerning guns and self-defense is when a parent or someone else mistakes a loved one as an intruder in the middle of the night, opens fire on that person, killing them.
This sends families into downward spirals and is really sad to hear about. Thankfully this sort of scenario is nearly completely avoidable with only a couple small changes to your home defense strategies. There are some things you can do to make sure you don’t unintentionally shoot a loved one, that everyone should know and practice.
I’ve written on this topic on another publication but it bears repeating as often as possible because we keep seeing scenarios where a gun owner shoots a loved one unintentionally, thinking they’re a burglar.
This is a simple concept, but either in the heat of the moment when people don’t think clearly, or whatever excuse is used, people shoot their loved ones thinking they’re acting in self-defense. This type of situation happens more often than you think it does, and is really sad.
There are a couple of considerations to help you prevent this. Let’s take a look at them.
The most important thing you can do is identify that there is a threat. Many go by the false notion that they have to be quiet to get the jump on a criminal in action, but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, just as you make noise in the woods so you don’t spook a bear, the same is true for someone who may be in your home.
There are two parts to this. The first part is making sure that your family members know that if you call out in the middle of the night that they need to respond appropriately.
Your family members from your children up to your spouse or parents you have living with you need to understand that if you don’t get a proper response from them when you issue a command in the middle of the night because you believe there is a burglar in the house, you will confront them, potentially armed.
The second thing is to know what you are going to say. Something I suggest, is saying something like, “Who’s there? I’m armed, ready to defend myself and family, and have called the police! Identify yourself!”
Say it loudly with purpose so that there is no misinterpretation of the point you’re trying to convey. Say you’ve called the police, even if you haven’t.
If there is no reply and you see or keep hearing something, repeat the command, loudly. If there is still no reply, you can be pretty sure that either the person can’t hear you, or it’s not someone you want in your house.
Hopefully the person has heard you and if it’s a burglar, will leave your house because he knows you’re armed and are willing to defend yourself if necessary as well as call the police.
Also hopefully, if the person is a loved one, will announce who they are so you can lower your guard. This is an incredibly simple solution to mistaken identity under stress.
Another consideration that’s very important and something that people don’t think about that much, is the placement of their trigger finger as they’re sweeping their house. Rarely should you have your finger on your trigger.
The way I was taught by two time Top Shot runner up Chris Cerino during a two day combat pistol course I took last year, is on target on trigger. Off target off trigger. This means that you should have an intimate relationship with your trigger, know when it breaks the shot off, and be able to rest your finger on your trigger only when you’re on your target.
This doesn’t mean you walk around your house with your finger on the trigger because that’s how negligence happens.
If you walk around your house like this and your daughter surprises you because she came home later than expected, or went out without you knowing, you may pull the trigger unintentionally, shooting her in the process. That is clearly the worst scenario.
But, if you walk around with your finger straight and off the trigger as the above picture depicts, you’re much better off and it helps to eliminate the chance of discharge.
Of course, whether or not you should be sweeping your house can also be debated, but we can settle that one in a different blog post.
In conclusion, it’s always a good idea to know your home defense strategies before you ever need them. This involves teaching your loved ones, whether they live at home or may end up visiting you unannounced one night, what your commands are so they can expect them and not get shot.
Also keep in mind that when you’re under heightened stress it’s much easier to make mistakes. Your blood flow starts to change, motor function is decreased, and you may pull the trigger without meaning to. You own every shot you take, and should always be sure of your target no matter what situation you may find yourself in.
Please leave your thoughts on this in the comments below.
Then, give this article a read about how unsafe your home may actually be.