Defensive Gun Use:
In the small, unincorporated, Western Tennessee town of Beech Bluff, things are usually pretty quiet. It's an average piece of America where the forests falling from the Smoky Mountains meet the plains of the country's bread basket. However, this tranquil little piece of the U.S.A. was anything but for Elsie Lee two weeks before Memorial Day, 2017.
As Elsie and her family were asleep on the morning of May 15th, she was shocked awake by the sudden, terrifying sound of someone breaking into her home by kicking down her front door.
In an interview with Western Tennessee's WBBJ-TV Lee stated that she was asleep when she, “Thought I had heard something but I wasn’t for sure. I thought I was just dreaming something, and then I heard a big bang again.”
It was at that point that Lee picked up not only her .45 caliber pistol, but a shotgun as well to answer the noise she heard.
“Protect my son” was all that Lee stated she was thinking about in those terrifying moments.
Lee then approached an intruder and pointed the gun directly at him. She said, “I put the gun in his face and asked him if there was something I could do for him, and he was gone just that quick,” she said. “I chased him out the back door trying to look at the tag number on the car, something I could describe other than just him.”
A grand total of five suspects were arrested, four of whom were adults as well as one juvenile, who have all been taken in as accomplices to the crime. The four adults are scheduled to appear in court this week and the juvenile does not have any information released on him as of yet.
What we can learn:
Now, this is certainly a case that has a happy ending for all involved. A safe mother and child as well as five criminals that have been taken off of the streets. However, this case could have easily gone down as a tragedy. Even though Lee stated that she did not believe that any of the intruders were armed at the time, she admitted to bullishly heading forward into a fight.
While protecting your child is an understandable cause for a mother to act, jumping headfirst into danger the way she did is certainly one of many concealed carry mistakes that was brought about in this encounter.
What could she have done instead?
We are big advocates of defending your isolated family, and calling the police. You should always be ready to defend yourself and family, but walking into a situation blindfolded and not knowing what is on the other side, is never a good idea. Things you don't know are as follows:
- How many bad guys are in your house?
- Are they armed?
- Do you know their whereabouts?
- What is their intent? (granted, we always assume that when a person is willing to break in, they're also willing to eliminate any witnesses to that fact, but further than that, why are they there?)
If you don't know the answer to those questions, and how could you unless you have surveillance installed, then you could walk yourself right into a disaster. When she realized that there was at least one uninvited person in her house, she should have called the police instead of looking for a fight.
People talk too much …
Another critical mistake that you need to take note of and are about to see in the below video, is that this woman spoke on camera which is never usually a good idea when you consider that anything you say can be used against you in court. There are a few different things she says that, should things have happened even a little bit differently, could have jammed up her defense in court.
Taking it a step further than that, don't say anything. To anybody. Ever. That is, not until after you have spoken to a qualified attorney to give you advice on what you say. Remember, anything you say could be used against you in court. Again, while still a defensive gun use, she didn't pull the trigger, so there isn't as big of an emphasis on this for this defensive gun use.
Criminals travel together, and a gun in the face is too close:
Finally, we should all be aware that bad guys usually travel in packs. Rarely do they ever operate alone. There was no way of knowing that the man she ran after outside was alone or if he had friends standing by outside ready to ambush her if she came outside. She followed her burglar, as she looked for the license plate number on the getaway car.
Grouped together in this, is it's not a good idea to walk up to anyone and stick a gun in their face. Now, we aren't entirely sure if that was a figure of speech, or if she actually walked up to the criminal putting her gun in his face. Either way, that's what she said and we take it for face value.
This time around, it played to her favor. But what if his fight or flight told him to take a chance on an otherwise easy target (without the gun)? Could he have wrestled the gun away from her? If he had, what would have happened to her son then? Thankfully, all we can do is speculate because they were unsuccessful in their attempt.
So to recap, it's not usually ever a good idea to go looking for a fight when you're in your home. If you know someone is in your house, who should not be there, calling the police, if you have time to, is almost always your best-first course of action. Also, keeping some distance between you and the bad guy is a good idea to make sure he can't fight you for your gun, and talking to an attorney before anyone else is a necessity.
Speaking of attorneys, if you do not have one and need to know what to look for in a lawyer, we have an attorney interview checklist, here, that may be of interest to you.