The year was 2002. I was making a long drive in the middle of the night and I was starting to doze off. I realized I was going to fall asleep at the wheel if I didn’t get some sleep. I got off the freeway and headed to my brother’s home which was only a few miles from my current location.
When I arrived I let myself in through the garage (I knew the code) and started to fluff the couch pillows to get ready to crash, when I heard a few creaking steps behind me in the hallway. That is when it hit me. I KNEW my brother had a gun and, having mistaken me for an intruder, was going to shoot me. I cried out, “It's me, It's me, Jacob.” I heard the sigh of relief as he emerged holding a revolver.
Perhaps it is due to the TV and movies we watch but there seems to be a sick and sad tendency for American gun owners to shoot at Shapes, Shadows, and Sounds. This is also what I like to call, America's Triple S Disease.
I’ve even heard other instructors tell their students to “Shoot first and ask questions later.” When we imagine a “bad guy/gal” in our homes we almost seem to see ourselves sneaking through the house with our weapon checking rooms and clearing the space like we are Jason Bourne. If, we were Jason Bourne, and professional assassins had been sent to kill us, then I could see us taking on some tactics like that.
However, because most home intruders are nothing more than common thieves we probably need to up our game a bit, and consider a more tactical and practical home-defense strategy. Turn the lights on and call out to let the intruder(s) know that you are armed and ready to defend yourself, if necessary. Most intruders will let themselves out and look for a home that doesn’t have a prepared homeowner.
Shooting out of panic is usually never a good idea. When we panic and start shooting we can face sad consequences. Every year I get a dozen or so news stories I can share with my students about homeowners shooting their loved ones or friends having mistook them for someone willing to do harm.
Don’t forget that even outside of your own family, we don’t WANT to kill people. We would rather they just leave than having to face the emotional, financial, and potential legal consequences of having to fire a shot.
Finally, remember one of the cardinal rules of firearms safety: Know your target and what is around it. You can't know your target if you can't see it, whether it's dark or there is a barrier in between you. Always be sure of your target.
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