Our homes provide us and our families with a security that we otherwise would not have. But even the best home security measures are not effective 100% of the time.
There are lots of talks about which guns are best for home defense. And not diminishing the importance of those topics, how you respond is arguably more important than what gun you choose.
My opinion on the topic rubs some people the wrong way. That is fine. I would find it strange if everyone agreed with everything I thought, did, or said. However, I feel obligated to explain my point of view after studying the topic from many different angles.
Home Defense Tactics:
For many, their firearm training focuses primarily on marksmanship. Rightfully so. We need to learn how to make bullets hit what we want them to hit. However, using a firearm while responding in self-defense (in or outside your home) requires training, skills, and considerations not taught in your introductory handgun class.
Taking a home defense class is ideal. But, hopefully, you went home and applied those tactics in your own home? With your furniture, your family members, and with all the blind corners, open areas, hiding spots, and fatal funnels? Only you know the answer.
If you have been training inside your home, kudos. If not, you should.
Because home burglaries happen a lot, in fact, according to the FBI, in 2019, criminals committed 1.1 million burglaries. Roughly 55.7% of these involved forced entry. In around 25-28% of the burglaries, someone is home, referred to as home invasions. That works out to roughly 275,000 to 308,000 home invasions a year.
So you have a greater than 1 in 4 chance of having a family member home when someone breaks in.
But, here is the thing, it may not be you who is home when it happens.
Are your loved ones also equipped mentally and physically to defend against an intruder?
How to Search Your House for The Bad Guy:
The simple answer is – don't.
Don't misconstrue my statement that you do not search your home for bad guys, as recommending you do nothing.
Do we call the police every time we hear a noise inside our home?
Of course not.
We all check and investigate certain noises we hear in our homes. But why didn't we call the police? Likely because we don't associate the noise with the movement of an intruder.
Maybe we have heard that noise before or exactly know what the noise is, and that dictates our response. But, by and large, we typically discover something innocuous, like a picture that fell off the wall or a pet that knocked something over.
We still need to respond to these noises cautiously.
Defending the home from a tactically sound location is preferable.Now suppose you hear breaking glass, followed by more sounds.
These noises could indicate someone is trying to or has entered your home—a much different situation.
Likewise, your response to this situation should be much different.
Maybe it's a situation like this story where the neighbor wants you to check out their home because they think someone may be inside.
Or how about this story we recently covered on the podcast. The homeowner hears screaming and pounding on the door of their attached garage. So he goes out to investigate.
If your first course of action is to locate and engage the intruder, please rethink your response plan.
Reasons You Shouldn't Go Searching:
It is rare to find a situation where it is wise tactically to grab your gun and search your house for the bad guy(s). Here are just a few reasons why it's not a great idea:
- there may be more than one bad guy
- the bad guy(s) may be stronger and disarm you
- someone hiding has a huge tactical advantage over the person searching
- many burglars have weapons or arm themselves with something in the home if they realize someone is home
- you leave your family unattended
- you may not be fully awake or aware
- reduced visibility because of darkness, and eyes adjusting to different lighting conditions
- the concern for a cross-fire situation or rounds penetrating through walls and injuring family members
- it is more difficult for law enforcement to distinguish who the bad guy is when they arrive on the scene
One painfully obvious reason not to search out the bad guy is that you drastically decrease the probability of being involved in a deadly force encounter.
A fantastic way to reduce the odds of being shot is to avoid being in a shootout.
If you can avoid it, don't search for trouble, this includes inside your home. Studying home invasions has shown me that often people who seek confrontation find it. Further, what they find is not always what they expected.
For these reasons, in most cases –NOT ALL- searching the house or a garage for bad guys exposes you to unnecessary risk.
Learn from the guy who had a maniac enter his home, then shoot and kill his roommate with an AR. Then, wisely, he retreated to an upstairs bathroom with his firearm and was able to kill the attacker with a handgun.
Okay, What Should You Do Instead?
The basic premise in a situation where you are home and believe someone is attempting to or has gained entry to your home is to:
- arm yourself
- isolate your family in a predesignated part of the home
- call police
- defend your family from that area
Ideally, you and your family already have a plan.
Your plan can be as simple as having one ‘safe room' or secondary and tertiary locations based on the complexity of your home's layout. But, just like a fire escape plan, establish the plan on best practices.
If you know someone is inside your home, you may have to cross through the house to reach the rally point or a child. In these cases, we need to move to that locations quickly and with awareness. This response is much different from seeking to contact the bad guy(s) and the topic of another post.
Our Complete Home Defense Course that we put together is thorough and filled with strategies to benefit your entire family. The course helps you develop strategies for establishing a plan of action and responses to home invasions.
It may seem like a shameless plug for the DVD, but it is a product that covers how your family should respond to an incident like this.
Arriving Home to Forced Entry:
Similarly, if you arrive home and know someone who shouldn't be there is inside; or find any indication of forced entry, you shouldn't enter to locate the bad guy(s). An exception to entering the home would be if there is a family member inside. However, if the family member inside the home is armed, ensure you communicate with them. They need to know you are entering so you are not mistaken as an intruder and shot.
Instead, get to a safe location, observe the home and call the police. Scan the street and watch for anything out of place, such as strange or occupied vehicles, strangers hanging out on the corner, broken windows or removed window screens, etc.
Give police as much information as possible as to who should be home and any pets. If you know, give the dispatcher potential areas the subjects may run to if they see police arriving. Also, let the dispatcher know of unsecured firearms inside the home. The burglars may now have them in their possession.
These actions will go much further in catching the criminals without injury than searching the house on your own.
And, once again, you place yourself in a near-zero percent chance of being involved in a deadly force incident.
We can't plan for every possible situation that comes our way. But what we can do is apply some basic principles.
Try and eliminate variables that make it more difficult to defend ourselves. We can also give ourselves a tactical advantage by staging firearms in strategic locations and setting up rally points in our homes that are easily defendable.
You will always survive the gunfight you never get into.
Don't let the bad guy dictate what will happen. Instead, stack the deck and defend your family from a place with a tactical advantage.
Here is our Home Defense Course, again, in case you want to check it out. It's worth every penny of the $39.45 price tag.
*This article is updated and was originally pblished in 2018.