Sunday, December 5, 2010

Carrying In Your Home

A few weeks ago, I was watching the movie, "Law Abiding Citizen."  The first scene starts out innocent enough.  Dad is in his home office tinkering with something, as most dads do.  The kids are close at hand, and the wife is somewhere else in the house, possibly cooking dinner or reading a book.  Suddenly, an unexpected knock is heard at the door.  The husband goes to answer.  When he opens the door, a stranger immediately lunges forward and punches Dad in the face.  Unexpected as this is, Dad is immediately overtaken and thrown to the ground.  A shiv is jabbed into his rib cage to ensure he can't easily move.  His wife is thrown to the ground, her clothes ripped off, and raped while Dad is helpless to do anything to the attackers.  The child is murdered and the killers get away without so much as a scratch.

All too often, home invasions occur when the occupants are inside.  Most crooks looking for some quick and easy grab won't risk invading a home when the owners are there, but some people aren't looking for jewelry to sell.  Some are looking for a thrill, or seeking revenge for something you may have done or said to them.  Some invaders may indeed be looking for loot to steal, but they are so drugged out of their minds that common sense is all but lost and they desperately need something to steal.

Contrary to popular belief, door locks won't slow a determined criminal down.  Glass windows, garage doors, and sliding patio doors are just a few weaknesses in the home.  Where you live may matter, but burglaries happen in nice neighborhoods more than the local governments will admit. 

Home invasions do occur in the United States on a frequent basis.  If you are lucky, it happens when you are out to the store, on vacation, or some other instance when you are not at home.  If you are unlucky, it will happen while you are inside the house.  If you should be home when someone breaks in, what is your recourse?

Fortunately, in the state of Washington, we have a "stand your ground" law that says that you do not have to retreat if attacked.  This is similar to "Castle Doctrine", but extends to everywhere you are allowed to be legally.  For the purposes of this entry, I'm focusing on the home. 

Let's just say that you are in a similar situation to the movie, "Law Abiding Citizen."  You're at home on a Tuesday night.  Your kid is in the dining room doing homework at the table, your wife is putting laundry in the dryer, and you are cleaning up after dinner.  Suddenly, you hear a knock on the door.  You go to answer it, and when you open the door, you are met by someone with a gun to your face.  Now what?  From the looks of it, you are fucked.

As a concealed pistol license holder, I carry a gun wherever I can legally do so.  This means that if I'm going to the mall, the grocery store, the park, the zoo, traveling to see relatives, or doing anything that I can do with my liberty, I'm armed.  Most importantly, I carry a concealed weapon inside my home.

Why carry in your home?  Don't you feel safe in your house?  Sure.  I feel completely safe inside these walls.  My family and I have worked hard to leave the world outside the house and make it a haven for us to gather and grow closer.  Home is a source of comfort and strength.  At the end of a long day at work, all I want to do is go home and be with my family.

I also understand that the world can be a very dangerous place.  With homes being burglarized everyday in America, it's only a matter of statistics that my house may be intruded at some point in my life.  The question is, should someone decide come to my house when I'm there, will I be the one with a gun pointed at my head, or will the intruder soon learn that my house is the wrong one to invade?

One thing that people need to understand is that most people who carry a legally concealed firearm don't just carry in places they think they might need it.  If I thought to myself, "I think the place I'm going to go to may require me to be armed," I might not go there.  Why would I go looking for trouble?  The thing is that you never know if you will need your firearm, so you take it everywhere.  In my mind, that means you carry in the home too.  And why not?  100% of home invasions happen in the home.  Whether or not you are there is up to a million other variables that you cannot always account for.

So, the setting is again put forth.  Your family and you are at home on Tuesday evening and you hear someone knock at the door.  Not expecting company, you go to see who it is.  WAIT!!!  Just because you have a gun doesn't mean you just open the door to anybody.  You need to understand yet another facet of concealed carry.  It is a thing we in the firearms community refer to as "condition yellow."

Yes, long before the federal government came out with a fancy color code to indicate terrorist threat levels, the concealed carry community was already implementing a color code for personal defense.  Condition yellow is a state of mind where you are always aware of your surroundings.  You are noticing people, cars, buildings, types of clothing, behaviors, etc that help keep you aware of everything going on in your immediate vicinity.  Sounds paranoid, doesn't it?  Try telling that to the father of a household who was killed because someone came to his house to supposedly buy a diamond ring he had for sale.  Was he at condition yellow?  Was he aware?  No, he let his guard down because the people sounded friendly.  I went over this story in a previous blog.  Suffice it to say, he made the mistake of not being completely aware of what was going on, and in the end, it cost him his life.  A few life saving measures would have benefited him that day, but he chose to ignore them.

Not so paranoid now, huh?  I didn't think so.  Besides, let's look at another example.  When you drive your car, are you just completely relaxed and not paying attention?  Or are you focused on driving and making sure that you know where all the vehicles, pedestrians, roads and street signs are?  Are you not paying attention?  That is what condition yellow for concealed carry is.  When you carry a concealed firearm, you have a responsibility to pay attention to those around you.  Otherwise, why the hell are you armed?

In my house, we pay attention.  We know when our friends are supposed to come over, and we know if we are expecting company, and we watch for it.  Even if the knock is expected, we don't just open the door.  We make a quick check to see that the person on the other side of the peep hole is who they are.  Only a fool answers a blind door to someone, especially if they are not expecting company. 

Now, replay the scene.  You are doing the dishes, your wife is in the basement doing laundry, and your kid is at the dining room table finishing up their homework.  Suddenly, you hear a knock on the door.  Not expecting company, you immediately give pause and move toward the front door cautiously.  You first check the peep hole or use another room window to see who is at the door or what car is in the driveway.  You see that the person has a gun in his hand.  Now what?  Well, that's all up to you and your training.  Personally, I'd call the police and tell them an armed person is at your home and that you are about to defend your family, but that's me.

The point is that you didn't just open the door and put yourself into a bad situation.  You have the advantage if you control the access points.  This also means keeping your doors locked even when you are home.  How bad would it be if you came downstairs and found a person in your front room?  You lose control when you lose the access points.  The reason medieval soldiers were protected in fortresses was because they controlled the access points and directed where the attacking army would have to go.  The situation is not all that different in your house.  No, I'm not saying to barricade yourself in so that the outside world is completely shut out.  I'm simply saying that a few small measures to ensure that you, the head of the house, remain in control of your house at all times.

-James

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