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    Here begins your journey into the mind of everybody's favorite asian, and I don't mean Jet Li.
What follows is the somewhat inane, mostly irrelevant, and self-important ramblings of a man on the brink of madness.
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006
 Home Defense Planning    [L]

I WAS going to write a post on home-defense, but I never got around to doing so, given the size and scope of the subject. The problem is that weapon selection is a very miniscule part of Home Defense planning - a large portion of thought must be dedicated to mindset and strategy.

So it's a good thing that Chris @ Anarchangel wrote the article for me. I'll excerpt some salient points with commentary for my readers, but everybody should really RTWT.
Let's talk about home defense as a whole, not just house guns. Guns are a very small (but important) component of your entire home defense; and their relative importance is tiny in comparison to the mental components.

The first thing I want to talk about is preparation. I always say, the only thing more useless than an unloaded weapon, is an unprepared mind.

You need to make a searching moral inventory of yourself. Are you prepared to defend yourself and your family against an intruder? Are you prepared to use lethal force in doing so?

If not, stop right now; because loaded guns in your house are more a danger to you, and those around you, than they are protection.
If you're not willing to act with lethal force, then you might as well ditch the firearms, lest they be used against you. If you choose to only use non-lethal weapons (well, non-immediately-lethal), whether it be taser, baseball bat, OC spray, nunchaku - you better spend a lot of time getting very competent with them, and make sure that your spouse or roommate is also competent. For me personally, I think that's a waste of time - in my opinion, if you're willing to use any force at all, you might as well go all the way.
Next, you need to do a tactical analysis of your home, and its surroundings. What are your sight lines? Where is there cover, and where are the blind spots? What are your approach angles like. What is the structure of your walls and furnishing and how does that effect the above? Where do your family sleep?

Now, reverse the equation; how would you invade your own home to avoid being shot by the homeowner? Run through it and see what the lines of attack are. Where can you invade without being seen? Where is YOUR cover? How can you best compromise the structure?
Make sure you know the difference between "Cover" and "Concealment". Concealment is pretty easy - anything that hides you from the enemy. Cover is a different beast - cover is anything that can protect you from the enemy. For example, hiding behind a piece of drywall is concealment, but not cover. Just about anything can shoot through drywall. Hiding behind the engine compartment of your car - that's cover (and concealment). The engine compartment should be able to stop most bullets from going through and hitting you.

Chris goes on later to describe the equipment and mindset needed to "clear your house" (go from room to room, making sure there are no enemies). That's a bit overkill for the average joe - I would recommend gathering everybody together in an easily defensible position, reinforcing that position, covering the entries, and waiting for the police to arrive. The reason you don't want to go clearing the house is that whoever's on defense has a major advantage - yeah, you may know the house like the back of your hand, but the hunted always has the advantage.

For my house, I would gather everybody upstairs in the master bedroom, have everybody huddle in the closet behind the dressers, clothes, gunsafe, etc. I would then cover the hallway leading up the bedroom entrance with my shotgun, while someone else dials for help. (In case you're thinking about breaking into my house, I've also got beartraps on the rooftop, C4 in the chimney, and unbreakable safety glass. Or I might not. You want to take a bet?)
Now, figure out how you are going to minimize your disadvantages, and maximize your advantages.

First tip? A decent alarm system. Look for one with panic buttons for your entries, and your bedroom. If you can't do that, then put individually activated screamer alarms on your doors and windows. For both types, you want setups with a shock sensor and if possible a motion sensor, not just beams or magnetic contacts (though these can be a problem with pets).

Next, house lighting. Human beings don't operate well in the dark; especially when they are not well trained and prepped to do so.

I like a wall or baseboard outlet mounted flashlight in every room; preferably one that turns on as an emergency light if the power fails.

With your normal lighting, are there dark wells that will leave hiding places? If so you want to put some kind of lighting there. It's just better looking and more pleasant anyway, and it's definitely more secure. Remember, don't neglect lighting the exterior approaches to your house as well.

Also, I HIGHLY recommend that you have some battery powered emergency lighting in (and out of) your home. Not just flashlights, but wall mounted battery backed floods, and some battery powered touch lights. You only need a few; one in the entry, one in the garage, one by the back door, one covering stairs etc... If you can get a command lighting system with a switch by the front door, and another in your bedroom (next to your panic button) so much the better.

Third, mirrors. If you have blind spots (and everyone does), you need to compensate for them. One of the best ways to do this, is with ceiling mirrors. It might sound silly, but there are half globe shaped mirrors as small as 4" across, designed for retail environments. They are really unobtrusive when selected and mounted properly. Even better, only you know they are there, and only you know that blind spot isn't really a blind spot (how many goblins are going to look at the corners of your cielings?). That said, remember, if you can see them, they can see you. If you can't mount cieling mirrors, try positioning decorative mirrors strategially as well as decoratively.

Oh and remember, bare windows at night are a one way mirror from the outside into a lighted room, and a blindspot to the outside.
Nightlights, they're not just for kids anymore! As an aside, if you're having problems with burglars in the area, an outdoor motion-activated floodlight covering your driveway/garage would be a very good investment. Besides being a nice safety measure, you can be sure that it'll dissuade a lot of common thieves.

I'll skip the stuff on flashlights, since he mostly goes over the tactical, room-clearing skills - but suffice it to say you should have plenty of them scattered around the house.
Now, make plans. First make maps of your house and surroundings, and map and plan out escape routes, and escape procedures. Response procedures to the major possible emregencies. Contact procedures. Especially important, COMMUNICATIONS procedures. And remember, WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN.

Now its time to go through all of this with your family, and anyone else who spends a large amount of time in your house (especially if they stay the night). Everyone has to know the plans, in what situation they apply, what role they play, and generally what they are supposed to do.
Keep in mind that things could happen while you're away - so make sure your spouse is capable of taking over.
Okay, now to what y'all are really here for, the weaponry.

First, I recommend everyone have at least two, and possibly four DIFFERENT home defense weapons; and I strongly recommend multiple copies of each if you can afford it

Why multiple copies? Because in some cases you want more than one weapon of each type hidden through the house; or multiple copies of one type accessible in the bedroom so that you AND your spouse can both be adequately armed.
He lists several different types of weapons, and perhaps gets a little too detailed (especially for a non-firearms enthusiast), so I'll summarize:

1) The best all-around weapon for home defense is the shotgun, preferably in 12 gauge. 20 gauge will also do, if the recoil of the 12g is too much. Either are superior to a handgun.
2) If you live in a close neighborhood or an apartment, be especially careful of where you're shooting. Use low-recoil rounds with 00 or #4 buck.
3) You should only use the handgun to get you to a shotgun.
4) Use whatever handgun you are the most competent and comfortable with. The simplest and most reliable choice would be a full size revolver - but use whatever you're best with.

Chris goes into more detail on ammo, handguns, carbines, and rifles, read the rest of the article if you're interested.

Then he moves on to an important consideration: Storage
Finally, that brings up the consideration, where we are going to put these weapons?

Tough question that. We need to think about ease of access, as well as restricting access to those who shouldn't have it (like kids, cleaning ladies, the pool guy etc...).

The first real question is, do you have kids; and if so how old?

Kids under about 3-5 or so generally don't have the hand strength necessary to actuate the firing mechanism of most DA pistols; so there is less worry there. Kids over the age of 7 or 8 or so can be taught proper firearms safety and respect for their parents things. The problem is teenagers, who may think it's cool to play with guns even if you've tought them properly not to (because teenagers are mostly stupid and contrary by definition - they may do it just to spite you); and kids who are strong enough to accidentally work a trigger, and not mature enough to really undertand they shouldnt.

To my mind, an unloaded gun is basically useless; as is a locked gun. The purpose of having a gun by your bedside is that it is accessible to you to defend yourself INSTANTLY. That said, if you have children, it makes sense that when you aren't around the gun should be locked up, and unloaded. You simply make it part of your nightly routine to unlock and load the weapon, and your morning routine to render it safe again.

Long guns are a bigger problem to secure, but they are also not generally needed as quickly as a pistol might be.
Whether your guns are locked up or not; I recommend that anyone over the age of 5 or so spending any amount of time in a house with guns, be given basic safety training about how to deal with, and handle guns. I recommend the excellent NRA Eddie Eagle program, and the supplementary materials they have, as well as their home defense safety materials as guides. Make gun safety a part of your emergency response training for your household, along with all of the other things I mentioned above.
I whole-heartedly agree with this. By introducing your children to firearms at a young age, and teaching them the proper handling and safety rules, you remove a lot of the mystery and curiosity, and drastically reducing the chances of an accident. They will also be ready to help you fight off the Indians British Mexicans British again Germans BATFE when they come to destroy your liberties.
Remember above all else, the key to defending yourself at ANY time, in ANY situation, is mental preparation. Plan to react, and react to plan. Fight like you train, and train like you fight.

These saying may be trite, but they can save your life; and the lives of your family.
A lot of this article may seem like overkill for Joe Q. Public. Realistically, half his advice would be enough to get you through 90% of home break-in encounters. But do you really want to take that chance? Also keep in mind that training and preparedness aren't just a culmulative benefit - they're exponential - in that the more prepared and trained you are, the much easier and safer it is to defend yourself. Spending 2 hours on this stuff is going to be more than a 2x improvment over a single hour. So prepare yourself.