Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Defensive mindsets can prevent defensive shootings.

You've probably seen the title to this post and assumed that it is not going to have anything to do with building guns. If you thought this, you are at least partially correct. I have still been building gun parts, and trying to finish up my run of Suomi M31 parts orders, and move back to building the Hi Point carbine drum, as well as finish up my RPD and my Bren MK1. I'm doing what I can to budget my time and get everything done in order.

The point of this post is to outline something else entirely.
5 days ago, I had to face one of the worst feelings I've ever dealt with in my life.
I had to come face to face with the knowledge that I am not invisible, that my family is not impervious to harm, that we do not live in a glass bubble, insulated from the world.
I also got to find out first-hand that all the training my family and I have done has paid off when it counts the most.

5 days ago, I got a call from my (very frantic) wife at 0330. She was borderline incoherent and very upset.
I was away from the house that morning, and apparently someone decided that it would be a good idea to come pound on our door at about 20 minutes after 3 A.M.
When they did not receive a favorable response, to only pound harder to the point of almost kicking in my front door. Thankfully, our (very, very large) half German Shepherd/ half Great Dane dog alerted as soon as she sensed their presence on the property, and she woke up my wife. Shortly after my wife awoke, the bangs at the door began.
She immediately armed herself with a handgun and headed towards the front of the house, wherein she demanded to know the identity of our late-night guest and what exactly they wanted. The person responded in broken, slurred speech that they needed to use our phone.
The entire time, my wife was positioned at an angle to the door, a few steps back from the door, so that if the door were kicked in, she would be out of the way and would have a clear silhouette target to aim at.
Not to mention our dog was making her intentions very clear as to her personal distaste at the presence of an unknown, unwanted trespasser. This started with a very sharp, very loud snarl, and after the pounding and kicking on the door got louder and more intense, her snarling became a heart-stopping growl and bark. The wife was very clear, very loud, and very firm in her response, that not only was the phone not available for use, but whoever it was outside needed to leave the property immediately or face immediate consequences.

I would suppose that between her firm response, and the aggressive noises the dog was making, that convinced our visitors they had somewhere else they needed to be, and they departed post-haste.

(*side note; Chloe the dog is an absolute sweetheart, and is one of the most affectionate dogs I've known. I've never seen her get terribly aggressive, other than barking when someone rings the doorbell. She was so pissed off at this intruder that she was literally trying to chew her way through the door to get at them. Whoever got through that door was going to be the immediate recipient of a mag dump and a 120 pound dog eating their face.

The wife immediately began following protocol that we had discussed a number of times before. She called 911 while walking through the house, turning on every light inside and outside that she could from inside the house, and informed the dispatcher of the situation, requested a patrol car to come by and check the property. She also informed them that she was indeed armed, and asked that the police give their names and badge numbers when they arrived and knocked on the door. Dispatch complied with these requests, and encouraged my wife to sit tight and to remain at full armed alert until the police arrived.

When the police arrived, they announced their presence as they knocked on the door, gave positive I.D., and after they had done a sweep of the perimeter, they informed my wife that all was clear and she could open the door to allow them entry. She opened the door to let them in, all the while with her handgun at low-ready position, and our dog charged out the door to assess the situation. Once the dog got outside, she indicated that the threat was not to be found and returned inside, all the while swelling her chest with pride and enduring lots of hugs, treats, and petting from my wife and the officers.
 (*another side note- the dog knows not to ever leave the front door. She was in such a defensive state that she did not wait for clearance to leave, but took it upon herself to head out immediately and ensure my family's safety before even thinking of her own. Yes, she's a good dog and has been likewise rewarded for her bravery and assistance.)

The police then asked my wife to put her weapon on safe and holster it, and had absolutely no problem with her remaining armed the entire time they were there, and even went so far as to praise her for her actions, including her professional mannerisms with a deadly weapon. They went on to encourage her to stay armed at all times, and informed her that they would rather show up on the scene to assist in the removal of a Bad Guy's body and some quick paperwork, rather than have to call her husband (me) and have me come I.D. my wife's body. The police were absolutely professional in their work and their advice, and made it very clear that my wife had done a wonderful job, and they would be making more patrols in the area that night and every following night. They made another check of the perimeter before bidding her adieu for the evening, and they would let her know if they caught the perpetrator. The wife then called me back to let me know the situation was under control, and I stayed on the phone with her for about an hour and a half while her adrenaline levels dropped to normal.

Now, for those who tell themselves, "Oh, that could never happen to me. I live in a GOOD neighborhood!' or "That sort of thing doesn't happen around here!", let me tell you about my neighborhood. Most of my neighbors are retirees, many are veterans. Everybody is fairly close-knit, we all look out for each other. This is not a "poor" neighborhood, and while not quite a "rich" neighborhood, crime is all but non-existent here. Defense situations can (and do) happen to almost anyone, anywhere.

What matters here is not that it happened, but that a potentially violent situation was completely avoided, and if it had gotten violent, my significant other was prepared for it. Had violence broken out, my spouse would still be alive to tell the story.
Self defense training schools abound these days, and there have been numerous arguments back and forth on a number of other gun blogs as to their necessity and/or usefulness. While I don't intend to argue that point, I do intend to make it known that the reason my wife did not make a bad decision (i.e. opening the door to a stranger) was due to common sense and the small amount of preparation we have done beforehand. Trips to the gun range are helpful in that they teach you how to use a firearm, and they desensitize you to the flash and noise of shooting, even with protective gear on. Once the use of a firearm has been normalized in your life to some degree, you are then better prepared to use it when it counts.
Would competing in IDPA or IPSIC help you to control your weapon when the adrenaline hits? Absolutely. I don't think anyone would suffer ill effect from having more training, but what matters most is that you have the defensive mindset in the first place, that you have a firearm there for a reason, and should the situation call for it, you pick the right course of action.
In addition to range trips to normalize the presence of firearms, it is also helpful to discuss preparedness with your loved ones. Make sure everyone in your house knows their place and duty if an unexpected situation arises, whether it is a self defense scenario, a fire, or even just bad weather. My wife and I have discussed defensive shootings many times over, and we have concentrated on the immediate steps she should take if one arises. If I am home, she is to arm herself and barricade herself and the kids in a certain bedroom, lock and then barricade the door all the while getting 911 on the phone. I am the "first responder", and it is my job to handle the worst of the worst until the cops show up. If I am away from home, then she is to act in my place. My teenage stepson knows it is his duty to retrieve one of his firearms and give backup to me or her, depending on who the "first responder" is.
Everyone knows that the first rule is to not leave the house unless absolutely necessary, but before you do, make sure you have 911 on the phone.

I'm very fortunate to live in a state and area where self defense is not only encouraged, but expected. The liberals and media (some overlap) can complain about the Stand Your Ground laws all they want, but there are situations in which such laws are absolutely necessary for survival. Thankfully, the trespasser that visited the other night made the right decision to go away, and live to get stumbling drunk and pound on unknown doors another day. Had they persisted, their family would be burying them (or part of them, if my dog had had her way) and mourning their poor choices, all the while probably blaming me or my wife for defending ourselves and our property.

I carry everywhere I go, every day, because it's my duty to protect myself and my family. Even though the police that responded to my wife's call were great people and took care of everything well, they still did not arrive on scene for about 5 minutes after a call was placed. This was excellent response time, but 5 minutes is a looooooong time to wait if you don't have the tools and the mindset necessary to defend yourself and what is rightfully yours.

Do not misconstrue any of this to mean that I would chase a criminal down and shoot them in the back, or even go picking a fight. My main concern is the safety and well-being of myself and my family, though not in that order, and as long as that is established and the threat has vanished, I will do all I can to keep from hunting down anyone and harming them.

I leave that to my dog.

On another note, I spoke to my wife after the incident, and she made a request that a rifle be left out of the safe for her to use, in case her handgun were just not enough to neutralize a threat. I was more than happy to comply, secretly hoping this might wind up being an excuse for us to purchase her another rifle or shotgun that was implicitly for home defense. We went through several rifles and shotguns, all of which were either too heavy for easy manipulation, or didn't have enough ammunition capacity to be worth considering. Finally, I remembered the M1 carbines I have.
I was thinking of them a few days prior, and had really been wondering why in the heck I even own them aside from liking the historical significance of them, as well as my desire to own every gun ever made. I relinquished one from the safe, and put it in my wife's hands. She immediately expressed her appreciation for how lightweight it was, even fully loaded with 15 or 30 round magazines. She could maneuver the rifle around the house, through hallways and doorways, walking or running, with ease.
So, while it seems I am very fortunate to have had something on hand that immediately solved the problem of my wife needing to make sure she could bring enough gun to a gun fight, it seems I am now short a rifle in my collection, as she has fallen deeply in love with this rifle.
This simply cannot stand, and I must take steps to rectify this immediately.

Carry your guns, people. At home and outside of it. You never know when life is going to remind you that good fortune does not always shine upon you, and that you, too, may be faced with danger when you are most vulnerable.


  1. TRE,

    Thanks for sharing this. We all too often hear of when these situations go bad but we suddenly hear of them when nothing happens.

    I think from reading this your wife didn't announce she was armed, is that correct?

    Not a criticism just a point of curiosity. Certainly her actions and the presence of the dog prevented what could have been a crime.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bob.
      I'm glad to be able to share it with others.
      While it turned into a "nothing happened" incident, it could have (and had the trespasser been allowed in, I really think it WOULD have) been much, much worse.

      I don't know if she announced she was armed. I'm pretty sure she did, since she's not fond of wasting time. :D

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Teke.
      We are all relieved that it went as well as it could have.

  3. Wow, I'm glad that everything went okay. Next blog shoot... you need to bring your wife, would love to meet her!

    1. I will make a point of telling her that.
      She's not quite as much of a gunny as I am, but she still likes shooting.

      Speaking of, when is the next blog shoot?
      Thanks for stopping by, Belle!

    2. I'm ready when you all are! But maybe when it cools down some..... this last one was sooo much fun!

    3. Heck yeah on both points!
      Hopefully I'll have some new toys for everyone to play with, including a better-functioning .50 BMG. I've got most of the bugs worked out of the ol' girl now.

      Bob and I are discussing a shoot. Stay tuned.

  4. I confess,I cringed when I read that your wife let your dog out *in the presence of the officers*. Clearly everything went all right, so I have to ask: were the police were known to your dog as friendlies? Did your wife give the "Don't attack these people" command? Or is Chloe just smart enough to know the difference between a perp and a cop?

    1. Erin,
      First off, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Second, Chloe is just that smart, really. She could read the emotion and tension on my wife like a book, and usually the dog understands that if me or my wife open the door for someone, that they are not only friends, but they must pay her an attention toll.

    2. Wow. That's great to hear! Chloe is a smart girl. I just get sick to my stomach when I read about police shooting family dogs just because the dog was coming to investigate who was in their territory.

    3. She didn't show them any aggression, so they had no reason to be on the offensive. My wife made it plain before they came in she was armed and they were to exercise great caution.
      I'm sure the Chloe dog made her presence known, though, so they weren't surprised to see her. =)

  5. Very good to hear all ended well! Nice job by everyone involved!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for commenting.
      It worked out as good as it could, short of never happening at all.
      No one got hurt, the wife got a huge boost in confidence, and I lost a rifle to her.
      What else could I ask for?

  6. TRE, have you considered a shotgun rather than a rifle? Lots of stopping power at close range and less likely to penetrate the perp, the wall and the neighbor's house.
    Kudos to you wife.
    And, yeah, when is the next DAB?

    1. As far as blogshoots, I think Bob S. was designated as the community organizer in chief of that, so I'm open to ideas.

    2. Okay, Okay. I get the message ( I'm slow and busy, give me a little bit of a break ).

      I believe someone mentioned they had a range we could do full auto and energetic targets on, right?

      So let's start talking some dates -- later in the fall. September perhaps?

    3. Bob,

      There are no limitations at my range on caliber, shot timing, rapid fire, machine guns, .50 BMG's, etc.
      No tracers or incendiary rounds, though. FMJ, steel core, hollow point, etc is fine.

      There are several pistol bays, steel targets, paper target holders, 300 yard rifle range, a skeet range, and tannerite with RO approval.
      My membership allows as many guests as I want to shoot for free, so no range fees.
      The range is about 5 minutes south of the range we were shooting at back at the Dallas Blogshoot.

      September sounds good for me, since I won't be going to the GBR this year :(

      I'm guessing it would be open to any and all interested bloggers, Texan or otherwise?

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  8. Kx59,

    She has shotguns, but those are mainly range toys. They're too heavy and too large for CQ situations, really, and if she can't comfortably shoot it, reliably, then, well.... Meh.
    I'd rather her shoot an anemic .30 cal carbine that might over penetrate that she can control versus a shotty that won't over penetrate she can barely heft or shoot comfortably.
    With that said, any port in a storm.

    1. good lord, what do you have? A 10 gage?

    2. What do you have against my 10 gauge derringer?
      Nah, the usual (well, *usual* to me) lot of 12's, 20's, and .410's of varying action and manufacturer. The only one that she can comfortably foist is any of the .410's, but why limit yourself to five rounds of .410 shot, when she has 45 rounds of .30 carbine ready to go?
      Besides, most of my neighbors won't mind a little overshoot!
      I hope...

    3. I confess, I laughed at this. Never heard of a .30 described as "anemic" before now.

    4. Erin,

      The .30 carbine round is one of the smaller rounds I own and shoot. =)
      I'm not fond of the .30 carbine's performance when stacked against most any other centerfire rifle round, but it's good enough to do what my wife needs it for.

  9. RedNeckEngineer

    First time visitor- directed here from 3 Boxes of BS. Like you, Im sorta new to the " new" DFW, having lived in College Station for 25 years before moving here.

    I appreciate you sharing the story. Your wife is a level headed lady with the fighting mindset , and you have obviously shown the leadership necessary to get everyone on board with the home defense program. I am glad that the incident turned out to be bloodless; like you, I suspect that the drunken thug was dissuaded from something much worse by prepared and armed resistance. My daughters and wife will get to read the story too - just as a reminder of what "can happen".

    I think the carbine idea has some merit - my suggestion would be to use quality hollowpoints rather than military ball. It subsantially improves the effectiveness of the .30 cal carbine round.



    1. GKT,

      Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for leaving a comment.

      I'm glad others can learn from this story, that's why I put it on the blog.
      You're right, my wife did indeed do everything right and stayed calm and within the law.

      She's okay with the carbine for now, and you are correct about the hollowpoints. I was waiting on the bullets to ship so I can load up some good defensive ammo and put the mil ball back in the ammo cans.

      Point of note, I'm originally from this area, grew up here. I moved to west Texas a few years back, loved it, but wound up having to move back to the Dallas area for personal reasons. Unfortunately, the side effect of the Dallas area being relatively resistant to the economic setbacks many areas are experiencing is that we now have more people, and thus, more crime.
      A large contributing factor is all the Katrina refugees that moved here in 05-06 and just stayed.

  10. I'm very glad to hear everything was resolved in one of the best ways possible (police arriving prior to perp disappearing would have been the only better outcome of which i can think off-hand). I'm sharing this with my own wife, and I'm reminded of the importance of her training, which I have sadly been neglecting. Thank you for the reminder, and thank you for being a responsible husband!

    1. RedeemedBoyd,
      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for commenting.

      You're welcome for the reminder, but thank you in return for passing it on!

  11. Followed Bob S. link over here. First time visitor, but will be back I read what happened to your wife and am very glad it turned out O.K. Your decision to turn a .30 carbine from a safe queen to a home defense tool is a better choice than you may have thought. You may want to consider hard cast bullets rather than hollow points for reliability in feeding reasons and power transfer to the target. Nobody considers the .357 Magnum out of a handgun as "weak" yet everyone considers the .30 carbine as weak. The .30 carbine has effectively the same ballistics from the carbine and the pointability of the short carbine is superior to any handgun.
    Carried the .30 carbine in Vietnam in 1963/1964 and have no complaints with its weight or effectiveness.
    Paul in Texas

    1. Paul in Texas,
      Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for commenting.
      I've had others tell me something similar concerning the viability of the carbine. A good friend of mine who served in Vietnam has told me several times over of trading his M16 for a carbine when he was overseas, and he much preferred the carbine in later years as well. Of course, he had an M2 carbine instead of the M1, but the effect is the same.
      I've never had any hollow point feed issues in this Plainfield carbine, at least not when using the 15 round mags. The 20 and 30 round mags only seem to like the FMJ rounds.

  12. Your very intelligent wife gets one big 'atta girl' from me. Well done. Dogs are great aren't they...

  13. Stephen,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and thanks for the kind words about the wife. She's a keeper....
    Yes, dogs are great in several ways. I prefer their companionship over that of most humans, since the dogs aren't nearly as judgmental.

  14. Glad to hear everything turned out well and that your wife and dog are safe. Excellent job on having a plan set and practicing it.