Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training shared a blog this morning titled, I’m Going To Kill Anyone Who Breaks Into My House. In the post he talks about some of the scenarios that he is responded to in his capacity as a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) of people who were in homes, perhaps uninvited, but not maliciously. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do.

A few years ago I got out of the shower and was walking from my bathroom to my bedroom to get dressed. I walked around the corner with nothing more than a towel in my hand and saw two women I had never met before standing in my living room.

I jumped, let out a bit of a yell and ducked back around the corner as they looked away quickly.

I took a peak around the corner and asked, “Can I help you?”

One of the ladies told me her name and said she was going to be my son’s preschool teacher and she was here for a home visit that I had scheduled via phone months ago and entirely forgotten about.

I asked her how she got into our house since I keep the doors locked at all times and she told me that our then four year-old son had opened the door and invited her in.

I apologized, excused myself, ran upstairs, got dressed and returned for a rather pleasant visit.

So, here’s the exact scenario that Greg was talking about. Why didn’t I freak out, grab my nearest firearm and start blasting away? After all, there were two strangers standing in my living room!

Here are some things to consider and some lessons learned:

Body Language

When I came around that corner what I saw was two nicely dressed women standing awkwardly in my living room with purses on their arms and clipboards in their hands. They looked awkward and uncomfortable and just as embarrassed by the situation as I was. They hadn’t even made themselves comfortable enough to sit down on my couch. None of that indicated to me that they were criminal masterminds there to do me and my family great bodily harm.

Had I come around the corner and saw two people rifling through my things, in the process of trying to steal something or hurting either of my children the response, I’m sure, would have been quite a bit different.

Weapons Access

I was in the shower. I had two children at the time. One was four, the other was not even a year old. I had locked up my firearm for the time that I was in the shower and would put it back on after I got dressed, but now I found myself naked with two strangers in my house.

Where I was in my house allowed me the option of retreating to the safe and acquiring a weapon but that would have meant leaving my children in the same room as the strangers. Had they been malicious it would have been a terrible situation to be in.

Safety and access is always a delicate balance for parents. While I normally carry a firearm on my person, even in my home, I was taking a shower and so I secured my firearm for the 15-20 minutes I would not have clothes on. As it happened, that was the exact moment someone decided to come into my home. Sometimes your luck is just that bad.

Children Are Unpredictable

We’ve had many discussions with our children about what they are and are not allowed to do. Opening the door for strangers has (and continues to be) on the “no-no” list. To this day I do not know what enticed my son to open the door for two strangers but that’s exactly what he did. We had another long discussion about that after his new teacher left.

The point is, however, that despite being taught not to do something, it’s exactly what he did. I doubt very seriously that either of the women asked him to let them in. I do, however, know that my son is far too trusting for his own good or, apparently, for the good of his family.

This goes to illustrate that if you are weighing the safety of yourself or your family on the understanding and application of instruction on a young child you are making a gamble with your life and the lives of your family members. This goes for tactics and for safe storage of firearms.

Most People In Your Home Do Not Need To Be Shot But That Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Be Prepared

In closing, I’ll reiterate that most of the people who will find in your home (even if they aren’t invited by you, personally) do not need to be shot.

As an EMT I have responded to at least one call where a woman called 911 believing she was having a heart attack. We responded to the home and entered it and the husband was standing in the kitchen completely unaware that his wife had called for our services. If he’d been armed and under the premise that he would shoot any stranger who was in his home he would have shot the very people responding to his wife’s call for help.

This, in addition to the many other stories told by other responders in addition to the number of family members, friends and innocent individuals who have been killed by home owners makes me strongly caution home-owners to check their practices and take some simple steps to prepare themselves for anyone in their home, friend or foe.

  • Have A Light

If you don’t have a flashlight by your nightstand, change that practice. Identify every target before you decide whether or not it needs to be shot.

  • Learn To Communicate (With And Without A Gun In Your Hands)

My friend, Claude Werner, is probably the biggest proponent of people learning to talk with guns in their hands. By his estimation, many of these unnecessary shootings could be avoided if only people would ask simple questions or issue very simple commands such as, “Who’s there?” “Get out!” or the like.

If he is awake, take a position of cover, call the police and order him to leave. Don’t try to hold him at gunpoint (or baseball bat point) or try to restrain him. Just get a good description and tell him to get out.  Hopefully. the police will catch him as he stumbles away.  Even if they don’t, you no longer have a problem to handle.

Greg also has some great links in his article to Larry Lindenman’s series on managing the “Don’t Shoot… Yet” scenarios.

Don’t let yourself get in the mindset that could leave you with the blood of an innocent party on your hands.