Is Self Defense Important to You?
Self defense outside and inside of the home are both controversial subjects that are in the news frequently.
Part of this discussion focuses on armed self-protection which may not be appropriate for everyone. It is a very personal decision with enormous ethical and legal responsibilities.
This article will briefly focus on certain aspects of these subjects.
I am educated on these subjects but I am only offering advice that you may wish to consider.
Ultimately, a person planning to choose to defend themselves MUST consult with proper law enforcement authorities to learn the legal issues.
Some very important points about firearms:
- Studies on dangerous criminals have repeatedly shown that they are very reluctant to select a potential victim if they suspect the potential victim is armed.
- Many states have right-to-carry laws. If you wish to consider carrying a weapon to protect yourself, you must contact your local law enforcement authorities to ask for advice.
- States have various laws about your right to protect yourself in your home. You MUST learn these to act legally to protect yourself.
- Nowhere in the United States is it lawful to use deadly force to protect personal property. I cannot overstate the importance of this fact.
- Additionally, overuse, careless, and/or inappropriate use of lethal force can send you to prison for a long time.
- Firearms are some of the most dangerous devices ever created. No one should own or plan to use one without proper training in both safety and proficiency.
Personal Self Defense in Your Home
If you are confronted with a dangerous individual intent on committing harm to you and/or your family, I think armed resistance is probably your best option.
As the deputy sheriff who visited our Neighborhood Watch program stated, "I assure you, if you're armed and trained, you are not going to be a victim."
Firearms are probably your best defense, especially if you are small and your assailant is large, strong, and highly motivated.
Two helpful books I recommend for getting comfortable with firearms and home defense:
Firearms have drawbacks and liabilities that you must consider. Here are a few:
- If you make a mistake with a firearm, you could kill yourself, a loved one, or a neighbor.
- Many firearms offer too much force for safe use inside a home. (This assertion will be explained in the paragraph below.)
- The presence of a firearm could present a danger to anyone untrained in its correct use, especially children.
- Most firearms present the real danger of over-penetration which will endanger people other than an assailant.
Years ago I had to make decisions about personal self defense issues. Here are the most important points I discovered in my research:
- High powered rifles can shoot all the way through several homes under the right circumstances. For inside-the-home protection, they are a poor choice.
- Most handgun calibers have a similar problem, over-penetration. Under the right circumstances, they can shoot all the way through a home, penetrating multiple walls.
- Handguns have the added danger of having a short barrel and being relatively small and light. Children have a much easier time operating most handguns than they do other firearms. A handgun's barrel can be swung across the span of an entire room in less than a second.
- Shotguns loaded with buckshot or slugs can penetrate an entire house. Plus, their recoil is ferocious and even painful to the shooter.
I standardized on the following firearm for my own personal self defense in our home for the following reasons:
- A Mossberg 500 pump shotgun with a shoulder stock and an 18.5 inch police barrel (no choke). It is extremely reliable (used by the U.S. Coast Guard) and relatively inexpensive.
- Load: #9 birdshot in 2 3/4 inch shells. This ammunition provides for low recoil and very low penetration of walls. However, at close range, it is one of the deadliest weapons a person can use. A hit to the torso or head will instantly stop an assailant.
- Pump shotguns are too big for little children to easily pick up or operate.
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Safety Precautions in Our Home
- Our children were taught the dangers of firearms.
- When the children got older we taught them how to use the shotgun.
- The gun was never left loaded. Ammunition can be attached to the shoulder stock by means of a nylon ammo belt and can be used to load the weapon in just a few seconds.
- NEVER leave a round of ammunition in the chamber of a shotgun. This leaves the internal firing mechanism cocked, a VERY dangerous situation.
- NEVER trust a shotgun safety. They are notorious for failures.
- ALWAYS, at all times, and under all circumstances, treat all firearms as if they are loaded.
- NEVER take anyone's word that a firearm is unloaded.
- NEVER, if you are unfamiliar with firearms, allow anyone to hand you a firearm.
- NEVER point the muzzle of a gun at anything you are not willing to kill or destroy.
- If you decide that you would rather have a handgun in your home instead of a rifle, all of the aforementioned cautions also apply.
Additionally, you should know that based on police reports, some handgun calibers are not very effective for personal self defense compared to other calibers:
- Calibers smaller than the 9MM or .38 Special calibers are not likely to have an immediate effect on an assailant unless you have a perfectly placed shot.
- 9MM caliber may not initially stop your assailant.
- .38 Special caliber may not initially stop your assailant.
- .357 Magnum caliber - a man stopper with ferocious recoil.
- .40 S&W caliber - a man stopper with ferocious recoil.
- .44 Magnum caliber - a man stopper with ferocious recoil.
- .45 ACP caliber - a man stopper with less recoil (my personal preference).
Automatic pistols require some practice and training to use under stress. Some require more expertise than others to master.
Double action revolvers are like a water gun; aim and squeeze the trigger.
PERSONAL DEFENSE DEVICES: When a gun is not your first choice.
There are many kinds of self defense products out there that do not include firearms. Here's a small list:
Personal Self Defense In Your Car
Most people are relatively safe at home, but are considerably more at risk in their vehicles where they are literally exposed to thousands of people in an ordinary commute. Some of these people are not well. Some are criminals, and some are having a very bad day. You may wish to contact your local law enforcement officials to inquire what you can legally do to protect yourself and your family while in a vehicle.
Assess your personal self defense needs. And be careful out there. The world is less safe with every passing day.
DISCLAIMER: This information and ideas presented on personal self defense are based on my best knowledge and experiences. I do not represent myself as an expert nor am I giving expert advice. I am simply providing information that may or may not be useful to others. Any actions that readers might take in response to this information should be made based upon their own best judgement and is not my responsibility.
Author: Lee Crain has many years of studying and practicing gun safety and has owned many different calibers and firearm types. He has spend years learning how to clean guns, loading his own ammunition, hunting (deer mostly), as well as practicing on the gun range where he has trained many others in gun safety and accuracy. (He is also my wonderful husband.)
Useful Defense Items: