Owning a firearm for home defense

This is a little bit long, but I’ve been thinking this over a lot in the last several months.

First, a little background. I’m not a “gun guy” but I’ve handled and fired several rifles (very accurately given my relatively low level of training), an M60, and a few shotguns, though I’ve never handled handgun. I live in a single family house with my wife, one dog, no kids, in the ex-urbs of a major east coast city. I do not currently own any guns, but I’m set to inherit a few long guns and one revolver from my recently deceased grandfather. My mildly anti-gun wife and I have an understanding that I can bring the guns into the house but I’ll be taking pretty much every safety measure under the sun to secure them and I will not have ammunition in the house.

My nature, and my background in Scouting, makes me someone who always tries to be prepared. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the unlikely possibility of a home invasion and what I might do in such circumstances. Although I acknowledge that the chances of this happening are vanishingly small, I cannot get over the thought that I would be totally helpless if someone were to break in here. As far as property goes, I say take it. Nothing I own is worth risking my life nor the incredible burden I would feel if I killed somebody over a material possession. My family’s safety is completely different, and I would be prepared to defend that with deadly force at the risk of my own life.

Last summer, a man ran off the road in front of our house and collided with a telephone poll. It took the paramedics and cops 10 minutes to get here, arriving simultaneously from two opposite directions. Apparently we’re smack between the two closest stations. 10 minutes seems like an awfully long time to hold out if I really needed the police in an emergency.

So, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of purchasing a firearm for home defense purposes. I am far away from actually deciding to do this, but I’m closer than I ever thought I would be. We’re planning to have kids soon and I honestly don’t know what I would do to protect my family should the unthinkable actually occur.

So how about it, Dopers? I am just being paranoid? My gut is saying that going down this road is not the right decision but that may just be years of thinking of myself as “not a gun guy”. I’d appreciate hearing some opinions from both sides of the fence.

Cliffs Notes

  • Not a “gun guy”, hesitant to bring a gun and ammunition into home
  • Worried about safety of family at home
  • Buy gun?

Get yourself a pump-action shotgun. Just the sound of one being racked has made prospecting burglars think twice. Rifles are not appropriate due to penetration concerns.

And get both yourself and your wife trained in its use.

Second Quartz, and will add:

After you learn to use it, USE IT. Shoot skeet or trap or sporting clays once a month or so. While clays do not equal burglars, it will make you more familiar with the gun. If you want it for protection, then you want to know it backwards and forwards.

I have the impression from statistics I’ve heard over the years that the liklihood of you or somebody in your family getting shot is higher if you own a gun, for several reasons including accidents, and arguments that get way out of hand, and scaring intruders into firing at you, and the unfortunate ready availability of such a “power tool” of destruction, and a variety of other things. Sorry I don’t have a cite, but if’s your decision and you could certainly find some statistics on these things whether I remember rightly or wrongly.

I don’t have a gun and don’t like the idea of my having one at home for self protection or other purposes. My reason is that having a gun seems to create too many possibilities for ugly scenarios.

If somebody with a gun were coming after me and I had no escape options, I think I might like to have one then.

But, if somebody in my family was killed somehow by a gun that I did keep, I am sure I would wish I had not kept it. This seems the liklier of these two scenarios.

As an owner of multiple firearms and, I suppose, a “gun guy” if your gut tells you not to buy one, listen to it. The most important thing about buying any specialized tool like a firearm is your desire to perfect your ability to use it. With a firearm in your hands or your home, you have an incredible responsibility to your family and your neighbors. If you’re not in tune with the gravity of that responsibility and ready, willing and able to accept it, then a gun for home defense is not for you.

On the other hand, if you want a gun for home defense, Quartz is right, a pump shotgun is the way to go. I would even recommend perhaps a 20GA so that your Mrs. should she ever need to, could use it. Now if she NEVER EVER EVER EVER wants to use or handle a gun, again, don’t have one in your house.

If after that you DO want one. Train, Train, Train.

Get a dog.

My hubby owns hunting rifles, I do not handle guns at all.

As said above, it’s too likely something will go wrong and the wrong person will be on the other side of the barrel. Why do you feel you need one? Has your house been broken in to? Do you live in a high crime area? Have you considered an alarm system?

Maybe you’d be more comfortable with a taser, pepper spray, or other non-lethal weapon. In a pinch, you can fight with anything…or nothing, if that’s all you got.

However, it you have to fight like that, you’re fighting for your life, and possibly the lives of your family. You need to pick whatever you feel gives you the best chance of winning that fight. A shotgun is a good choice. Simple to operate, powerful enough to be effective. Or just go down to the range with that revolver you’ve inherited and get some instruction.

Whatever you choose, you’ve got to be able to operate it correctly under extreme stress.

Seconded - more visible deterrent & more fun to play fetch with.

He said he has a dog. If it’s not the right type to be trained to protect, I’m all for the shotgun.

Moved to IMHO because the OP is seeking opinions.

Get a bigger dog. People who are unsure if they are capable of instantly taking a human life, if necessary, are not people who should own firearms for self-defense.

The statistics that say you’re more likely to shoot a family member/friend are rather skewed, so disregard them. Drug dealers and gang bangers shooting each other fall under that category and really screw up the numbers.

After you buy/inherit a gun, are you going to practice and train with it? How much? Are you mentally prepared to kill someone in your living room?
You don’t pull a gun and threaten them until they go away, if you pull a gun you better be ready willing and able to kill. Racking a shotgun to scare them away was a joke, but the suggestion to look at them first was a good one. Not because you don’t have to aim (the spread on a shotgun in a home is measured in inches) but because the overpenetration problem is reduced and stopping power is better with them.

Get into shooting for fun first (unless you’re in immediate danger, of course) and work your way up to home defense would be my suggestion.

I got no dog in this fight; but ,IMHO there will be over 1000 views and over 100 posts and your ignorance will remain unfought.

I’m just sayin.:frowning:

Disclaimer: I am not a “gun guy” either.

If you don’t have ammunition in the house, would a gun be any practical use in an actual burglary?

If you do end up keeping ammunition in the house, is your increased peace of mind due to owning this equipment going to outweigh your wife’s (presumed) decreased peace of mind?

Get a realistic-looking airsoft gun and paint it’s bright orange tip black. If somebody ever breaks in while you’re actually there (a long shot…almost about the same odds as getting attacked by a shark at the exact moment lightning strikes your ass), point the realistic-looking gun at them, and in your best Dirty Harry voice yell out, “FREEZE MOTHERFUCKER! GET ON THE FLOOR!”

If it doesn’t work, it’s because you’re a terrible actor. Grab a baseball bat.

Shotgun. 20 guage. Pump.

Buy the shells, get out and shoot with it, both you and the missus, at least once a year, moreso at first. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.

My sister chased a burglar out of her house with nothing more than the sound of a shotgun being racked. No, she didn’t have any shells, but if the guy had called her bluff, she also had no way out of that house. Now she has a pistol as well.
Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
Never point a firearm at anything you’re not willing to kill or destroy.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
Be sure of your target, and beyond.
If I had a child, I’d tell that kid that although I’d never hit him unless he really misbehaved (I do believe in spanking, but extremely rarely), I’d smack the living crap out of him if I ever found him playing with one of my guns.

Go down to a shooting range with your wife and rent both 9mm and a .40 caliber handgun with an instructor. You’ll need ear plugs and headphone ear protection as it is very loud in an indoor range. This is something both of you should do and if you purchase a gun it should be a regular training event. I found my one and only trip to the range for sport shooting to be educational and fun. I did this for the same reason behind this thread.

Yeah, and then if the guy decides to not comply you can sting him to death with plastic balls. Never, ever, ever, pull a fake gun. You stand a fair chance of being not fake killed over such a punk stunt. As already mentioned you don’t pull a gun for the deterrent effect that the sight of the thing has, you pull a gun to shoot someone.

And you don’t but a pump gun for the sound it makes. If your defense weapon isn’t in battery and ready to be used then it’s as useless as a club. When you wake up in the dead of night because some crackhead has kicked your door in you don’t want to risk short pumping the gun and jamming it.

For a married or involved guy owning a gun is not a singular decision, it’s a family decision. Everyone capible of shooting the gun should be familiar with it and comfortable with or forget the whole idea.

Get a bigger dog or a taser.

Another gun guy checking in.

Hands down, the very best home defense weapon is a pump action shotgun. 20 gauge is the best compromise between manageable recoil and effectiveness.

As others have stated, training is the key. Enroll in a shooting a class as soon as possible.

If you’re going to have a weapon in your house, it only makes sense to have ammo in your house, too. Your wife is either foolish or ignorant on this matter. Assuming that she’s ignorant, she should also enroll in a shooting class. Her fear of firearms will likely disappear after she learns about guns and participates in some shooting exercises.