Owning a firearm for home defense

I agree with Crafter_Man about getting your wife to start shooting. My girlfriend hadn’t ever even seen a gun before meeting me, and now she’s a frickin Special Op’s deadeye. Women dig guns, most of them just don’t know it yet. Start them small and let them see how much fun it is. Especially if she’s got great hand-eye coordination.

But I quoted this to ask a serious question of one of my fellow gunners. Why the insistance on the pump? I have people ask me IRL about a home defense gun and if they press me I tell them to get a double coach gun. If you need more than two shots with a shotgun you’re either doing it wrong or you’re fucked anyway, plus there’s no chance of short stroking the action under duress. Grab it and blow one or two barrels (even have your choice of rounds in each) and you’ll need to learn nothing more than thumbing a safety under stress.

I am vehemently opposed to handguns, or any guns really but particularly handguns, being available to every Tom, Dick and Mary who don’t have a felony record and a valid ID.

If you keep a handgun safely stored, it’s useless in the case of a home invasion. There are too many accidental shootings to ignore in terms of the validity of having a handgun in the home, a good majority of illegal handguns on the streets are obtained by breaking into law abiding citizens’ homes and stealing them… Case in point, one of my husband’s co-workers was just burglarized. The thief(s) got away with SIX handguns and two shotguns. Most burglaries take place when nobody is home. The average burglar doesn’t want to run into the homeowner. There are now six more handguns and two shotguns in the hands of criminals in Houston, TX… Brilliant!

I also have to ask the question, “could I really shoot someone?” and I don’t think I could unless I really believed my life of the lives of my family members were in jeopardy. I think I’d be begging them just to take the money and the stuff and get out before I’d be able to shoot someone.

Get an alarm system.

I am a bit curious as to how having a gun would have stopped that guy from colliding with the telephone poll. Would you have shot the tires out, or was the plan to stand in front of the poll and frighten him away?

I’m so not a fan of guns, but don’t have a gun for “home defense” if you don’t have bullets. Bringing out a gun can easily escalate the situation, and an intruder will assume the gun is loaded and that you intend to use it. If it’s not, you may well be wounded or dead and your wife will lack both gun and husband to help defend her.

(I’m one of those types who handing a gun to would pretty much equate to giving the gun to the intruder. However, my husband wants to start storing his hunting shotgun at our house rather than at his parents’ house, so this means I should probably learn how to use it. I am not looking forward to that chore.)

Shotguns are reasonably good home defense weapons.
Pump actions? Why?
Manually operated weapons are just one more thing that can go wrong.
Short-stroke that pump gun and you are in a bad place.
Click when you need bang.
Maybe a jam that is more difficult to clear than you really want to deal with under life or death conditions.
Someone will be along directly to offer some drivel about pump guns being able to use a wider range of ammunition.
The thing is, a defensive weapon needs to be reliable only with the ammo you are using for defense.
If it won’t cycle skeet loads at the range, that doesn’t mean a thing.
It’s also a good question how you intend to work that pump gun if you lose the use of one of your arms.
Soldiers fight for a living and they started getting away from manually operated weapons generations ago. Police continue to use them for budgetary reasons and because pump shotguns can cycle certain specialty rounds that you, a private citizen, aren’t going to require.

It was pretty obviously about police response time to his house.

If you’re in Jersey or near it, I have a fun suggestion for you to see if you enjoy shooting. I think that should really be the first step here.

Since you don’t offer a specific cite it is impossible to provide an authoritative refutation, but such statistics invariably conflate legitimate and avoidable accidents, domestic disturbance shootings, intentional suicides, and legitimate uses of self-defense against a “family member or friend” who are threatening the lives of members of the household in order to exaggerate the total number in an attempt to make it appear that having a firearm in the household is a perilous exercise. (Given that nearly half of all households in the 20th century have had firearms in the home and generally less secure than is expected today, that claim is facile on its face). A firearm stored properly (locked, and if not intended for defensive use, unloaded and in inoperable condition) in a household in which only responsible and trained adults, and others under appropriate supervision are permitted access to the firearms is no more of a danger than power tools, gardening implements, and kitchenware. I’ve handled firearms all of my adolescent and adult life without injury to myself or others, albeit with early and vigorous safety and marksmanship training.

On the other hand, to address the question of the o.p., if there is some question about the competence or willingness of people in the household who may handle firearms, it is probably a good idea to reconsider keeping them available for defense. A firearm is not a panacea against attack and should not be relied upon as a threat alone; displaying one may deter an attack, but may also require using it to engage a perpetrator who is not deterred; ditto for realistic looking replicas. An unwillingness to follow through simply makes the presence of a weapon more dangerous for the wielder.

I tend to agree with silenus; your best defense against a threat of home invasion is a dog, the bigger the better. Very few perpetrators will be willing to face off with a medium-sized or larger dog, and all but the most benevolent breeds have a protective streak when it comes to threats to their household. Alarm systems tend to be only of value against amateur thieves, as most home alarm systems are readily bypassed by anyone with a modest degree of expertise (I say this as a former alarm system installer) and will only give you a response time comparable to that provided by local law enforcement.


This is simply false. Any good, solid, heavy safe that can be quickly accessed (preferably with a digital combination lock) will be quite a sufficiently secure method of storage and will not be a significant obstacle to rapid retrieval in an emergency. For me, casually moving from the middle of my home to my gun safe and opening it takes me about ten seconds. My defensive weapons in the safe are stored cocked and locked. In an emergency I could be armed and ready almost as quickly as if I just kept my shotgun lying unsecured in a closet.

A few thoughts here from a long-time shooter.

If you and/or your wife have a temper problem, ever really lost it during an argument, broke out a window, threw stuff, etc, do not get a gun. If either of you has a drinking problem (even if you’re a happy drunk), or has ever flipped out (with or without drugs), forget the gun idea.

I agree with the shotgun recommendation. You mentioned shooting an M60 so I’m sure you have a good idea how much stuff a .30 caliber rifle bullet will go through. I once knew a guy who served 18 months for accidentally blowing up his neighbor’s TV.

You are getting a gun for a specific reason so think it through. Think it all the way through. Say you hear breaking glass at 2 AM. What’s your plan? Then try it (without the loud part). Count seconds while you drag the gun out of the case, find the ammo, jack in rounds, etc. FTR, I have found that the only way I have a hope of being fast enough is if the gun is stored with a full magazine. For safety I store it with the hammer down on an empty chamber, safety on, and no gun lock. A clip fed gun could be stored with a full clip out of the gun, but shotguns typically use a tube magazine.

You might also have a look at your home’s layout and what the walls are made of. How will you fight the house? A .38 Special will go through two or three layers of sheet rock. But a shelf full of books will stop a .44 Magnum. Cover, lines of sight, hold points, fallback positions? Make your decisions way in advance because if you hesitate you’re dead. You might want to keep these thoughts to yourself as I have found that a lot of usually logical people tend get creeped out by this. I don’t know why; I am not talking about blowing up girl scouts, I’m planning for a trigger happy burglar. Whatever, no point in making folks uncomfortable. Just take a walk around the house and think a little.

Think it all the way out the back door. Study up on the legal implications. If you do have to shoot a guy plan on spending some time in jail, as well as pretty much all your money defending yourself from the local DA. It sucks and it’s wrong, but the way I look at things it’s better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.

You have to think about kids and dumb nosy guests too. Once again the law is against you here. For starters, all guns except your home defense weapon should be securely locked up. A gun safe is best but at least cable locks or trigger locks. Lock up the ammo too. I put a trigger lock on my gun every morning and unlock it every night. If I’m even slightly buzzed I don’t handle guns so I just leave it locked up that night. I leave a couple small 5 watt LED night lights on so I can get a definite visual, but the area behind me is dark.

Rent some equipment and go play paintball. I was shocked at how often I got killed. I was also surprised at how often I killed even the more experienced guys. Bottom line; if lead is flying it’s always a crapshoot. All you can really do is tilt the odds in your favor.

So when you get back, Whiteknight, how big is your dog?

Wow, what a timely thread. I have been thinking of getting a gun for self defense, too. In the past 7 months or so my vehicle was stolen and never recovered, a significant fire occurred, at least one girl was robbed and raped, and a homicide occurred this past week. Needless to say I need to get the hell out of this apartment complex. And this isn’t a notoriously high crime area. A lot of shady characters have moved in here over the couple of years I have been living here and it’s just gotten worse.

So this advice is perfect. I would have never thought of the shotgun route though. I would have thought that would take to long to get setup and some kind of pistol would have been better. I guess I need to do some reading to really understand all the differences and the terminology.

I don’t consider myself a gun guy but I am a gun owner. I own a .38 revolver that is kept secure in my bedroom. I have friends who are guy guys, so I get the opportunity to go down to the range once in a while to shoot and I feel pretty comfortable with my weapon.

Why do I have one? Peace of mind. I don’t want to sound wierd, but I sleep well knowing that if I needed to, within seconds I can be the equal of any man on this earth. It doesn’t matter how big he is, how mean he is, how high he is, how depraved he is, or how much of a hardened criminal/gangster he is. With my weapon in my hand, with my training, with my practice, and with hopefully my superior positioning (from my bedroom I can see all other bedrooms and a lot of my downstairs) I am confident that I could end someone’s life if I needed to to protect my family. I know that the chances of someone breaking into my home while I am home are very very slim. This knowledge, as well as the confidence i have with my gun, allows me to live without fear of that sort of thing.

Presumably you mean this to only apply to a DA/SA pistol with a decocking lever, but it’s worth stating explicitly: Condition 2 (round in the chamber with the hammer down) is definitely not advised for single-action-only pistols (like the numerous variations of the ever-popular 1911 pistol). Without a decocking lever, you have to pull the trigger and ease the hammer down manually onto a loaded chamber, an extremely sensitive operation in which the smallest slip could result in a discharge. (And since your hand is necessarily right behind the slide manipulating the hammer, you are guaranteed a nasty hand injury even if you had the gun pointed in a safe direction.)

I have a Kimber 1911 which is always in Condition 1 – with a round in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the manual thumb safety engaged – whether it’s in my safe or on my hip.

Thank you for all the responses. I’ll try to address some of the questions that have come up.

Our dog is a mixed breed poodle, standing fairly tall but only 45 pounds. As long as she hasn’t just come out of the pool her hair makes her look a bit bigger. She has a surprisingly ferocious bark and growl, but is the biggest wuss in the world when it comes to actually confronting a stranger. She’s a great watch dog, but she’d make a pretty poor guard/attack dog.

My wife actually does have some firearms experience. This may sound difficult to believe, but she took a shooting class (.22 handguns) at her private Catholic high school. So, she’s fairly well educated on the subject but is still somewhat uneasy about having guns and ammo in the house.

My shooting experience is limited to perhaps five summer camp experiences with a .22, maybe a dozen times shooting a .22 at my grandparent’s house, two years of ROTC training in which I fired a total of about 80 rounds through an M16 and about the same on an M60, and one trap shooting experience with both a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge. I’ve shot a lot of blanks through the M16 in training exercises, but either my aim magically degraded to near zero, or the (now retired?) MILES gear was way off because I couldn’t hit squat. For what it’s worth, I can consistently get nickel to quarter sized groupings at 50 yds on all the rifles I’ve shot. My uncle-in-law, an experienced shooter, was very impressed with my trap shooting skills and was surprised to learn that I’d never even held a shotgun before. All of this was obviously under very controlled conditions and I realize that the breathing techniques and such would probably go out in the window in a SHTF situation since I have no training in that area.

Someone mentioned paintball. I used to be pretty bad-assed at paintball, mostly in woodland and simulated urban/indoor settings. I don’t know how much that would help me out in a home defense scenario.

Regarding the guns but no ammo issue, I meant to say here that I’ll be inheriting some guns from my late grandfather but that I do not intend them for home defense. Thus, I do not have any need for ammunition in the house. I have absolutely no intention of using them, unloaded, to intimidate a would-be attacker.

My wife and I are not high temper people and we’ve never had an argument where we’ve even yelled at each other. Neither of us have ever “flipped out” and we don’t drink too much. If I were to flip out, it’d be ninja style anyway, and I wouldn’t need a gun. I suppose that when we have kids there’s the possibility of a really bad seed, but for now I firmly believe that there is no risk of intentional domestic violence.

This doesn’t really have too much bearing on the issue being discussed, but I do have several years of martial arts experience and would be cautiously confident going up against an unarmed person that is roughly my size, or a bigger person that I knew had no training.

I’m not so sure that people who Are that sure that they are capable of instantly taking a human life should have one either.
I don’t have a stance on the issue one way or the other from a moral standpoint.

One thing I didn’t see mentioned was that to be an effective weapon of protection, you need to be able to access it (and the ammo) quickly. A gun doesn’t do you any good if you have to fumble with the combination of a safe and then run downstairs to find the ammo. OTOH you also don’t want it out in the open where anyone can just get to it.
Oddly enough, I’ve never really thought about getting a gun when I lived in my Manhattan studio appartment (and I think it might be illegal anyway). Well, sometimes in the middle of the night I might be like “what if some dude comes in here!!”.

It’s very easy to believe that your wife has experience with guns but doesn’t want them in the house. I’m the same way. She’s more lenient than I am though, I won’t allow them in my home at all. It does sound like a non-gun option would be better in your case.

Actually, I meant the gun class at her Catholic school. :slight_smile:

Bigger? But even small dogs are hard to balance on a clay launcher:smiley:

“Sit, UBU. Sit! Good dog.”

Probably a bit more than that.

Bonus: book penetration