Yesterday, the news broke about a disabled, elderly Florida man who heard a noise in the night and turned on the lights to find a young man trying to break down his door. He called the police and they showed up, only to stay around the corner while the young man continued to beat on the door. For nearly fifteen minutes, the homeowner tried to balance crutches and gun while begging the dispatcher for help. One neighbor saw the incident, yelled to try to stop it, called 911, and then followed the young man in case danger became imminent. Another neighbor saw the incident, called 911 to report it, then to report in horror as the young man came towards her house instead. If you haven’t seen the story, I’ll link it below. In the meantime, let’s talk about lessons learned once again.
Nobody is coming to save you. No matter how well-funded and trained or not-well-funded untrained the police are. No matter where you live or don’t live. No matter who you are or aren’t. The reality is that you cannot rely on another person to be with you at all times or to arrive when you need. It’s not even that they might show up and be ineffective, they just might not show up at all. When they don’t, it’s not even necessarily anybody’s fault. Unless we have a rotation of round-the-clock bodyguards, we’ll always have moments of being on our own and we’ll always risk having to be the only person who is there to save us. And acknowledging and preparing for that is no bad thing. The worst case scenario is that someone will be there to help you, and you can participate in your own rescue.
Guns don’t solve everything. Having one means having a tool available, but you must be physically able, mentally prepared, and emotionally ready to use it too. If you have or could have any type of physical limitation, are you able to manage that and your gun too? You might have sprained your ankle, broken your arm, or just not have your contacts in. It takes preparation and practice to figure out how to, as a practical matter, hold and accurately shoot a firearm when you aren’t completely able-bodied. It’s not that it’s not possible without, but your odds of confidently and successfully defending yourself will increase dramatically if you put in that thought and time. While you’re at it, you must learn the applicable laws of self-defense. Even if you can reach 911 in time, dispatchers can’t advise you on whether or not you can use deadly force. You need to know the rules and be able to apply them in the split seconds of a defensive encounter. Then, knowing that you are able to physically shoot, that you legally can shoot, you need to decide today if you’re really personally willing to kill someone for their attempt to kill or seriously injure you. I won’t judge you regardless of what your answer to that is, but you have to figure it out now instead of waffling back and forth on it when you’re looking at an attacker with your gun in your hand.
You also need to decide what you are willing to do if you see another person being attacked. Again, there are no right or wrong answers for another person to judge here. It is perfectly okay to decide that you want no part of another person’s issues, that you don’t want to do more than call 911, or that you want to wait until some specific line is crossed before you act. What’s more important is that you are really honest with yourself on whether you can actually stick to that in the heat of the moment, lest you are compelled to act and are unprepared or you later regret what you did not do.
Having non-gun tools available can help make your decisions somewhat – though not entirely – easier. While turning on the porch lights in this case seemed to attract the attacker into beating down the door, it may not have made a difference either way. Certainly, having that light on was a net benefit in identifying the young man as a stranger and, should shooting have become necessary, in making it easier to accurately aim. Meanwhile, a strong flashlight in the neighbor’s hand may have distracted the attacker entirely. And if the homeowner or any of the neighbors had had pepper spray, that might have permitted earlier action to begin disabling the attacker before a door was actually broken through and a life in imminent danger. And it can be used from a distance, instead of risking having to tackle the attacker as he went through a door, as the one neighbor reported planning.
But in the end, an awful lot did go right here. Folks did call 911 for help. The homeowner stayed behind a locked door. He was prepared with a weapon, giving him a better chance than hands alone. The neighbors were not injured. The entire incident ended without anybody being permanently injured or killed. And that’s no bad thing to remember: very often, everything’s going to be okay. It’s just nice if we can stack the odds in our favor, don’t you think?
News story: https://bit.ly/OHO-SheriffHurryUpPlease
My pepper spray of choice: https://bit.ly/OHO-POM (affiliate link)
A pocket sun for your consideration: https://amzn.to/3mmAkNa (also affiliate link)