Actively Defending Your Home

With the rise in terrorism and other forms of violence today, there's no question that the world we live in is a dangerous one. Looking through history, that message is clear, although there are many who like to pretend that we are "too civilized" for such things to happen today. Yet, there seem to be more than enough people around who are not civilized. Either that, or they think being civilized includes rape, stealing and murder.

Every 15 seconds a home is burglarized somewhere in the United States. That works out to 20% of homes being invaded at some point in time. Part of that can be attributed to the high unemployment rate, as people who are out of work and desperate turn to less legal means of supporting themselves. But probably the biggest reason is that only about 13 percent of burglaries and home invasion cases are ever closed by the police.

With such a low risk of capture, it's no wonder that burglars feel comfortable plying their trade. All they need to do is take a few safeguards, and they are very unlikely to get caught. Even if they are, chances are they'll only serve a light sentence, then be back on the streets again.

But home invasions go far beyond just theft of goods. Sixty percent of rapes happen during a home invasion. Considering the actions of the Muslim "refugees" in Europe, I would expect that we will see an increase in this number. Those supposed refugees clearly aren't civilized, at least not by any definition you and I might understand. So to them, raping "infidel women" is fair game.

Not all break-ins or home invasions are alike. While they can be broken down in different ways, for our purposes, we're going to break them down into three different categories:

  • Professional burglaries
  • Amateur home invasions
  • Home attacks during a disaster

The reason I'm breaking them down into these three categories is due to the form and nature of these attacks. Each is distinct in both the people who commit them and what they do in the attack. So, let's see the difference between the three.

Professional Burglaries

I call these people professionals because they truly are. Burglarizing homes for valuables that they can sell or hock is the way they make a living. As professionals, they want the least amount of fuss and the least risk. Therefore, they look for situations where there will be nobody home, they don't attract attention, they don't leave any evidence, and most importantly, they don't get caught.

To accomplish this, most of these burglaries are accomplished during the day, when the family is at work or school. They will avoid homes which have burglar alarms, dogs or anything that will make noise. For the same reason, they avoid breaking windows or doors. Instead, they either look for open windows and doors to enter through or use tricks like "bumping" a lock to open the door.

The good thing about these professionals, is that there is little chance of encountering them. However, if you have a family member who is at home during the day, such as a stay-at-home mom or one who works out of the home, there is a risk of these criminals finding the family member at home.

Amateur Home Invasions

Amateur criminals haven't had the time and experience to fine-tune their methods. Most of them are practicing crime out of desperation, because they can't find a job (I won't get into how hard they are looking or how picky they are being).

Because of their lack of experience, they fall back on the old standard of committing their crimes at night, when they are hidden by the cover of darkness. However, that darkness doesn't do them the least bit of good when they are in your home. This means that they will most likely be breaking into the home when the family is at home. This makes them much more dangerous.

Because the family is at home, these home invasions are marked by violence, whereas the professionals are trying hard to avoid violence. So, this group is much more dangerous for your family. If one of them kicks in your door, you can count on them being armed and you will need to be ready to defend yourself.

Home Attacks During a Disaster

This third group is something that most of us are unaccustomed to encountering, simply because of the rarity.  But it is not unknown for it to happen. Like the amateur home invasions above, this category comes out of desperation. It happens because most people are unprepared to face those disasters. Since they don't have what they need to survive, they turn to doing whatever they can to find food and the other necessities of life. As they say, desperate people do desperate things.

We saw this happen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Looting was rampant; and while much of that was done by people with criminal tendencies, not all of them were even amateur criminals. The news really didn't give us much about what was actually happening in the city, but crime was rampant enough that they declared martial law and confiscated people's guns.

Any serious disaster brings with it a breakdown in society. That means a breakdown in law and order as well. If the recovery time is too long, some of those people organizes into gangs and start attacking homes to get what they need. That creates a situation which is extremely dangerous to the homeowner, as they have to defend against a group, not just one or two individuals.

Passive Home Defenses

While this article isn't really about passive defenses, I want to take a moment to talk about them. Any effective home defense plan has to combine both passive and active home defense measures.

The conventional wisdom about home defense deals with passive defenses. This is the part where people talk about installing deadbolts on their doors and locks on their windows. These defenses are good for dealing with the first category we talked about, the professional break-in artists. But they won't do much to help with the second and third category. You'd need to beef up your passive defenses in order for them to be any help in either of these situations.

That's not to say that you shouldn't put any effort into passive defensive measures, you should. Even in the case of a home attack by the gangs that form in the aftermath of a disaster, those passive defenses can help delay the invaders, giving you time to react. Again, for them to do this, you'll need to beef them up. The more you beef them up, the more they can delay.

The Fight or Flee Decision

There are two basic options you have in a home invasion; to fight the invaders or to flee. Fleeing is the safer option for you to take; but in doing so, you are abandoning your home to the invaders. While life is more important than property, you have to realize that abandoning your home does carry a cost.

Part of this decision depends on the laws of the state where you live. Most states have incorporated what is known as the "castle doctrine" into their laws. What that means is that the law does not require a home owner or resident to abandon their home in the case of a home invasion, but are allowed to defend it.

This is an important point of the law. In states where the castle doctrine is written into the law, defending your home is considered self-defense. That means that killing someone who invades your home is treated legally like they attacked you. Up until that person turns to leave your home, you are legally justified in the taking of their life, if necessary. But, if you shoot them in the back, it is considered manslaughter.

In states where the castle doctrine is not written into the law, killing someone who invades your home is not justified as self-defense. So, people who live in those states are better off fleeing their home, then trying to defend it.

Leaving the legalities aside, the other major issue is how well you can defend your home. If you are armed and experienced in the use of your guns, then you obviously have a better chance of defending yourself and your home, than someone who has nothing more than a lamp base or a golf club to defend themselves with.

This is actually a variable equation. When making this judgment call, you are comparing your ability to fight with your perception of the other person's ability to fight. That has to take into consideration weapons, skill and numbers; and the decision often has to be made in a split second.

Of course, extenuating circumstances could force you to fight, even in situations where you are not sure that you have enough of a tactical advantage. If you have a family member who cannot flee, due to sickness, injury or disability, then you may be forced to fight, even though you are clearly outnumbered. In addition, fleeing may ultimately be more dangerous than staying and fighting. In the wake of a disaster, fleeing can mean leaving all your food and other survival supplies behind, trading a fight for slow starvation for you and your family.

You really need to think through the various options, before such a situation presents itself. That way, when the time comes, you won't be immobilized by indecision. It's much easier to make those sorts of decisions when you have time, rather than when you are pressured by circumstances.

Regardless of your decision, you should have a plan for fleeing, as well. While we always fight with victory as our goal, sometimes, victory is beyond our grasp. In those cases, it is better to flee, than to die. As one of the Roman Caesars put it, "Those that fight and run away, are free to fight another day."

What Are Your Weapons?

For the rest of this article, I'm going to operate under the assumption that you are going to fight to defend your home. Actually, if that was not your plan, I doubt that you'd be reading this article. Most preppers are conservatives and conservatives are more likely to defend their homes, while liberals are more likely to flee.

So if you are going to defend your home, you have to have something to do it with. Personally, I'm a firm believer in using weapons to do that. While there is nothing wrong with learning martial arts, I wouldn't want to be the one depending upon my martial arts training, when I was confronted with a criminal holding a gun. Yes, it's possible to disarm an armed attacker, but it's risky too.

The best weapon to defend yourself with is a firearm. Debates abound about the best sort of firearm to use; but overall, guns are the ultimate in home defense weapons.

Basically, this breaks down into three categories: pistols, rifles and shotguns, with each categoryhaving its proponents. So what are the pros and cons of each?


The big advantage of the pistol is its portability. You can easily carry a pistol on your person, as you go about your daily activities. Whether carried openly or concealed, the pistol gives you the ability to have your self-defense weapon readily at hand. In addition, you can carry more rounds in a semi-automatic pistol, than you can in most rifles and shotguns, unless you are using a military-style rifle.

On the negative side, pistols are short-range weapons, especially short-barreled, "concealable" pistols. The saying is that if you can't throw a snub-nose and hit the person in the head, then it's too far to shoot them with it. Even longer barrel pistols are only good out to about 50 feet. But in defense of the pistol, you'll rarely find a situation in a home where you have to shoot more than 12 to 15 feet.


Rifles solve the problem of pistols, by giving you a longer barrel. This helps stabilize the bullet better, adding to the effective range of the shot. At the same time, rifle cartridges carry a larger charge of gunpowder, allowing them to propel the bullet to higher velocities. This also help with accuracy.

However, the rifle has some negative points for home defense. First of all, it's not very concealable. You can't really put it in a holster on your belt and cover it with your shirt. That length also causes problems with maneuverability, if you are forced to move through your home, clearing it. That's not an insurmountable problem though, if you buy a rifle made in a bullpup design, with the action back in the stock.

The other problem with rifles is their high velocity means that they are much more likely to penetrate walls... several of them. So, a round that misses will pass through other rooms and even pass outdoors. That greatly increases the risk of hitting an innocent bystander.


Shotguns have some of the same problems as rifles, both in their length and the power behind the shot. A 12 gauge shotgun, shooting 00 buckshot (the most popular home defense round for shotguns) will shoot through two or even three interior walls of a home, putting family members and innocent bystanders at risk. You can solve this problem by switching to #8 birdshot. Close up, it's just as deadly and won't penetrate more than one wall.

Like the rifle, you can overcome the problem of the shotgun's length by buying a bullpup model. These are designed for indoor use and actually put the muzzle of the shotgun closer to the shooter's eye, than you have with a pistol.

Forget the idea that a shotgun's spread will help you. In the distance we're talking about, shooting within the rooms of a home, that spread isn't going to be more than a couple of inches. So, it's not like you can really just point the shotgun in the bad guy's direction and expect to score a hit. You're going to have to aim, whether instinctively or with optics.

Other Weapons

While firearms are the best weapons to use for home defense, they aren't the only thing available. You should also consider the basic category of "melee weapons." Put simply, this includes anything that you can swing and strike someone with, regardless of whether the weapon has a sharp edge or is blunt.

There are many things that can be used as melee weapons, including things that really aren't designed to be weapons. A golf club, baseball bat or an axe are all effective melee weapons in the hands of someone who understands how to use them. But keep in mind, you do need to know how to use them. Don't assume that you can just pick up a baseball bat and suddenly be Jackie Chan.

The great thing about melee weapons is that they give you the advantage of reach. Tasers and pepper spray usually require that you are within arm's reach of the assailant. That puts you at danger. On the other hand, melee weapons, by their very nature, keep the bad guy away from you.

Melee weapons are great for use against knife-wielding thugs, but aren't all that good against firearms. As most criminals today use firearms, that limits their utility. Nevertheless, having some scattered around your house, in easy accessible locations, is better than not having anything. That criminal probably doesn't want to shoot you and is carrying a gun more to intimidate you than anything else.

If you are forced into a position of using a melee weapon against a thug carrying a knife or gun, then fight the weapon, not the person. What I mean by that, is use your weapon to hit theirs or the hand holding it. Your number one priority in such a situation is to keep them from being able to hurt you. If you can knock the weapon out of their hand, then they can't hurt you. Once that's accomplished, you can use it against them, if they don't turn and flee.

Where Are Your Weapons?

What's more important than the weapons you have, is where you have those weapons. I hinted about this in the last section, when I was saying to scatter some melee weapons around the house. Weapons that aren't within reach are about as useless as those still sitting in the store.

Let me put it this way, most people who own a gun for home defense, keep it in their nightstand. So, imagine you're sitting in the living room, watching a movie with your family. All of the sudden, right in the middle of the movie, some thug kicks in your door. How much is the gun you've got hidden in the nightstand going to help you?

Home invasions happen quickly, regardless of the type. Most thugs instinctively understand that time is their enemy. So, they try to get in and out as quickly as possible. In most cases (except rapes), they're in and out of the home in 90 seconds or less.

That means, when they kick down your door, they're going to be coming through it like a tornado. You've got about one second to react, which is much less than you need. Unless you have a weapon within arm's reach, you won't get to it in time.

The best possible place to have any weapon is on your person. That makes a strong case for pistols, which are designed for portability. It's not easy to carry a rifle, shotgun or melee weapon around your home all the time. But you can put a gun in a holster on your hip and always be armed. While it may seem a bit strange to carry a gun at home, your family's security actually depends on you doing so.

That's not to say that you shouldn't have other weapons hidden in strategic places around the home. You should. There's always the odd chance that they might kick open your door right after you get out of the shower and don't have your gun on you. In that case, you'll be depending on those other weapons. Besides, another family member might need them sometime.

Have a Strategy

Now that you're armed and aware, you're not prepared. Yeah, you read that right. I told you a moment ago that when someone kicks in your door, you're only going to have a moment to react. So the next question is, how are you going to react? You're not going to have time to think about your reaction once the door comes flying in, you're going to have to have thought about it ahead of time.

This is the fatal flaw for a lot of people who arm themselves; even those who have a concealed carry license. They've taken the time to learn, bought themselves good firearms, even gone to the range to practice, but they haven't prepared themselves mentally for what is to come. So, their reactions aren't really any faster than someone who is totally unprepared.

Try this, go leave your front door open a crack. Then, kick it open and rush into the house. Better yet, have someone else do it, with you sitting in front of the television. How long did it take? How well were you able to react? Could you even get out of your chair before they were on top of you?

Remember now, you were expecting that. What about sometime when you aren't expecting it? We're talking about an even there that's measured in tenths of a second. While the human brain is an amazing machine, it really doesn't react that fast. Our reaction to something unexpected is measured in seconds, not tenths of a second.

This is why martial arts experts and other fighters repeat their movements over and over again. They aren't just concerned about their ability to hit the other guy, they're concerned about their ability to react to a movement that is so fast, that the human eye has trouble catching it.

So, how do you apply that to your situation? Simple, mentally walk through every scenario you can come up with, thinking through how you should react to it. Work it out from different angles and with different family members present. Where is the best place to sit, so that you have a clear shot at anyone rushing into your home? What might get in your way? What can you place so that it might get in their way, causing them to stumble or delay? How can you stack the deck in your advantage?

This thought process is amazingly effective. What it does is allow you to make all the decisions and figure out the solutions to problems, when there is time to do so. Then, when the time comes, you don't have to stop and think, you can react.

That's the next part of the process; start working on your reaction. Practice drawing your gun (with it unloaded). Then practice getting out of your chair and drawing it. Try drawing while sitting too, although you'll find that hard to do. If you have other weapons in the room, practice grabbing them. You want to build the muscle memory in this part, so that you don't have to tell your hand how to grab the gun and get it out from under your shirt. You want to be able to tell yourself gun, and suddenly find the gun in your hand, pointed at a target.

This takes time, but it's time well spent. Once you get that muscle memory down, you won't lose it. Not only that, but by going through that process, you'll find the things that can trip you up, giving yourself the opportunity to eliminate them. That will help your speed, making you all that much more effective.

One last thing, make sure you practice. Shooting a gun is easy, but shooting it accurately when you are confronted by an armed criminal and surrounded by your family is hard. The adrenalin will be pumping through your system, destroying your fine motor skills and ruining your aim. There is only one solution to that and that's lots of practice.

You can expect your shooting skills to degrade by 80% or more in a live shooting situation. What that means is that if you can normally shoot a four inch group in rapid fire, you'll find yourself shooting a 20 inch group. Twenty inches is enough to make you miss the target. In a room filled with family members, that's something you can't afford.

Work on your skills, bringing your group size down to two inches or even one. That takes time, a lot of it. But if it ever gets real, you'll be glad you spent all that time on the range.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave

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