Minor errors in defensive gun use

In the Seattle area where self defense use of guns is still legal:

The drama unfolded at about 2:50 a.m. when the 44-year-old husband, his wife and two daughters, age 19 and 11, were awakened by the noises of someone yelling and kicking at the front door of their home in the 100 block of NE 174th Street, according to Shoreline police.

The homeowner grabbed his 9-mm handgun as his oldest daughter called 911 and the family locked themselves in a back bedroom of the house, said Sgt. Jason Houck of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The husband, hearing the breaking glass, left the bedroom with his gun. He went to the front of the home, where he saw the suspect standing just outside the front window and door, which were broken out by lawn furniture that the suspect had thrown through.

As the suspect began advancing toward the homeowner from just outside the smashed-out door and windows, the homeowner fired two rounds, hitting the suspect once in the upper right thigh, Houck said.

Police say the homeowner and his family were shaken up by the ordeal. No charges of any kind are expected to be filed against the homeowner.

While things turned out okay, unless there is more to the store, I would tend to say the husband should not have left the bedroom. He put himself at greater and unnecessary risk by advancing toward the bad guy. Let them come to you through the “funnel” of the door. This give the cops more time to arrive and deal with the situation as a team and possibly end the situation without shots being fired. Also, it might be said, his accuracy could use some improvement.

They did do some things really well. They moved, as a group, to a back bedroom. One person called 911 while another deployed the gun. Most importantly, they had a gun and it was accessible.

Think through possible scenarios ahead of time. If you do this you are more likely to have a plan that only needs minor changes should the real thing come down.

10 thoughts on “Minor errors in defensive gun use

  1. I disagree. If you are being ATTACKED and you have others in the family, you don’t want the perp getting access to them. Once the perp(s) enter the home, they are DEAD MEAT in my state. So you advance to the threat. Home invasion? Multiple people? You want to wait until they are breaking into the “back bedroom” to find out? NO! The other members should have a backup gun(s) if I fail. Friday night in any large city and you have 20-30 minute wait. If you fail, you want the other members left to the good will of the invaders? PS, in my state,Texas, court rulings have held that shooting thru doors at people trying to break in is justified.

    • In this case the entire family was in the bedroom.

      If more than one had guns they should all have been being cover or concealment with their guns trained on the door.

      I don’t see leaving the bedroom, with the potential of being ambushed, preferable to waiting for the bad guy to expose himself through the door.

  2. You never know what’s the ‘right thing to do’.
    Sometimes you have to be in that situation.
    Sometimes you have to be aggressive in defense.
    Sometimes it’s better to surprise the aggressors (“Take The Initiative”) than to passively wait for THEM to make the next move.

    If you allow the aggressors to enter the redoubt, then you put your whole family on the firing line. And if there wasn’t another gun in that bedroom, I would be very surprised.

    If it’s stupid, and it works, then it’s not stupid.

    • Agreed. We don’t have all the information. Which is why I was hesitant in saying it was a mistake.

      There are other possibilities too. It could be they knew the perp did not have a gun initially but that if he poked around inside some he would find one.

      Absent more information I still say that in general it is better to stay together with the best blockade, cover, and concealment you can muster and wait for reinforcements and the bad guy to breach your location.

  3. joe:

    i tend to agree w/ you, but, i also agree w/ the fellow who advocated the more aggressive response. it all depends upon the aims of the intruder, …. , but, in my view, the intruder bears the risk of his behavior, and bears the risk of the home owner’s perception of the threat level.

    in the best scenario, stay where it is safe. but, if an intruder means you real physical/lethal harm, then it is best to seize the initiative and act w/ great aggression in your defense. you have little other choice.

    and, as the fellow said, the people who have taken refuge should be armed. and, they should have the means and ability to either defend, or of escape, in case an armed intruder is also an arsonist, for instance. in the best of all world’s, escape should be to a place better capable of giving a determined defense to an all out attack. and, if people pick up guns, they had best be proficient with them.

    john jay

  4. p.s. in case this all seems a bit far fetched, i would remind people why medieval homes/castles/forts had towers accessible by spiral staircases that wound up exterior walls in a counter clockwise direction. this was to insure that anyone attacking up the staircase had to do so with his right hand, and sword, to the exterior wall, while those defending from above were able to use the right hand, and the weapon it held, unimpeded by any obstruction. in short, they had the better “swing” of a sword, as well as a superior thrust.

    a very practical consideration, when one had to defend his castle and keep. and, of course, the tower was a refuge from which to blunt and repulse such an attack.

    we don’t think of such things these days. maybe we ought.

  5. Recognizing that we have incomplete information, and if what information that is available came from the media it’s quite probably inaccurate, I’m going to side with favoring the aggressive response.

    Certainly, the family did all the initial stages of handling the assault correctly: assemble, secure as a group, engage defensive weaponry, request assistance. Those are all defensive maneuvers, however, and while providing a degree of protection, could do nothing to control the assault; they were, in fact, dependent upon the response of the requested assistance which, as has been pointed out above, is potentially undependable in time, degree and effectiveness.

    An aggressive response, in this instance, allowed the attacker to be legally confronted while outside the house, no small matter. That’s not always the case, but here it appears to be. A confrontation under those circumstances allows options, among which is a more rational attacker realizing he has been discovered, confronted, and confronted with an armed response; were rationality to prevail, a hasty retreat could have been affected, no shots would have been fired, and the response time of requested assistance would have been of little consequence. Other than repairable structural damage and instilling fear, harm would have been minor. Had the attacker been permitted to access the interior of the house, however, the problem would have potentially become intractable: access to weapons – clubs, knives, breakable bottles, flammable liquids, maybe a firearm – would have escalated the threat, possibly beyond the homeowner’s ability to resolve. Anyone who has trained in house clearing, or even practiced a house clearing exercise in their own home, is aware of the complications.

    I’ll agree that this homeowner needs marksmanship skill improvement, and perhaps an “attitude adjustment;” apparently, the shot to the attacker’s leg sufficiently immobilized him to obviate the threat, but among my students I’ve seen “TV-itis” – the firing of one shot only, or perhaps two, just as the crime show hero does, with the unconscious expectation that the situation is resolved. If the threat justifies application of lethal force to resolve, one must apply accurate defensive fire as rapidly as possible for as long as the threat exists. Especially with the lower caliber firearms popular among many, that may turn out to be a number larger than the capacity of the magazine.

  6. Stopping the attacker outside the structure, and as close to the perimeter as is feasible, leaves you with more options to consider, and them with less. Always bearing in mind that your particular state may restrict defensive actions to certain areas, such as within the structure only.
    A potential advantage to keeping them out of the structure is that the more walls and other objects an attacker’s bullets would have to pass through, the safer the occupants of the “safe room” remain. Waiting until they have reached the doorway, or hallway, to your assembly area (it’s not realistic to call it a “safe room” at this point, unless door and walls are armored) makes it much more likely for the occupants to end up injured or killed. Distance is your friend.

  7. That’s a weird story. Why would a burglar come at night when he knows the family is probably home? Why would there be yelling outside? If I heard yelling outside, I’d assume someone was in trouble, not breaking into my house. If they did break into the house (by throwing furniture through the door) I would assume they really wanted to get away from whatever it was outside that caused them to yell.

    Strange story. Doesn’t really make sense.

    • It would be a mistake to expect rational action from all criminals. Drugs and mental problems are highly correlated with criminal and irrational behavior.

      There are other sources reporting on the same incident but I couldn’t find any real new details:

      Seattle PI
      Q13 Fox

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