by Scott the Cop
If you are truly serious about issues of self-defense then you might be interested to know that the police are not required by law to protect you. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the police have no constitutional requirement to provide anyone protection even if that person has a protection order from a court. Going one step further, the police cannot protect you. I should know since I’m a former police officer.
Quite simply, the police are not much more than the clean-up crew. They clean up the mess after the crime, do an investigation and hopefully get lucky. Eventually, they even may catch the perpetrator. In nearly fifteen years of experience, I can count the number of times I happened upon a serious crime in progress on one hand. As for arriving in time in response to an emergency call, I can count them on both hands. The overwhelmingly vast majority of the time I caught the perp after the crime was committed.
In other words, you are on your own until the police get there. To make matters worse, in 2011, every single state in the Union cut back funding for emergency services an average of 48%. One state cut its funding a whopping 93%! So, where does this leave you? Basically, you’re caught between a rock and a hard spot. Since you cannot rely on the police for protection, you’ve got to take matters into your own hands.
Self-defense is defined as the right to prevent the suffering of force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence. To start off, you need to know the laws in your state regarding self-defense. Knowing what you can and cannot do lets you know your limits.
No two states have the same laws regarding self-defense and some require you to try and retreat from your attacker if possible, even if you are in your own home. However, this comes with some caveats:
- The threat of violence must be immediate.
You’ve got to be in immediate danger to use force against another person. Since you aren’t the government, you can’t do a pre-emptive strike on someone.
- The fear of harm must be reasonable.
The courts use the “reasonable man” test. What would a reasonable man do in the exact same circumstances? The interpretation of this test varies from state to state.
- The force you use must in proportion to the force used against you.
This is really subject to interpretation and according to the laws of your state. What you can do in Texas, you can’t do in Rhode Island.
So, you know the laws of your state and now you’ve decided that no way, no how you are going to be a victim. Good. This is the right attitude. What’s next? Plan out what you will do in different situations. Your mental preparedness is vital. Let me repeat that, “Your mental preparedness is vital.” Can you actually shoot a person? It really is a big deal, but being mentally prepared ahead of time will help you through the ordeal. When the time comes to pull the trigger and you hesitate, you might as well give the perp your gun.
As a cop, I played the “What If” game. Whenever I had some mental free time, I made up a scenario and then decided what I would do in a given situation. How would I react if a person pulled a gun on me during a traffic stop? What would I do if confronted by a man with a knife? I would go through several specific responses to a situation several times until it became ingrained.
What will you do if a perp breaks into your home? Where do you draw the line as to how far he comes before you shoot? What will you do if he decides to turn tail and run, but he’s got your laptop? Do you have family members in your home and can they protect themselves? You’ve got to think up as many questions as possible then come up with a reasonable answer to each of them.
Let me say something about burglars. Believe it or not, if committed during the day time, as a general rule burglary is not a crime of violence. It becomes a crime of violence when the perp knows you are home. Many daytime burglars don’t carry weapons and don’t want to confront the homeowner. They want to get in and out without being seen.
The night-time burglar is a whole different story. He knows that someone probably is home and he does it for the thrill. He wants the confrontation and to instill fear. The power trip from this is what the home invader is after. You can rest assured that this type of criminal will hurt or kill you if you give him half a chance. In this situation, I would be more willing to shoot sooner than later.
Preparing your home is the next step. The question isn’t if you are being paranoid. What you should ask is, “Are you being paranoid enough?” If you’ve got shrubs or bushes that block a clear view of your windows, cut them to about six inches below the window sill.
You need to see in or out of your home. Don’t leave ladders near your home. This gives the burglar a convenient tool. The same thing goes for objects he can use to toss through your window. Don’t give a burglar a tool to use against you.
Don’t forget the inside of your home. Place objects to defend yourself that you can use in a pinch in convenient and not-so-convenient spots throughout your house. Your utility draw is a great spot to stick a big screwdriver or a box cutter. Your kitchen is a wealth of weapons. Bottles and cast iron pans will do a number on a burglar’s head. I won’t even go into knives. If you can afford it, have a couple handguns stashed in strategic places.
Speaking of guns, handguns are all well and good, but a shotgun is best. The psychological impact of a shotgun is priceless. The muzzle of a shotgun looks like a train tunnel when pointed at you. No one in their right mind wants to face an angry homeowner armed with this type of weapon. I’ve known suspects to defecate in their shorts when a shotgun was pointed in their direction.
If you can legally possess it, I strongly recommend the Mossberg Blackwater Series 930™ Special Purpose shotgun. Hands down, this is your best bet for home defense. It has an eight round magazine plus one in the pipe for a total of nine rounds. It is semi-automatic, has a pistol grip with rifle sights. These features are important. You can hold and fire it with one hand while you use the other to hold your phone while calling 911. Plus, you can use it for hunting.
Let me also say something about ammunition for the shotgun. To begin with, I’d start out practicing with skeet loads. You can get used to the idea of the big monster in your hands without becoming gun shy. For your down-and-dirty loads, I would load it with alternating rifled slug and double-aught buckshot. Although an express magnum round kicks worse than a mule, you won’t feel it if you need to shoot. Your adrenalin will be pumping and you won’t notice to recoil.
Many people think that you can just point a shotgun and shoot from the hip. Sorry folks, but if you think this, you’ve been watching too much TV. A shotgun needs to be aimed just like a rifle. Buckshot disperses in a shot pattern radially about 1½ inches per linear yard of travel from an 18” barrel.
That means that at three yards, the buckshot pattern is only 4½ inches in diameter. Considering that your average gunfight is from a distance of only seven feet, this means you’ve got a real chance of your first shot missing if you shoot from the hip.
Since you’ve got to aim the shotgun anyway, alternating first with a rifled slug then buckshot gives you a guaranteed knockdown with your first shot. A rifled slug is ¾” in diameter and weighs a whopping one ounce. That’s huge! Plus, some companies load them up hot and the slug travels at more than 1600 fps! That’s like a Mack truck hitting you at 200 mph. When the slug hits your attacker center mass, it’s all over but the crying.
The aftermath is the worst part of what you’ve got to deal with, mentally, physically and legally. If you’ve prepared mentally ahead of time, this won’t be too much of a problem. If you do shoot someone, don’t try and rearrange the crime scene to make it look better.
I guarantee you that the police will figure it out. I won’t go into the science of blood spatter and powder burn patterns; just trust me, you won’t get away with it. If you are justified in shooting an intruder, the truth will set you free.
You never, never, ever shoot to kill. You shoot to STOP the threat of death or serious bodily injury. It may sound like legal mumbo jumbo, which it is, but it is important legal mumbo jumbo. The whole purpose of you shooting in the first place is to stop an attack involving serious bodily injury or death against you or another person. So, when the police ask why you fired, explain the situation and tell them you were in fear of your life. Make sure you express regret and look remorseful, even if shooting the perp felt more like stepping on a cockroach.
Self-defense is a deadly serious business with deadly serious consequences. I once shot a person and while I didn’t feel any remorse, I did have nightmares for years to follow.