The following is a true story submitted to Buckeye Firearms Association. We have concealed the identity of the person involved by that person’s request.
While most people assume that defending yourself with a gun means actually shooting someone, this story is representative of countless thousands of encounters across the U.S. that likely go unreported to authorities. It shows that simply having a gun at the ready can also provide defense for yourself and your family, even if not a single shot is fired.
We’re glad that neither the homeowner, nor the would-be intruder, was harmed.
On Wednesday 29 March 2017, I came as close as I have ever come to pulling the trigger.
Someone began kicking in our door in around 8:30 p.m. They broke the screen door and broke the inside door jam. I was upstairs helping our oldest child (4 years old) with a shower, and heard something that sounded like a tree falling on our house. Then I heard my wife screaming. I ran down the stairs with a gun and took a good defensive position with cover.
I tossed my phone to my wife (hers was downstairs). She called 911 and told them someone was kicking our door in. The dispatcher said they would send an officer, but they were “busy.” They then hung up on my wife mid-sentence, about 30 seconds into the conversation. Minutes began ticking by. There was absolute silence. After the first few thuds, whoever was kicking in our door stopped.
Several more minutes went by, and still no police. We decided to slowly expand our “controlled” territory. I turned some lights off while keeping the outside lights on so I could see a little farther outside without getting right next to the window. I eventually cleared the house and collected the long guns for more firepower and to reinforce our defensive position.
I stood watch and guarded both entrances from cover (no, not just concealment) for over an hour and a half. We got a missed call from the police non-emergency number. We called them back, told them we had called 911 and but were hung up on, and asked if help was on the way. “We’re busy tonight, sorry” was the response.
Finally, theree hours later, an officer showed up. He said that they really screwed this one up. Somehow dispatch miscategorized the incident as a low-priority burglary rather than a breaking and entering. By this time, whoever was kicking in our door was probably long gone. And I realized all I could do was replace our back door.
We live in a major metropolitan suburb with a good police department, and live less than 1.5 miles from a police sub station. But communication breakdowns CAN and DO happen. The good guys make mistakes.
So in our case, when it mattered, help was only HOURS away.
5 Things I Learned
1) Blood gets sucked from your fingers (or so it seems). I shoot 3-gun competitions, and shoot bowling pins, getting near top scores (at least in local clubs). I can even shoot eight shots from a .357 and reload to fire another eight shots in just under seven seconds. I’m no Jerry Mucilek, but I’m trying. I can reload my shotgun, two shells at a time, and leave the guys in the club in my dust (even the guy with several state records). I do nightly dry fire and malfunction drills with magazine changes. I even try to include push-ups and a workout routine to simulate the effects of adrenaline. Most competitions I shoot and place near the top.
That being said, when I realized that I might actually have to shoot someone, I found I wasn’t quite ready. I had to open the gun case and pull the gun out of a different compartment. Then I fumbled the magazine from my Glock 17 while trying to load. Twice. Bear in mind, this was my first competition gun. And I can load this gun “under pressure” (or so I thought) blindfolded.
Practice helps, but be aware that you MIGHT NOT be ready when the time comes. You DO need more practice. It never occurred to me to practice a hasty make ready drill from my “sock drawer” storage. Somehow, I was able to overcome and meet my wife on the stairs within 3-5 seconds of the first thump on our door. However, the realization that you are NOT AS GOOD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE is EXTREMELY sobering.
2) Have a plan, share it, practice it, and know it will fall apart. A plan gives you a framework to respond. Then you have to adapt. We had discussed our family plan to hold in our safe area (upstairs) and guard the stairs from cover (good choke point). What we did not figure was the excessive response time. It might be a good idea to do a thought experiment every now and then. You know someone just tried to break in. The police are not coming. So how do you reinforce? How long do you wait before you start “clearing” the immediate area inside or outside your home?
3) Your views on guns will change. I’ve been a staunch Second Amendment supporter for years, and an enthusiast. But my views have changed. Yesterday I did not know I could be more pro 2A, but I am sitting here today knowing different. Mark this up as one of those hundreds of thousands of defensive gun usages that never get reported, but have a lasting impact on your life.
4) It can happen to you. Down deep, you never really think it can. Until it does.
5) Luck matters. We were DAMN lucky. God was watching over us.