Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Rules of the House"... thoughts on readiness conditions of home defense weapons.


I have a question" was the text I got one evening a short time ago.

Princess knew I was in an important meeting, so the text would not have come lightly. As we had just finished the goodbyes, I hit speed dial on the way back to my vehicle. "What's up?"

"I don't want you to worry, but I have a question. Is the gun in the XXXXXXX the same as the one in the XXXXXXX?"

"Huh?" I answered intelligently...

"Does it work the same?"

At this point, with a bit of anxious questioning on my part, I was informed she had heard a noise outside and, intelligent girl that she is, immediately armed herself. Not to go outside and play commando, but just as insurance while she went about her business in the home. I assured her the pistol she had next to her worked exactly the same as the one she had learned to shoot with, and was in exactly the condition she knew the others to be.

In this case.... ready to fire by one simple action. Pulling the trigger.

The conversation revealed a flaw in our home defense planning, and an inexcusable one on my part. You see, Princess is not a shooter.... but she's a bright lady and has learned to handle pistols well enough to use them for their intended purpose... self defense. Not as CCW, but most certainly around the home. She's more than demonstrated the capacity and willingness to handle (and use) weapons in her own self defense. She's a lot like the main character in 'Quigley Down Under' in that way, just after he used a Colt pistol to dispatch the evil bad guy. "Said I had no use for a pistol... didn't say I don't know how to use one".

So, it falls upon me, as the house expert, to see to home defense weapons (as well as plumbing repairs, dealing with the woodstove, and most of the dishes. In return, I never have to touch laundry... and I see that as a fair bargain).

Her question pointed out a problem. While *I* had plans, procedures, and safety checks... I hadn't made her aware of them in enough detail. With her not being a shooter, I had covered a few basics, assured her ability and judgement where safety is concerned, and left it at that.

My mistake, and one rectified as quickly as I arrived home. The noise? Some critter in the night perhaps, but never a threat or bother. She was just being careful. You can be assured... I announced myself before I walked in (g).

What I hadn't explained well enough to her was this; In my 'home defense weapon' plans, every pistol available (without unlocking something complicated) is in the same condition. In our case, having no children in the home nor adult visitors of questionable competence, we have weapons hidden well but still readily available. Each is in the same condition... round chambered, no external safety engaged, and ready to fire on pulling the trigger.

Each pistol is either a Glock pattern with a 'Safe Action', or has a long double action pull. They are highly unlikely to go off by accident, and are stored in such a way that their triggers are protected.

The idea is simple. If we need them, they are there right now, ready right now, and are safe until then. Nothing to manipulate under pressure, nothing to remember before use, no intricate puzzles to solve. Two of the pistols have laser sighting devices, but this matters little. They don't need to be switched on to have the weapons function perfectly.

The fact that Princess is a component of the plan, and is not a shooting enthusiast, has a great deal to do with the thinking behind it. Any defensive weapon in the home needs to be simple enough that she can use them well under extreme pressure. She's not going to remember to sweep the safety on a 1911 pattern, nor cycle the action on a pistol with an empty chamber. Her judgement can be trusted, and she's more than intelligent enough to keep her finger off the trigger till she needs to fire.... but she's not going to practice with any frequency nor build up instinctive muscle memory (In that... she's not much different from most of the police officers in this nation, who's shooting experience revolves around occasional mandated qualifications).

Long guns are different, and not part of any plans involving Princess. For the record, they too are stored in a specific condition. Chamber empty, safety off, ready to fire upon working the action. Guns locked in the safe? Totally different situation, totally different condition.

Should our home have children visiting, or if by chance we ever had adults staying with us who were not proven safe shooters, all would be locked safely away.

It's an important topic, and one worth considering thoughtfully. Each situation is different, and the people who occupy the home will cause any plan to be modified as required. Where a single person living in a secure area might simply leave a weapon in a nightstand drawer, another person might need something more secure, such as a coded safe. Once that's decided, further thought must be given to weapon condition. Round in the chamber, or not? Safety on, or not? Magazine in the pistol, or not?

Each situation is different, and each persons ability and training must be taken into account. Also, the possibility of split second decisions being necessary under immense life threatening pressure.... and how different people can react to that.

Are there children in the home? Is a break in while the homeowner is away a reasonable threat? Is a home invasion of an occupied house a reasonable threat? All these and more must be thought of ahead of time, and decisions made on dealing with them.

Most of all... most importantly... careful plans must be made in advance of trouble... and as I learned, everyone concerned needs to know what they are.

Thank for stopping in and spending time with 'Ol Carteach. If you are of a mind to, don't hesitate to click on some of the ads posted here and there on the site. You don't need to buy a thing, or even read them, but each click does throw a few pennies into the ammo fund.... and these days that's a lot!



TOR said...

I have thought somewhat along the same lines. Wifey is sufficiently familiar with Glocks and revolvers which make up the core of our pistol collection. We own other guns but I see no reason to press the issue and cause confusion.

Works well enough for us.

RegT said...

Excellent article. I keep our firearms in the same fashion. Her G23 is loaded, chambered and ready, and other handguns in other rooms are kept in the same way. The P-85 is left with the safety off for the same reason.

My wife has been taught that the 870 is kept loaded, but with the striker "down" and the safety off, so she simply has to cycle the action and pull the trigger. This is how we were taught in the academy when I worked for San Diego PD many years ago, and I've stuck with it since.

Training, talk about scenarios, and discussions where we stop a video during a "that's just Hollywood" moment to explain why you don't walk around with your pistol stuck three feet out in front of you (position of retention) for example, all seem important to me.

The missus has the right mindset, but not the training or experience, so I also try to use the common movie errors as teaching moments, along with the relatively few things they get right. We _do_ watch a lot of action flicks, so we actually get a lot done, at home as well as at the range :-)