Ep. 15 Should I Shoot? Carrying a Gun Around the Home for Defense

intrusion of a burglar in a house inhabited

Editor’s Note: The following is a post from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.

Check out the last five episodes in this series:

A good friend of mine recently moved back to his hometown after being away for more than 20 years. What he found was the place kind of looked the same, but the crime rate was at a level of a third-world, cartel-controlled drug town. Home invasions were a daily thing, and he has a family to protect.

He was what some would call a gun guy growing up but had not spent much time shooting other than some sporting clays. The call went something like this: “Sammy, I need some advice on how to better secure the house. What guns should I get?”

After some discussion about alarm systems, cameras, a big dog and making the house more secure, we got into the guns part. Bill immediately took my advice about selecting the proper firearms and getting some quality training so he could get his concealed pistol permit. He’s even doing some shooting competitions to keep his skills sharp.

During one of our many conversations, the topic of where to keep guns for easy access while in the house came up. This took us down the road of “what if?” questions as they pertained to what I call “repelling boarders” or “defending the castle” from a home-invasion robbery.

Home-invasion-type robberies are at the top of the list for violent crime — just under premeditated murder. More often, home-invasion robberies involve those in the home being beaten, raped and murdered. I’ve seen the aftermath of home-invasion crime scenes firsthand, so what I’ve seen drives me to always be armed in my home. If a well-organized robbery crew breaches your home like a SWAT team doing a dynamic entry, you will not have time to get to a safe or other secure location to retrieve a firearm. You will have to fight off the initial wave with what you have on you.

In Bill’s situation, he feels most comfortable carrying a Glock 21 while he’s in the house and out. He’s a big guy and can pull off concealing the big handgun. At first, it felt somewhat strange to him to not take his gun off when he got home, but in time, it became a part of his routine. He now says, “I feel naked without it.”

Some of you might be saying something like, “I live in a great community. Things like that don’t happen here.” My answer would be, “Not yet.” Ask the man in Connecticut who watched his family get tortured, raped and murdered while he was bound and beaten and I bet he would have told you the same thing: “Bad things don’t happen in our town.” Crooks today are evolving to become better crooks. They learn the most while locked up and, when they get out, they ply their newfound trade on the helpless.

Let’s get to the big question this column is about: Should I shoot if someone forces his or her way into my home?

You know I’m going to say I can’t tell you what to do since I’m not in your shoes, but if you aren’t armed or don’t have a firearm within your reach when a crew hits your front door or rear slider, then you will be at their mercy since you can’t defend your family when you are unconscious or worse.

Side note to home invasions: Those really cool stickers folks put on the back of their vehicles showing the stick figures of mom, dad, a couple kids, two dogs and a cat might look great and it shows you love your family. I don’t put them on my vehicles and I urge my friends and you readers to not put them on either. Crook crews do scouting missions of their own before they hit homes invasion-style. One look at the back of your car and they have a pretty good idea how many people and what types of dogs they have to account for in your home. Don’t help them out.

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Ktcarpentry November 11, 2016, 9:10 am

    The only real difference is that I carry concealed every time I leave. As soon as I get home, I prefer to lose my ccw holster and carry open on my belt. It’s more comfortable and easier to access. Perhaps it’s a visual deterrent, as well. I certainly don’t care what people think about me carrying on my own property.
    I did want to address the family sticker issue. I have the family on the back of the truck. It’s been important to me, not to fit in with the soccer moms, but because I love my family. We do have it set up differently. Instead of the most common large to small, we have the kids in the middle with us on either side. People have actually commented on the protective nature of the arrangement. I also show a golf club in one of my daughter’s hands, a soccer ball next to the other, and a shotgun over my head. I prefer it for home defense, loaded with hollow point, rifled slugs. The tailgate is also covered in NRA stickers, Beretta stickers, Colt stickers. People have said it’s an invitation to burglars to come steal all of our guns. Maybe so. Then there’s the dog stickers…out at the edge of our family, watching over everything. Yes, the stickers are larger than the family stickers. You might assume that we have several shih-tzus and the stickers are oversized. You may feel free to believe that. When several hundred pounds of dog hits you coming through the door, you are free to reevaluate that assumption.
    Life is filled with unknowns. Be prepared. I am constantly amazed at the number of people oblivious to their surroundings. I think it’s fine. That’s just fewer people to notice if my Beretta 92 or Colt revolver is printing. Paranoid? Not really. Just aware and prepared, as we all are reading this article.
    p.s. Keep training. I just finished an advanced combat pistol class and got my NRA marksmanship award. $100 per year shouldn’t stop anyone who paid for the guns, and my guy charges half price every time after the first class. Now we can go every six months.

  • timothyf7 September 2, 2016, 11:26 pm

    I carry from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. I avoid any ‘Gun Free Zones’. I have my bathroom set up to hide my gun within reach but out of sight for when I am showering. When I go to bed, I have three guns within immediate reach for my wife and me. And, I too have several hidden throughout the house. The last thing I want to ever say to myself, standing at the Pearly Gates, is man, I should have had my gun. It’s too late then!

  • runninwolf August 17, 2016, 2:41 am

    i live in a small town in north west pa. , out in the country , in a trailer. i can not own a weapon because of a bad conduct discharge from the military , but it has not stopped my wife from arming the house . she does not like to carry , so while at home i do. i’m unemployed and home all day with the family . she has a glock 34 that carry in a shoulder rig with a 17rd mag extended to 20 , 1 in the pipe and 2 more 20 rounders on the other side of the rig . when i have to leave that’s where i can no longer have it on me . it stays with her . i am the guard dog at home , if anything was to invade the house , it will be dealt with with brute force and if it happens to get by me , what’s left with will be dealt with by the mrs. with a 12ga semi-auto. paranoid , no , just prepared .

  • Momgo August 14, 2016, 6:53 pm

    ABSOLUTELY CARRY AT ALL TIMES AT HOME!!! First, you don’t need a concealed permit to do so on your own property, that has been established in the courts. Second, those outside of the city will be in more danger, there will be more time for the animals to do what they want, if you haven’t gotten to dial 911 and neighbors are not close, you may be found days later after they have killed you and take absolutely everything. an alarm and video cameras are nice, but out in the country, they aren’t much of a deterrent. City/suburb are smash and grabs, country homes offer more time for them to do whatever they want. A detective once said “it’s not that I was a cop that I support being armed, it’s that I was a cop that saw what happened after the crime was committed to people who weren’t armed.” We are responsible for protecting our family, not being concerned with anything else, especially the condition of the criminal when we are done with them. In today’s world, you have no idea what type of evil is around and what they will do until after they are done, do not give them any chance. Having firearms hidden at multiple points in your home is wise as well, my sister-in-law has a Glock next to the cereal in the pantry (Kill Bill gave her that idea!!!)

    I have a concealed permit and carry everywhere I go. My mother asked me why I carry around the house. I then went to the internet, and got the information about what home invasions happened during the previous 3 months in her town. Then I asked her ” what are you doing at 6pm? At 10:30am? at 9am? At 1pm? At 3:30pm? She told me on a normal day what she would be doing, then asked why. I told her that was the time of the home invasions that happened within a 8 mile radius of her house during a three month period, and there were actually about 15 of them. Home invasions don’t just happen after it gets dark, late at night. She went silent, then nodded her head; now my dad carries concealed at home. Criminals don’t have a set schedule, they have no warning, and they don’t give you time to do anything but react, so react very forcefully and with no hesitation.

    Stay aware, stay safe, stay armed.

  • rgrant August 14, 2016, 3:45 pm

    What gets me is when they have the stick figures annnd their names including the kids.

  • Dale August 12, 2016, 12:48 pm

    Good advice. I learned my lesson, got the bejeebers scared out of me real good. We live in a small northern CA “town”, probably less than 400 people. One night I get up to use the bathroom and notice we’ve got no water…terrific the pump is acting up. It’s about 2am and I stroll out to the pump house about 30 feet from the back door…oh yeah in my skivvies. I’m looking at all the things that could be wrong and decide I’ll screw with it in the morning. I turn and see the cats on our picnic table intensely watching something off to the side…Probably another cat or dog I think. I step out and start for the back door when I look over to the side where they’re looking about 40 feet away and lock in on a guy about 20 years my junior with his hands in the air waving them around, all agitated. His hair is messed and he’s sweating profusely. When he sees me he starts coming my way and could have easily intercepted me before I got to the back door. I yell at him to stop and don’t come closer…thankfully he did. He starts yelling and asking where the store is…which is just a couple of blocks away. I tell him and he still seems completely bonkers but I was moving to the back door the whole time and when I reached it I bolted in. Came back out with my gun and he was gone. Called 911 and told them of the strange occurrence and they said “we know who he is”. Every sheriff deputy, CHP and other law enforcement people were there in 3 minutes. They brought dogs and lit up the whole “town” with them and they found him. Cut to the chase…he wasn’t a murderer but he had just sent his girlfriend to the hospital and was on the run. Now, I walk the dog, I take my gun. I take out the trash, I take my gun. It can happen anywhere,anytime.

  • jd August 12, 2016, 12:22 pm

    I would like to feel safe and secure at home but home invasions do happen to nice people. we keep our doors locked even when we are home. but doors and windows can be knocked down in seconds. if they know you are home when they break in they are more inclined to be violent. protect yourself.

  • Irish-7 August 12, 2016, 11:39 am

    My wife and I both have Concealed Carry Permits. While I continue to carry in our home, she has a handgun within reach of where she sits to read or watch television. In addition to those security measures, we have several firearms hidden in the house. I rotate EDC weapons between a Ruger P345 and a Smith & Wesson 457 (.45 ACP). However, my preferred gun for a home invasion is a revolver, S&W Governor. I load the odd chambers (1, 3 & 5) with Winchester PDX .410 shot shells and the even slots with 300 grain .45 LC jacketed hollow points. I keep a few moon clips with .45 ACP rounds and 2 Five-Star speed loaders with shot shells handy, in the odd event the first 6 rounds don’t end the threat. The moon clips with .45 automatic rounds are a little faster to reload than .45 Long Colt bullets in a speed loader. Five Star speed loaders were the only type that held the .410 shells securely.

  • justin smith August 12, 2016, 11:20 am

    An unintended upside to carry ar home is that your weapon is not unattended. Your kids can find it on accidemt and play with it while it is on your hip or tucked into your IWB. I understand you may have more than one weapon, but it is an upside. I carry around the house, wife has started to also. Just look at that video of the lady in Jersey a few years back. Guy broke into her house, beat her in front of her kids and it was caught in video thank goodness.

  • AK August 12, 2016, 10:53 am

    I often have my Walther PPK (stainless, US, 380) in my pocket at home. Just drop it in there and don’t think about it. Until I have to.

  • Larry August 12, 2016, 10:28 am

    I live in a rural county on a beautiful mountain lake in the largest “city” in our county (under 5K) & still carry 24/7. I have a 40 caliber Beretta Storm sub compact that fits into a pocket sheath & then into my front pocket. It’s the first thing that goes on after my pants in the morning & is the last thing that I take out of my pockets as a sit on the side of the bed at night. Better safe than sorry.
    Home invaders are very dangerous people & usually the need for drugs in present. Honest to god, they will kill you & yours for their next fix. They are not animals. They are savages. Treat them accordingly, my friends.

    • MIKE OKELLY January 30, 2017, 1:37 pm

      my dead from OD WIFE WOULD HAVE KILLED YOU FOR A FEW PILLS. HAD A 1858 NEW ARMY POINTED AT MY EAR. SHE DID NOT KNOW IT WAS EMPTY AT THE TIME.I TOOK IT AWAY FROM HER

  • MagnunOpUS August 12, 2016, 9:33 am

    These feral animals will invade your home carrying guns. Why should you not be able and ready to greet them in kind?

    With all the lawless immigration and rapefugee transplantation taking place, you just have to be vigilant.

    AMERICA/Trump 2016!

  • AndyP August 12, 2016, 9:07 am

    Excellent advice. Never thought about the stick figures on the rear [vehicle] window!

    • JP August 12, 2016, 10:29 am

      If anything, have more stick figures will go to show how much more “broke” you are and encourage a would be criminal to go to another home.

  • Bill Tucker August 12, 2016, 8:45 am

    Carry a firearm from the moment I wake until the moment I go to bed, and then it sets beside me. The world is full of feral animals, and the foolish with rose colored glasses think otherwise.

  • Norm Fishler August 12, 2016, 7:56 am

    All one needs to do is to ask themselves, “Where do 100% of all home invasions take place?” Rarely will I be found without a gun either on me or within easy reach.

  • David Telliho August 12, 2016, 7:34 am

    Good article. One had better make up their mind about self defense, before carrying a weapon. If you can`t bring yourself to use it or worry about the woodwork, then buy a big dog instead.

  • Ron Stidham August 12, 2016, 7:21 am

    I for one, do not relish the idea of having to shoot any one. But in this case, a full on crew breaking into our homes is a different thing all together. If they are blazon enough to come in the front/back door while you and your family are home, its not going to end well for you and your loved ones. Here in Indiana, you have to show that your life is in danger, with no way out before deadly force is acceptable. I don’t carry while at home, maybe I should. Now to the critical point of this article. Should I shoot, in this scenario YES. They have proven that they are not here to tell jokes and drink a few beers with you. They intend the worst case for you and your family. Be smart, if you have the chance. Start with the closest intruder, and take count of where the rest of them are in relation to your family members. You defiantly don’t want to shoot the ones you care about. My wife is the skilled fighter, she is very capable of taking care of herself. I carry a 1911 45. maybe while in the home, you might want to have a double stack 9mm. 15 is a lot more than 8. Take care, be smart, and stay vigil, DO NOT let your family or yourself go quietly into the night!!!

  • Jonathan B August 12, 2016, 2:47 am

    Thanks Sammy. Excellent advice and well supported. I got my CCW 11 years ago and renewed even though my state adopted constitutional carry (I traveled with work at the time). My instructors were active and retired Leos who, somberly, explained the dynamic nature of the home invasion much as you did.
    To those who wonder if they COULD adjust to home carry, I encourage them thusly. Once I overcame any family member’s questioning (although “concealed,” it’s unlikely to remain 100% covert), I never looked back. And I can honestly say that I am 100% armed at home.

  • DRAINO August 4, 2016, 2:12 pm

    I love this series. Always thought provoking. And good advice….without directly giving advice…if you know what I mean. Keep up the great work.

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