Monday, July 31, 2006

Be afraid, for it might just save your life

One of my closest friends called me tonight, and we got to talking about security at the new house she's having built. It will be a big change, going from an apartment with two buffers (the building door and her own apartment door) to her own house with just one buffer. She's already thought, heaven forfend, of the possibility that someone might break into her home. It will be in a nice neighborhood, which can attract criminals looking for richer targets.

I asked her to check on a few things. Alarm system? Motion-activated lighting? How about the door frames? Metal will cost more money, but how can that extra cost compare to securing yourself against the possibility that someone can kick it in? I know from personal experience, having kicked one in myself, that even "hardwood" door frames are no guarantee against a determined criminal of sufficient strength. Throughout history, castle moats were crossed, and town gates were battered down.

There can be no substitute for my friend purchasing a good firearm. God knows when it's just her and her two little girls, a five-minute police response time might as well be an eternity. And most neighbors, especially disarmed ones, will also rely on the police to save them: a house alarm might be going off because of an actual intruder, but what could the neighbors do when they don't have guns but the criminal does? Besides, your neighbors (let alone the police) might accidentally shoot one of your legitimate visitors, who accidentally tripped your alarm. There can be no substitute for defending your own home yourself.

I love my friend dearly, and if I could, I'd be patrolling their house myself as a live-in bodyguard. There's no reason, however, that she can't defend herself as capably as anyone. She'd do well with a shotgun or high-powered rifle, and maybe a couple of small pieces for backup -- firearms with enough power that they make "shoot to kill" redundant. She said at one point, "Perry, you're scaring me!" That was not my intention, but I think it's for the best: she's now scared enough to do something, and it might save her loved ones' lives one day.

But, Sarah Brady would say, there's a far greater possibility that the gun will be used on one of her family instead of a criminal. Not if she teaches her children how to respect the firearms: "You know how you smash ants with a rock and they don't come back? That's what happens when you use these on people." Better yet, she can teach her daughters when they are of appropriate age. You never know when one might save the others' lives.

Even the Brookings Institution admitted, "National victimization surveys have found that the frequency of gun use in self-defense ranges from as high as 503,000 incidents in the preceding year to as low as 32,000 incidents, depending on how the survey is conducted and what questions are asked (Ikeda et al. 1997; Cook 1991)." Compare that to the approximately 1300 accidental gun deaths each year. I hate to boil issues down to mathematics, but would we trade those 1300 lives for half a million more crimes, some of which could be murders?

Some further reading:
NCPA: 15 myths about gun control
John Lott: "More guns, less crime"


Blogger Mike said...

Chris (Anarchangel) had a great post about home defense, but I couldn't find it. The rub is that a high powered rifle is about the last weapon you want for home defense. A bullet will go through the bad guy you're shooting, go into the next room where your kids are sleeping, blow through your exterior wall, enter your neighbor's house, fly through the room where HIS kids are sleeping, and end up lodged in his refrigerator. A shotgun is slightly better, and is a decent compromise for those whose ownership of handguns is restricted or illegal, but shotgun pellets will still penetrate walls within a house. The best home defense weapon for someone who is looking to buy just one gun would be a revolver shooting low velocity frangible rounds. The low velocity frangible rounds should be self explanatory; the revolver because it isn't a long gun, so it's easily accessible at night, and a revolver because it is point and shoot. Far simpler than an automatic.

Obviously, your best bet is a layered defense, with securing your house properly, a revolver by the bedside, an automatic not far away, and a long gun (shotgun and maybe an AR) or two easily accessible. But for those who don't have the inclination or ability to do this, a revolver is the best bet. I'm sure Chris would be more than happy to provide a little bit of advice if you or your friend are so inclined.

Sorry to nitpick, but the proper choice of firearm is very important, especially for one that you intend to use around your home. Also, if your friend does buy a weapon, especially a handgun, she should look into taking some sort of basic training course. Enough at least to familiarize her with the weapon and understand its capabilities and limits.

Anyway, otherwise a very good post.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Oh, and just so we're clear, a lot of what I wrote were ideas I first read in Chris' original post. I just reproduced them from memory since I couldn't find the original.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

That's a good point about the power. I suppose she could stick to a .38 revolver and use strictly hollow point. :)

A lot of people recommend a shotgun as the first choice for home defense, particularly since it's easier to fire under stress than a pistol or revolver. I'm partial to high-powered rifles for, shall I say, "other reasons."

Oh, and believe me, I would sooner quit my job and become my friend's live-in bodyguard before I let her own any sort of gun without knowing how to use it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 4:12:00 PM  

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