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When is it OK to Open Fire on Intruders
Protecting your family and property is a natural instinct. You keep your guns for that unwanted occasion when uninvited intruders make their way onto your land, and you fully intend to use them. So you should, as it’s your right to protect your family, but when is it really OK to open fire on intruders? What do you have to think about before you make that final, potentially life-threatening decision?
It’s a big decision, and one that needs careful and rational thought. The wrong move, or reckless action, could result in injury – or worse – to yourself and your family, so you need to be prepared and ready in the event. Let’s think about some of the things you should consider, and remember, you won’t have much time to think when confronted with intruders.
First, let’s think about how you need to get to your guns, quickly and easily when they are needed. That’s why you need to make sure your gun cabinet is in the right place, close to where you are most likely to be defending your property. This is the most important thing when planning ahead, as any lost seconds could mean the difference between life and death.
There’s another side to this, though, and it’s keeping your guns safe if – on the off chance – anyone else gets into your home. You want to keep them close, but you don’t want to keep them easy to find, so hiding your guns is always a great idea.
Now, consider the situation: you’ve got intruders approaching your land, you have your guns ready, you wait for them to come over your land. What goes through your mind? You need to stay calm, first of all; panic, or rash decisions right now, make all the difference.
Your first thought is for your family; if you have a secure room get them into it, right now. No hesitation, no pauses, before you know whether the intruders are for real or not, get your family to safety. You need them out of the way, as safe as possible, whatever happens to you.
Now that you have your family safe, you need to get back to what’s going on outside: where are they? How many are they? What do they want? The latter you might not want to wait to find out, but what you don’t want to do is fire indiscriminately; you need to stay calm, cool and ready if you are to make a success of defending your home.
Cool and Calm
So, let’s get back to the situation that is unfolding: you’ve got your family to safety as best you can, you’re in your ideal position from where you can see the intruders approaching. The last thing you want to do is let them see where you are, so here’s a really great tip: never fire warning shots!
This might go against stuff you’ve been told elsewhere, but think about it: first, you’re wasting time and ammunition, and second, you’re giving away where you are. Warning shots are a great way for the other guy to know exactly where you are, and to have a go at taking you out – quickly and easily.
Remember to keep cool, and don’t be tempted to try and scare them away, because the chances are you won’t. Anyone entering your property knows you are armed and that you will take action, so they are not going to be worried about a few stray shots over their heads. Instead, they’ll use it to their advantage.
Here’s another great bit of advice: opening fire, no matter how you might think before the event, is always the last resort. We’ve already advised against warning shots, so you know that any shots you take right now are going to be taken against a clear visible target – another person. It may be someone who is violating your privacy, but it’s still a person, and you have every chance of seriously injuring them, or even killing them.
Self defense is the key to this, but what is self defense? Put simply, it’s defending yourself, your family and your property in a time of extreme pressure. The problem is, you will need to convince a court – after the event – that what you did was, in fact, self defense, or you may find yourself in a whole lot of trouble.
Each individual case is taken entirely on its own merits; there is no standard for self defense, so you need to ensure that you are the defender, and not the aggressor. If your intruder clearly shows signs of giving themselves up, and you then shoot them, you have no grounds for self defense. Yes, it’s a split-second decision, but that’s why we talked about staying calm and only shooting a clear and visible target.
The laws in the US differ from state to state, too, so it is well worth getting to know the laws on self defense where you are, so you know exactly where you stand. In some states, for example, the law requires you to retreat to safety first; in others, you can legally stand your ground. Remember, as we said, each case is taken on its own merits, so you may find you are on your own.
We’ve talked about being prepared, being careful, keeping cool and only shooting a clear target, and that really is the key to safely and legally – as well as can be – defending your family and property from intruders. It’s about keeping one step ahead, knowing where you stand at the given time, and being prepared to refrain from shooting, or to shoot, whichever option presents itself as the right one.
Remember, keep your guns in good repair, ensure you store them in an easily accessible gun safe, check them regularly, practice your aim and make sure everything is in the right place, and you will be best prepared to take on any intruders who might fancy their chances at having a look at your property.