A burglar alarm. Think of it this way: you don’t want to have to shoot anyone with a shotgun. For one thing, it’s a messy business. Imagine blasting someone with a cannon at short range. Like that. For another, it’s traumatic. Some shotgun gurus say that a successful shooting will not leave you emotionally scarred; you’ll realize that you did the right thing to protect yourself and your family. You’ll feel the satisfaction of a triumphant warrior. Bullshit. The moments preceding, during and after the murderous mayhem may not haunt your dreams, but they probably will. Besides, it’s not all about you; do you really want your wife and/or children to see a human being blown to bits? And then there’s the fun of dealing with the police and the judicial system . . .
Even if the cops want to hand you a medal, they won’t. You’ll be “processed”—which is equal parts boring and humiliating. If you thought that the person on the receiving end of your shotgun blast wanted to steal your money, wait ’til you see your lawyer’s bills. Not to mention all the paperwork.
In today’s litigious society, there’s every chance that the “victim’s” family will file a civil lawsuit against you. They’ll want every dime you ever earned AND every dime you WILL earn. That’s if you’re lucky. The “survivors” may decide that vengeance isn’t the Lord’s. If you don’t spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, you should.
Oh, and the police will confiscate your shotgun pending a criminal investigation. They may take any other guns in your possession, as well. (Well discuss this in more depth in a later chapter.) So you’ll be both paranoid and unarmed.
All this is predicated on the idea that you will shoot and kill the home invader—as opposed to, say, your brother-in-law. Or your daughter’s boyfriend. Or a drunk neighbor. Or a friend. Or your own child. The above scenario is also based on the idea that you will shoot and kill the home invader—as opposed to trying to shoot him (or them) and NOT killing him (or them). Which could be a blessing. But would probably be a curse: the worst/last mistake of your life.
Of course, you may have to shoot someone with your shotgun. That you’ll face a do or die dilemma. That’s why I’ve written this book: to increase your odds of shooting a home invader with a shotgun while minimizing the chance of a horrible accident, a fatal failure to execute or excessive legal blow-back (is there any other kind?).
The chances that you will have to shoot someone with a shotgun are small; roughly on a par with the likelihood of suffering a shark attack whilst getting hit by lightning. How to Defend Your Home With A Shotgun will prepare you for this unlikely event. But it’s best avoided altogether. (Shooting someone, not this book.) Why put yourself through all the stress of shooting someone with a shotgun if you don’t have to?
Buy a burglar alarm.
Burglars and other home invaders don’t pick houses at random. They look for “soft targets”: homes where they are unlikely to be detected and/or encounter resistance. If they have a choice between a house with an alarm system and one without—and all but drugged, deranged and illiterate criminals do—they will choose the alarm-less one every time. (As you might expect, this is a particularly prevalent response in areas of the country where gun ownership is at its highest.)
A sign saying you have a burglar alarm on or near your house is an effective deterrent. An effective deterrent is better than a shotgun. Period. Should the home invader trigger an actual alarm, they’re good to go. Literally.
When a criminal hears an alarm, they know the cops are coming. Aside from seriously drugged and/or deranged individuals (every society’s got ‘em), future felons avoid law enforcement like the proverbial plague. When an alarm sounds, home invaders also know you’re awake and, possibly, armed. Your neighbors are “situationally aware.” So it’s lose – lose – lose as far as an invader’s concerned.
In almost every case, future felons “flee.” Saving you all the trauma and hassle of having to shoot them. How great is that? As Apple maven Steve Wozniak would say, insanely great. But wait, there’s more!
An alarm system is also the single best way to avoid an accidental shooting. If someone isn’t a home invader intent on robbery or attack, an alarm triggers a life-saving WDIM moment. “Whoa Dude! It’s me!” This is, of course, doubly true for anyone you know who knows you have a shotgun (which should be a strictly limited group).
And just like that, you’ve prevented a horrible, irreversible tragedy. OK, yes, a clever home invader could use a family member as a “human shield” and trick you into thinking that the alarm was a mistake. While we can’t deal with every possible case here, I’ve devoted an entire chapter to the possibility that everything will go horribly wrong (“Shit Happens”).
Meanwhile, again, still, it’s all about the plan. And the best possible shotgun defense plan starts with a burglar alarm. Did I already say that? It’s worth repeating. An alarm is a clear and unequivocal sign that it’s time for you to get your game face on. If you don’t already know it—if you didn’t trip the alarm in response to a home invasion—the alarm tells you and your loved ones that it’s time to put your shotgun-based home defense plan in motion.
And why not? Perhaps you’ve heard of “The Castle Doctrine.” That’s the fundamental legal principle that says your home (and in some states your car and workplace) is your “castle.” You have the right to use deadly force to defend yourself and/or any innocent person within your home from trespassing and violent attack.
In other words, legally, you have the right to shoot someone who enters your home to rob or attack you. As long as the invader wasn’t your drug dealer and you’re not involved in some criminal enterprise (like, say, drug dealing), you can fire your shotgun at a home invader and kill him (or them) and not go to jail.
Yes well . . . that’s the theory.
Society in general (i.e. not Texas) doesn’t like it when civilians kill people. The police, in particular, much prefer to reserve the power or life and death for themselves. So even if a felon with a rap sheet as long as your shotgun barrel enters your home at 2am with a loaded .45 gun in his hand and you shoot him dead, you will still have to prove that you HAD to use deadly force.
If the police/prosecutor/judge and/or jury knows that the now-dead invader ignored a burglar alarm, that you were waiting for the police but ran out of time, you’ve vastly increased your odds of triumphing in any post-shooting legal investigation or prosecution. You’ll save yourself time, money and untold amounts of stress.
Back up a mo.
This book covers two basic scenarios: a home invader who bursts in through your door and one that tries to “sneak” in, usually under cover of darkness. There are no stats on which of these two nightmares is the most likely. They are two very different situations, requiring two very different shotgun defense strategies. So both get their own chapters. Suffice it to say here, an alarm system is your first line of defense in both cases.
Even a cheap, standalone trip-wire system—a motion detector and an alarm that isn’t connected to the police—is better than none. If you can be selective, buy an alarm system that arms your home’s perimeter (doors and windows) while you and your family get on with life inside. Make sure it has a single press panic button on the keypad AND a key fob panic button. Carry the fob on you at all times. And yes, sign-up for the service that connects you to an alarm company’s monitoring system.
[Quick aside: alarm companies with monitoring services call you immediately after the alarm triggers to see if you need help (i.e. if it’s yet another false alarm). They ask for a code word indicating that you are who you say you are and that everything’s OK. Don’t forget to establish a “panic” word: a code word that says “No, everything’s NOT OK. Someone’s holding a gun to my head.”]
As far as money is concerned, remember that you can buy a damn fine alarm system for the price of a suitable, high-quality home defense shotgun (which includes a gun safe, ammunition, training and range time). If you rent your abode, you can buy and install a perfectly adequate “plug and play” alarm system that you can remove when you move.
I would be remiss in my dedication to your safety if I didn’t point out that an alarm system and a baseball bat is a far more effective home defense strategy than a shotgun, ammunition, gun safe and NO ALARM SYSTEM.
That said, combine a good alarm system with an appropriate shotgun and a simple, coherent home defense plan and you’ll have all the tools you need to protect yourself and the ones you love from a home invasion.
That’s why this book is based on you, the shotgun owner, having a burglar alarm. Without it, you dramatically decrease your chances of survival, increase your odds of a deadly accident and open yourself up to criminal prosecution. I simply can’t, in good conscience, recommend owning a shotgun unless and until you own an alarm system. Once you do, everything gets easier—even if your worst nightmare should come to pass. As you shall see.
[Note: this is an excerpt from my forthcoming book How to Defend Your Home with a Shotgun. The text is subject to revision. Reserve your signed first-edition copy by emailing “Book” to email@example.com.]