In my series How to Defend Your Home With A Shotgun (Chapter Four by the end of this week), I counsel home defenders never to underestimate their enemy. I stand by that assertion. Even if a home defender is as stupid/high as the one in this story, it is not safe to assume that “your” home invader will display a similar lack of common sense. And remember that this attack, like most, started with extreme violence. “74-year-old Hosie Harris was in his 15th Street home about 11 Monday night when someone came into his home and bedroom and demanded money according to sheriff’s deputies,” abcactionnews.com reports . . .
The suspect later identified as Lee Andrew Johnson, hit Harris with a stick or club on his face and head. Detectives say Harris kept a loaded .22 rifle next to his bed but Johnson picked up the rifle and pointed it Harris. Harris told detectives Johnson was unable to fire the rifle because the safety was on so Johnson put the rifle down When he did, Harris said Johnson turned away and continued looking through his personal items in the closet a few feet away. Harris picked up the rifle and shot the suspect twice.
And now, a word about gun safeties . . .
This story illustrates the importance of leaving your gun safety on: it prevents an idiot from killing you with your own gun. The safety has saved countless (someone really should count) policemen and soldiers from being killed with their own weapon.
Most gun gurus will tell you that there’s only one way to store your home defense weapon: loaded, with one in the chamber, with the safety on. All you need to do at that point is disengage the safety and fire.
To which I will add two things. First, if there are rug rats anywhere in the vicinity, the loaded gun should be stored in a safe. A simple keypad is best, with a repeating two digit combo. Second, make SURE the safety’s on before you put the gun down/away.
Just today, an Onalska, Washington teacher shot himself to death whilst moving guns around in his safe. (A rifle bolt caught the trigger of another weapon.) Assume the safety ISN’T on when moving/removing the weapon/weapons. Muzzle discipline lads! Muzzle disciplne!
Second, I’m not a big fan of gun safeties. Gasp! I know: the external safety is the last line of defense against accidental discharge and that whole killed with your own weapon thing (as above). I prefer to leave the safety off—on an empty chamber.
Racking the shotgun or pulling the slide is my safety. [Note: I am careful to keep my guns WELL separated in storage. I NEVER over-crowd my safes.] Both of those movements require major muscle movement, not fine motor skills. When your bloodstream gets an adrenal dump, fine motor skills are the first thing to go.
Or maybe the second, right after cognition. In specific, my Benelli has a fiddly little safety button right near the trigger. Even if I trained myself to use the safety reflexively, I don’t trust that my fingers would find the button in the middle of a battle for my life. Some guns have larger safety buttons. I’m still not buying it. Literally. I know I’m betting my life that A) I can get to my gun before an attacker and B) he doesn’t know enough to rack or slide the weapon before firing.
It’s also true that cops will tell you plenty of stories about home defenders who couldn’t shoot their own weapon because they forgot to take the safety off. Gun owners who’d been shooting for decades who forgot their training when push came to shove. Remember: most gun owners are NOT law enforcement or military spec. They’ve NEVER fired their gun under extreme physical or emotional stress. Just sayin’.
Like everything about guns, how you store your weapons is, ultimately, a compromise. Or a violation of state law, depending. One thing’s for sure: however you store your home defense gun, practice firing it from that exact level operational readiness. Personally, I always return my primary home defense weapons to their rock and roll ready state before each round of practice. But then, I’m OCD that way. And a few others. In case you hadn’t noticed.