Yesterday, we had a look at a firearms instructor who forgot the first rule of a gunfight: don’t have one. And the second: run! Today, we have the tale of a burglarized home owner who was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anyone. A man who decided that three times was not going to be lucky for the robber, and so decided to mete out a little pistol-whipping punishment . . .
“The third time I’d put these bars in here, so the window couldn’t rise up,” said McCauley.
On Thursday, McCauley was home sick.
“He came up and pounded on the door, I guess to make sure I wasn’t home. I didn’t answer because I was feeling miserable, so I didn’t move,” said McCauley.
McCauley said he then heard someone trying to break into his house.
“He had a big fishing knife and he was prying on (a window)” said McCauley.
McCauley said he grabbed his gun.
Well, I’m not entirely sure about Mr. McCauley’s assertion [via kirotv.com] that he ignored the pounding on his door because he was ill. Pounding, not knocking, mind you. An alternative explanation: McCauley knew very well what was happening. He’d already decided a plan of action to deal with his repeat visitor.
“I came out and told him to stop. He didn’t stop so I fired a round next to him. That made him stop,” said McCauley. He had a little shock and awe going on in his eyes.”
A “warning shot” may not be the worst thing you can do when confronting a perp, but it’s right up there at the top of the list.
First, what would YOU do if you were jacked-up on God-knows-what, had a gun and someone started shooting at you? Would YOU think “OK, I’m not going to take on THIS guy”? Or would you draw your weapon and run for cover whilst returning fire? What if you had, oh I don’t know, say, a hunting knife?
Second, you are legally and morally responsible for every bullet you fire. If a “warning shot” kills someone, it’s your fault. Sure, McCauley fired into the dirt next to the perp. But the principle’s the same: you are not allowed to shoot “at” someone unless your life or the life of a loved one is imminent danger, and imminence is imminent (i.e. if the bad guy’s just standing there with a knife, he’s not fair game).
A responsible gun owner does not fire warning shots. You can challenge the perp—DROP YOUR WEAPON—whilst pointing you gun at center mass (finger off the trigger Suarez fans). But it’s shoot or don’t shoot. There is nothing in between.
Calling the police is an important part of the “don’t shoot” option. Especially if you end up neutralizing the threat. You do not have to stay on the line; just dial 911, say “home invasion at this address” and drop the blower on the ground. That fact alone may keep you from spending any quality time in a small room with Bubba.
Getting back to Mr. McCauley’s account, that line about “shock and awe” indicates a little too much cinematic satisfaction with the situation. A suggestion borne out by subsequent events . . .
Police said a neighbor heard the shot and called 911.
McCauley said he dragged the man inside, pistol- whipped him and waited for police.
“I was holding him by his hair and pointing a gun at him. He really wasn’t going anywhere,” said McCauley.
Many gun gurus will tell you that it’s not a good idea to try and hold a perp at gunpoint. The more time the bad guy has to think of a counter-attack, the more likely it is. There are ways to minimize that possibility. Maintaining distance is foremost amongst them. The closer they are, the easier it is for the bad guy to attack.
Pistol-whipping a perp may be a satisfying activity for a beleaguered burglary victim, holding him by the hair might be effective on the psychological level, but it’s too intimate for the (questionably) good guy’s safety. Close contact of any kind makes it extremely easy for your opponent to begin a life-or-death fight for control of your weapon. A chance for them to find their spare knife, a hidden gun, a pen, whatever, and kill you dead.
To properly hold an enemy, you have to issue commands that keep the perp rooted to the spot, at a distance, and hope they respect your authority. If they make a move towards you, you could shoot them. But again, you’d have to prove that your life was in imminent danger. “So, how far away was He Was A Victim Really when you shot him?”
Meanwhile, the cavalry that arrives, eventually, may not be your own. Burglars tends to work in pairs. Gang members have homies a plenty. If you’re holding a BG, you’re exposed to an ongoing threat of even greater danger. Not to mention your own cavalry. If the adrenalin-crazed cops come running to find you pointing a gun at someone, what are the odds they’ll see the unarmed man as the bad guy?
Your best bet: mentally note the bad guy’s appearance and tell him to leave.I understand the natural and laudable desire to bring a criminal to justice. But allowing the bad guy to get away is certainly a defensible option worthy of your consideration. Pistol-whipping? Not so much.
“It was the best sick day I’ve probably had,” laughed McCauley.
Seattle police said McCauley has a right to protect his property and it’s unlikely he’ll be charged with a crime.
When the bad guy gets caught, it’s usually smiles all around—no matter how aggressive or irresponsible the gun owner’s behavior. After all, the tax payer was acting as a responsible citizen, right? But the gun owner’s first, perhaps only responsibility, is to protect his or her life. This is not how you do it.