Defensive Gun Use Of The Day: Rubber Bullet Edition

If I ever hear the dreaded sound of a burglar prying or smashing his way into my home in the middle of the night, I pray I’ll have time to equip myself with the ne plus ultra of home-defense tools: a 12-guage shotgun. Your tastes may run to pistols or carbines in such a situation, but I’m reaching for my 870. To paraphrase Massad Ayoob, within 25 yards there is no more effective tool for neutralizing deadly threats than an ounce or so of 00 buckshot. Ayoob never said anything about rubber buckshot, but Portlander Tim Wallace never got that memo. . .

Portland’s KOIN News reports:

One man is in custody after a North Portland man fired rubber pellets at him during an early morning home intrusion.

Tim Wallace said he and his wife had come home late Thursday night to find their back gates open and items outside their home rearranged. Thinking someone may have been at the house earlier in the night, before going to bed Wallace grabbed his shotgun, just in case.

Around 3:45 a.m., Wallace heard a noise outside his bedroom window and when he got up and went outside to investigate, he found a man charging down at him.

“I grabbed my shotgun and went out the door and the minute I turned into the breezeway there was a guy coming right at me,” Wallace said.

Owning the gun for over 40 years, Wallace has always kept the gun loaded and in a safe, but with a unique approach: “I always keep it loaded with three shots of non-lethal, after that they’re lethal.”

Wallace fired off one round that hit the man in the shoulder as he fled the area near the 7000 block of North Seward Avenue.
“When that gun went off, I don’t think that shotgun was 6 inches from his shoulder–he was that close to me.”

In an attempt to escape, Wallace said the man then pedaled down the street on a bike.

“I fired two more shots, not aiming at him but just to scare him.”

The unidentified burglar found hiding behind a nearby church and was taken into custody. He’s damned lucky to survive, because a nearly muzzle-contact gunshot with any ammo, even blanks, is potentially lethal. He’s still hospitalized as I type this, probably because the rubber buckshot penetrated fairly deeply into the muscle and cartilage of his shoulder.

And what about Mr. Wallace? He survived the attempted burglary but he’s not out of the woods yet. A shotgun, when fired at a distance of six inches, constitutes deadly force. Even when it’s loaded with less-lethal ammunition. Wallace made a big mistake when he stepped outside to confront the burglar, and he made another big mistake when he fired at a wounded and fleeing scumbag who no longer constituted a threat.

I don’t think I even need to address the stupidity of firing warning shots at a fleeing suspect; there’s just no tactical or legally-justifiable reason for it.

I’m all for defending our homes from criminal intruders (and after other recent burglar shootings I hope that Portland-area burglars start to get the message that their career sucks) but the line that separates a DGU from a felony assault can be thinner and fuzzier than we think. Don’t stumble over it, like Wallace may have done. And if you do, for God’s sake don’t ‘cooperate with authorities’ like he’s also doing.

58 Responses to Defensive Gun Use Of The Day: Rubber Bullet Edition

  1. avatarTony Curtis says:

    People need to learn to STFU.

  2. avatarRopingdown says:

    Associate Justice Robert Jackson (SCOTUS) once wrote that, given the law, it never will be to your advantage to talk to the police. Let your attorney do the talking. The reasons are many. Cooperate, but don’t converse. Make a statement only after your attorney has briefed you, if he or she approves. Stepping outside is a question of state law. For example in PA, you may step out onto front steps and patios, but not farther. Shooting to scare a guy running away? It’s curious to note that Jackson was the US Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg, and the last Justice not to attend a law school.

  3. avatarRobert Farago says:

    I can think of only one reason you’d load a twelve gushed with less lethal rounds: because you’re an idiot.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      Oh, come on Robert, there are more reasons than that. For example, you could be a moron or a cretin.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      …or a prison guard or a cop on riot duty.

      • avatarCarlosT says:

        Like we said…

      • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

        or to blast pesky dogs leaving biscuits in the back yard.

        I always thought it would be a neat idea to load your shells with sea salt, peppercorns, and juniper berries so that the squirrels could start marinading as they fell from the tree.

    • avatarJeff says:

      Same reason many people load shotguns with the first round as light bird shot, they don’t want to kill someone unless they have to. It’s a mental thing and it doesn’t make them an idiot.

      • avatarHSR47 says:

        Honestly, birdshot IS a decent idea, at least for the first round — the majority of DGUs are won on psychology alone, without firing a shot. Of those that aren’t, it seems to me that the gruesome mess birdshot can leave may serve as a deterrent to further hostile action, especially against a group of hoodlums, and all with minimal lethality.

        • avatarMadDawg J says:

          “the majority of DGUs are won on psychology alone, without firing a shot”

          That is exactly why I also go for my Remi 870. When it comes to shooting I would rather be shouldering my Benelli, but that unmistakable sound of the 870 being pumped should be enough to convince 98% of people that they chose the wrong house and that it’s time for them to leave. The other 2% get 3″ 00 buckshot.

        • avatarMatt Gregg says:

          I think most every expert has now acknowledged that the famous “rack the shotgun and they will run” thing is a waste of time in most every situation.

        • avatarJake says:

          Boom. Most toughs will smell this and any other “defensive threat indicators” as a challenge to their all encompassing alpha-ness, making an attack more likely.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        I agree. Some people need to be able to say to themselves, “I gave him a chance to stop.” It was the other things Tim Wallace did that were both foolish and illegal. I would not ever load my shotgun with them as standard, or ever with three, but it’s not stupid to have LL options in your vest in case the ‘thief in the house’ turns out to be your nice neighbors alzheimer-afflicted father, 80, who’s temporarily lost his mind and has a knife in his hand. Simple to switch in a LL, call 911, and deal with him as best you can, no? RF?

      • avatarPro.0s says:

        Only if the birdshot is in wax.

  4. avatarbp says:

    Its up to state law. I assume the OP must live in a commie-like area the way he reacts to some of these shooting posts. In Kentucky if I walked outside because of a weird noise, and some dude charged me in my yard I could blow him away without question, armed or not. The less lethal may not be LL at 6 inches but it also shows compassion and a desire *not* to kill the person, which certainly shouldn’t hurt him in court.

    That said I’d for sure skip the LL rounds, and stay in my house. If its obvious someone is breaking in then call 911, and sit and wait. If they make in they get shot, if they don’t, then they don’t. Lucky them.

  5. avatarAharon says:

    “In an attempt to escape, Wallace said the man then pedaled down the street on a bike.”

    That is so Portland! Despite the rain, this city is heavily into bicycle riding and green idealists who ride bikes since it environmentally friendly. I’m not saying the thug was riding a bike because he is pro green. Portland is a liberal city with plenty of PC thinking. The self-defense laws here are tricky and going more nanny-police state all the time. Last year, a home owner was sent to jail for chasing down and shooting and wounding a home intruder outside his house who moments before had fled his house. I think that I live about a mile from where this incident occurred.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      That can get problematic in most places. Chasing someone down can make you the aggressor, depending on the exact circumstances, which can turn a defensive gun use into an offensive gun use and potentially a crime.

      • avatarAharon says:

        Modern society with its friggin progressive values. An escaping thug can always return in the future to finish the job. I especially understand the protector instinct that can kick in for some men to pursue, hunt down, and terminate any threat to his family even if the threat goes from active to inactive.

        • avatarCarlosT says:

          Well, best of luck to you. Just remember to get a good lawyer and STFU.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          And still expect to be convicted even with the good attorney. Follow up once they run is the cops’ job.

        • avatarCarlosT says:

          Yup. But keeping your mouth shut will give your lawyer his or her best shot at saving your ass, long shot that it is.

        • avatarJake says:

          Too bad they can’t do that as well as they kick unarmed and restrained people in the face. If cops caught criminals as efficiently as they abuse unarmed citizens there would be no second offenders.

      • avatarHSR47 says:

        You just need to know the right legal precident to cite.

        There is substantial caselaw relating to performing a citizen’s arrest, and the use of lethal force therein. In short, one must be in hot/fresh pursuit.

    • avatardreno says:

      Reno has some of those bicyclists too. We call them hipsters here.

      • avatarAharon says:

        Hipsters? I think I’ve heard that word used a few times here too. Ironically, with the weather and all, Portland has an active motorcycle and scooter (not moped) community. Car drivers are fairly courteous in Portland to two-wheelers and pedestrians.

        • avatarNCG says:

          My understanding is Oregon has the highest per-capita motorcycle ownership in the nation. I used to be among them, and hope to again. I bike (like bicycle) a lot, and mostly motorists are friendly, but not always.

    • avatarChris Dumm says:

      There could be a ‘Portlandia’ spoof of this incident, with references to GMO foods and Rolfing massage techniques.

      • avatarAharon says:

        That’s it! The progressives will claim, in his defense, that the thief was unemployed and only trying to steal food from the home owner’s organic garden to feed the local children so the kids won’t have to eat GMO food. They will further claim that the thief’s dream is to become a certified legal Rolfing massage therapist and to give free massages to the poor and elderly. I’m already weeping in sympathy.

  6. avatar"Dr." Dave says:

    The headline could very easily have read “Portland home owner murders fleeing man”. So very, very easy to confuse shells, and so easy to lose track of how many rounds you’ve fired. Did you fire three rounds? Two? Six? Hard to tell when adrenaline is pumping.

    • avatarbob says:

      Now did i fire 5 or 6, are you feeling lucky punk?

    • avatarMadDawg J says:

      LTL rounds are usually very bright neon or fluorescent colors so that they are easy to spot. (Ever see a cop with an orange 870? Thats for LTL rounds only) It is something you would have to think about, but with just a little training you remember to watch the shell chamber and check the color of it. I used to have to do it with breaching rounds, white = breach, red = dead. I’ve been a civilian for over a decade now and I still do it out of habit even though I only load one type of round at a time now.

      Three rounds seems rather excessive. I’m all for giving them one, maybe even two, LTL round but if I have a crazed meth head coming at me I do not want to have to clear three rounds to get to one that will have an effect. Not to mention that Mr. Wallace is probably going to be sued to poverty by the guy he shot.
      Remember the days when we would have thrown a parade and called Mr. Wallace a hero for his actions instead of pressing charges against him?

      • avatarJoe Grine says:

        “It is something you would have to think about, but with just a little training you remember to watch the shell chamber and check the color of it.”

        WTF?!? You have obviously never been in a real gunfight.

  7. avatarDarren says:

    Rubber bullets? Got that beat.

    http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2012/01/27/20120127phoenix-resident-kills-intruder-clothes-iron-abrk.html

    No comment as to whether the apartment resident used starch or not.

    • avatarTR says:

      Was it a black scary iron with that shoulder thingy that goes up? And was it an 18-inch cord or an extended cord? Did it have a detachable water reservoir? Does it have a full-auto steam function?

      I am calling for an all-out iron ban. Who really needs irons, anyway? Only the military should be able to own/operate irons.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      [sigh] Journalists…

      Police are investigating the incident as a homicide but believe the apartment resident was acting in self-defense, Thompson said.

      Well, it obviously wasn’t natural causes, it probably wasn’t an accident, and it’s really unlikely to be suicide, so homicide is really the only option left. Unless it’s a possessed iron that did the killing by itself.

  8. avatarNCG says:

    This is very Portland. I respect the guy for loading LTL rounds in his home defense piece. Not saying I would do the same, but respect. It’s like the old school redneck rocksalt thing. We should not be afraid.

  9. avatarAharon says:

    LTL rounds
    1) less than lethal rounds
    2) loving tender little rounds

    I know a hippie chick in Oregon who grows organic veggies and would define LTL the second way.

  10. avatarJS III says:

    Unless a shoot is without a doubt 100% on the up and up STFU until you have a lawyer. I think in this case firinh less than lethal ammo complicates the situation not in a good way. The homeowner woulf have been better off if he had killed the charging burglar.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      Even if it’s 100% without a doubt a good shoot, STFU. No matter what the circumstances, it’s never a good idea to talk to the cops without a lawyer.

    • avatarMadDawg J says:

      You are sadly correct. If you EFFECTIVELY use deadly force under the correct situation you are protected by the law, however if you attempt to use deadly force but get non-lethal results you can be in a very, very bad situation depending on where you live.

      See “Castle Doctrine” for fine details and you locals laws.

      Also, I have to say if you ARE going to load LTL rounds please load them first, then regular rounds so that you will be chambering the non-LTL rounds first. If you are truly in a situation where you can safely fire LTL then you have enough time to clear the “real” rounds to get to them. If you are in a S(tuff) Hitting The Fan situation you most likely will not have enough time to get to the rounds that will save your life otherwise.

  11. avatarTom says:

    Around 3:45 a.m., Wallace heard a noise outside his bedroom window and when he got up and went outside to investigate, he found a man charging down at him.

    Does not matter if he was outside ( the home?), this is still self defense as the crook was charging at him. It did not seem the follow up shots were effective and the home owner was not aiming at the crook.
    This would at least fly in Indiana. Portland…I dunno.

  12. avatarLevi B says:

    That guy is lucky he shot the BG with rubber pellets. If he had blown the BG’s shoulder off with buckshot from behind he’d likely be facing a good bit of jail time.

  13. avatarRalph says:

    Going outside to check on a creepy noise? That might not be too smart, but certainly it’s not illegal. Carrying a loaded and uncased shotgun on one’s own property? The legality depends on state laws. Discharging a gun within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling? Not a violation if the discharge is for lawful self-defense. Everybody knows that. I just threw it in for giggles.

    Shooting a guy who comes rushing at you in the dark and gets so close to you that he’s almost in contact with the barrel? Assuming no Castle Doctrine is in play, look at the facts: Old man. Darkness @ 3:45 am. BG on him before he knows what’s what. And afterwards, despite being shot, the BG peddles away on a bicycle.

    What doe those things prove? The BG is strong enough to take a shot and still skeedaddle on his bike, and the victim is old. The disparity is important. The BG charged at the victim, not the other way around. The BG was shot point blank helping to establish both jeopardy and no ability to retreat. The Holy Trinity of Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy? Bingo! We have a winner.

    The follow-up shots at a fleeing BG? Depending on state law, that could be a bad thing. Gloriously, the homeowner missed on purpose, or so he claims. With LTL rounds, no less. Great evidence tending to negate bad intent, no?

    Lessons learned: No warning shots, ever. Once the threat is over, no firing at all. Once the police pay their little visit, id the BG (in this case, “that’s the guy who jumped me” would be a helpful statement), show them any evidence, point out any witnesses, tell them that you’re still scared as hell and that you’ll have more to say another time, then STFU and call your lawyer as soon as possible.

  14. avatarNR says:

    Huh. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I think a pump action shotgun is one the *worst* options for self-defense. I mean, one of the worst that is actually a gun.

    Sure, mechanically they’re very reliable, but there are an an awful lot of things the *user* can do to mess it up. You can short-stroke it. You can put a shell in backwards. (There mere fact that you have to load it one round at a time is a problem, unless you leave it loaded- and I’ve never come across a rapid-access long-gun safe.) You can forget to cycle the action (beginners do this all the time). You can forget to hit the slide release before you rack, slowing you down– or even worse, you can accidentally hit it after you rack, unlocking the bolt and preventing the round from firing. Some guns won’t feed a round reliably if you try to rack the slide while the muzzle is pointed down.

    None of that’s a problem is you have your wits about you- but that’s not likely to be the case unless you have the initiative– in other words, unless you’re the aggressor.

    The pump gun *does* really shine if you’re in an environment where a semi (shotgun or rifle) is likely to fail. Sometimes it seems like my bedroom is a high-dust environment, but it isn’t *that* high.

  15. avatarFinnish Bastard says:

    I knew you americuns are stoopid

    but not understanding that shooting people in the back isn’t ok, makes you look really stoopid

  16. avatarLukeskywalker says:

    It can be extreamly difficult for a “stoopid american” to tell if the aggressor is coming or going as your immigrant ass looks so much like your face and ” wubber buwitts” would ultimatley bounce off your block-head any ways,shoot for the head and hit the ass!…stoopid backwards american.

  17. avatarDave S says:

    I like the concept of LTL ammo for the home shotgun.
    BUT!

    If i raise a SG at an intruder, i must be convinced he is an imminent deadly/danger threat to me and my household.

    If i am authorized to use deadly force, why should I not use it?
    Especially considering the potential lethality of LTL ammo anyway.

    I have been reminded that LTL ammo might be less over penetrating than standard ammo. Might be a reason to try the first round or two as LTL.

  18. avatarneil foreman says:

    Gotta love people making tough guy comments , yet i doubt most people on here have shot anyone. i am thinking about getting a shotgun with less lethal rounds. i spoke to a friend who Actually had to kill someone. he wasn’t a gung ho big mouth like most of the commenters on here.

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