By Tim F.

This past Wednesday in the Midwest it was ungodly humid and hot. My air conditioner had been on the blink and we were waiting for someone to come fix it. I am usually up late into the wee hours working in my home office above my garage but it was so crazy hot up there I opted to lay down under the ceiling fan wearing nothing but a T-shirt and my Underoos. A little back ground on myself; I grew up in the country. We lived on a secluded plot of land and had weapons around mostly for snakes and varmit that we didn’t want bothering us or our dogs. I have been around guns for most of the 35 years I have been on this earth that I can remember . . .

Now that I’m a father of two young boys and a husband to a wonderful little woman, I would do anything to protect them. I also happen to live in a subdivision in a small town with a population hovering just under 10k people.  It’s a new subdivision with lots of young active families and lots of kids.

When my house was built they never even put deadbolts on the doors.  It had always been on my “to do” list, but hell, there was always a lack of time and other more pressing matters to attend to. After all, let’s face it…half the time I left my front door unlocked when I wasn’t at home because I had forgotten to lock it before I left for the day and I can’t tell you the number of times it has been left unlocked overnight when everyone was sleeping.

Now as I mentioned before I own some nice weapons, some passed down from my father and my grand father and some new shiny ones that I just had to have. They all live in a fireproof safe bolted to the floor in my office as to make it inaccessible to my young boys should mom and dad not be in the room with them as they play. My 8 year old is familiar with guns as well and I’d like to think I have taught him the basics in gun safety and knows not to touch a gun if he sees one laying around at a friends house as all guns are to be assumed as loaded. My two year old, though needs a few more years and to lean, so I keep them locked up tight.

This is good to keep kids out but also a hassle should I need to access a weapon quick. Good thing nothing exciting ever happens in my neighborhood. Until it does, to me.

This past Wednesday we were laying in bed, kids asleep in their room, us trying to stay cool under the fan. The news just clicked off and Letterman came up on the screen when I heard the most terrifying sound you will ever hear, if it hasn’t happened to you. The front door had a loud thud on it and came flying open against the foyer wall.

I layed there paralyzed for what seemed like a minute or more when in reality it was only a few seconds before it sunk in. My wife said, “what the hell was that?” I reacted by throwing her the phone and telling her to dial 911. She asked, terrified. “WHY?” I responded with, “that was the f’n front door.”

I slid a pair of shorts and shoes on that were near the bed and realized I didn’t have time to fiddle with the safe to get a gun. They were who-knows-where in my house. All I knew is I wanted them out, and NOW.

I grabbed a baseball bat in my son’s room and tore down the stairs to the main floor.   Instinct took over. Looking back, if they had a gun and I didn’t, that would have been the last mistake I ever made. What was I to do? I had made the guns so inaccessible to keep the kids safe, I had also inadvertently made them impossible for me to get to in a hurry.

That’s the bad news. The good news is the sound of me tramping down the hall and yelling GET THE F*** OUT OF MY HOUSE, and the ferocious barking of my terrier pup sent them packing.  I sped out the door after them and chased them down the street until they darted off in the woods, never to be found by the cops. So that means they are still out there.

Will they come back? Were they just teenagers out goofing around? I hope to never find out. But I can promise you this – if they do, I am far more prepared this time around.

I have since found time to install the dead bolts on all exterior doors of my home. I have also installed a small single firearm safe on my nightstand to keep it easily accessible, but also out of the hands of curious fingers. There are also two IP cameras that never blink monitoring the front and rear of my property.

I should have been prepared this time. I wasn’t.  I learned from my experience. I hope someone else can to. I can’t tell you the fear that you feel when something like this happens to you and your family. My wife still isn’t sleeping soundly. Now is the time to be prepared. Again. Still. Always.

64 Responses to FNS-9 Contest Entry: Almost Learning the Hard Way

  1. TO: Tim F, et al.
    RE: Dead Bolts Are NOT Enough

    You need to get some of those metal strips that fit inside the door frame and allow for regular and deadbolt locks.

    NOBODY can merely kick those in.

    I have deadbolts on my doors and I was able to kick one in when I had been accidentally locked out of the house by the wife when she went off to work and I was outside working in the back yard.

    Door frame needed some work, but with this plate, that runs four feet and has multiple deep screws into the door frame, it would take a SWAT team multiple hits during a dynamic entry to break the door in. The door would basically be disintegrated by that time.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [When seconds count…it’ll take someone a minute to get in the door by merely kicking at it by Mongo.]

    P.S. By then I’ll have the .45 cal ACP ready to greet them when they finally enter…..

    • Still not quite sure what you’re talking about, but am intrigued, care to elaborate / show a picture?

        • There are various products on the market, but the one we’ve installed on all of our exterior doors and door leading to the garage is EZ Armor. http://ezarmor.com/ Whole thing costs under 100 bucks, including tax and S&H. Virtually anyone can install it; but it helps if you have a drill instead of just screw drivers. Website says about 30 minutes, but it took me closer to an hour.

          It’s a whole kit. First part is basically a four foot long piece of 16 gauge galvanized steel. You screw it into the door jamb; replacing the dinky little strike plate where the deadbolt throw slides into. You secure this thing with the provided heavy duty 3″ or 4″ wood screws, about half a dozen or so, which drive through the flimsy wood pieces of the door jamb and straight into the stud of the wall. Half of dozen of these long screws into the stud, spaced out over 4′, and the energy of a kick to the door is dissipated and countered by very strong resistance.

          The kit includes two other components. There are three hinge reinforcement plates that you screw in and cover up your hinges with; strengthening that side of the door, too. There’s also a U-shaped reinforcement piece that slides over the deadbolt and helps prevent the door itself from splitting during an attempted kick-in.

          The kits come in several attractive powder coated colors to match your door’s hardware. We went with oiled bronze and took the opportunity to upgrade all of our hardware to ANSI grade 1 commercial quality pieces.

          It’s not an impenetrable Zombie Apocalypse rig; but nobody’s getting in with a simple kick, or 100 kicks. It’d take SWAT breaching tools to get in quickly, as the door itself is solid wood, too. The main thing is that we won’t be taken by surprise and we’ll have enough time to assume armed defensive positions and summon authorities.

      • How can I make the sccy cpx 1 accurate
        I can’t hit Target at 10 yards
        I can all day long with other pistol
        Any help be appreciated

    • If all you have are standard doors, these are a good addition to home security.

      Problem is, most houses have a lot of these things called windows and patio/glass doors.

      If I’m home, the sound of a door being kicked in (deadbolt or not) would elicit the same response as the sound of glass breaking. If I’m not home, the fancy unbreakable front door isn’t going to do crap when the big 6-foot pane of glass in the back can be broken with just about anything harder than a pillow.

      • I’m sorry, but unless you have a solid core door the addition you made doesn’t help much. the way houses are built today they are all cracker boxes. If they are not brick venire they can easily be entered through a wall. Today locks only keep honest people honest. I think it is totally out of control and our government officials have created the problem or at least escalated it.

  2. TO: Tim F
    RE: Heh

    Probably teenagers or someone on a gangbanger initiation.

    If it had been real gangbangers you’d be history.

    I know of a man here who had a gangbanger wannabe come a calling.

    Elderly retired Marine. Always packs.

    He’d been working in his yard and noticed a vehicle with ‘kids’ in it driving slowly by eyeballing him.

    He went inside after finishing the yardwork.

    A bit later there was a knock at the door.

    When he opened it it was a ‘kid’ with a pistol pointed at him demanding his money or his life. The ‘kid’ was shaking something furiously.

    The Marine whipped out HIS pistol and said, “Not today.”

    The ‘kid’ ran off.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Be Prepared…..]

    • P.S. Personally? If it had been me, I’d have eliminated this threat to society out of hand. The gun still in his—or lying nearby with his prints on it—would have been enough evidence to support my use of deadly force.

      As it is, this little monster is STILL ON THE STREET!

      • Until they showed his 12 year old baseball pictures on the news. Then Al and Jessie show up and you’re toast.

        • TO: GS650G
          RE: Wrong

          Until they showed his 12 year old baseball pictures on the news. Then Al and Jessie show up and you’re toast. — GS650G

          The THEY’RE ‘toast’ too.

          The distaff and I are both good shots and both armed with .45 cal ACPs with laser targeting.

          Then there are the AR-15s….

          We can take on gangbangers. We can even take on SWATs. They’d need a tank to take this place down.

          Regards,

          Chuck(le)
          [Be Prepared…..we are….]

      • With rare exception, you CANNOT shoot someone who has not entered your home. Unless you fancy a legal nightmare, I mean. Don’t shoot the messenger (me).

        • If you open your door & there’s someone pointing a gun at you then you are certainly in peril of serious injury or death & thus perfectly within your rights to remove the threat.
          If the gun wielder also demands your property then you are also within your rights to prevent a felony.

          Even Jesse & Al wouldn’t touch that one.

        • TO: William Burke
          RE: Problems With….

          With rare exception, you CANNOT shoot someone who has not entered your home. Unless you fancy a legal nightmare, I mean. Don’t shoot the messenger (me). — William Burke

          ….reading/comprehending English?

          The gangbanger has the gun in hand and has threatened your life.

          You are authorized the use of deadly force to protect yourself.

          Got it?

          Regards,

          Chuck(le)
          [It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.]

        • “Castle Doctrine”….”Stand Your Ground”…..if you feel you are in danger of serious bodily harm (death included) to you or anyone you have in your home, on your property, you do not have a duty to retreat….and if someone is pointing a weapon at you, shaking or not, you’re being truly merciful if you don’t shoot them in the face.

  3. Until you realize that one quick access safe isn’t enough. I have a child, too, so restricted access to guns is a must as well. In addition to my main safe, which sits in a secured room, I have 3 other quick access safes… one for each floor of my home. Some will argue I should home carry. I choose not to. That’s the risk I’m willing to take. The location of the safes allows my wife or me to have access to a firearm in seconds.

    • You could be me. Same strategy. No matter what your home defense strategy is, someone will poke a hole in it. Go with what you think is suitable.

    • Why not home carry? Is it a comfort issue? If so, buy an S&W J-Frame. Fits beautifully in the pocket in my Uncle Mike’s pocket holster, uses an effective round, and it’s pretty darn reliable.

      If that’s still too big for you you can get an LCP or something.

  4. Likewise – very glad the fam was ok. Thanks for sharing this story. It is a hard-ass lesson when that bubble of invulnerability breaks. It broke for me when I encountered a big hunk of steel much tougher than my 19 yr old, indescructible self during a summer job in college. But most of the time things work out, just not exactly how we might have envisioned it.

    Good luck on your journey, and take time after things like this to let the shakes – if they show up – work themselves out. Just part of the process.

  5. What make/model of single pistol safes are you guys and gals all using? I tried one like pictured in the article and I did not care for it at all. In the heat of the moment, I don’t see myself either a) remembering the combination or b) not screwing it up multiple times.

    • I prefer the thin simplex lock ones. I have two of these: http://fas1safe.com/ but there’s another company named Titan Vault that basically makes the same thing. The Titan Vault uses thinner steel, but it’s not bad, and it has some easier mounting options.

      I will never own another of those Gun Vaults. It’s worthless as an actual theft deterrent, as you can just pry them open with a big screwdriver. The steel is feeble. The Fas1 safes, nobody’s prying that open by hand.

      • The intent of my quick access safes is not to prevent theft. They are only to prevent unauthorized access from my son, or any other house guest. Home insurance will cover my stolen property, providing they can defeat my alarm system, and then my dog.

        All of my quick access safes use AC for primary power and have battery backup. If you have kids, a feature I required was a tamper indication, as well as preventing access after a certain number of failed access attempts.

        I do not trust biometric locks. In my experience they have proven unreliable, and don’t offer much advantage over an electric keypad. Choose a sequence or passcode that’s easy to remember. And, PRACTICE opening it often. All of my safes are on the same code. One of my safes is used to store my EDC. So, on a daily basis I open my safes, often.

      • For the record, Gun Vaults are not impenetrable fortresses. Any firearm that I couldn’t stand losing in a robbery is in the big safe. The Gun Vault does not supersede other deterrents to theft such as an alarm system, locks and dogs, etc.

        • There were problems for awhile with GunVaults and some other related safes popping open after being dropped a few feet. I don’t trust them, but they are all I usually see. Definitely looking into the Fas1, though.

  6. You are a lucky man. Some quick observations:

    Your wife sounds like the typical female. You CAN NOT count on them in critical situations. They need LOTS of talking too to understand to obey orders instantly without questions.

    BG just as easily could be inside your home when you come back home expecting it to be empty.

    Pls dear god dont use biometric handgun safe. Go with cypher lock.

      • KN has the major concerns but let me add the following. I’ve had conversations with two factory reps at the NRA show. Both told me that the reader specs are around 90% of a clean read. That isnt even considering dirty sensor or hands or battery problems. That isnt good enough for me.

    • Your observations are spot on for my wife. She does not get the whole follow my instructions thing in a situation like this. She always tries to do the opposite of what I say out of stubbornness.

      We live in a neighborhood that sounds like the author’s. Newer homes, nice area, one cheesey lock on the door. Big sliding glass doors. I keep my Gun Vault by my bed and I just got my AR out of the safe after moving because I like rifles better than pistols.

      • Most women highly resent having orders barked at them, even ones that are essential to saving their life. If you have one that prefers to question every command or statement, you are in the deepest, stinkiest doo-doo at crunch time.

        I’m sorry to say this, I really am. But it’s too often true. If push comes to shove, you’re better off realizing you’re on your own. Have a backup plan for the kids, if that’s possible. Knowing you can’t depend on her is better than fooling yourself into thinking you can.

        Women of TTAG, please weigh in on this!!

        • If his old lady considers him barking orders at her after the Front Door falls in, or any other dramatic Incident. He has the wrong Old Lady.

          Definitely not the frontier type., time for a Real Queen and not another princess.

          You sound like just another Metro-sexual Male.

          How did this country ever get this far with weapons all over, I guess children were born at 10 years OLD>

  7. Glad you are safe. I have installed slider bolts in addition to bolt locks. They can’t be accessed from the outside and cover the door inside. They also don’t wreck the molding of the doors.

    I also keep interior doors with bolts on them. The interior doors could be broken down easy enough but I also keep a weapon in every room so if I’m not there and my wife is and someone breaks in she can lock the door and buy herself the ten seconds she needs to grab the loaded gun. I don’t have to worry about kids so that’s my thought. Also, remember, you could be in your office or in your living room or anywhere and have seconds before someone is on you. I ALWAYS have a gun within reach of where I frequent and often home carry. Consider a handgun safe in your office, living room, ktichen, etc.

    Best of luck and glad you are safe.

  8. Oh, and also keep note of where your children are ALWAYS. As they get older you wouldn’t want an accident catching them in the crossfire or bullets traveling through walls or worse, thinking they are the intruder. Be safe.

  9. Home carry from now on please, thugs and idiots dont show up at convenient times you should always have a weapon within arms reach at home. I sleep with a pistol next to my bed. My friend that lives close to the Mexican border takes it a step further and sleeps with a pistol holstered on him and a H&K G3 within arms reach.

  10. BTW I recommend a deadbolt with keyholes on both sides, and an indoor key kept well out of reach of any windows adjacent to the door (if you have that configuration).

    • I understand the appeal of a deadbolt locked on both sides, but they are illegal in many areas. All too often, people are found burned to a crisp clawing at the deadbolt from the inside. Or the key gets left in the lock on the inside.

  11. very good story. I would not leave a weapon loaded in the house until I bought one of them thar fast access safes. My youngest is 17. You just never know who is going to be invited in, ya know? So, my rule is, if a weapon is loaded, its either on my person or in the safe (or on my night stand).

    Glad everything turned out well for you and your family. We’ll call this one a “defensive bat use”.

  12. Home carry, home carry, home carry; Oh, did I say home carry?

    What happens if you’re in a part of the house when a bad guy breaks in and now the bad guy is between you and your gun safe? OOPS!

    I”d CC’d a Glock 30 compact .45ACP for years where no one knew I was carrying unless I told them, even wearing just a T-shirt and jeans. At the very least, get a pocket gun, a .380 or 9mm; you can keep that on you at all times.

  13. I have a safe under the nightstand. When I get ready to go to sleep I punch in the code and let the door spring open just a little. I have practiced in the dark, rolling out of bed, opening the door and picking up the 9 mm inside, loaded 13+1 with frangible rounds. There is also a bright flashlight and knife in the safe along with additional mags.

    When I roll out of bed in the morning I close and lock the safe again.

    By doing this I have reduced the likelihood of anyone getting into my guns to almost zero, especially since we are empty nesters, but have easy access to defensive weapons during the night, which is the most dangerous time.

    Minimized risk, maximized value.

    • If you have kids, in my opinion, this poses too much risk of leaving the safe open. If you’re single, or married without kids in the house, then I don’t see a problem with this routine. Even for me, where the bedside safe holds my EDC, and a gun that remains in the safe, the risk of leaving it open between the time I wake up and leave the house is too great.

      Perhaps if you’re obsessive-compulsive, then maybe a routine such as this works with kids in the house. But even in the time it takes to wake-up and go take a leak, if the safe is open, undoubtedly kids will gravitate to it. Too much risk.

  14. I’m glad you and your family are safe! Good lesson to learn and thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us. Reminds me that while my doors have deadbolts the windows could be easily broken and climbed through. In fact, that’s what happened to us. Someone slipped the lock and climbed through. We have a motion activated alarm system for night time and days when we are away…it’s actually deterred one burglar. Everyone needs to think of securing all points of access and a burglar alarm in tandem with whatever gun safe you may have. A dog is a great thing to have, too.

  15. My single incident of glass breaking at 0 dark 30 happened when my kids were still toddlers. I had a pump shotgun as my primary house gun. I kept it high out of reach and with an empty chamber. I know this is frowned on by a lot of keyboard commandos but the sound of the gun being racked caused the intruder or intruders to unass the house. They had wedged scrap lumber against the back door so no one could open that door from the inside. Whatever their plans were ended at the sound of that gun being pumped.

  16. Empty nest strategy.
    Get up in the morning, take the XD 40 from night stand put it in the “Gun Closet” lock it.
    Put on pants with belt go to main floor take S&W Shield 9mm from coffee table drawer
    It goes IWB, ALL DAY!
    Put Shield back in coffee table drawer,
    go to bedroom open gun closet, put XD 40 on night stand,
    Remove pants with belt, read TTAG on IPad untill wife interupts me with something better.
    Go to sleep.
    The symmetry makes it real simple, no thought required.
    The wifes PK380 just follows her around all day IWB and is her night stand gun as well.

  17. I wonder what the judge would rule if some dumbass kid broke into an empty nesters home and blew his brains out by accident because there was a loaded gun sitting out? I bet it would come back arount to the home/gun owner… Just like the cases where a burglar breaks into a home gets hurt and sues the home owner.

    • Sometimes some folks think too much. What if a kid breaks into my house and drinks the bleach in my laundry? We can do this stuff all day…

  18. Retired Marine. One child on active duty and on his own, the other nearly gone as well. The family weapons stay secured in the vault except for the one .45 that is on my hip. I learned at a much younger age that a weapon locked will rarely be gotten to in time.

  19. …half the time I left my front door unlocked when I wasn’t at home because I had forgotten to lock it before I left for the day and I can’t tell you the number of times it has been left unlocked overnight when everyone was sleeping…

    This is a really bad habit to get into. Don’t ever do that again. Don’t ever do it even the first time.

  20. There’s a lot to be said for home carry. However, it’s not for everyone. My children are grown and no longer at home. Most of the time I stash guns around the house where I can get at them quickly. I’m always within a few feet of a gun. At night I have a burglar alarm. The house is an old one, with lots of windows and glass panes in the doors. No point in reinforcing them. However, anyone breaking in will make a lot of noise.

    Grandchildren are now the problem. When they visit, I have to put the guns away. I may end up going to home carry when they’re here, but so far simply keeping the guns hidden has worked.

  21. Even a $6 heavy duty striker plate and $5 door handle wrap from lowes, and running in some #10 screws can make a huge difference.

    Of course lighting is another huge factor.

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