Guns for Beginners: Buy An Alarm System

There’s a lot “wrong” with this video. I’m a home carry advocate, but who sleeps with a revolver in his hand? (Well, this was in South Africa.) Why did the lady defender stand there like a lemon when the bad guys were out and about? (MOVE!) Why didn’t anyone call 911 immediately? Who doesn’t edit out five minutes of irrelevant feline footage from destined-for-viral YouTube “I almost shot someone” video? Anyway, none of that really matters – save the boring catasthenics and the fact that the good guys won and the bad guys didn’t. Result! Only why not avoid this scenario in the first place . . .

It can’t be said enough: the only gunfight you’re guaranteed to win is the one you don’t have. If you can escape or evade an attack and/or ensuing defensive gun use, do so. (If nothing else you’ll avoid a TON of paperwork.) Which is why I advise newbies aspiring to armed home defense to get back to me after they buy an alarm system and put some stickers on their doors and windows.

If you have an alarm sign or sticker on your house or apartment, chances are burglarly-oriented bad guys will opt for a different target. If your alarm system goes off when they enter, chances are they’ll leave. Yup. Just like that. Mind you, it’s “chances are” not “always” . . .

If a home invader is a professional who wants exactly what you’ve got, they may savvy enough to disconnect your alarm system. If they’re someone with a vendetta (i.e. a psycho), they may not care about your alarm system – and force you to call off the police. These horrific scenarios are unlikely, but worthy of consideration. As is the option of owning a dog, who’s not as easily disconnected.

Anyway, an alarm system isn’t just a deterrent. It’s . . . wait for it . . . an alarm. A literal wake-up call to occupants to get their you-know-what together and deal with an impending threat.

Armed self-defenders often worry about the speed of their response. Will I be quick enough? As any sixth grader will tell you, speed = distance / time. The more time you have to do something in your own defense – from getting your glasses and gun to calling 911 – the greater the distance to the threat and the less speed you need to deal with it.

An alarm is the gift of time.

Remember: it needn’t be a sophisticated system; main door and window alarms can be enough. It needn’t be connected to a monitoring company; that middle-of-the-crisis ringing phone (to see if you’re alright) can be a real PITA, and you can call 911 just as fast or faster your ADT BFFs. And it needn’t be nighttime-only deal (panic buttons are a thing).

I know there are readers who want to shoot home invaders should they appear. I fully appreciate the life-saving qualities of rage. (The main reason it exists.) But really, why shoot your gun if you don’t have to?  But an alarm system. Use it. Keep calm and carry on.

comments

  1. avatar JohnnyIShootStuff says:

    If you lived in SA you’d understand.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Snap! Noted and text amended.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        I think you meant to say “buy an alarm system.”

        Incidentally, we hardly bought ours. It the ATT / ADT which resulted in a net cash surplus because of a home insurance and Internet discount.

      2. I did a bit of research after I found this video on reddit. It turns out they have an alarm and it wasn’t working at that time.They are in South Africa and these gangs of men don’t just rob you they rob and murder and probably rape you. I would sleep with a gun also (likely a couple). They had also been robbed in the past. In South Africa the police force is completely corrupt and instead of calling them first they call the private security forces they hire to keep their neighborhoods safe. South Africa is worse than any bad neighborhood in the USA. I would suggest they have big mean dogs also, though they tend to get poisoned. I still think they would do better than a screaming alarm. The criminals there aren’t scared of being caught by police, notice they don’t wear masks. The only thing that will stop these criminals is the use of force. Even with the current animosity some of the public feels towards our police we still know they can be trusted to save you if called. I like your articles normally, but this one lacked context. Very important context.

  2. avatar JohnnyIShootStuff says:

    Oh, the SAPS is inept and thats why calling 10111 is a waste of time.

    1. avatar Richard Hawkins says:

      Get Chubb duress alarms. Those guys have very good response times.

      1. ADT seems to be the market leader in PE and has many more cars out on the road than Chubb, but, anything is better than call 10111.

  3. avatar Adam says:

    Alarm? Really? That’s why I own a gun. Any alarm would only serve to protect an intruder. I am not wasting the money.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Do you have any idea how much a defensive gun use will cost you? And not just lawyer’s fees. Your neighbors and employer may not share your zero tolerance approach. And you might have to pay for counseling afterwards (for your kids if nothing else). Not to mention Servepro.

      1. avatar Adam says:

        I am willing to protect my family regardless of the lawyer fees. I would rather protect them from A kidnapping or a murder in the house.

        1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

          The perhaps a little more thoughtfulness on the matter would be in order. It may be that most intruders flee when they know an alarm has been raised.That would likely be way better for your family than engaging in life or death combat in your home.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Unless you have an alarm system which can distinguish between people who should be here and those who should not, it would simply be a PITA. 6 or 8 false alarms a week will probably net me extra charges, people enter my house on 2 different levels through about 6 doors, none of which are locked. A gun is the answer, an alarm is useless. Trying to say any particular solution applies to everyone is silly.

        3. avatar actionphysicalman says:

          Larry, context is indeed key. In Mexico for instance, dogs are frequently drugged or poisoned right before a invasion. Dogs can be easy targets for the prepared invader if they can toss them some food somehow. In my case, I live with just my wife and and we vary rarely have visitors and have only one practical entrance. Our conditions are thus much different that yours

      2. avatar styrgwillidar says:

        As the military would say– it’s also I&W. Intel/Indications and Warning as to the intruders intentions. As RF stated, folks there for property/teens for a thrill (happened in my neighborhood- teens doing hot-prowl burglaries just for the adrenaline rush) tend to run when noise goes off, or avoid the possibility for targets with fewer obstacles. Consider if you do get in a defensive gun use, easier for a lawyer to show these people were probably a higher threat than just burglars-
        – they chose a home that was likely to have people present
        – they were willing to ignore the alarm signs
        – they were will to ignore the alarm going off
        – willing to accept risk of a silent alarm/alert reaching police
        – Ignored the dog barking
        – Ignored the motion activated lighting coming on

        I’m going to be much more comfortable with my decision to shoot an intruder in my home providing that much I&W that they are a significantly higher threat than a typical burglar.

    2. avatar ThomasR says:

      You can buy a motion detector alarm and cammera system for around a hundred or so dollars off of Amazon or E-bay.

      1. avatar Adam says:

        That’s way cheaper than I would have guessed. Any specific suggestions on that? I’ll check it out myself later on. Thanks Thomas

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Heck, I might go for a camera system at that kind of cost. I can just imagine the fun of a motion detector alarm, I have kids and grandkids coming in and going out near 24 hours a day, I could just turn on the alarm and let it go crazy 24 hours a day and forget the motion detector!

  4. avatar Danman says:

    Outside video security, outside motion detection near doorways, inside motion, door and window alarms, a 105 lb Rottweiler and I live out in the country where my next neighbor is at 288 yard by my rangefinder. And I do home carry. I know over kill right? I just want that extra minute to get my head together from dead asleep.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Overkill? I think not. I see your 105lb Rotty and raise you four 150lb great Pyrenees. My range finder only goes to 1,000 meters, so I can’t be sure how far away my neighbors are.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        I’ll take the Pyr, eight days a week.

        Flock guarding dogs are actual, you know, guard dogs. They’ve been bred for hundreds to over 1,000 years+ to be guard dogs, and most are breeds off of the Tibetan Mastiff or Turkish breeds.

        Rots, GSD, et al – are recent breeding developments.

        Downside of flock guardian dogs? White hair. Everywhere. In everything. Forever.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          It is endless.

  5. avatar KCK says:

    If you are going to sleep with a gun in hand as in this case, at least it was a revolver with a good heavy DA trigger pull. I know that I can twitch in the middle of the night with more force than a G19 needs let loose its rage.

  6. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    “Security systems” work for you city folks, but in the rural areas your alarm system is a dog…

    When you live 20 miles from the nearest gas station and your neighbors are cows, ADT isn’t really gonna do much.

    Maybe let the sheriff deputy know location of the shooting faster, but they still won’t make it on scene until 25min after the fact.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Far as I can tell, “security systems” in urban areas mostly annoy neighbors who generally ignore the buzzers because it’s usually a false alarm.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Well, lemme tell you what they do in rural areas: They piss off your first responders. Police, ambulance, fire departments… get dispatched out to some house, in the middle of the night, emergent, because someone dropped their LifeAlert pendant or some such.

        After awhile, it starts to piss off your police, EMT’s, fire department and dispatchers.

        1. avatar ihatetrees says:

          WTF? Fine people for repeat false alarms.
          You can’t fix stupid (in local government).

        2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          ihateress, around here if your cows get outside of the fences and beginning roaming the streets, the sheriff has horse mounted deputies who will wrangle them up for you.

          Then you’ll get a bill from the county for $1200 a few days later.

  7. avatar 1911girl says:

    That looked very stage to me, you just shot at intruders and you are not shaking just a little bit… boyfriend comes down doesn’t ask her any questions like WTF just happened, and as you said stands there like a lemon

    1. avatar Grindstone says:

      Adrenaline is a funny thing. She probably nearly shook apart later on.

  8. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    My alarm system sheds a lot of hair and craps in my yard but he generally gives me more advance warning than any high-tech system.

    Now if I could only reprogram him to stop those racoon-on-the-back-deck false alarms.

    1. avatar Sertorius says:

      Ya. The homeowners had three worthless cats who actually quickly found the burglars and then did . . . . nothing. Trading a couple of those cats in for a dog, even a small yippy one no bigger than the cats, would have saved a lot of heartache.

      1. avatar Slopperator says:

        I didn’t get the memo that said you had to trade in your felines to secure ownership of canines.

        Good thing, because my German Shepherd loves his kitty friends. Lord help the creature that hurts one of them in front of him.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      I have a similar problem. Ours kill rabbits and rats. And they go nuts when coyotes are on the trail behind our house.

    3. avatar howard moore says:

      yep mine sheds a lot of hair takes up valuable room on the bed or couch and hasn’t met a person it didn’t like until they try to come into the house or car uninvited 65 lb pit mix from the pound 🙂

  9. avatar dwb says:

    As I tell people, dogs are a powerful deterrent. The guns are for the really determined people who ignore the dogs.

  10. avatar ThomasR says:

    Ah South Africa. Nelson Mandela. Singing songs about killing the whites and supported his wife in her “necklacing”. (Putting tires filled with gasoline around the neck of various whites and black dissenters and setting them on fire).

    The myth over the facts. He was a marxist that believed the ends justifies the means and would and did murder as many as needed to enact his utopian vision/nightmare.

    So of course, as a rwsult, SA has become a hell hole where rampant lawlessness of those in power are the norm.

    1. avatar Richard Hawkins says:

      So much this.

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      SA is unfortunately a model for other places.

    3. avatar ihatetrees says:

      Mandela had issues, but let’s remember the government he replaced was much worse.
      That said, the ANC, once in power, should have copied China’s path to success. Yell all the crap commie/socialist rhetoric to the public, but in private understand that markets rule the world and act accordingly.
      Unfortunately, SA is is getting less competitive every year. Power generation problems are starting to hurt even the very profitable mining sector.

      1. avatar Mikial says:

        If the government Mandela replaced was so much worse, then why was SA once a prosperous and relatively safe country to live in, and is now a complete disaster, both economically and in terms of crime? I’m not saying Apartheid was good, and I have numerous SA friends of both colors, but the government that took over is a failure.

        1. avatar RickP says:

          Spot on, Mikial.

          Everything over there has taken a turn for the worse, It’s like the welfare state here where everyone wants something for free “because their people are now in charge.” They can’t get black farms to produce anything even though the were given the property, etc., because no one wants to work.

  11. avatar gman says:

    It’s not about having an alarm system, rather about having a multi faceted plan. First alert systems can be either electronic or 4 legged with teeth. I prefer the latter, though I also have the former. It also includes having a plan on how to deal with different threats. Evaluating entry points, egress points, safe havens, and if necessary bottlenecks for attack. Once you have a plan, practice, practice, practice. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, practice.

  12. avatar Ken says:

    Where I live, even a fool would know that nobody could hear an alarm and the phone line can be disconnected in seconds. My alarm has 4 legs and is very alert. Many people in the area knows I am friends with Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson and I generally have practice targets in plain view outside with many holes in them.

    1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

      You couldn’t hear the alarm? The home invaders where you live usually have cellular jammers? Does everybody within driving range know about your gunfu? Not saying you aren’t well protected or that a phone would do any good, just questioning some of your assumptions.

    2. avatar styrgwillidar says:

      Here’s the thing– I’m a bit concerned that if the word gets around about having roommates like Mr. Smith, Mr. Wesson, Mr. Colt, Mr. AR, Mr. Sig……

      Someone may come around to ‘liberate’ them from my home when I’m not around. I agree that the four legged, self-propelled and motivated alarm system(s) will assist in redirecting those folks. An alarm (with stickers etc.) could help dissuade those folks as well… and not publicizing the fact I have those roommates is a step in mitigating an involuntary separation.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        This! OPSEC is very important to me. I don’t want to stand out as billy-bad-ass for someone to think they’ll sack up and test. I want to blend in with the nobody’s of the neighborhood, and we do. We keep to ourselves. I don’t display any targets. All gun-related trash is in opaque bags. Range gear and bags are innocuous. I don’t want my vehicles or my house to become targets, with us present or not.

        As for four-legged alarms, I’ve found in my experience, the smaller the better. Small dogs tend to be very territorial. While they might not pack much bite, that’s not what they’re there for. They let us know when someone else is near so that our guns can do the biting, if need be.

  13. avatar AllAmerican says:

    “Which is why I advise newbies aspiring to armed home defense to get back to me after they buy an alarm system and put some stickers on their doors and windows.”

    That’s a jerk move. When a newbie asks you about home defense and you dismiss them or their desire to be armed it does nothing to help us. I get referring them to a good alarm system, but I wouldn’t ever tell them, “Don’t get a gun, get an alarm, then get a gun.” See what I mean? In their mind you’re telling them alarms protect better than guns, which isn’t true. Yes, an alarm may scare off an attacker, but it’s more of a feel good system. A gun will stop an attacker. I would simply recommend them both, and why.

  14. avatar Anonymous says:

    I hate dogs. They smell. They lick their anus’s and then try to lick your hands and face. They easily pick up ticks, fleas, and other parasites that they can’t remove themselves. I see people taking their dog for a walk and then bag their dogs poo. My god – i’ll pass.

    That said – I will say they have their advantages. A friend of mine was at home with her dog (it was a big dog) and someone opened her door and walked right in and started rummaging around. She came in the living room and saw an intruder. The dog didn’t pay much attention to the intruder, until he saw his masters face. He could sense her fear in the actions and expressions between her and the burglar and immediately attached the intruder who ran from the home.

    Pros and cons I guess.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I love my dogs. They are part of the family, part of the pack. When my last dog died I cried like Nancy Kerrigan. But I’m not picking up their poo. That’s just weird.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “But I’m not picking up their poo. That’s just weird.”

        In some areas dog sh!t cleanup in your own yard is in your Homeowner Association Nazi covenants…

  15. avatar GS650G says:

    Don’t confuse home security with home defense. Home security keeps them out and defense is what happens should that fail or be turned off.
    In SA it’s a matter of creating a castle with a deep moat in the form of gates on every opening and strong locks. Inside you need firearms should they breech the doors or you forget to lock something. Alarms are noisy and probably ignored by everyone including the neighbors, police and bad thugs er I mean humans.
    They needed better security on the doors and windows

  16. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Security is an onion, not an egg. I think that’s RF’s point. I just, you know, said it a lot better.

  17. avatar Kyle in CT says:

    This is South Africa. They bred their own solution to this problem: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/boerboel.htm

    I’d say 150 lbs + worth of PO’d dog is a pretty solid deterrent/alarm.

  18. avatar Steve says:

    Not sure where the hell y’all live, but the “castle doctrine” applies in most states. You CANNOT be prosecuted if they have unlawfully and forcibly entered your home. Period. End of story.

    1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      “I beg to differ”, said the ham sandwich under indictment.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “You CANNOT be prosecuted if they have unlawfully and forcibly entered your home. Period. End of story.”

      Wrong.

      “LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — A Minnesota homeowner who killed two teens during a break-in was convicted Tuesday of premeditated murder and will spend his life in prison without parole.”

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/29/minnesota-homeowner-kills-teens/8480047/

      So much for “Period. End of story.”.

  19. avatar Detroit 45-9 says:

    Highly recommend SimpliSafe.com self-installed and effective yet very inexpensive systems (intrusion, fire, water, and CO) with economical monitoring available month-to-month with no long-term contract.

  20. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    I saw nothing wrong with her “standing there like a lemon.” Clearing a house by yourself is dangerous. She knew of an armed ally in the house (her BF) whose position she couldn’t verify. If she’d gone wandering around or clearing the house, she could have been setting up an accidental shooting. She stood and watched the known entry/exit point in a spot where she and the boyfriend weren’t likely to suddenly surprise each other. She waited to make contact with the boyfriend and position and safety of both were verified. At that point, when they weren’t going to mistake each other for assailants, they checked out the house, shut out the lights.Then both retreated to a safer spot upstairs. Well done. Very well done, for an average non-military citizen.

  21. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    The alarm is the Shetland Sheep Dog.
    The security is the German Shepherd.
    The Labs are the fun.

  22. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    This looks staged. Who sleeps with a handgun in their bed? What woman is going to hear a disturbance and respond with her own handgun, without ever even waking her partner?

    No, that’s not to say that women need a man to go investigate that bump in the night. Rather, it is to say that women usually aren’t that stupid to go galavanting around a darkened house alone when there’s a specific concern that an intruder has made entry. A man will, sure, and that’s stupid, too, but a woman’s far, far less likely to pull that stunt.

    Who fires just one or two shots? Even police catch flak for emptying their magazines and wheels. Who has the composure just to stand there afterward? Most people would retreat to another room, take cover, or possibly give chase; but just stand there? Possible, but I doubt it.

    And those cats? They’d be asleep in the middle of the night, not both just standing around, unless they’d been awake moments before with the owners.

    I suspect this was some kind of cover up for a negligent discharge, or something else, but not a legitimate DGU.

    1. avatar Grindstone says:

      Welcome to South Africa.

      And those cats? They’d be asleep in the middle of the night, not both just standing around, unless they’d been awake moments before with the owners.

      What are you talking about? Cats are naturally nocturnal. I think you might be shooting from the hip too much. Try doing a bit of research before posting uninformed opinions. It’s unbecoming of a POTG.

  23. avatar Bob108 says:

    Back in the 90’s, I worked for several alarm companies. Most alarm systems sold on the market are crap, and many of the companies that sell these alarms systems are poster children for consumer protection laws. Most alarm monitoring centers are no different than telemarketing call centers. If an alarm is tripped, it can easily take 3 to 5 minutes before that signal is received by the alarm company. Even if they receive it in a timely manner, in many alarm monitoring centers, that signal can languish in the queue for anywhere between 2 minutes and 30 minutes. Once an operator gets the alarm, they have to read the instructions. If the instructions say for them to call the police, it can take several more minutes to get a dispatcher on the call. In many cities, police dispatchers know that most alarms are false alarms. Unless it is a hold-up alarm, it is not placed at the top of their dispatch queue. Don’t use the panic alarm…pick up the phone and call the police directly. If you are relying on the alarm to catch a burglar while you are away, in most cities you should expect at least a 30 minute response time. I have heard of people paying several thousand dollars to local authority for false alarm fees. In many cities, a single false alarm can cost you $100 or more. So, why get an alarm? A monitored fire alarm can save you money on insurance. If a prospective burglar sees signs around your home advertising for your alarm company, they may move onto the next house. If you are a hard sleeper, an audible alarm will wake you up…but if that is all you need, there are many cheaper alternatives. What would I do? If I get an alarm, I will never sign a contract, period. I would rather buy the signs…but not the alarm system. Look online. You can find cheap, audible sensors that you can put on your doors and windows. These things will wake you up, and you will not have to worry about false alarm fees. And while you are gone, I think you are better off spending that money on better home owners insurance.

    1. avatar Bob108 says:

      And about the video. Is it me, or did the sleeping homeowner get out of bed with a firearm in his hand? Either the video was a fake, or he really need to learn something about firearm safety.

  24. avatar Grindstone says:

    My alarms are cute, fuzzy, and cuddly. For me, not intruders. Strangers get noisy furballs of rage if they come within LOS of my house. If they come within my house uninvited, then they’ll get either 230 or 115 grains of noisy rage, depending if my wife or I shoot first.

    Also, my house is like half the size of this couple’s house. I don’t have room to do tacticool mall ninja maneuvers. Good thing is I can clear half the house and cover the main entry/exit points just by stepping into the short hallway from the bedroom.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Strangers get noisy furballs of rage if they come within LOS of my house.”

      Length Of Snout?

  25. avatar Ratbikerx says:

    I work with a company that provides a majority of the alarming backbone for the largest alarm companies in the USA. Alarms systems, sensors, and notifications are advanced, robust, and reliable. More reliable than your dog sleeping in the same room you are…how will a dog give you more time to react than an alarm?

    The sensors and cellular modems in the house box can send an SMS alert in about 6 seconds if you ain’t in the house. Make that number a ‘contact’ on your mobile phone and set a super loud ringer alert. You hear that, you know the s**t is on.

    If your experience with alarm systems dates back to when you had cut-off jean shorts and ate fondu, get with the new technology and buy a system. The best case is the criminal picks an easier target and walks past your abode….

  26. avatar Mikial says:

    Alarms can be useful, although i think there should also be some CCTV so you can see why it went off. But an alarm can’t save you. Now and alarm, a stout lock on your doors, and an armed and trained household, that’s more like it.

    Remember that by the time the police show up, everything will be over one way or another.

  27. avatar RickP says:

    Pretty funny reading all of this bravado about their furry alarms. Whatever. This site has started to deteriorate to the usual pissing contest. Everyone’s an expert.

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