Thomas Sonnenberg (courtesy news.com.au)

“Minneapolis police were called to [Thomas Karl] Sonnenberg’s home after he called 911 to report a man had come to his door seeking refuge from people who had been chasing him with a bat,” myfoxtwincities.com reports. “Charging documents state Sonnenberg allowed Parker into his home and locked the door behind him. Both were in the kitchen when Sonnenberg called 911 at about 11:46 p.m.” Yes I know: stop right there. Why would you let a strange man into your house at 11:46pm? Especially one who claims he’s in the middle of a violent confrontation? “Wait out there I’ll call the police,” would have been the correct response. Didn’t happen here, with tragic consequences . . .

Investigators say Parker tried to confuse the dispatcher by grabbing the and giving police the wrong address before grabbing the gun Sonnenberg wore on his hip.

Roughly 5 minutes later, a Minneapolis officer responding to the initial call knocked on the door but did not get an answer. After looking through a window, that officer saw Sonnenberg’s body slumped over a chair in the kitchen.

Set aside Mr. Sonnenberg’s fatal mistake. Even without entertaining unfamiliar midnight callers, the idea that your home is an impenetrable fortress is as stupid as it sounds. Just as “gun free zones” like schools, restaurants and pubic buildings are only “gun free” as long as bad guys observe the signs (as if) your home is only a sanctuary from potentially deadly villains until it isn’t.

Home carry people. Do so discreetly . . .

When it’s just me and the kid or close friends, I wear my outside-the-waistband RKBA Kydex holster outside my shirt. It’s more comfortable and it normalizes guns for my sprog. When there are workmen about or the doorbell rings, I cover my gat and that’s that. There’s no need to surrender the element of surprise or present a target of opportunity to someone with nefarious intent.

Equally, if you don’t know your visitor well, keep your distance. The more perceived/potential danger, the greater the distance should be. Carrying the gun on his person eliminated the need to acquire the gun but did not relieve him of the need to think tactically. Mr. Sonneberg should have left Devon Parker outside of a locked door, retreated further into the house and unholstered his firearm.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing a retention holster for home carry and/or toting a gun with an external safety to create an extra layer of security – provided you train with your rig and don’t mind the bulk. But if you find yourself in a life-or-death struggle for a gun with a bad guy in your home, you’re WAY behind the curve. Best not to go there in the first place.

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93 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Home Carry Discreetly

    • “…thugs” – this includes the police. Never open your door to the police unless you called them there unavoidably. Avoid calling them unless it is absolutely necessary because they will do their best to escalate the situation in order to facilitate making an arrest or to get their rocks off by beating someone up.

      If the police knock on your door, a good tactic is to be silent until they go away. If they had a warrant it would be a SWAT team and they would bust your door down. Even if it was unlocked.

      And… avoid talking to the police (click the link for a must-see video, SFW).

      • Don’t call the police to come help you- ‘unavoidably’ or not- when you won’t bother to help them under any circumstances.

      • Too bad you all have poisoned this blog with your crackpot fringe group ideas. You are truly your own worst enemies. You can try to live outside of civilized society by damning the police every chance you get but in the end you will only further degrade your chances of protecting the second amendment and the rest of Americas chances of enjoying it..

        • You’re just saying that because you like wearing handcuffs and having your heinie probed. C’mon, admit it.

        • Yes, observing facts of police behavior is a “crackpot fringe group idea”. I especially love when you claim that supporting government thugs who routinely violate the Constitution will somehow defend the Constitution.

          You, my friend, should lay off the drugs.

        • Being exceptionally cautious when interacting with (armed) people you do not personally know is always a wise decision, as proven by this incident. There are enough occasions where police do not act in the best interests of the people they are expected to “Serve & Protect” that it only makes sense to tread cautiously.

          For Hannibal and those many others who appears to be reasonabley honorable LWOs, I understand difficulties that you face due to the less than honorable people in your midst. Similar to what POTG face when other gun owners do stupid or illegal things – we are all tarred with the same brush, whether we deserve it or not.

        • Society as a whole has chosen to live under the rule of law, enforced and regulated by various enforcement groups and adjudicated by courts. When you suggest that all cops are thugs or criminals or make some other generalized disparaging remarks against cops as a whole, you alienate yourselves from the rest of society (who rely on law enforcement for their safety) and reduce yourselves to an insignificant crackpot fringe group. You need to understand that if you wish to maintain those second amendment rights we all hold so dear, you will have to do so by not alienating yourselves from the rest of society but by convincing them of the correctness of your ideas.
          Please stop diminishing the American peoples’ chances of retaining their god given second amendment rights. If you can’t help the cause, then at least have the decency to stay out of the way.

        • “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety,
          deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

      • fortunately, where I live we have a good relationship with the police. They are polite and professional and don’t play “gotcha”.

        I was awoken this morning by a policeman checking on my car since a neighbor called because the dome light was on – he was checking to make sure no one had stolen anything. When I came to the door he politely moved back away from the door. I have absolutely zero concerns opening the door for my local police.

        • You don’t have concerns til you do, worst case scenarios aside it is always best to maintain a “proper” relationship with the police. Your local pd may be stand up folks but you still hold them to their role in society and do the same for you. Due to the nature of authority even a well intentioned cop can ruin your life thinking they are doing the right thing.

      • I agree, don’t open your home to thugs. But what if in the person’s judgment at the time, the person didn’t “look like” a thug. We live in a society that hopefully, we all try to help one another when the need arises. Ever been broke down on the road and no one will stop to help? I was once, and it took hours before a trucker stopped and let us use his cell phone. At some point we have to trust other human beings, or we just hide in our self-made fortresses waiting for doomsday. I’m not saying you can’t be cautious. I approached a car broken down once with my hand on my sidearm. I alarmed the occupants of the car, but they understood when I told them I was there to help, but I didn’t know who they were. Turns out it was a mother and a couple of young children.

        As far as trusting cops. There are thousands and thousands of police officers in the country. The vast majority do protect and serve the population they swear to protect. There are bad apples. Hello, police officers are human beings and therefor do dumb things from time to time or make bad choices. At 2am when the stranger knocks and you believe they are up to no good, are you NOT going to call the cops? As a society, should we ban all police and just switch to vigilantism and start hanging people we think deserve it from the nearest street light? Should we all just open carry and shoot anyone who crosses our paths?
        Even in Afghanistan, where the police are all corrupt as a general rule, the people still use them and they still generally do good.

        I’m not ready to give up on American society. I choose to trust strangers, to a point. That’s what villagers did for Marcus Luttrell who I am certain he is eternally grateful. They protected him at their own personal risk from the Taliban.

        I will still call the police when I need them (I’m paying for them with taxes, it’s their job). And I won’t be an ass about it when stopped for a random DUI stop because I’m sure they don’t really want to be there either.

        Barricade yourself in your home and hide/be a hermit in the hills, or choose to live in a society of people. You have a choice.

        • Well said. Its because we have been taught as kids to obey the law and trust police officers that we are so shocked, angry, and distrustful after encountering a bad apple. On the other hand I think the vast majority of cops start off with honorable ideals and after 5 or 10 years of dealing with some of the most stupid dishonest and depraved examples of the species that they understandably act with caution and even contempt for any citizen until proven otherwise.

  1. As I sit distracting myself on TTAG while I am supposed to be studying for tomorrow’s pathology exam, I have a 300BLK SBR next to me as well as my trusty CZ. A gun is only useful if its in your reach.

    • I think the older gentleman simply failed to maintain control of his weapon, almost understandable given the chaotic nature of the incident, if I were in that situation, my gun would be in hand. Sad. We can all learn from this.

        • yep, I can totally sympathize and see why it happened, just makes me want to always be on my guard.

      • The initial reports, incuding the one carried by the Daily Mail, stated that the perp told the man that let him in, “I need a gun. They’re coming to kill me,” and stated the man fetched his pistol and handed it to the perp. The story has changed?

    • I am supposed to be studying for tomorrow’s pathology exam

      Don’t complain. It could have been a proctology exam.

      • A Swede once told me he had a Norwegian cousin who stayed up all night studying for his Urine Test.

        I can’t imagine it involved memorization. Must have been a practical exam.

      • Don’t believe the hype – you can’t really STUDY for one of those. You either get it right, or you don’t. Trust me.

    • Do you have stats or data to back that statement up?

      Don’t get me wrong…I am PRO open carry. And it makes sense to me that it would be a deterrent most of the time. But I would love to see data (crime rate before open carry “allowed” vs after) or interviews with criminals to see if open carry has that desired effect

      • I can link you multiple news stories that claim that criminals activities were prevented and (in at least one case) criminals were caught before committing the act simply because there were open carriers in the area.

  2. Discretion is good. Or you can wear a pistol duct-taped to your forehead like a tiara if you don’t let strangers into your home.

    If a stranger raps on my door at night with a bullshit story to tell, I’m not opening the door to him or her and my answer is “wait right there while I call 911.”

    • If I thought his story was even slightly credible I would instruct him to wait in the back yard until the police arrived. Unless he was in danger of bleeding out I would not open my door for him. I would prefer that he not make my abode the target of a drive-by while we waited 5 to 45 minutes it might take for LEOs to arrive.

  3. Always carry discreetly. As in don’t go to coffee shops with an AR strapped to your back because you are a moron and have something or um nothing to prove. No your youtube likes can’t be taken to your grave.

    • There are times that appropriate for open carry. Large organized assemblies on gun appreciation day when everyone and there great aunt are there carrying their weapons. RARELY do I ever open carry. Once or twice ever. I did last week in Yuma, AZ at a Walmart. Nobody even looked twice, but I don’t make a habit of that.

    • don’t go to coffee shops with an AR strapped to your back because you are a moron and have something or um nothing to prove

      Actually, my favorite coffee shop is in Beirut, so carrying an AR is the only way to go. And an M9 bayonet makes a perfect stirrer.

    • There are 15 home invasions a day in my metro area. I always home carry OWB. If ‘workmen are about’ they are going to know I’m carrying, cause what if they are casing the place. The Mormon missionaries see it, the meter reader, the mailman, garbage men, everydamnbody sees me carrying at home.

      I OC here around town as well, surprisingly few people notice, but I can assure you the type of people that you would want to notice, will. Many more people notice when I wear my kilt.

  4. I have a steel storm door with a dead bolt between me and my visitor at the front door. And if someone is banging on my door at midnight. It’s
    A) get kids to the master bath with mom and her 9.
    B) me take defensive position and master bedroom door near top of stairs with phone and my 9.
    C) Dial 911 and let the boys in blue peace keep
    D) take aim for any miscreant that takes one step on my stair

    • I feel you, with kids an all, but there have been cases of hysterical women who had just escaped their rapist(s) banging on someone’s door, in some cases being let in and saved, in some cases not being heeded and being recaptured by the rapists and subsequently killed. Each situation requires discretion, and my family’s well-being is more important than an unknown, possible victim, yet at the same time, I do want to help where I can.

        • He was claiming that “they” were after him, and that he needed a gun, and that the man offered him his. Or so they told the story the first time out.

      • That is a conundrum. I would hesitate to open the door unless I had another armed person with me.

        Many instances of this scenario with a lady getting the door open then several guys rushing the door.

        • Yeah, I’ve heard of that type of situation too. Hard to have a 1 size fits all answer, probably best to exercise extra caution in all situations and listen really hard to that gut.

  5. I carry in my house. I carry a Sig P229 .40 in a Sticky Holster in the appendix position.
    The doors are locked and there is an accessible but secured SAM7R (AK47) that is behind an electronic controlled door that opens out. I can have that out in about 6 seconds. There is a color and sound camera that watches the front that the dogs watch because the perspective is correct. They think it’s a window, but they watch it all day and alert me to anyone outside.
    Then comes willingness. Without willingness, every gun you own is unloaded and worthless, except to get yourself killed with.
    NOBODY, not even the cops are coming in. If it’s the cops, they have a warrant and are kicking the doors anyway. Some dirt-bag kicks in my door, there is a high likelihood they are leaving in a Ziplock bag.

  6. Thugs have no compunction against using basic human decency against their victims.

    It’s how they roll.

    It’s another reason we need to bring back the rope for rape, murder, child molestation for starters.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to hanging serial thieves either. It kept recidivism down in the so-called “Wild West”.

    John

  7. Why would any gun owner who carries a weapon for self defense want to “advertise”? I have a window around the corner from my front door which makes it easy to see who’s there. If I don’t know the person, I ask what there business is, and if I’m not positive they are there for legitimate reasons, I put my hand in my pocket and wrap my fingers around the small revolver that is there 24/7.
    When I open the door, I am standing off to the side a bit, so that in case the door is pushed in violently, I will not be knocked to the floor.

    • I keep both my inside doors and outside screen storm doors locked at all times. If someone tries to get through the screen doors they are done for. Period. I unlock my doors for no one IF I don’t know them.

  8. Wow! Are some of you a little wound up.?!! SBR’s and AK’s around you with pistols strapped on. Now I will say I have a 12 gauge pump in cruiser ready in the closet by the front door, a pistol in the nightstand, and heaven forbid a safe full in case all hell breaks loose. But! Strapped up in my home at all times? No. My home is my place of relaxation and refuge and I won’t spoil it with my XD or whatever in a holster. Now later at night I will retrieve a handgun to answer the door, but I feel safe enough without the need for all the hooplah Of MSR’s propped up beside me and 2 or 3 guns on me at all times.

    • Well Chad you seem pretty relaxed in your setting. I suppose I would too, if I were back in the 40’s. Trouble is, you never know when the poop is going to hit the fan. I hope that if someone breaks your door down, you don’t think they will give you time to retrieve your shotgun out of that closet by your door!

      • I live in a nice neighborhood and I have took precautions about doors and windows(for all intruders). My doors are steel core with twin one inch deadbolts latching into steel frames. My windows have blast film on them, making them damn near impossible to shatter. Master walkin closet is a tornado safe room which I guess doubles as a bad guy safe room. My neighbors and I watch people that don’t belong like a hawk so yeah I have guns but don’t feel the need to carry inside. Now outside going into the urban jungle I’m strapped. Sig p250 subcompact 9mm or keltec pf-9 and naa mini mag 5 shot for firearms and spyderco resilience or military for blade.

        • No claymores, just tornado country and I would rather have my home ready to take a twister. Just so happens it works well against people wanting in too.

        • So you feel the need to carry outside where you are very unlikely to need to defend your self but carrying inside where you are much more likely to need to defend your self is crazy? Also, when you carry you are “wound up” carrying out of your home? That is damn scary. I don’t make carry stressful so I don’t see home carry as disruptive to a peacefull home. If you do you probably see guns in the wrong light and you are probably a danger when you carry.

    • My home is my place of relaxation and refuge

      Mine, too. And there’s nothing quite as relaxing to me as a .40 on my hip, assuring me that my home will remain my refuge.

      But if you’re nervous about carrying, I can see why you might not want to.

  9. Shite!

    Wonder if Parker was just planning to get inside to rob/murder, or if he really was being chased and decided to grab a convenient firearm?

    Either way, what a turd. Hope they use him to fill a pothole while he’s still kicking.

  10. Doors locked 24/7, gun in IWB under a shirt. It is no ones business that I am armed. In fact no one in our neighborhood knows we are armed. It is strictly need to know.

  11. HOME CARRY PEOPLE

    never relax and enjoy your life. always be on edge. have extra super situational awareness ALL the time or you’ll die. bro, do you even tactical? everyone will kill you given the opportunity!

    but seriously.. don’t take life too seriously. I’m serious. if you can’t relax and turn off the swivel head in your own home, you need a new home. worrying and having constant situational awareness is no way to live. reading the words “home carry people” for the 50th time was the last straw that made me quit keeping up with TTAG. that and the fact that many articles tend to portray “the people of the gun” as paranoid victims of the system. oh, and a few writers with humor that isn’t relatable to anyone but themselves. it tends to shut people out who read a gun review where every other sentence is an analogy with some obscure reference to something no one has heard of.

    bottom line, don’t let people into your house that you don’t know and trust. goes without saying. I don’t need to always have a gun on my person ready to blast away a possible threat. that’s how accidents happen. the kind that perpetuate anti-gun agendas.

        • being armed does just the opposite. I never feel on edge. I go about my day with a gun on my hip knowing that if my life or another innocent life is in danger I have the means to stop multiple threats. yet I do not assume that will happen EVER.

          in my home, I’m not in open space amongst people I don’t know. what the hell is so threatening that I should have a gun on my hip. do I carry in the shower? do I carry while I’m taking a shit? do I carry while having sex? if you think home carry is necessary, you’re a paranoid stereotype. a model for anti-gun organizations.

          I guess my annoyance is really with people taking this shit too far. your tactical lifestyle is alienating you from society which does nothing to perpetuate the protection and normalization of owning and carrying firearms.

    • Do you keep a fire extinguisher in your house? Maintain smoke alarms? Does that make you paranoid, keep you on edge? Do you wear a seat belt when you drive? Have airbags in your car? Does that make you paranoid, keep you on edge? People regularly take precautions to manage the risks of unlikely but potentially catastrophic events. It’s sensible, and should give one peace of mind.

      If home carrying makes you nervous, don’t do it. Your life, your choice. But if you think those of us who choose to home carry are constantly on high alert in our own homes, or even think regularly about potential danger after we have taken reasonable precautions, you may be projecting.

  12. Husband out of town. I have Ruger LCR loaded with .38 spl. hollowpoints in my pocket with speed loader in the other pocket. Three Golden Retrievers & I are settled in for the night, relying on the male to be early warning alarm, nice dog BUT turns into Kujo if a stranger come onto any part of front/back yard. Paranoid? Nope, not that long ago, was sleeping downstairs on sofa, woke up male dog growling at the front door. When someone tried to open it, the dog went ape sh*p, and whoever apparently it was left. I was thankful to have pulled my revolver out and aimed at the front door. My husband is in his 70’s, I’m in my 60’s, always have a loaded revolver in my pocket, I buy deep pocket jeans, he does not even notice the gun. Thugs think old folks are easy, in this household, not so much!

    • You’re awesome, Tx Gal! People like you are a big part of what’s still right with this country. You recognize risks and take appropriate precautions. That doesn’t make you some mountainside angry hermit. It means you’re a sensible adult.

      • +1, though I would simply say “adult” rather than “sensible adult.” Adulthood is a stage of development that far too few Americans achieve these days, regardless of their age.

  13. I thinks its kinda funny that some people said where they keep thier guns and other measures they have taken to improve home security.

    Personally, i occasionally carry my Glock 22 at home OWB, other times just tucked in the back of my jeans. It really depends on what your doing. I would highly recommend a MMA/ BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU class just to give you other options.

    Im 5 10 and 185 pounds so i can hold my own typically.

    • yeah, Sonnenberg was 69. Some guys are still able to train jits at 69, but not most.

      but it doesn’t matter. All Sonnenberg had to do was NOT OPEN THE DOOR and call the police.

  14. Sonnenberg acted naively. He should have known better.

    He’s dead, but hey, at least he won’t be accused of “racism”.

  15. When I have to walk around inside my own home strapped, it’s time to move. Having said that I’m getting really sick and tired of these supposedly reformed drug addicts and convicts being dropped off in my hood by some organization supposedly trying to help them get back on their feet by selling magazine subscriptions. The last one got mouthy with me as I communicated with him thru the side light glass beside my front door. I told him to get the f off my property and that he better be gone in 5 seconds or he was not going to like what happened next.

    • guys going door to door “selling” stuff you can buy online are suspicious. There is no reason why anyone should be selling magazines door to door in this day and age. They are casing houses.

  16. Open carry is a deterrent and an attractant to some. Choose wisely. You don’t have to open the door just because someone’s knocking. Until my castle is protected by my personal bodyguards, I am the first and last line of defense and I refuse to compromise for convenience. I am just responding to the society that has been created as a freeman should do. No paranoia.

  17. Folks around here keep saying “just don’t open your door.” Carrying at home is about the people who won’t wait for me to open the door, they will “open it” themselves. FBI points out that vast majority of home invasions take place during the day. So if some criminal crashes my door I should tell him to wait a minute while I get my gun out of the safe?

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