In this 1981 made-for-TV movie A Gun in the House, actress Sally Struthers is terrorized by a brace of home invaders. Fortunately, eventually, she manages to escape and win a foot race to her underbed firearm. Yeah, good luck with that. Home carry, people. Home carry.
Unfortunately, Ms. Struthers’ character Emily tries to walk the bad guys out of the house at gunpoint. Also the wrong answer, as we see. She should have shot them both immediately after retrieving her revolver.
Legally speaking, you may use deadly force when you or other innocent lives are in imminent, credible danger of death or grievous bodily harm. (Google your state’s laws on the use of deadly force.) In this case, credibility is well and truly established.
An imminent threat is considered an act of violence in the process of happening. Does someone waving a knife at you at, say, 10 yards, pose an imminent threat (as opposed to someone actually trying to stab you)?
That depends on what’s called the totality of circumstances. Who, what, when, where and why. As interpreted by the police, prosecutor, judge and/or jury. But if someone’s in your house and poses a lethal threat, regardless, you’re most likely good to go.
(I believe in issuing a warning before shooting if possible, but certainly not in this case, and there are plenty of TTAG experts who counsel against it.)
In the movie, the legal system puts Ms. Struthers’ character through the wringer for what was clearly a good shoot. Make no mistake: this can happen to you.
If you’re involved in a defensive gun use (DGU), provide the cops with basic info on the bad guy (should he be somewhere else, having failed to assume room temperature), witnesses and evidence. Then lawyer up and shut up. Do not recount the actual events without a lawyer!
And while you might think the bad guy’s return is an over-dramatization, that can happen, too. If not him, fellow gang members or family could come back to enact revenge. “Emily” uses a baseball bat to dispatch the returning gun-wielding perp, but really, a firearm would have been the better choice. Which is why owning one home defense firearm isn’t enough. Yes, the cops may confiscate all your firearms after a DGU, not just the one(s) you used. But will they?
Another mistake: approaching a wounded or seemingly dead (in that made-for-TV kinda way) bad guy. Either keep shooting until the threat stops or leave the scene.
If you can’t leave the scene before the cops arrive — if, for example, you’ve got family members you have to protect — keep your distance! Be prepared to fire again. Or use some other weapon. Dropping the gun in favor of tackling the bad guy? That’s just silly.
Lastly, whether you’re at the gun range or running around your house like an idiot, making yourself a target for responding police, keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target. You don’t want to shoot the wrong person.
TTAG commentators: did I miss anything? Oh, and check out the ending. That’s where the mainstream media was in 1981. Hopefully, not now.