Danger is all around you. Whether you can see danger and act if necessary that’s the real question. Put aside all your prejudices and ask yourself: are you ready when danger literally comes knocking on your front door?

When you realize something is wrong

Recently my neighborhood was a victim of violence and bloodshed. The details are still being made public, but we know two people are dead and one critically injured. The injured victim was airlifted to a nearby hospital and the sad part is our family was busy with dinner and movie watching we did not hear a thing.

All was quite. In fact a family member mentioned that they saw something on social media about a serious event with lots of police and fire on scene. My response: someone might have been in a bad vehicle accident. We went back to dinner.

It wasn’t until shortly after dinner we noticed the emergency lights from various patrol cars both moving to and posting in various parts of our neighborhood. Obviously there is something wrong, now what?

Priorities

The first thing you need to do: secure your loved ones. With no information, assume the worse and batten down the hatches. It’s much easier to take a few wraps off than to try and ramp up.

If you don’t carry in your home you might want to rethink your decision. Maybe you don’t need to carry your primary carry handgun, but being armed in your home gives you many options not afforded to those unarmed.

Since I could see a posted patrol car nearby it was my best opportunity to get information.

Lesson number one: before you leave the safety of your home have a plan. I had the family move to a safer part of the house and informed them I was going outside to ask questions.

I would be right outside and gone for this length of time, if longer I would text them. I also told them if something were to go wrong who to contact and lastly to lock the door behind me to keep the house secure.

Preparations and precautions

As it turns out the suspect was at large. Had I not spoken to the officers on scene I might not have found out until it was broadcasted on the nightly news.

With a suspect at large in a crime like this all bets are off and your home security measures need to be modified to meet the emerging threat.

It’s likely he will still be close by, the reality is you don’t know. You don’t know if they are hiding out nearby or half way across town. All you can do is take precautions.

What type of precautions you take will be largely dependent on your skill level, gear and perceived threat.

Firearms that are normally stored may be staged at different strategic points in the home. Medical gear may be staged as well as phone systems fully charged. It’s important to take a moment to brief your household on what to do and what not to do, with an emphasis nobody answers the door, but the HMFIC.

Knock, knock…

In this case, reporters and investigators roamed the neighborhood. The most important thing to remember: if you break the seal on your threshold, no matter how much or little, the door is open. So you better be sure who’s there.

Sure enough, I heard a knock.

I had the family move to a safer place in the house as I prepared to open the door. Having a dog is blessing. I cannot emphasize how much I love this animal, and how valuable they are to us humans in times like this.

Remember, there are things you cannot see in the dark. So start by having all the lights on outside. Don’t give anyone with potentially nefarious intentions any place to hide or lurk. Be polite, but have them get to the point.

Have your visitor identify themselves. There’s nothing wrong about asking for a picture ID and asking them to wait — behind a closed-door — for you to call for verification.

[Media could take a lesson from law enforcement on this. How to deal with the media is a whole other article in itself, but you are far better off being brief and returning to the safety of your home.]

Bad things happen in our world. There’s no denying that we live in a violent world with people who fail to value human life. All you can do is protect what matters to you most.

Don’t wait until the last minute. When things start to go sideways, educate yourself, arm yourself and stand ready.


Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned unapologetically to the world at large. Currently he is the Director of Training at The Range at Austin. earn more about his passion and what he does at therangeuastin.com.

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48 Responses to Jeff Gonzales: Are You Ready for Trouble?

  1. Good story to consider and contemplate. However….

    I have a question about the need for anyone to go outside and question police, about anything. Especially a person who should be more concerned about security in the home, than entertainment outside. That said, is there information available from police, fire or ambulance that could alter your defensive stance/location? If an evac were needed, the police would be attending to that, while you remain bunkered-in.

    For snark, the fact that gunshots could not be heard by the author (being a next door neighbor?), must mean the entire episode involved silencers used by all participants, proving how dangerous silencers are to public safety.

    • Good point, and the police may not even know what exactly they’re looking for. Could be just a “male in a hoodie”. And with a suspect at large, he could just as likely be under the tarped boat in your backyard. Get everyone in one room, behind the primary defender.

        • “Police could even mistake you for the “suspect at large”. Stay inside, and don’t be a lookie-loo.”

          Ever so much THIS!!!!! I’m an OFWG, bald, with a goatee… I “fit the description” of so many other OFWGs who are bald with goatees that my own mother “sees me around town” all the time. If OFW Bubba VonWifebeaterton, who’s bald with a goatee, “went too far when she just wouldn’t listen” and is now on the loose, I sure as hell don’t want to be mistaken for him. YMMV.

  2. I really do not want to be that guy but no, danger is not ‘all around you’, and this constant fear mongering that gun writers do make all of us look like asses. Cut it out.

    • Well said. In the incredibly unlikely event you suddenly find yourself living in Gotham City, it’s time to sell the heaters and rent some U Hauls.

    • I don’t think the author means there is an armed mugger lurking in the bushes outside your house, waiting to slit your throat, but yes, crime happens every day, and more than you realize.

      Last year I was driving to Target at 9 pm on a deserted suburban road when I met a truck hauling ass going the other direction. A minute later, cops buzzed me going in both directions, lights and sirens on. At the next intersection in front of the Target, traffic was stopped.

      It seemed Mr. Truck had gone postal, his girlfriend got out at the intersection, and he shot at her. He missed, she banged on cars for help, nobody let her in, and she ran. So, he hopped the curb in his truck and ran her down in front of everybody.

      Then he hauled ass back to his apartment complex a mile away, crashed into some parked cars, waved his guns at people in the parking lot, and holed up in his apartment before a shootout with the cops.

      I don’t think anybody expects a shootout in a deserted suburban intersection, but shit can happen anywhere, so it’s best to have a plan.

      • If he had said ‘danger can strike at any time’ I would not have objected since that is 100% true. Danger is all around you, however, is not true, unless you happen to be in a minefield or are currently surrounded by a Lynch mob. I am in a restaraunt as I type this and there is no danger currently in this building. Someone might come crashing through the front doors any moment now, but until that happens I am safe. If you look out your window and danger is, in fact, all around you, call the cops, and move as soon as possible.

        • Exactly right. The problem most of us face is that the normal threat condition is no threat present. It is impossible to maintain a high level of alertness under these conditions. You have to rely on cues, known as indicators in the warning discipline. This is further complicated by the fact that indicators “go red” all the time with no threat present. Walking around in a state of hyperalertness is going to send the false alarm rate through the roof and will increase your chances of missing the real threat. It is called warning fatigue. What you really should be doing is learning to understand the actual threat level and act accordingly. There are basically four threat states:

          (1) no threat present
          (2) A general, undefined threat
          (3) Specific threat identified
          (4) An active imminent threat

          The example used here is the third threat level. There was a suspect in the immediate area but it was active and imminent.

    • You’re half right, but only half. I’m not constantly afraid but neither do I discount the possibility that something bad could happen.

      Have you heard of “normalcy bias”? During the terrorist attack on the office Christmas party in San Bernardino, one of the people present first thought it was an extremely realistic training exercise. We know that convenience stores are popular targets for robbery. Where I live, robbers have also held up a muffler shop, a barber shop (Bad decision; the barbers were carrying.) and a Starbucks competitor. My concealed carry instructor got into guns after an armed woman, running from the police, came into the fast food restaurant where he was having lunch and took another customer hostage. The city manager of one of the bedroom suburbs went into a dental office and picked a fight with one of the dentists. The manager was pissed because they had fired his wife. It didn’t amount to much because he wasn’t armed and the dentist was bigger than he. It could have been more serious at my dentist’s office because she and all of her staff are female. Every time a shocking crime is committed, you hear someone on television whimpering, “I never thought it could happen here.” If it ever should be me, I will be saying, “Stuff like this happens now and then. Today, it happened here.”

      • “Have you heard of “normalcy bias”? During the terrorist attack on the office Christmas party in San Bernardino, one of the people present first thought it was an extremely realistic training exercise. ”

        What wasn’t normal was expecting jihadis to not revert to jihad.

    • Vhyrus: I didn’t really take that comment the way you did.

      I don’t see it as “danger in the form of malicious persons” is all around you but rather than “danger” as a more general term is all around you and that you should be as prepared as possible for it and that malicious persons are part of that danger followed by a “to wit” example that covers a number of aspects. If the guy had a fire in the kitchen he’d hustle his family out the door, put it out with an extinguisher or fail to put it out and watch his house burn. Unless it was a post about “why you should have a fire extinguisher”, explaining that he didn’t have one there wouldn’t be much of a teachable moment there.

      So I see it more as an example that means driving with your head on a swivel, keeping an eye on traffic when walking, having fire extinguishers in your car and home and knowing how to use them etc. etc..

      That’s just the way I personally interpreted it and maybe I’m completely wrong in my interpretation of the intent. However, it seems to me that in the gun community there is a bit of a bias towards “dealing with bad guys” and carrying guns and whatnot. That’s all well and good but I think the mindset behind carrying a gun is one that transfers well to other aspects of life which even many POTG don’t pay that much attention to. I’ve seen instructors bemoan the fact that students they’ve had will go out and drop a TON of coin on guns, ammo and accessories but won’t put fresh batteries in their smoke detectors when the statistics say the risk of a fire in the home is much, much greater than the risk of a DGU.

      IMHO, the whole “being prepared for bad shit” mindset needs to expand past just the threat of armed intruders, robbers, rapists, highwaymen and other assorted brigands for the very simple fact that there are some problems you can’t shoot your way out of. A lot of people get a bit myopic and only want to focus on face-shooting some meth head when statistically there are greater dangers out there but from the bad guys and their actions we can learn something about the larger world and how to face the statistically greater dangers.

      As I said, maybe my interpretation was in error.

    • Ok, I’ll be that guy. If you live in California, New York, New Jersey, near the border, or near most any major US Metropolitan area, danger is indeed all around you. Sex offenders. Felons. Whacked out on drugs homeless people. Horny college kids who don’t accept “no.” Shitty drivers on cell phones. School bus drivers still drunk from the weekend.

      Sandy Hook was a safe school. Aurora was a safe theatre – more or less. Fort Hood was a “secure” base.

      Maybe I’ve just seen more death and violence than most people on TTAG – which I probably have. That’ll certainly hurt some feelings of overweight operators.

      Yes, danger is potentially anywhere. That’s from the geezer who mistakes the gas for the brake pedal (and I’m a bad guy for taking his license), to the 12 (now 13) time felon at the age of 27 who I just helped arrest out of a high speed pursuit with the help of LAPD Metro and a few K-9s, but the world is in fact filled with dangerous and messed up people.

      Or just go back to condition White if you want. I thought everyone here was against that. I’ve seen enough violence in this world to make me a little paranoid.

      I say keep your powder dry.

    • Gun writers aren’t doing “constant fear mongering”.

      YOU cut it out.

      PS – this “essay” seems to have been edited by the same guy who proof-reads Firearm News.

  3. I want to reiterate the point about having a dog. They are excellent alarm systems. Not only do their sense of hearing and smell easily outmatch any humans, but even if the dog won’t attack it will bark and give you time to get ready, and a measure of intimidation. Especially with today’s feminized hipster liberal youth, who’ve I’ve personally witnessed nearly shit themselves at the sight of an angry daushound.

    • I had a mail lady literally throw my new scope over a wall to run away from my pit bulls. Nevermind the fact that there was a SIX FOOT WALL and a LOCKED GATE in between her and the dog, that wasn’t going to cut it apparently.

      • Oh lord, I feel your pain. I have a German Shepard and there’s so many people that are terrified of him. I had a pitbull myself long ago, sweetest thing, also excellent guard dog, but people would literally avoid her as hard they could whenever they visited. But I can’t help but laugh when I see people nearly Shit themselves from our daushound. Absolutely hilarious.

        • I feel both your pains. I got 9 quail and a turtle and a frog in my back yard. Them quail are mean and won’t hesitate to poop on your shoes.

        • I have a poodle that gets people worried. True!

          OK ok, so he weights 55 lbs and has lots of fur so he looks pretty large, and has one hell of a warning bark. Very good watch dog.

        • Poodles are one of tbe best dogs to have for protection. They are very protective and can be down right mean. IF I were looking for protective dog a standard poodle would be high on my list. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are another overlooked dog. They are typically one person dogs who will defend you to the death.

    • My two shepherds have a game where one barks and the other one hides and then sticks his head over the fence and barks in the random persons face. I still get a kick out of people jumping over the hood of my truck in fear. People who know cross tyke street at my house lol

  4. Well my particular neighborhood could easily turn violent with a simple idiot cop shooting. I see motorists stopped and invariably they are “driving while black “. Not opening the door for anyone but a duly authorised cop dude. And a gun(s) at the ready.

    • Keep in mind a gang banger could be beating a cops head in with an aluminum baseball bat, the cop could shoot him, and that neighborhood would riot because “black lies matter.”

  5. Of course anyone can download a scanner app to,their phone and get play by play .

    Twitter also has info about as fast as we do.

  6. I think that the OP either lives in a bad neighborhood or he might suffer a bit of PTSD. This is America, not Fallujah. The only home invasion robbery in my whole town that I can think of was a pot house. Although there are exceptions, most of the real violent crime involves family members or a couple of drunks. And if there is a criminal at large, there is a reverse calling system that the police use to warn the affected neighborhood. Do I carry a gun when I answer the front door? Of course, but I wouldn’t necessarily if I installed a security gate.

    • It used to be the same in my city. You could figure that a home invasion was lowlifes robbing other lowlifes, usually over drugs. More recently, robbers have taken to kicking in the front door during the daytime when they expect no one to be home. That’s not always true. One guy met up with the homeowner who had been taking a nap. Scratch one intruder. No charges filed. In another case, a teenage girl was home alone. She was able to hide in a closet and call 911. Cops got there in time to arrest the intruders. The most recent example turned out badly. Two armed intruders shot the unarmed homeowner to death.

    • In my white, upper middle class hometown last year 3 guys knocked on a schoolteacher’s door. He answered, and they busted in with knives and bats. Wife hustled the kids downstairs, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen and cut one of the attackers pretty good. By now, the others have figured out they got the wrong house and scram. They were looking for the marijuana grow house on the next block.
      Home invasions are always targeted, yes. But crooks are stupid. Unfortunately, so are some people. Why would you throw your door open without looking to see who it was?

  7. This article is a scare tactic to sell their range lessons. Their website and Facebook page heavily pimps the range lessons.

    Also, going outside to find out what is going on? Separating and leaving family behind while the primary defender goes outside? Isn’t that the same stupid mistake they always make in every Scooby Doo espisode and every horror movie?

    Didn’t Sgt Craig Hutchinson of the Travis County Sheriffs Dept, while off duty and at home, in a suburb of Austin, just die from this exact scenario (going outside to investigate burglars)?

    I’ve met many so called ‘professionals’ who were quite bad at their job; from doctors who commit malpractice to plumbers who made the plumbing worse. This is a ridiculous article.

  8. Going outside to find out what is going on? Separating and leaving family behind while the primary defender goes outside? Isn’t that the same stupid mistake they always make in every Scooby Doo espisode and every horror movie?

    Didn’t Sgt Craig Hutchinson of the Travis County Sheriffs Dept, while off duty and at home, in a suburb of Austin, just die from this exact scenario (going outside to investigate burglars)?

    I’ve met many so called ‘professionals’ who were quite bad at their job; from doctors who commit malpractice to plumbers who made the plumbing worse. This is a ridiculous article.

  9. Doesn’t going outside and getting into a fight with the bad guy cause you to forfeit your legal protection under the castle doctrine? If someone bangs on your door claiming to be the police, state loudly that you won’t open the door until you verify his identity through 911 and do just that.

    • Depends on your state law. Some states that have excellent castle doctrines/stand your ground laws will protect you even when using deadly force to defend your neighbors property, or another person. For example, in Georgia you can use deadly force against any “forcible felony”, against you, or another person.

    • That is true wisdom. It happened to me once after midnight where the responding officers went to my house instead of next door. My dog went nuts and I was standing there in my underwear with a gun held behind my back. Fortunately, they figured it out before I had to open the door.

  10. I don’t know where this happened but depending on neighborhood how far houses are apart how big or well they are built I could easily see the author and family not hearing the shots. If it was small caliber gun they are not that loud. Definitely doesn’t mean silencers being used. They were watching a movie while eating what if watching movie with surround sound or just have tv turned up and it is an action film. If I all of sudden noticed a bunch of cops in my neighborhood especially since it would but unusual I would go out and see what was going on. Unless I looked out and they had their weapons drawn and some had long guns out then I wouldn’t go out. If saw cops out lights flashing I would go out to try to find out what was wrong. If there was anything I needed to be on lookout for or if I could help. After talking to cops and I got story I would go in and inform my family on best plan and what to and not to do. Then if I get knock on the door I would not open it unless they said they were the police then I would open it as for media I have no comment.

    • Afraid you are mistaken. I have it on good authority that only silencers will render a gunshot undetectable, keep people from running from the shooter, prevent proper police response, render shot spotters useless. Therefore, if the shots aren’t heard, the only conclusion is silencers were used. Silencers are a danger to society, assist stealth mass killings, make it possible to commit crimes without detection, endanger whales and are a major element of global warming and climate change. And they are not bio-degradable.

      S

  11. To all of you naysayers (cough Vhyrus cough), yes dangerous people always surround us.

    I live in a nice location where crime should be non-existent. And yet there have been a high-speed pursuit of bank robbers from a bank robbery over 10 miles away. We have had multiple burglaries. And we recently had an armed home invasion just three doors down … including the armed home invader being at large in our neighborhood similar to this article.

    Where I live:
    — About 10 miles from a city of approximately 50,000 residents
    — Farms, forest, and fields are interspersed with 100s of homes.
    — All the homes are nice.
    — There is no known poverty or drug dealing.
    — Our public school district is the top ranked public school in our state.
    — Our township has the third highest per-capita income in our state.

    And yet we have had a high-speed pursuit of bank robbers, multiple burglaries, and an armed home invasion recently. If those things happen here, they happen everywhere. Be prepared.

  12. Bad things do happen to good people in good places. Be prepared.

    As I recently noted, there was an armed home invasion three-doors down from my home with an initial report of the armed suspect at large.

    We drove to church one morning on quiet rural roads. The only other car on the road for miles was driving 20 mph under the speed limit so I passed him safely. This set him off. He proceeded to follow us for several miles — often within five feet of my car’s rear bumper. Trying to get out to confront someone like that with your family in the car is not a smart option. (Heck, confronting someone like that without my family could have been a really bad idea — for all I knew he had a rifle or shotgun on the seat next to him.) When we turned down the street to go to our church, he stopped in the middle of the road (blocking any potential traffic although there was almost no traffic) for at least 45 seconds to see where we were going … or possibly to invite us to turn around and confront him.

    Of course the Petit family who lived in an upscale neighborhood in Connecticut would tell us that dangerous people are real … except that the daughters and mother cannot tell us anything because two dangerous people killed all of them after leaving the father/husband for dead.

    I could go on with several additional examples. There ARE dangerous people all around us. The only question is whether or not something sets them off when you are in their midst. Be prepared.

    • I had a guy (kid, really) try to goad me into pulling off the highway for some fisticuffs or something. He had a problem with me doing the speed limit in the far right lane, I guess.

      Kid, when I was 25? We’d have gone a few rounds; I’m a former wrestler so it would have been ground fighting to submission, nobody would have really gotten hurt. Now that those digits are reversed? Kid, fighting HURTS. It takes a week or two to come back from a good muscle strain. I’m not gonna fight you, but I WILL hurt you bad.

      If you get out of your car? Well, if you are behind my vehicle, you’re getting splattered with gravel as I leave. If you are in front of my vehicle, you better get the hell out of the way as I leave. And if you will not allow me to leave, Kid, I’ll shoot to end the threat.

      In this case, when I wouldn’t pull over, he pulled up beside me on the left to try to make his case. At which point I rolled down my window, allowed him to see my pistol pointed at the moon roof (frame safety on, finger properly indexed!), and let him drive away. So, I guess that was a DGU, but he may have chickened out anyway, so I won’t clame it for sure.

  13. This article reminds us to consider the possibility of a desperate fleeing violent criminal choosing your home to hole-up, take hostages, or acquire resources. I would argue that such a home invader is substantially more dangerous than your average home invader.

    I would also argue that having nothing more than a handgun to deal with such an invader would often be wholly inadequate. Obviously, a handgun is better than nothing and would hopefully at least slow down a desperate home invader. At any rate having quick access to long guns would be highly desirable. That is why I have a 20 gauge shotgun with slugs immediately accessible at all times at a hidden centralized location. If time allows, I would also break out a semi-auto rifle from secured storage. Once I have a shotgun and/or rifle in hand, it is time to sit back, be alert, and wait for the situation to resolve.

  14. I took a Jeff Gonzales course at Quantico some years ago and learned a lot. If you want instruction about effective shooting, you cannot do better.

    I agree with other posters that the last thing a police officer who is possibly confronting an armed bad guy is distraction from neighbors.

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