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An armed mother in Indiana was unable to fire her pistol at a home invader to protect her family. She did not believe the intruder when he claimed that he was the police.  Confronted with the armed mother, the burglar ran off, taking the family’s flat screen television with him. It was a scary, adrenaline-pumping moment, I am sure. From the mother’s description of what happened, I suspect that it was a case of what we called “buck fever” when I was growing up . . .


“I yelled down the stairs, ‘Who’s down there?’,” she said. “He told me, ‘The police.’ As I ran down the steps and I was going to shoot my gun, it jammed up on me.”
Once jammed, Marta said the bullets popped through the chamber, unfired. That allowed the burglar to get away, carrying her flat screen TV.

From the picture, the pistol looks like a SIG Sauer Mosquito. It’s a popular .22 caliber pistol, intended primarily for training, target shooting, and plinking.  It has a slide mounted safety and a safety lock located behind the magazine well.

As can be seen in the video, the slide can be operated with the safety on. Many people keep pistols for home defense in condition three. That is, with a loaded magazine in the pistol, but with the chamber empty.  Often, especially if there are small children in the house, the safety is kept on as well, making it more difficult for a child to fire the gun.

When I was growing up, deer hunting was, and still is, a rite of passage for young people. One of the oral traditions that was passed on was warning about the potential for “buck fever.” Buck fever is the psychological effect of adrenaline on the ability to fire effectively and generally function well in a high stress situation.  The sight of a large buck was said to set off this reaction, especially in less experienced hunters.  A fairly common story would be for a hunter to cycle cartridges through the rifle, without ever actually firing one. Similar stories were common from the Civil War, where soldiers would load multiple charges in their rifles, without any actually being fired.

The design of the SIG Mosquito lends itself to this sort of reaction. The trigger can be activated and the hammer will fall with the safety on.  The slide can be cycled, and cartridges ejected with the safety on.  This isn’t a bad thing, because it allows the pistol to be loaded and unloaded while in a safe condition.

But in the adrenaline charged moment of attempting to stop a home invasion, it’s easy to attempt to fire wight he safety engaged. When no “bang” occurs, the shooter works the slide, ejects an unfired cartridge, and repeats until the magazine is empty. The pistol hasn’t really “jammed,” just left the safety on. It’s a simple training issue. It also shows an advantage of simple systems such as most double action revolvers and GLOCK pistols.

In this case, no one was hurt. The major damage was a lost TV (and a missed opportunity to stop a thief from further depredations on the community).

The armed mother showed courage in confronting the intruder. I hope someone will offer her some instruction on tactics, and help her practice with her pistol.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

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  1. The mother took action. For that she deserves kudos. However, she should avail herself to gun proficiency and safety courses offered by her local law enforcement or her local gun range. She does not need a repeat of this situation and have a gun, she does not fully understand or know how to properly use. A large caliber is also a good idea with actual stopping power.

  2. Ah, I agree. The safety was on and the mother kept cycling the action to no avail.

    As Mr. Weingarten suggested, either you have to train turning off the safety AND squeezing the trigger or you purchase a firearm with no safety … and there is a lot to be said about a “point-and-click” firearm in a high stress situation.

  3. Well, it served its main purpose anyway–kept the householders from personal harm. Pretty sure she’ll figure out what happened and fix it–if dean’s analysis is correct, there’s no doubt she has the will…

  4. doesn’t surprise me one bit- the Mosquito is one of the most finicky .22 pistols out there. I had one that no amount of work- not even Sig’s- could get it to run. I know of many others with the same experience with this gun

  5. Owning a Mosquito, I have to agree that is probably the WORST gun to use in an emergency. Manual safety, decocker, magazine disconnect. On mine anyway, the dual action mode has an impossibly stiff trigger action. It is easy to fail to disable the safeties, and emergency would make it worse.

    • Phoenix HP22 might edge it out in the “worst” category. All that the Mosquito has, and you can’t drop the mag unless it’s on “safe”, IIRC.

    • Honestly not that complicated. I also have a Mosquito and my wife shoots it very well. I have tried to get her into more powerful pistols, but she runs the Mosquito with ease, to the point that I reluctantly said OK when she requested to keep it available in the housr as an SD pistol.

      In her case it’s kept with full mag inserted, chamber empty, with safety off. I have done “unannounced drills” a few times using snap caps to make sure she still has the reflexes of using it down, and she passes each time.

      As for the Mosquito being finicky, it runs 100% with CCI Mini Mags.

      I would prefer she use a 9mm or 12ga in an SD situation, but I know she can load the Mosquito and very quickly put rounds on several targets in short order. I’ve watched her do it and she doesn’t miss. I’ll take that over what I’ve seen with her struggling with a long gun or the recoil of a heavier pistol caliber – not all women take to shooting as well, even with frequent practice.

  6. Yeppers. Model 10 .38 Smith and Wesson special. Everything a non gun person needs in a gun and nothing they don’t need.

    Child safety is why I kept an unchambered 12 bore pump in the house when my kids were little. Still do it now that I have grandkids.

    The one and only time someone broke into my house, when my kids were toddlers, the act of racking the gun to bring it into service was enough to make the bad guy(s) wish to be elsewhere. Most times, just having a gun will end the problem.

    • That was my solution, too, when kids were little. Even if they were trained not to touch, that kept little friends on play dates and visiting cousins safer too.

  7. She’s lucky the perp didn’t grab her gun and make off with it too, as well as the boob tube.
    The side of the frame on the gun looks cluttered to me, maybe they look better in real life.

    A tad off the subject, but yesterday I bought a 380 Taurus TCP at Cabela’s for around $160, or so. I didn’t really get it at that price, but the savings amount to that much at the final price.
    First. they are running a sale (don’t know for how long) where if you spend $200, you get a voucher for $50, good on your next purchase.
    Then, they gave me 5% off because I’m a vet, and finally, I ended up with $10 in points, because I used my Cabela’s Visa card.

    Gun $229.95
    Total savings, $71.48
    Net $158.47

    If you looking for an excuse (do we really need one) to buy another gun, this might be it!

  8. “taking the family’s flat screen television with him”

    If someone is running off with your “stuff” let them go.

    It’s just an object that can be replaced, it is not worth a human life either your’s or the bad guy’s.

    • The flat screen tv has more value than his life. The hours spent working to get that tv is a portion of your life that’s gone forever.

      However, the flat screen tv and what it represents is definately not worth the hassles from the legal system that can occure no matter how good the shoot.

      If at all possible, do not shoot. Only as a last resort.

      • More value than HIS life, not only to you but to him.
        Otherwise, he would have immediately dropped the TV at the sight of a firearm pointed in his direction.

      • Do whatever your conscience and local laws allow, but I’m inclined to let the stuff go. Deadly force is for protecting your life, not your lawnmower.

        If the BG drops the stuff and comes at you, different story.

    • Well, at that point you have to assume the TV is lost, because either he gets away with it or he drops it as you end his depredations. The question then becomes one of civic duty vs. legal liability. In Texas, at night, that punk is tucking foast.

  9. Things worked out for the best, and this was technically a successful DGU, things could have gone south very quickly, and it’d be another case of “A gun wasn’t able to protect her!”. This is why I very much agree with the conventional wisdom of a DA revolver for those who don’t have the time or resources to train regularly.

  10. Glad it worked out. No I wouldn’t use a 22. Better than nothing. I vote for the shotgun. BTW don’t tell TxGal you got that little Taurus Gunr. Great mouse gun.

    • Don’t get your knickers in a bunch, didn’t like the Ruger P95 9mm either, it’s at Central Texas Gun shop for sale on consignment. Brought a Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact Pro as replacement for Taurus & Ruger 9mm. It’s a good fit for me, the other two were not. Have had it a while now and very pleased with it. Life is too short to hang on to a gun you don’t like or sell one you did, and regret it later.

  11. I think it would take a special kind of stupid to attack her when she’s racking the slide & spitting (unfired) bullets out, so the “risk” to her might be a bit overplayed.. (I certainly wouldn’t stand in front of a 22 while someone was racking the slide & clawing at the trigger!).

    That said, I think everybody “won” here. Mr burglar now knows that people might actually have a gun & use it when he breaks in. Mrs homeowner got a trial by fire & most certainly won’t make the same mistake again.. and she didn’t have to go through the ordeal of wondering if some weasel prosecutor would charge her with a crime for splattering the neighborhood dirtbag. No matter how big that tv was, It absolutely cost less than the cheapest lawyer’s retainer fee.

    • She tried to shoot him, which, as far as he knew, could (and probably would) have led to his death (he had no way of knowing it was a .22 and not something heavier). Hopefully he’s having a “come to Jesus” moment right now realizing someone was effectively trying to kill him over a TV.

  12. “It also shows an advantage of simple systems such as most double action revolvers and GLOCK pistols.”

    Are you advertising that your a Glock fanboy, or are you just advertising for Glock?

    “….such as, most (ordinary?, generic?, unmentioned) double action revolvers and…GLOCK pistols.”

    Just for continuity, you could have mentioned a more appropriate Sig Sauer for self defense, instead of leaving readers with the lingering mental image of an ineffective, and woefully underpowered Sig. Or is it SIG? In this entire article, only one word was capitalized. Hmmm? Cynical me, it just felt a little like a paid ad placement. We get what sounds like blah, blah, blah, nondescript revolvers…..GLOCK!

    • He has capitalized GLOCK in every post hes used it in…because its a GLOCK brand GLOCK and GLOCK capitalizes all letters in GLOCK.
      Has nothing to do with “ad placement”

  13. There is a follow up to the story, the intruder who stole the TV has PTSD from having a gun pointed at him and watching a hammer fall. Poor guy has lost sleep and very stressed out. He has acquired legal council and will be suing the homeowner for the psychological trauma she has invoked.

  14. On the positive side, everyone’s safe and she doesn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on legal defense.

  15. If you are not going to practice with a pistol, or not an avid shooter, would suggest at minimum .38 special revolver. Ruger has just come out with LCR 9mm with moon clips.
    As an owner of a Ruger SP101 9mm with moon clips I can tell you those are all steel clips, durable little buggers and fast reload, almost as fast as pistol magazines for reloading.

    I’d buy the new Ruger 9mm revolver if I did not already own vintage SP 101 2.50″ inch all steel revolver. Already have LCR .38 for pocket carry and Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact Pro 9mm. Ladies if you are going to tool up for self defense, get something you can actually shoot under stress!

  16. Like to point out that a John Moses Browning design does not have this issue for a pistol in Condition 3. You can’t engage the safety unless the pistol is cocked since a single action design is safed when the hammer is down. When you rack the slide you are ready to go. That’s how I keep my bedside pistol. I will rack the slide when half asleep but I forget about the safety.

    • GLOCK carried Israeli style, and if I were to leave on nightstand, in drawer, for ex while staying hotel on travel, or at home when gun vault inop, then having it set Condition Three fits the same rack while draw habit that I practice at range. Same extra safety edge for curious kids.

      Fits with 870 rack to fill empty chamber idea, above. YMMV but this is KISS for me.
      Bonus points: Uncle Joe Biden approves of the scare bad guy with racking sound tactic, too.

  17. So, how about that “I’m the Police” business? Seems a good argument to end no-knock raids. How is any citizen supposed to reasonably be able to take the time to puzzle out whether someone is a thug with a badge vs a regular old fashioned thug before dropping the hammer?

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