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Millions of people own guns for personal defense. Most of them will never face a situation where their firearm is needed. Some will find themselves in mortal peril and use their weapon for home or personal defense and use it well, either as a deterrent or a “solution.” Guns rights supporters showcase these incidents to justify their belief that gun rights are a matter of life and death. Guns equal life. No guns equals death. Yes, well, there are plenty of close encounters of the armed and dangerous kind where things don’t go well for the gun owner. Where he or she fails to use their firearm effectively. These incidents can go either way, often depending on little more than dumb luck. Which is NOT something upon which someone with a gun should depend. I have a sneaking suspicion that these are the majority of defensive gun scenarios. Absent statistical evidence, I present an incident illustrating my main reaction to these stories: planning isn’t the only thing. It’s everything. Let’s go to Raeford, North Carolina . . . reports the facts of the case.

Billie Sue Frye answered a knock at the front door, expecting her father-in-law, but two men pushed their way past her and into the house, Dummett said.

The men wore red bandanas over their faces, red toboggans and white T-shirts, Dummett said.

The men pushed Billie Sue Frye to the floor and pistol-whipped her husband as he was getting off the couch, Dummett said.

One of the men then grabbed the toddler, put the gun to her head and then into her mouth, Dummett said.

They demanded to know where the Fryes kept their money, guns and safe, Dummett said.

When the 3-year-old began crying, the men threatened to kill her if the Fryes couldn’t get her to stop, Dummett said.

The man holding the child then dropped her, and David Frye stepped between his wife and daughter and the two men, Dummett said.

The men began beating Frye, hitting him in the face repeatedly and kicking him in his torso, the chief said.

As they did, one man said, “I’ll show you Raeford thugs,” according to Dummett.

One of the men then struck Frye in the face with the butt of a rifle.

They continued to beat Frye as they demanded guns and the personal identification numbers for bank cards. Frye eventually passed out, Dummett said.

The men left, taking six shotguns and a rifle, credit and debit cards and keys, Dummett said.

The men cut the phone cords so the couple could not call for help.

The men threatened to return and kill the family if they called police, Dummett said.

The men are believed to be gang members and acquaintances of the Fryes’ 17-year-old son, Dummett said.

That’s what you might call an important detail. Connect the gang connection with the comment “I’ll show you Raeford thugs” and we could have the basis for a Mel Gibson movie: the father of a good kid gone bad attempts to wrest control of his son from the gang that has claimed him. Alternatively, who knows? Mr. Frye had six shotguns. He could have been the local warlord for all we know.

The salient fact: Frye was armed for home defense and lost. Despite knowing that violence was out there, somewhere, the bad guys won. His wife and child were terrorized, he was beaten unconscious and his property was stolen. His reputation amongst people who do bad bad things is non-existent. He missed an opportunity to point to dead home invaders and say to his son “I’ll show you Raeford thugs.”

Strategically, Mr. Frye and his wife most probably made the classic home invasion mistake: they assumed they faced a nighttime attack, preceded by some kind of warning (alarm, bump in the night, dog barking, etc.). Instead, it was a classic ring the bell and barge in assault.

There are only two ways to protect against this. First, don’t open the damn door. Depending on how threatened you feel, don’t open the damn door for anyone you don’t know. (See: The Day of the Condor.) If your son’s running with the crips, here’s an idea: trust no one. Force them to break down the door, giving you time to call the police and get your weapon.

Second, have your weapon where you need it. I’m not saying Mr. Frye should have spread his shotguns around the house, what with a toddler running around. That said, with property safety precautions (e.g. store on a rack above the door), it’s not the worst idea in the world.

A better scenario: a holstered weapon on your person. Note: you don’t need a concealed carry permit in your own home. A small gun is fine; would you rather have six 12-gauges in the closet or a single .22 in your hand? How about a .22 in your hand AND a 12-gauge shotgun nearby?

Third, what’s gonna work? Teamwork. Most gun owners have what I call the manly man plan: if something happens, I’ll take care of it. How dumb is that? In a fight for your life, two trained defenders is exponentially better than one. If you’re going to have guns in the home, both life partners need to be trained in the firearms’ location, retrieval and use.

You need a plan that coordinates your skills separately AND in tandem. A plan with specific responses for specific scenarios that allows for improvisation (a meta plan).

Mrs. Frye could have been the designated distactor, doing whatever she needed to do to buy Mr. Frye time to tool-up. I know: a hostage situation with your own child is about as ugly as it gets. But I’d rather negotiate with an attacker holding a gun than NOT holding a gun.

Lastly, no matter how well you train, there are people called police who are better trained than you (you hope). I keep a pouch near my guns with a cell phone, ammo and a tactical light. You can’t cut the cords of a cell phone. (If your attackers have jamming technology, you’re in a whole new world of trouble.)

Gun control advocates might content that the Fryes would have been better off if they didn’t have guns in the house. The attackers knew about the weapons; the firearms may have provided an incentive for the assault. Anti-gun folk would also point out that the incident may have been less violent, or not occurred at all, if the invaders didn’t have guns (a.k.a., the Perfect World argument).

Perhaps. But the Fryes were armed. They were attacked. And they were defeated. How many times does that happen? If it happens to you or someone you love, that’s one time too many.

Do not buy a gun for personal or home defense unless you have a sensible strategy for using it. As Woody says in Toy Story, if you don’t have one, GET ONE. Plan, practice and execute. Or be executed.

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