“A 32-year, veteran Boston firefighter is off the job after police said he admitted to shooting his girlfriend by mistake,” thebostonchannel.com reports. Off the job? Where the hell is the firefighter’s union when you need them? Even stranger: the firefighter didn’t have a License to Carry. (A Bay State gun license requires a single class with an approved trainer.) Otherwise, the course of the tragic events that unfolded last night has a familiar ring to it. “Just before 1 a.m. Thursday, firefighter Larry Trammell told police officers that he heard someone inside his 551 W. Elm Street home in Brockton and, thinking it was an intruder, he fired his gun. Instead, he accidentally shot his girlfriend.” Mr. Trammel’s mistake is a lesson to irresponsible gun owners who, like him, have a crap home defense plan.
A gun is not a plan any more than a frying pan is a recipe. If you want to avoid shooting people on your friends and family plan, you need a really good idea of what to do with your gun should you suddenly (or slowly) come to the conclusion that someone’s in your house who shouldn’t be there.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of well-formulated home defense plans. Suffice it to say Professor Harold Hill had it right: you gotta know the territory. More specifically, who’s where. Until you ascertain that information, it’s probably be best not to shoot anyone unless you know who they are or aren’t, and how they fit into the general scheme of things.
At the same time, give serious consideration to the Reverse Gumball Rally principle. You may remember the late Raul Julia’s immortal line as he ripped the rear view mirror off a Ferrari: “What is behind me is not important.” If you put everyone who IS important behind you, preferably in a safe room (i.e. the most convenient room with the best possible cover and/or concealment and the best possible shotgun or rifle), the chances that you’ll shoot them are more or less zero.
Like everything else firearm-related, there’s a tradeoff. If you’re invaded before you can assemble the troops behind your defensive line, or you’d rather die than wake-up your Mother In Law, you may have to let loose the dogs of war to get the friendlies to safety. In that case, religiously follow the cardinal rule of always knowing what’s behind your target. (Pray but don’t spray.)
I’m sure you know all this. The trick is to know it at 1am after downing a couple of six packs of Bud and a few muscle relaxants, whilst suffering from PTSD. In theory. But seriously folks, Mr. Trammel would tell you that the old saying “fight fire with fire” kinda misses the obvious solution (so to speak): water. Or, in this case, an alarm system.