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Reader Greg Downs writes:

A Kansas City, Missouri police officer was attacked in her own home recently. “According to the documents, the officer’s daughter told police she woke up about 5 a.m. to the sound of a man pounding on the family’s door. Her mother braced the door and yelled that she was a police officer. When she opened the door, the officer told police Garcia charged her, threw her down some stairs onto a vehicle and began choking the officer.” A family member came to her rescue.  The family member was able to pull the attacker away, allowing her to use her firearm to defend herself and her family. During the melee, the officer accidentally shot herself in her hand . . .

I teach firearm and home safety classes on a regular basis. One of the easiest and sometimes very effective ways of preventing attacks in your own home is simply don’t open the door. Certainly not when a stranger is pounding on it at 5:00 a.m.

Of course, the average residential exterior door will not prevent a determined attacker or attackers. That leads to the second lesson in this news report: always home carry. An attack against you can happen any time you are at home. In this case, in the wee hours of the morning.

We don’t know all the details of this incident, and the officer’s self-inflicted injury probably wasn’t preventable given the situation.  She was likely using her off hand in an attempt to gain separation from the attacker and had to risk shooting her own hand to stop the attack.

Even in a defensive situation, though, you should do everything in your power to never let the muzzle point at anything you are not willing to destroy. In many jurisdictions, you can and probably will be held responsible if you injure or kill an innocent person, even if you were acting in self-defense against a third person.


Greg Downs is the owner and chief instructor for Family Firearm Safety in Overland Park, Kansas. He teaches approximately 100 firearm and home safety classes per year to a diverse audience in the Kansas City area. Greg is certified to teach NRA Basic Pistol, NRA Basic Personal Protection in the Home, as well as Kansas and Missouri Concealed Carry. He is committed to promoting safe and responsible firearms ownership.

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  1. Oh yeah. Catch me opening the door to an unknown at any time of the day and I will accept the well earned ass whipping from my loved ones I deserve.

    And yes, home carry.

  2. That’s a pretty lame cop-always armed-even for the JW’s who frequent the neighborhood…LOL

  3. Don’t open the door. Don’t go down the stairs. Don’t go into the barn. Don’t go to the basement. Don’t take a shower in the Bates Motel.

    I learned these lessons watching horror movies. Officer Ninny apparently wasted valuable movie-watching time by attending some certified academy that trains wannabe cops. There she learned critical skills, like saluting and polishing the brass.

    • Also learned from horror movies: be ready for the cat. The one that appears out of nowhere and hisses just to scare you, causing you to let down your guard when you see it’s just a cat…..right before the real sh-t happens.

      • Don’t forget to learn how to drive a stick.

        Too many people die in horror movies because they can’t drive a manual. Or pop a clutch.

        • Doesn’t matter what you drive. It won’t start when the evil sh*t is bearing down on you. Standard horror movie fare.

      • Also learned from horror movies:

        If you’re a teenager having sex at the beginning of the movie, you’re about to die.

        If you’re a teenager at a summer camp named ‘Camp Crystal Lake’ you have a 9 in 10 chance you will die in the movie.

  4. You gotta have peep holes in your door, and thick windows that show your front porch. And, lighting a plenty!
    Surveillance cameras help too. I have them setup all around my place.
    If I have any doubt when I open the door, I stand aside, with pistol in hand, not in the path an intruder would take as when he came bursting through the door!
    Big dogs are useful also, but the bigger they are, the bigger a target they are. My wife always counts on our big dog to save her butt, if an attacker came at her, but I tell her the first thing he would shoot before us, would be the dog.

    • Lol, a completely off grid homestead so no power to spare for “lights a plenty”
      Just the other night taking a “walk about” after dark, trying to see the place from a bad guys point of view, and thought to myself, we are 800′ back and surrounded by woods, and dark as sin, dam the place had me scared just walking up the drive, a bad guy [s] would have to have a death wish coming here after dark or any other time for that matter, carry? All the time even in shower, and if I’m not 14 year old is concealed armed in a hide.

      • Living “off the grid”, I would think you would have have enough solar panels to spare a little for lighting. You wouldn’t need them on unless you suspected something amiss on your land.
        How about three big dogs? If he plugged one, you could get him between the second and third dog.
        Mostly kidding on that last sentence. Nobody wants to sacrifice a fine dog!

  5. Never open the door to strangers, especially at odd hours. That seems so obvious … and yet it is the primary reason that many attacks and home invasions occur.

  6. Lots of ass-u-ming going on here. Nowhere does it say that Garcia was a stranger. Nowhere does it say the officer shot herself while fending off the attack. It does say she shot the guy in the leg. So where ya’ll getting the other facts from? Why’d she open the door? Why not get the facts first.

  7. Just because someone knocks doesn’t mean you have to answer the door. But when I do answer I have 20 lbs of pure hate in my hands. Mini Pincher mix that thinks she is full size. And a knife. And I keep my size 13 shoe in place to act as a door stop. Oh, and I rarely answer the door. I also have just because the phone rings doesn’t mean you have to answer.

    Here is school leadership at work: my VP got on me cause my classroom door is always locked. Said it was a fire hazard. Really? My door opens out. Anyone that needs to get in, if they are important enough they will have a key.

    • But when I do answer I have 20 lbs of pure hate in my hands. Mini Pincher mix that thinks she is full size.

      I’m sure your little dog is ferociously cute, but you aren’t serious, right?

      • of course, toss the mini pincer at the perp and take aim. I once got the better of a korean soldier who was very skilled in his martial arts by tossing him my gas mask just before the body slam to the door. we became good friends.

  8. Most doors are extremely simple to break through; especially apartment doors. Many won’t survive a single solid kick from an average size man. You should definitely reinforce your exterior doors, if replacing them with upgraded security doors is cost prohibitive. I recommend EZ Armor brand reinforcement, but there are many similar products on the market that works equally well. Basically, it’s a kit consisting of several pieces for reinforcement of the doors weak points.

    Two long strips of metal that you screw to the door jamb, opposite the hinges, with 3″ long wood screws that penetrate through to the wall stud. Three hinge reinforcement pieces that you likewise screw to the other side to strengthen the attachment of the door to the wall via the hinges. Finally, there’s door knob reinforcing metal “envelop” that wraps around the door where the knob is installed. That’s a weak point of the door because, well, a big hole was drilled through it to install the door knob; leaving a slender piece of wood on the jamb side of the door.

    The whole thing costs less than a hundred bucks online or from a home improvement store, and will take you at most an hour to install, assuming you have near zero DIY experience. If you’ve ever replaced a door knob or deadbolt before, then you can do this in about ten minutes. Your home won’t be a fortress, but it will likely turn a one kick entry into twenty minutes of banging away at the door in futility. They may give up, or instead just break a window, but howsoever, you won’t be surprised and you will have time to take up an armed defensive position.

    • Excellent advice. Two years ago I spent about $600 with my local hardware store to buy and nave installed a “high security” outer screen/storm window door. It fits over the outside of the door opening, installs with security hinges and is screwed solidly to the frame. It opens outward and resists up to 1000 pounds of inward force. Takes a deadbolt lock as well as a standard doorknob.Looks like a decorative screen door with vertical and scrolled steel bars. Even a door-breaker ram would take more than a couple swings to smash it in. I still would not open the inner door at night without checking through the peephole, but this arrangement lets me talk to someone without them being able to shove past me. Plus, it works as a pretty good storm/screen door. Well worth the money, to me.

  9. If someone beats on my door in the wee hours, when I go to see who it is (through the peep hole) I have my .45 in my hand.

    • And if you don’t have a peep hole, you can make a nice sized one with a 45 cal. bullet! Maybe two around three inches apart!
      You have two eyes don’t you? If not, maybe the old lady wants to take a peek, or not.

  10. Can you imagine what the bimbos at 911 were saying? Put the gun down and don’t open the door. Officers are on their way. Is there a bathroom you can lock yourself in?

    Oh my ass! I would have rather specific things to say to someone on the other side of the door at 5 AM
    like,”listen M— F—-er. You woke my ass up and I’m going to blow your brains all over my front yard so you best get the f—- out of here right f—ing now! And I would mean it.

  11. In many jurisdictions, you can and probably will be held responsible if you injure or kill an innocent person, even if you were acting in self-defense against a third person.

    Well, she’s a cop, so the same rules don’t apply to her that apply to us peasants.

  12. I never open the back/kitchen door at night for anyone unknown, but then since the lights with motion sensors went in on the driveway, the garage, and the deck, no one has come that way.

    The main/side door gets opened after dark only for known persons, and I ca tell if they’re known because the porch steps and the porch itself have separate motion-sensor lights; I can tell if someone came up the walk (or the neighbor cat sauntered by), or if someone actually came onto the porch, just from the lights. I’m not too worried about someone kicking it; the frame needed adjusting a couple of years ago, and I just rebuilt it in layers all fastened together with 4″ screws, and 6″ screws on the deadbolt; the door itself is 2″ thick oak.

    The ‘formal’/front door is where strangers get met after dark. It’s as tough and reinforced as the side door, has a heavy chain, and won’t open more than four inches without removing the floor block; there’s also a steel screen door, always locked and bolted, outside it, with a little screen just for talking through.

    And after midnight, anyone knocking on either door will be greeted by me wearing my “side arm of the day” with .22 mag rifle under my arm; they get to watch me work the lever before unlatching the door, if they can see in.

    Backup, if there’s more than one, is my upstairs roommate, who gets warned via intercom. so I can honestly tell anyone who strikes me funny that there’s armed backup.

    Of course, meanwhile, my service dog is in “Who the Frak Woke Me Up!” mode, looking and barking like he’s ready to rip an arm off.

    Not that I’ve needed any of this since the sheriff’s deputy moved in a cross the street, the city cop moved in two houses down just around the corner, and the state trooper settled four houses away on the other side of the street — my “meet and greet” porch is visible from all three of those houses. I’m not worried if any of them ever come to intervene; they know I live here and take care of my elderly mother, and both expect and approve of my intent to leave bodies piled rather than let someone endanger her.


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