Gun gurus call doorways the “funnel of death.” The bad guy knows you’re coming and you’re perfectly framed in the doorway. To quote the old Rowan & Martin sign-off, say goodnight Dick. The best way to avoid that fate: avoid doorways. For example, if you’re in your house and you hear a crash bang noise downstairs (i.e. through several doorways), don’t go downstairs. Use the doorway thing to your advantage. Position yourself on the other side of a doorway, aim your weapon (low ready’s good) and wait. Of course, life’s never quite that neat. You may have to go through a doorway to gather friendlies, get to a weapon or escape a BG. So, there are two very different approaches for going through doors . . .
1. Pie the room
Approach a door from the side. Move sideways. Bit by bit, “slice the pie.” (Each new angle is a considered a slice of pie.) This technique minimizes your time exposed to danger. If you catch a glimpse of a Bad Guy, you can dart back behind concealment, silently move across the portal or quickly find a more strategic location from which to mount a defence.
That’s assuming the perp doesn’t see you. Worst case scenario: you catch a glimpse of the Bad Guy with his gun pointed at you. Oops!
At that point, instinct will probably kick in. You’ll dart backwards, using the doorway for concealment. Concealment. Not cover. If the BG’s watched the Dirty Harry movie where Inspector Callahan shoots a hijacker through a flimsy screen, he’ll cap yo’ ass straight through the wall. And if he doesn’t, then what? Ballistic peek-a-boo?
Bottom line: there’s a reason smart cops never clear a house on their own. Avoid moving through doorways during a self-defense situation unless there is no alternative. If you pie a room, have a fallback plan. Or two.
2. Enter with extreme prejudice
Combat vet Adam Deciccio recommends the official Army technique for entering a hostile environment through a portal: speed, surprise and violence of action. If you HAVE to go in a room, crouch low, walk heel-toe and GO IN THE ROOM. Weapon at the ready, finger off the trigger. Dominate the space. Get ‘er done. If it’s clear, keep moving.
This technique affords very little time to make a shoot/don’t shoot decision. If you know that a bad guy’s in the room, that’s one thing. If you don’t, things could get real messy real quick. What if it’s a teenage daughter’s previously unidentified boyfriend sneaking in for a 3am rendezvous? Uh-oh.
Even if the perp’s wearing horizontal stripes and a black mask carrying a big swag bag, you’ve got a legal problem. Castle doctrine or not; you’re only fully clear to shoot another human being if they’re in the act of threatening your life or limb. You’re not even supposed to rough them up (i.e. knock them to the ground).
You have to wait until he gets a weapon ready? What is this, Hollywood? Besides, you’re got enough adrenalin in your system to power Milwaukee for a fortnight. No matter how you slice it (or, in this case, not), entering a room at full speed is not an ideal situation.
Let’s say you get the jump on the BG and decide not to shoot him. Huzzah! You win! Now what? FREEZE! GET ON THE GROUND! PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD! Do you really think you have the authority and skill to keep a dangerous criminal at bay? And while you’re doing all that, what about BG number two? Or three?
Bottom line: there’s a reason smart cops never clear a house on their own. Avoid moving through doorways during a self-defense situation unless there is no alternative. If you decide to Deciccio a room, look at the perp’s hands, then his chest and make your choice. If you make the right choice, there will be plenty of time to second guess yourself later. If not, not.
What, no flash-bangs?
Nah, I just use the remote activated tear gas dispensers place throughout the house. What, doesn’t everyone have those?
There’s no need to go use the doorway when you have the BONE COLLECTOR and the 700 grain T-REX ammo, you just shoot down the walls until you kill the badguy. When I was taking the Utah class there was a video where you had to clear a room and try to kill the badguy while avoiding innocent citizens. It’s not easy, and some of the students either got killed or killed a good guy. Even thou it was more of a video game, it still got your adrenaline going pretty good.
If a BG is in your house while you are there, 99 times out of 100, he knows you’re there.
>> Even if the perp’s wearing horizontal stripes and a black mask carrying a big swag bag, you’ve got a legal problem. Castle doctrine or not; you’re only fully clear to shoot another human being if they’re in the act of threatening your life or limb. You’re not even supposed to rough them up (i.e. knock them to the ground). <<
Robert, this is about as wrong as legal advice from a layman can get.
In many (probably most) jurisdictions if someone is in your home without permission, you can shoot them. Period. The element of "fear" is nice to have (and sometimes necessary), but often satisfied by the mere fact that a stranger has illegally entered your home.
For example, in Florida black-letter law, you are authorized to use deadly force to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony – which includes burglary – burglary being entering or remaining someplace you're not supposed to be with the intent to commit an offense. In almost all cases, the "intent" element is satisfied by the fact the person entered your home.
Two cases come immediately to mind:
In north Florida, an elderly man looked out his kitchen door window and observed a punk trying to hot wire the car in his carport. The elderly gent retrieved his 9mm handgun from a kitchen drawer, and proceeded to empty it through the glass an into the aforementioned punk. Punk died. His accomplice (waiting in another car) fled. The elderly gent should have been kicked loose by the DA, but DAs are political animals, so the DA referred it to that institution which will so famously indict "ham sandwiches" – the grand jury. The grand jury looked at the facts, said, "No crime here" and booted the case. The accomplice was charged with felon murder. (If you don't know what that is, look it up.) The two elements of note: The bad guy was not even IN the house. He was outside. On the other side of a locked door. Second item: At no time was the homeowner in any danger. The BG was under the dash of the car, unaware that he'd been spotted by the homeowner. The homeowner never even opened the door. He just shot right through it. But under Florida law, that was a good shoot because under black letter law, the curtilege of the dwelling is included as part of the dwelling and the felony was in progress. By the same token, if you look outside and see someone jimmying the door to your garage, you can shoot. At the hairy edge of the law, if you look down the street, see someone breaking the mirror off your neighbor's car, you can shoot. Just make sure they're not doing it with the permission of your neighbor.
Second case: Orlando about 5 years ago. Two kids were "exploring" in what they thought was an abandoned home. Not sure about their ages – something like 9 and 12. The homeowner is started awake, sees two silhouettes and starts blasting. Kills the older kid. The community is in an outrage. "How can this guy just gun down a 12-year-old in cold blood for entering his house?" That one went to trial, again, more for political reasons than anything to do with law. The man was acquitted, as black-letter law said he must be. That was BEFORE the Castle Doctrine laws passed in Florida. Prosecutors will still allow the process to go on longer than it should when the shooter isn't in a publicly popular role. The 25-year-old weight-lifter who offs the burglar granny will have a slightly longer legal road than if their roles were reversed. But that's the political reality. Prosecutors will go after popular targets even when there's no legal justification. And in almost every case, they'll lose… but get reelected.
So let's not hear any more of this crap about how someone in your home has to wear stripes, have a gun, be threatening you with it, etc. It may be true in some screwball jurisdictions that value the life of criminals over the lives of ordinary citizens (like New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, Washington DC) but in sane parts of the country an intruder in your home is hamburger at your whim.
Now if you want to offer legal advice, try this: Do NOT talk to the police. See
…An OUTSTANDING video on the subject.
To clarify, don’t tell the police, “I thought he had a weapon”, “I was in fear of for my life”, or anything but, “I want to talk to my lawyer and am invoking my right to remain silent.” It may seem like the wrong thing to do at the time, but watch the video and you’ll understand.
Long story short: just after midnight, back in 1990-something, my then-wife heard voices and woke me. People were trying to pry my (thankfully) steel core front door open. I positioned her behind the bed with my Beretta and the phone and locked the bedroom door as I slipped up the hall with my Remington 870. I heard 3 different voices outside the door as I kneeled behind the sofa and put myself at about a 45 degree angle from the doorway-creating a good ambush point covering “the fatal funnel” they would have to enter. More for concern over my future ex-wife, I decided to challenge them. I loudly racked a round into the chamber of the 12 gauge. (yes,it had an 8-shot extension tube) “You come in, you die!” I said in my meanest voice-careful not to sound spooked. The fourth guy was a driver, apparently, as the car was ready to go as soon as they ran from the door. He flipped the high beams onto my house even before the car began to screech back out of my driveway, and all the way backwards out of my cul-de-sac. The point I got was to go with my instincts-I knew there were at least 3 and there could have been more. Could I have picked any firearm for that moment it would have been the RPK I have today or my Ruger SR556 in 6.8 SPC. Several armed men rushing in at once, at close range, would have required instant take-down and superior fire power. As it was, the weapon at hand accomplished the job by sheer intimidation and I lived to fight another day. The state laws at that time would not have clearly covered me had I started firing through the door preemptively.