Ray King in happier times. Image via YouTube by Boch.
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In January, an Alabama man was shot and killed by sheriffs deputies who responded to the wrong address for a shots-fired domestic disturbance call. Prosecutors have just concluded their investigation and will not take further action in the tragic death.

How did Ray King, 50, get killed? He answered the door late at night holding a gun.

It remains unclear whether or not Mr. King pointed the gun towards the glass storm door (and by extension the deputies standing on the other side of it) when he opened his front door. Either way, he was shot and killed. While he may have been well-meaning and protective, he died in part because he chose very poorly.

 

Yes, your home is your castle. Yes, courts have ruled that you have a right to have a gun in your hand when you open the door. At the same time, just because you can lawfully do something doesn’t mean it’s the wise or prudent thing.

But what do you bring with you for a knock from an unexpected caller, especially at unchristianlike hours?

I’d half expect TTAG readers to answer, “a gun, of course.” While a gun is very useful, there’s a far better answer: prudence and common sense.

In short, there are a million reasons why someone may ring your doorbell and 99% of them are innocuous. Answering the door with a visible firearm carries very big risks and precious few benefits for you.

red flag confiscation order gun violence
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Cops and criminals alike tend to think with their lizard brains when they encounter a person with a gun in their hand, especially if it’s pointed at them. While your estate might collect on a wrongful death claim if you get shot through your screen door by a trigger happy cop, there are better ways to earn a buck or two.

There’s nothing wrong with having a snub-nosed revolver tucked in your pants or a holstered gun on your hip. No pants? Take a moment to put some on as a public service before answering that knock. Then practice discretion and keep your gun(s) concealed. If you think you need to answer the door with a long-gun you need to be calling the police instead. Gun or no gun, bring a phone in case you need to call 911.

Secondly, don’t be in a hurry to answer the door, especially if things seem the least bit suspicious. Stand back at least six or eight feet from the door, announce yourself and then move.

Are you like an increasing number of Americans with a Ring doorbell or an Arlo camera system? Check it and use it to talk to the visitor(s) on the other side of the door. Then act appropriately depending on what you hear and see. Cameras help. They’ll show how many people are outside, their location and their body language.

Remember, contrary to common custom, you don’t have to open the door to answer it.

Now, I know most gun owners with even half an ounce of situational awareness will think to themselves, “C’mon John. Do you think we’re stupid or something?”

Here’s the thing: While you might not blithely open the door the next time some unknown character knocks or rings the bell at zero dark thirthy, have you coached others in your home to use similar common sense and caution? Case in point: my 4-year-old twin boys who haven’t met a stranger. Old enough to open the door, too young to understand situational awareness in any way. (Just ask me sometime what happened at Halloween while we “trick or treated.”)

Maybe it’s your spouse, your grandchild or even a guest. Encourage them to stop and evaluate circumstances before they open the door. And even if things seem okay, if another member of the household handles door duty, there’s nothing wrong with lurking nearby ready to engage in an instant if things go sideways.

Again, your best defensive preparation: practice situational awareness. Make sure others in your home know to use common sense before opening the door to an unknown visitor, too.

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75 COMMENTS

  1. A good reminder. Getting the Old Woman to understand this “answering-the-door” business is an on-going situation… I need to install a peep-hole or a camera…

    • I always thought a “Peep” hole would be the perfect target to take your victim out. I would like to know however if Ring Cameras can be run without WIFI or at least a way to send recordings live to an offsite, such as a friend or lawyer.

      • There was a perp I believe in Chicago that would ring a doorbell, when the occupant would look out the peep (which in-turn created a shadow) the perp would shoot and kill through the door. This was happening maybe 10 years ago.

      • The Gumbas did the peephole thing on a hit out on Long Island (maybe Queens) circa late 80s-early 90s, they had tried to whack the target before but he kept slipping away so the next ginzo hitman rang the doorbell, saw the light through the peephole, when the lens went dark as his target placed his eye to see who was at the door the gunman went “Blammo!” on the rival mobster. Dude got “Moe Greened” in his own home.

  2. Situational awareness is #1 !!
    Not arguable.
    Should be added as #5 to Cooper’s Four Rules.

    I practice mindfulness religiously.
    Possessing a firearm on your person at any time is THE time to practice mindfulness.

    Mindfulness = situational awareness ( For me. You do you.)

  3. Absolutely answer with a gun in your hand.
    But don’t open the door. Never. Under no circumstances. Just yell through the door that the unknown people at your door should get away.

  4. The answer to cops shooting homeowners who come to the door with a firearm in their hands late at night is NOT “stop answering the door with a firearm at night.”

    The answer is not “conceal carry in your home at 2am.”

    The answer is “sue the bejeezus out of cops who do this until they change their training and tactics to respect our natural and civil rights.”

    TTAG needs to do better.

    • “The answer is “sue the bejeezus out of cops who do this until they change their training and tactics to respect our natural and civil rights.””

      After how many victims will the the Cops change their methods…you first Chief!

      In the meantime I will speak to them away from the door armed as is my right.

    • Thank you for stating the absolute obvious that the police boot licker who wrote this article missed.

      This guy did not make a bad decision, the police did.
      They are thebones responsible for his death.

      • Okay so there are readers with half a brain on this site. Nice to see some actual thought processes happening instead of poorly thought-out puns to aim at one wing or another of the same fucked-up, crippled bird. Statists gonna state, I guess.

        But really, the correct answer has all to do with fixing the habits of the ones doing the knocking, and fuck-all with the procedures of the ones on the inside of that door.

        Same thing happened a few years ago in AZ, guy playing video games with his old lady, neighbor gets pissy and calls a false domestic in. Cops knock, it’s like 11pm, guy answers with a revolver in hand. He realizes that it’s cops, tries to put the gun on the table – bam, that’s all he wrote.

        NO AMERICAN should live in fear of those supposedly sworn to “protect and serve” the populace. Criminal or not – that’s what due process is for. Police have more lax rules of engagement (and much less harsh penalties for violating them) than armed forces members on the ground in a hostile, foreign country.

        All you bootlickers forgot your fucking roots. Fuck the police. Left or Right, I don’t give a fuck. Go back to Britain if you like the taste of boot leather and find red coats fashionable. Stop making excuses, you look pathetic doing so.

        • Two “cops” at you front door @ 0 dark 30? Actually cops? Not necessarily. Call the PSAP/911 and ask WTH cops are banging on front door at 0 dark 30/PSAP have them to GO AWAY.

          “Your castle” implies that the Earl can raise the bridge/drop the portcullis. Particularly at night when evil is out and about.

    • There was an older guy who answered the door in the middle of the night after he was (mistakenly) SWATTED. He had a shotgun in his hand. A cop saw that through a window next to the door, and shot him through the glass, killing him. The only good thing about this story is that the swatter was apprehended, convicted of some level of homicide, and jailed.

      • The shooter should have been convicted also. A badge is a badge. It isn’t a warrant to kill anyone holding a gun that makes you nervous. Especially when they are in their own homeland minding their own business.

        • A few years ago when licensed carry was just getting wound up, one of the arguments against the idea was that, of course, if a cop noticed your gun he would instantly and repeatedly shoot you until you were dead. That was not acceptable then, and it’s not acceptable now.

    • Yes, thank you. I’m fed up with the outragiously high standands put on civilians, but for law enforcment it’s ok. I’ve been hearing alot about ending “Qualified Immunity” and I’m starting to agree. Sue them to hell and back.

      • In Maine, all LEO involved shootings are investigated by the AG to determine if it was justified. Never ever has such a shooting been ruled unjustified.

    • 100%. Could not agree more. Do better indeed. The lawsuit should bankrupt the municipality and the shooters should be investigated by grand jury at the least, not prosecutorial discretion. There’s entirely too much conflict of interest. In almost all states SA’s, DA’s, or whatever title they have ARE law enforcement officers.

  5. People still open their doors to strangers?? Dumb. With home invasions and dumba$$ cops going to wrong address, I don’t answer the door. This poor sod did, and look what happened to him …

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/video-shows-police-wrong-house-fatal-shooting-homeowner-new-mexico-rcna79848

    Install security doors, something heavier than a screen door. At my house, people need to go through a locked iron gate to get to any door. They also need to drive through gates to enter the property.

    I home carry, so if I’m awake I always have holstered firearm on me. Unless they declare they have a search warrant, don’t talk to ANY COP that comes to your door. Even if it’s a mistake on the part of the cops. If you can, yell at them from inside, just don’t answer the door.

    • I have a security gate that is always locked. The risk of not having one is too great, as otherwise, as noted in the article, the “wrong people” would otherwise have immediate access to your home.

      I don’t have a door cam. If someone comes up with a simple system that does not require wifi and having it all go on the internet, I will reconsider. Meanwhile they are to subject to being hacked.

      • Agree. Door cams hooked up to the internet are a privacy disaster waiting to open. I occasionally look for a cheaper closed circuit versions, but those are getting few and far between. However, I have fake signs posted about camera surveillance to make any troublemaker pause. Also, two big dogs round out the security system. The latter are invaluable.

        • There are multiple video doorbells on the market that do not require Wi-Fi. You do need to run wires from the doorbell to the device that the video is saved too. The solution I use is a video doorbell that uses Wi-Fi only to connect the doorbell with a “chime” which notifies me of visitors via a speaker and also has a built in SD card where video is stored. The video recordings are not uploaded to the cloud and never leave my home unless I choose to buy a monthly subscription to their cloud service which I do not choose to do.

      • There are multiple video doorbells on the market that do not require Wi-Fi. You do need to run wires from the doorbell to the device that the video is saved too. The solution I use is a video doorbell that uses Wi-Fi only to connect the doorbell with a “chime” which notifies me of visitors via a speaker and also has a built in SD card where video is stored. The video recordings are not uploaded to the cloud and never leave my home unless I choose to buy a monthly subscription to their cloud service which I do not choose to do.

      • Welp, at least I know then that whatever comes through that door just painted a bullseye on themselves.

        Cops or robbers – either comes through the door in the middle of the night, and uninvited – that’s a clean shoot and a clean conscience in my book.

        • “Welp, at least I know then that whatever comes through that door just painted a bullseye on themselves.”

          Doubt there is any “good” technique to deal with the unexpected door knock, or bell ring; any response available might have adverse consequences. The moment is filled with uncertainty as to actual outcome; all outcomes should be considered before the event.

  6. It’s easiest and safest to answer your doorbell after seeing who is there via you doorbell camera or the like. You can even talk to them via the camera if you choose to or ignore and they won’t know if you are in the home or talking to them remotely. Good to have a couple other cameras watching the property and recording too.

  7. “But what do you bring with you for a knock from an unexpected caller, especially at unchristianlike hours?”

    we bring with us a look at the camera video.

  8. This is a situation when having a front door camera and lawn sprinkler app (with a zone that soaks the front porch w/four high flow sprinklers) comes in handy. 😆

  9. A couple of war stories. I’m watching television fat, happy and stupid. Unexpected knock on the door. I don’t have unexpected company. I scoop up a SIG P220 I keep handy. “Who’s there?!” “Police!” Yeah, maybe. I peek from another room. It’s Barber. “WTF, over”. Seems someone called Domino’s, used my address and robbed the driver when he showed up. I kept the weapon out of sight when I opened the door. Barber called his backup in when he recognized me. Another time, similar circumstances, but middle of the afternoon. A pounding on my door. I jumped up, snatched my 442 out of my pocket and cautiously opened the door. It was the county judge looking for my dad. When he saw the Smith he asked if I was going to shoot him. I said, “No Judge, I’m not going to shoot you. My dad doesn’t live with me so I don’t know where he is, but I’ll tell him you want to talk to him when I see him”. Then there’s the time I opened the door and was the Chief of Police, the Mayor and a city commissioner. That was interesting.

  10. Oddly, someone came to my house last night after dark. I didn’t hear them knock but my dog did. He’s a monster (Lab/Shepard mix and bigger than both) and when he barks, people listen. Anyway, I didn’t answer, not out of concern, trusty S&W 9mm on the table, I just didn’t know they were there (thought the dog was barking at falling leaves as is often his wont) and saw them leaving when he got on my nerves and I looked out the window. I’m really rural and it’s very unusual for anyone to come down my 400ft dark ass driveway who I don’t know. Guess I’ll never know who it was or what they wanted but I don’t get the feeling I missed anything important.

    The moral is, ignore them and they’ll just leave and if they don’t, be armed!

    • Moral+, if the caller be in person or on the phone has something really important to discuss/for you and you ignore them, they will find a more suitable way to contact you so as not to set off alarms.
      Thus: don’t open the door and don’t answer the phone to any unknowns.

      • If it was of import, they’d call (on a phone) or WAIT UNTIL DAYLIGHT LIKE A NORMAL, NON-THREATENING PERSON. Fuck’s sake. I don’t care what the odds are of a (innocent until proven guilty) evading and escaping are; when there’s a nonzero chance of negligent, preventable death on either side of that door – don’t ya think it could have waited until daylight when EVERYONE can see what the fuck they’re doing?

        • “…don’t ya think it could have waited until daylight when EVERYONE can see what the fuck they’re doing?”

          Had such an event last month; banging of front door, doorbell ringing, banging on back door, banging on door into garage. Finally, I got a phone call; caller ID indicated next door neighbor. Neighbor said other neighbors were trying to tell me I had left the main garage door open all day, and into the night. Though armed (.22 pea shooter), I was strongly considering calling 911; glad I hesitated. Now, when coming in from the garage, I watch the main door completely close.

  11. I always find it bizarre that people will answer their doors or their phones when the other side is an unknown.

    Nothing good is ever on the other side of either.

    • Agree! I just love the iPhone feature of shutting off the ringer if the caller is not in your contact list. I have to delete around 100-150 “missed call” notifications each week, but at my leisure. And I delete those without even looking at them.

  12. Now, I know most gun owners with even half an ounce of situational awareness will think to themselves, “C’mon John. Do you think we’re stupid or something?”

    John, have you met the comment section?

  13. It’s just plain stupid to open a door with a gun in your hand not knowing who is on the other side, I NEVER EVER open my door without knowing exactly what I’m up against. I have cameras up the ying yang, windows I can pop open and say “WHO’S THERE?” with a gun in my hand because whoever is out there can’t see me.

    If the camera shows cops, you verify it’s cops, then you open the window and ask what do you want. I still don’t open the door for cops….ESPECIALLY cops. They’re at the top of my DON’T LET IN LIST.

    With Ring cameras, very affordable WYZE cameras, peep holes, which are easily defeated by the person simply covering, there’s no reason to be opening ones door.

    • Stop making excuses. Show up unannounced and after dark, you have fucked around, you will thusly find out.
      The inverse is true of the opposite side of the door, answer an unknown and unannounced knock after dark, and you may be fucking around but SOMEONE will find out.

      Better yet, use your big boy American words and repeat after me: “Come back with a warrant, I’m not opening jack shit.”

  14. In the wee hours one time we were awoken by knocking on our window. A few moments later another window, then our bedroom window when I heard a man say cmon man open up lets party! Some fukin crackhead at the wrong house. I didn’t need to answer the door to know I shouldn’t. I called 911 and waited with my blaster and scared wife till the dispatcher told me the cops arrived. When I finally opened the door (unarmed) they had the guy in custody. They said he was so drunk that he had no idea where he was. Super. The next day I’m outside looking for damage from him trying to B&E when low and behold I find a 10″ kitchen knife that he dropped when he saw the cops! They didn’t see it then but that shook me knowing he wasn’t just looking to party. Never told the wife about that little detail.

  15. Wrong address excuse for azzhats who should be 110% about what they are doing is not going to hold water in a civil suit. On the other hand the gun owner should have kept the door closed and called 911.

  16. Timing. I watched this YouTube video less than a week ago.

    “Massad Ayoob – How to answer the door at 3:00 AM – Critical Mas Episode 30”

    Well worth the 10 minutes.

  17. I guess no one likes the presidents suggestion of firing 2 shotgun barrels through the door instead of opening it?

  18. “She was wearing a low cut blouse and tight jeans. She deserved to be raped.” Why aren’t we discussing the actual problem here?

    • Because the TTAG comment section would rather bicker about left vs right and Trump vs Biden and make stupid puns and irrelevant analogies than admit that the whole system is fucked and needs an overhaul. Left, right… Two wings of the same broken, disgraced bird.

      The scent of saliva and leather is strong in here.

      • “Because the TTAG comment section would rather bicker….than admit that the whole system is fucked and needs an overhaul.”

        There ain’t gonna be no boogie, Lou.

  19. You do you. As I type this I am waiting possibly till 9pm for a freight delivery at my house. I am expecting that. If I am not expecting a knock at the door or a door bell ring night or day, I’m not opening the door and if it’s zero dark 30, I’m going to be strapped and 20 feet away when I shout “who’s there?”.

  20. I think it’s more appropriate to say the officers made rash decisions.

    It is not clear if the homeowner did anything wrong (e.g. pointed the gun at an officer).

    This article reinforces the notion that cops have a standing about that of a citizen, even at the citizen’s home. This is a dangerous notion.

    I support law enforcement but expect them to conduct themselves professionally and with some humility.

    Those officers probably shouldn’t be officers.

    I

  21. So, police come onto private property and execute a constitutionally armed man IN HIS HOME and it’s the guys fault? This is BS. Here’s a better idea, local keystone cops come onto private property without a warrant and uninvited, tell them politely through the door to go fuck themselves and get lost or you’re calling the state police.

    I support LE as much as anyone, but murder via incompetence should not be excused due to good faith, an honest mistake, or one’s chosen profession. Insert any other job title and you’re catching a manslaughter charge.

    If this happened to my wife, or one of my kids, I’d hunt them down and see justice was done one way or another. You don’t get to kill my kin and catch a free pass. Nope. Not gonna happen.

  22. first off, anyone knocking on my door either has already been allowed on the property by an adult here. Intercom from the gate. Had a commercially manufactured gate until yesterday. Installed the nice iron gate I’ve been working on the last month when I’ve had time. The last week of cool wet weather allowed me the time to finish it.
    Next, if whomever jumped the fence or broke through the gate, the grouchy old dogs will make enough noise, and just might put anyone back into their vehicle, or back over the fence, or up a tree before they can get too the door.
    When we rebuilt/remodeled the log house we made it hurricane resistant. Impact resistant windows and a solid oak door. 18 inch thick hardwood logs treated with fire retardants and termite killing salts. You might break in but you will have to bring a good chainsaw and spend some time and effort to do so. And I can check out who is on the front porch without being easily seem or exposed. I do have a few CC cameras around the buildings as well as keeping several remote game/trail cameras in several locations to keep track of the critters loke hogs or coyotes. If the local deputies, or for whatever reason the state police do show up, they would be best off the use the gate intercom to get let in or they had best have a warrant.

  23. I send my 90 lb rot out into the foyer where she can be seen thru the windows before i approach the door. Her situational awareness is pretty good.

  24. There are lots of good comments and suggestions here. There are many bad ones as well. I liked the “You do you and I will do me” because listening to anyone else’s advice in this kind of situation would be stupid in my opinion. I also really appreciated the comment to “Speak to them by opening a window near the door”. However, for whatever reason you have to be afraid, just use caution and don’t open the door. But, I would suggest that you speak to them without opening the door. Just my 2c….

    • Dimwit,

      If the resident didn’t have a gun he’d still be dead because members of the failed race or criminal gene bearing border-jumpers you love so much would’ve killed him while posing as police to commit a home invasion robbery and “MuhDickin” (rape) of the White females inside the home.

  25. Had a similar case in Mississippi a few years back.

    Almost midnight door knock, wrong address, local police didn’t announce as police … homeowner & homeowner’s dog killed.

    No criminal charges against police; homeowner’s wife lost civil case.

    “So sad, too bad” … but they were sorry. u bet they were.
    https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2023/09/18/mississippi-jury-rules-southaven-police-officers-justified-in-fatal-wrong-house-shooting/70889646007/

  26. Instead of complaining and fault finding, how about more attention to what can fix things?

    Large numbers near the door with a light shining on them to keep them visible at night. If someone is looking for 123 and it’s marked 456 it might be a clue they aren’t where they are supposed to be. HOW MANY REPORTS DO WE HEAR EVERY YEAR OF A HOMEOWNER SHOT BY COPS WHO ARE FREAKING LOST IN THE HOOD?

    Of course, I have my address on the lane in 12″ letters and they still don’t get it. It could flash like a cheap motel and get ignored. So, lighted numbers on the house are next.

    One of those 10k lumen porch lights that flips on with a motion sensor blinding anyone standing outside. If they are blind, they can’t see if you are carrying a gun.

    Driveway alarms which ding when someone approaches. You get the early warning and it can flip on the search tower light, waking up whichever family member is on duty. They can activate the night vision and laser . . . yes, some guys actually own that stuff.

    Simply no access to knocking on your front door at all – a porch, with barred grates, and a heavy duty barred doorway you control. Pretty simple stuff, commercial grade. Cuts down on the porch pirates, too. Figure it out. An intercom is simple to add.

    A remote operated floor hatch at the front door with solenoid, if you don’t like who’s out there they fall into your septic tank.

    Research 3rd world countries and how they harden their compounds making it difficult to even approach the house. We’ve lived far too long in a bubble, suburbia was oh so safe for decades, and now that we have to go back to some common sense practices, it’s in your best interest to figure it out. Either that or get shot defending your castle. You decide.

  27. This guy died because the police lacked a key competence, one we expect ( and usually get) from pizza delivery drivers…the ability to find the right address. This happens too often, there’s no excuse for it, and it shouldn’t be covered by qualified immunity.

  28. If you’re not expecting someone; don’t open the door.

    Pretty simple.

    Yet boomers these days still answer the phone even when the number is unknown.

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