Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Rules of Engagement

There's an article up at SI right now to which I feel the need to offer a counterpoint.

It opens thusly:
"Precious few of the tactical-training courses I’ve taken devoted any amount of time to the art of stealth while defending the home. That’s mostly because being quiet and hiding doesn’t do much for participants who paid to shoot hundreds of rounds downrange while moving, reloading, diving for cover and yelling “Clear!” as they pie a room and take out a cardboard army of bad guys (not that there’s anything wrong with that)."
The entire article is about the need for stealth with one's home defense shotgun, and not making any noise as one moves about one's domicile while looking for intruders.

I'm going to totally avoid discussing the advisability of actively clearing one's house in search of a bad guy, as well as whether a long gun is the right firearm to use while doing so, and focus on the "stealth/don't give away your position" thing that is such a recurring subject in general home-defense advice.

To very loosely paraphrase a big city major crimes detective of my acquaintance who has investigated more than a few of these sorts of incidents, most of the time someone is in your house, it's because they think you aren't. (I mean, unless you live the sort of life where you have targeted assassination squads after you, and I'm afraid that that sort of thing is way, way outside of my lane.)

Lying silently in wait in the dark for someone to shoot is often a recipe for a Negative Outcome.

Alternatively, you could ask "Who's there?"
Even if it is a bad guy and not a family member, pet, or drunk neighbor, ensconcing oneself in a safe position, dialing 911, and loudly announcing that you have a gun and have called the cops is likely to save money for carpet cleaning bills and legal fees.

A friend quipped "What, and no advice to drag the body inside?", which was funny, but...y’know what? I got to thinking about that, and this is more pernicious than that.

Jes’ drag ‘em inna house” is something that most non-dumb people who have watched some TV police procedurals can suss out for themselves as bad advice. It trips the BS detectors of all but the most clueless.

But this? This feels right exactly because it sounds like how ‘bad guy in the house’ scenarios play out in Hollywood. The bad guy is never a tweaker who’s after a watch and some jewelry and who bolts when they realize the homeowner is there and armed. (It’s also never the homeowner’s husband home a day early from a business trip.) It’s always some elite killer team or serial murderer who’s there specifically to get the homeowner. And why wouldn’t you want to hide and ambush those guys?

Darryl Bolke preaching the gospel of the gauge at Tac-Con '18. No running, diving, or cardboard armies of bad guys involved.

UPDATE: A clarification has been posted, which I am reproducing below.
"Editor’s Note: This column, running in the April 2019 Shooting Illustrated as “Stealthy Scatterguns,” spurred a few comments from readers who seem to have skimmed over the larger point of the article. At no point does this article suggest or intimate that homeowners ought to seek out criminals inside a home. At no point does this article suggest that homeowners ought to sneak up and shoot potential criminals unaware. At no point does the article say that stealth attacks are preferable to calling the police and holing up in a defensive position. It doesn’t say these things, because homeowners ought to call the police and retreat to a designated safe room. However, there are time when stealth and investigation remain prudent.

Unknown noises are a fact of life, and not every unknown noise will (or should) drive people to immediately retreat to a safe room while dialing 911. Law-enforcement officers will not be happy arriving to a suspected home invasion only to find that your storage bins in the garage fell over, particularly if this happens on a regular basis.

Additionally, even if a homeowner suspects a burglary or home invasion is taking place, children and other family members may be in other parts of the home. Getting children to a safe location is paramount before settling into a defensible location and announcing you are armed. Anyone who’s gathering information about an unknown noise or getting family to a safe spot inside the home would do well to move quietly.

We regret leaving room for incorrect inferences to be made, and that is entirely the fault of the editors.