I Feel SO Much Safer

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Speaking of NPR [Gene e-mails to say it was some other morning news]Gene Healy nails them for the grotesque use of the term "gun safety laws" to describe Washington D.C.'s handgun ban. I'm finding myself suddenly a little more emotionally involved in this particular issue, incidentally, because this weekend, some thug broke into my house. He crawled in the window of a housemate's bedroom and (while, unfortunately, the rest of us slept) threatened his life and robbed him before realizing there were others home who might wake up and bolting. The police arrived only a couple of minutes after being called—fast, but not fast enough to have done more than administer CPR if things had gotten ugly. The officers informed us that it's common in cases like this for the guy to return for a follow-up attempt within a few weeks. I'm keeping a fireplace poker handy in the event our friend the urban explorer decides to see what he missed the first time, but on the off chance that he's a little less law abiding than my housemates and I, I don't know how much good it'll do. But now that I think about it, maybe NPR got it right after all: The burglar must sure be enjoying his "gun safety."

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  1. Did this change your views on gun control in any way, or just make the issue more visceral? It brings to mind the old definition of a conservative, “a liberal who’s been mugged”.

  2. No; I’ve always opposed the ban… now I’m just really, really angry about it too.

  3. Get a dog. If you wake up with a gun pointed at you, having your own gun in the dresser won’t do you much good.

    Rufus barking away will prevent the entire situation from developing.

    Are you as angry about your landlord’s pet policy as you are about the city’s gun laws?

  4. Too bad dogs bark at a lot more than criminals, often making them a downright nuisance.

  5. Get a dog, then get a gun. That way you can shoot the guy while he’s shooting your dog.

  6. If I were you, I’d comply with D.C.’s unconstitutional handgun ban by getting the hell out of D.C. Why put up with that crap when you can commute from shall-issue Virginia instead?

  7. joe-

    First, let me start with the standard H&R disclaimer that obviously a private property owner should have the right to ban dogs, just as the property owner should have the right to ban guns. But the city shouldn’t ban either of those items. And, as long as I’m issuing my standard caveats, I’ll just observe that Kerry would be much worse 😉

    Anyway, back to serious discussion:

    In all fairness, a lot of the problems caused by dogs are the result of mere negligence, while most of the problems associated with guns are the result of deliberate actions and malice. The number of people who won’t take responsibility for a dog greatly outnumbers the people who will deliberately shoot another person. Therefore, a landlord’s pet policy actually makes a lot of sense.

    Now, there is the issue of people who injure innocent people with guns due to carelessness rather than malice. I’ll grant that a careless gun owner can do more damage to people and property than most careless dog owners (unless the dog is an attack dog, but mostly dogs just scratch walls and go to the bathroom). I’d be interested in whether anybody has compiled statistics to demonstrate that defensive uses of guns greatly outnumber accidental firearm injuries. I seem to recall hearing of such numbers, but I don’t know any details.

  8. BTW, does DC ban the ownership of rifles and shotguns? With the lapse of the assault weapons ban, maybe you could defend your place with an AK-47.

    Or is there a local ordinance against those as well?

  9. Are you as angry about your landlord’s pet policy as you are about the city’s gun laws?

    Why should he be? His landlord should be able to make whatever rules he wants. It’s his property!

  10. Xrlq-
    Right on, fuck DC.

  11. I am deeply sorry to hear your home was invaded, Mr. Sanchez.

    I believe even Washington, DC, allows the private ownership of sporting shotguns. For a mere a $250, you can purchase a reasonable well-made Winchester 1300 or Remington 870 12 gauge pump shotgun. Loaded with a light pellets (say #6) even a modest wall will stop the shot. This same load will also make a rather large and unsightly hole in an intruder.

    I think the shotgun is more “persuasive” than the handgun and safer for the neighbors. The sound of cycling a shell into the chamber is universally understood as, “That’s about far enough.”

    As for the gun laws in DC… utter stupidity.

  12. If it’s any consolation Julian I’m licensed to carry here in Houston and make use of that little piece of plastic on a semifrequent basis. This however did not keep my barbecue grill from being stolen last week. My solution to that problem was to meander over to our shipping department and make several stencils that read “STOLEN BY A CRACKHEAD”. Irregardless of what’s on your hip your best weapon is as always between your ears.

  13. Does DC have a ban on shotguns? If not, might I suggest a Mossberg 500 with an 18 inch barrel?

    At any rate, sorry to hear about your misfortune.

  14. iirc correctly (i can’t remember the source, and i can’t remember the year, but it was a relatively recent article on suicides citing statistics from a recent year like 2000 or 2001, and i don’t have the patience to look it up) there were about 30,000 gun deaths that year, 200 of which were accidental, and around 15,000 of which were suicides.

  15. See Gene’s article. Rifles must remain unloaded at all times and be disassembled or bound by triggerlock.

  16. From the Gene Healy link:

    “You can register certain rifles and shotguns. You just can’t legally use them when your life is threatened. District law requires all guns to be “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a triggerlock” at all times — and it makes no exception for lawful self defense. If a burglar confronts you in your home, and you load your shotgun to defend yourself, you’ve just committed a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail. “

  17. Personally, I recommend against a short-barreled “home defense” shotgun. If you are forced to shoot an intruder, it is far better to show the police officers a firearm that looks like it was meant for duck hunting or some other purpose… a $10,000 Purdy double with lovely gold engraving would do quite nicely. In a place like DC, one must expect to go to trial for the poltically incorrect measure of protecting one’s life. Give your attorney every advantage by selecting a gun that does not look like you were hoping for intruders.

    I also must point out that the shotgun does not need daily feeding, regular walks or vet visits. The shotgun need not be placed in a kennel during long trips abroad. The shotgun will not run away from away or make a mess on the carpet… well… not usually.

  18. I had a similar thing happen to me living alone in Venice, CA. I was fortunate that I woke up in time to yell the guy out of my apartment. It’s impressive the effect agressive posturing can have on a drug addict.

    The cops there told me I they wished I would have shot the guy and too bad I didn’t have a gun. Of course when I went into work that morning and told people of my experience they said I was lucky I didn’t have a gun or I would have just been killed with it.

    That was almost four years ago and I still kinda wish I would have captured or capped that guy so he would still be out there victimizing other people.

  19. Oops, Julian posted while I was composing.

  20. Was the burglar armed or was it too dark for your roommate to see?

    The curiousity exposed by this question lends an answer that is obvious if the burglar was armed (when guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns–which is an obvious statement and yet pointedly circular), or if the burglar was or was not armed, would an alarm system have awakened any of the roommates in time to: 1. kick the shit out of the intruder; 2. get a gun; or 3. scare off the intruder?

    A gun is nice if you know that another is coming after you, you catch the intruder off guard, or he shouts out “I will rob you at gunpoint.” Otherwise, a common alarm system with howls and sirens works well.

    I suggest both. And target practice.

    -Richard

  21. If you are arrested for defending yourself, Mr. Sanchez, I will contriube handsomely to your defense fund.

  22. Just out of curiosity, what happens, in DC or elsewhere, when an otherwise law-abiding citizen uses an illegal gun to stop an intruder in his home (either by actually firing or just by threatening to use it)? Presumably this has happened before. Were the gun owners prosecuted? Was it acknowledged that they had a legitimate use and protection need for the gun that law enforcement was unable to fill? If there was a prosecution, was there bad publicity for the city?

  23. “Why should he be (mad)? His landlord should be able to make whatever rules he wants. It’s his property!”

    If the way my landlord ran his operation put my safety in danger, I’d be pissed. Of course, this it would be very difficult to find an apartment Julian would want to live in that would allow a large dog, but I guess he’s still “free” to be driven out of the city, or move to a shithold in Anacostia (but I repeat myself, thrice).

    I just don’t buy the idea that DC law would make it illegal to use a shotgun to defend yourself. Protection of human life is a legal defense. If it’s a defense against murder, it’s a defense agains gun laws.

  24. “I just don’t buy the idea that DC law would make it illegal to use a shotgun to defend yourself. Protection of human life is a legal defense. If it’s a defense against murder, it’s a defense agains gun laws.”

    But the crime (having the shotgun, not using it to defend yourself) was already committed before self-defense even became an issue. I agree that it wouldn’t make sense to prosecute someone who prevented a crime from taking place, protected his own self and property, and didn’t hurt anyone else (with the possible exception of the criminal), but making sense isn’t the best indicator of what will get prosecuted. That’s why I was interested in any actual examples, and how they played out.

  25. Glad nobody got seriously hurt.

    The recipe for a 100% successful gun defense as dome by me, a few years ago: wait until he is inside the broken window, then say nothing, just jack a round of #4 birdshot into the chamber. As all thugs speak ’12-guage’, he fled for his life, badly slashing himself on the glass, falling all over the garbage cans in the back and, if my ears did not fail me, bouncing off two walls in the alley beyond. No cops, no paperwork, an best of all, no lawyers. It was a bad neighborhood, but the word got around fast: rob somebody else.

    Note that the lack of discharge of the firearm and the subsequent non-involvement of the police are central characteristics of over 90% of ALL successful gun defenses [totalling about 1,750,000/yr]. The odds are on your side: buy a pump-action shotgun and keep it handy.

    P.S. What exactly did you think the cops were TELLING you to do?

    “Go for the eyes, BOO, go for the eyes!”

  26. As far as I know, I could get a dog if I wanted one, but I’m going with an alarm system instead. They’re easier to clean up after. I’d like to have at least the *option* of a backup, but I guess that’ll have to do for now.

  27. Old Fan sez: As all thugs speak ’12-guage’, he fled for his life…

    LOL, yep.

  28. Give your attorney every advantage by selecting a gun that does not look like you were hoping for intruders.

    And on a similar note, use some unprepossessing hunting load and not some custom shell filled with carpet tacks or else something emotionally satisfying but suspicious looking.

    An andiron sounds like a pretty reassuring accessory under the anti-gun circumstances (plus, you would look very rakish and dashing brandishing it); my own urban repression self-defense item is an axe handle, although I like having a dog around too.

  29. After a little research, it appears antique blackpowder pistols are legal in D.C. and don’t have to be registered.

    One could get a 17th Century dueling pistol for emergencies, but actually shooting someone with it might still run afoul of some law.

    It’d look nice on the wall, though.

  30. No cops, no paperwork, an best of all, no lawyers.

    If you shoot, shovel, and shut up, you will probably achieve the same result.

    Wasn’t it Carl Rowe (spelling?), a lefty DC reporter (am I repeating myself?) who shot some kid for climing his fence and using his pool–and got away with it?

    Then, in England there is that farmer who shot and killed a hood in his house and was sent to prison.

  31. Julian,

    You and your housemates have my sympathies. A friend of mine was mugged a couple of years ago and her just telling the story rattled me.

    May I suggest learning martial arts? Though it won’t help you if Mr. B&E comes back next week, it does bypass all the unpleasantness of gun laws and dog-hating landlords. And obviously it’s meant to be used at close quarters. There’s a style for every personality, from peacenik aikido to open-a-can-of-whoopass kempo. Any style that involves grappling and locks will address disarming someone possessing a gun or knife.

    There are numerous historical examples of unarmed combat thriving in cultures where weapons have been banned by the government…

  32. What about pepper spray?

  33. Oh, and Carl Rowe used an illegal handgun.

  34. Are there really 1,750,000 gun defenses a year? Just in the U.S.A.? That’s a surprisingly high number.

  35. The alarm makes the noise that wakes you up, just like the door lock does. The firearm is what you grab when you wake up.

    I’m infuriated and it didn’t even happen to me. What on earth is more fundamental than the right to protect yourself from an intruder who wakes you in the middle of the night with threats? Why isn’t it obvious that what has been accomplished by this law is the employment of the police to handcuff Julian and his housemates so that they can be beaten or killed without resistance!? A civilian employed similarly is called an ACCOMPLICE. DAMN IT!!

  36. Julian, that sucks.

    Home invasion is scary and problematic precisely because you don’t get any warning. Man, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve hammered on my wife and kids to keep the door locked during the day……..

    Emergency?

    Dial .357

  37. BTW: If you want a practical self defence system that will get you effective reasonably fast, try Krav Maga. I speak from more than a few years of experience in various martial arts.

    You have a location in DC and several in VA to choose from. http://kravmaga.com/Home/Training_Locator/washington_dc/washington_dc.html

    Don’t believe that it is anything in the same galaxy as a firearm, though. Martial arts instructors have been pulling that kind of BS for as long as there have been dojos. Krav will get you a better than even shot at an unarmed attacker and a better than nothing shot at an armed one, as long as he’s pretty close.

  38. Krav Maga is a good, short term training for self-defense. It doesn’t go for complexity so much as for efficiency. I’ve done a little myself. I’m a black belt at tae kwon do but I still feel better with a gun around…and my sticks and my knives…

    a stick beats a fist…a knife beats a stick…a gun beats a knife

    -seeker

  39. Jose Ortega y Gasset:
    >Loaded with a light pellets (say #6)

    OldFan:
    >just jack a round of #4 birdshot into the chamber

    Personally, I prefer 00 buckshot as a defensive round.

  40. Are there really 1,750,000 gun defenses a year? Just in the U.S.A.? That’s a surprisingly high number.

    I’ve heard some estimates as high as 2.5 million. These number are based upon telephone surveys (polls). On the other hand, DOJ statistics indicate over 100,000 defensive gun uses per year (at least, the last time I looked it did). The DOJ stats are probably an undercount. The > 1 million numbers may very well be overcounts.

  41. I keep an ice axe under my bed for protection, which is not as good as gun, of course, but is considerably more menacing than any fire poker, or marshall arts implement short of a katana.

    Unless you had a gun, would you mess with a man brandishing this?

    http://www.altrec.com/shop/detail/12146/17/photo

  42. There’s probably no better self-defense than the sound of a shotgun being racked; and if a gunman is standing ten feet away from you, you’re screwed; BUT, if I were to wake up one night with a menacing stranger lurking in my bedroom, I would trust my body and instincts better than a firearm. That’s just me. I don’t sleep with a pistol in my palm, nor am I an Old West quick-draw gunslinger.

  43. My martial arts background: I spent quite a bit of time in these, and even taught at a karate school. And my experience in this is not resricted to one or several styles, although I don’t have any experience with the currently fashionable Israeli or Brazilian martial arts.

    My opinion on martial arts: I think they are great, but frankly they fall short against, say, a guy armed with a knife. Now, I know a number of people who used their martial arts training against some dude with a knife with success, but I’m convinced that it worked because the dude with the knife really had no intent to use it to do serious damage. In all of my dojo sparring, the guy with the rubber knife “slashed” the unarmed guy real good. And this happened even when the unarmed guy was significantly more capable of martial artist.

    Specifically speaking of Akido, I wouldn’t recommend it as a defensive art. Sometimes the Akido moves work, but I have yet to see someone employ Akido in a fluid sparring environment (Akido does have a quasy-sparring method, but the “attackers” use overcommitted attacks designed to be defeated by Akido moves).

    In my experience, it is best to cross-train using different styles, a mix of punching, kicking, grappling, and floor techniques. It is also best to study something “Americanized” (“Brazilianized”?), which concentrates on results, as opposed to tradition.

    On shotgun loads: any round that is effective within the room will be able to punch through several layers of drywall and still be effective. Some noted ballistics experts recommend nothing smaller than #1 buck for defense. I opt for 00 or 000, using “tactical” or “low recoil” loads, which pattern well. Also, those “nasty” 5.56 mm “assault rifles” like the AR-15 are actually safer in urban settings than shotguns loaded with buckshot or 9 mm or .45 handguns. Of course, AR-15s are no doubt verbotton in DC.

  44. There was an elderly, wheelchair bound, white woman in Chicago who shot her 16 year old black male intruder dead with a .38 cal revolver a couple of years ago.

    The police declined to arrest or prosecute her.

    When asked about her use of the handgun, Mayor Daley criticized her for having an illegal handgun and recommended that she use a shotgun instead.

  45. I’m still going with a dog. A gun won’t wake you up, a dog can be left in its ready position without endangering the residents, and the intimidation factor…well, I’d be more afraid of a charging dog than of myself holding a gun. Also, you have to figure that a professional criminal can probably kick your ass, and if he’s armed, he’s probably more willing and able to use it that you are.

    The fact is, if you’ve got a gun that can be ready to go fast enough to make a difference in a life or death situation, you’re putting yourself and your family in danger, especially if there are kids around. And if it’s adequately stored or hidden or unloaded, it might not be ready in time. And, a gun in a drawer won’t scare the guy away as soon as he cuts your screen.

  46. somewhat related, but not really:

    there was a recent party crash in brooklyn, in which three uninvited guests showed up at a house in greenpoint and were turned away by the host at 4 in the morning. one of the uninvited took unkindly to the rejection and fired a few 9mm rounds through the door. the host, apparently cool under fire in the literal sense, retrieved his katana and went after the gunman, nearly cutting off his leg. the assailant died and the swordsman was not charged.

    an interesting exception.

    judo or gracie give nice introductions to ground combat in their own unique ways.

    personally i practice smush fu, being a rather humungoid person. plus there’s no way to get into my apartment without going through a minimum of three doors.

  47. “The fact is, if you’ve got a gun that can be ready to go fast enough to make a difference in a life or death situation…”

    Depending on the circumstances, this wouldn’t necessarily need to be all that quick. Obviously if someone is coming directly into your bedroom, the gun had better be nearby. But if you here something downstairs, etc., there could easily be time to go to a gun closet. At least that’s the way it always works in sit-coms (except with a tacky lamp instead of a gun).
    And of course it also doesn’t usually have to be loaded. As I understand it, the vast majority of gun defenses don’t involve anything more than the gun being shown.
    And I wouldn’t assume that the criminal is more willing to use the gun either. If you’ve got one and none of your potential victims do, you don’t have to be willing to use it for it to be effective.

    “I’d be more afraid of a charging dog than of myself holding a gun.”

    I’d be more afraid of a dog than myself with a gun too, but hopefully the intruder wouldn’t have the benefit of knowing what a candy-ass little turd I am.

    “The police declined to arrest or prosecute her. When asked about her use of the handgun, Mayor Daley criticized her for having an illegal handgun and recommended that she use a shotgun instead.”

    Wow. That’s heartening, infuriating, and kind of surreal all at the same time.

  48. I?m surprised no one mentioned the Badnarik quote from the libertarian/green debate. When asked his view of the death penalty he responded (paraphrasing) ?it is best carried out at the ATM when they are attempting to mug you?. This man has my vote; the greens in the audience were visibly mortified.

    Joe makes an interesting point about a ready gun with children in the house. An unloaded gun isn?t very useful when surprised. I have a dog, a gun, and no kids. The last time my dog woke me up there were two policemen in my backyard, one with a german shepard and the other with a drawn gun. I figure the dog will be a good distraction while I get my bearings and draw a bead.

  49. You’d have to be out of your mind to pull an unloaded gun on an intruder, J.

  50. I keep an ice axe under my bed for protection, which is not as good as gun, of course, but is considerably more menacing than any fire poker, or marshall arts implement short of a katana.

    JeSUS, JDM, sounds like a bad Sharon Stone movie!

    joe actually has a good point. I have been a dog owner my entire life and a gun owner for about 17 years. Never once had to feel like I needed to grab the gun, except for when the rattle snakes came wondering into the yard, does that count as home defense with a gun? I had a good Rott who never bothered anyone unless they had bad intentions, and the Rott knew this the moment the questionable person laid eyes on the property. Although, he had it bad for the Jahovahs, probably because I would piss and moan when seeing them pull up. I also lived with a guy who had a couple of Mastiffs, they will love you to death until you look at their master funny, and honestly, they can take a few shots from some low caliber firearms and still eat you where you stand and shit you the next day. But even better, a long time neighbor had this little brown mutt who wasn’t much bigger than a Jack Russell. This little shit would sneak up behind you and bite you in the ass, typically your back pockets on your jeans. You could be on the lookout for that damn thing and still turn around to find him lock jawed on your tush. There was no escaping him, like freaking Freddy Krueger, he was always there when you turned around, smiling devilishly and sizing your ass up!

    Though biased as I am as a dog lover, I would never live without one. Grant you, you might still face legal action if your dog mauls or kills someone who is looking to victimize you, but how scary is that when getting taken out by a dog close to your size?!? We all have seen Cujo!

    Julian, you can always get that gun, shoot the next burlar, and beg for a pardon from Bush. When you present it to him that way on national TV, you would think he would take some heat from the base if he turned your pardon request down!

  51. Also, you have to figure that a professional criminal can probably kick your ass, and if he’s armed, he’s probably more willing and able to use it that you are.

    Keeping in mind that a shotgun discharge will wake up everyone in my house (and my neighbors’):

    I shoot intruder –> paperwork, police hassles

    He shoots me –> high probability of being caught, and doing serious jail time

    So who should be more willing to pull the trigger?

  52. joe,

    I call you a guhlie-man!

  53. What do mean I “actually” have a good point?

    I don’t “actually” have good points. I just have good points.

    “joe actually has a good point”

    sheesh

    😉

  54. The fact is, if you’ve got a gun that can be ready to go fast enough to make a difference in a life or death situation

    So how fast is that? If I spot somebody prying open my window to climb inside, I probably have a good thirty to sixty seconds before he’s in a position to directly threaten my life. That’s plenty of time to get a gun out of a gun safe.

    you’re putting yourself and your family in danger, especially if there are kids around

    If and only if there are kids around. The rate of non-juvenile accidental home shootings is statistically insignificant.

  55. “JeSUS, JDM, sounds like a bad Sharon Stone movie!”

    That’s ice “axe,” not “pick.”

  56. The law is not a gun safety law, it is a criminal safety law.
    Demand that office holders not be allowed any more protection that they allow the public. No armed guards outside their office, just a phone to call 911.

  57. Don: It’s Carl Rowan, not Carl Rowe.

    “Rowan, who had advocated strict handgun control, found himself in the center of a gun controversy during the 1980s when he was arrested and charged with using an unregistered weapon to wound a teen-ager who intruded into his backyard.

    “Rowan argued that he had the right to use whatever means necessary to protect himself and his family. The jury deadlocked and the judge hearing the case declared a mistrial.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2000/US/09/23/obit.rowan.ap

  58. That’s ice “axe,” not “pick.”

    I know that. Normally, I have seen the ice axes either hanging in the garage with the rest of the climbing equipment, in the closet, or even hanging over the mantel. But this is the first time that I heard it being under the bed for protection.

  59. “You’d have to be out of your mind to pull an unloaded gun on an intruder, J.”

    Why? Sure, it would be better to actually have a loaded gun, but if circumstances don’t allow that (because there’s not time to load it, for example), it can still be a pretty strong deterrent, as long as you don’t actually tell the intruder that it’s not loaded. As I mentioned above, I think that the vast majority of gun defenses involve no shots being fired (I don’t have any stats for that, but I’m sure some folks here do).

    Best-case scenario, the intruder isn’t armed and you scare him off or detain him for the cops – same as with a loaded gun, except for folks who are just aching to cap the fucker. Of course if he does have a gun the dynamics change a lot; but if you brandish any weapon at an intruder with a gun there’s a good chance he won’t react well. The chance is probably higher if he thinks you’ve got a loaded gun as opposed to something less dangerous, but I’m not convinced it’s a lot higher. And you can always back down, as you presumably would if he had a gun and you had a tacky lamp. If he’s trigger happy he won’t give you a chance to back down; but I can’t imagine most armed intruders are at all inclined to actually use their weapon if they can at all avoid it – it’s a bluff like your unloaded gun would be.

    Upshot is a loaded gun is better, but I can certainly imagine an unloaded gun also doing the trick in a lot of cases if that’s the situation you happen to be in. But maybe I’m just revealing the fact that I would make a lousy burglar. Anyway, I keep my tiny one-bedroom apartment safe through a combination of cockroaches and disgusting odors. So far so good – no one’s laid a finger on my ultra-geeky evolution books or ultra-cool Tom Waits CD’s. (New album next week! He describes it as “cubist funk.” Woohoo!)

  60. Re: Kids in the house with a gun

    We have an almost-3 year old.

    My husband keeps the hunting guns locked in a gun safe that uses 2 keys and three keyholes and the key is tucked far away from the safe.

    We have a handgun that lives, loaded with the safety on, in a small safe mounted under the bed on my husband’s side; it’s a finger/handprint combination lock. A child’s hand couldn’t press the sensors hard enough and if you press the wrong combination more than three times it locks you out for 10 or 15 minutes. My daughter is unaware that the safe is there and needless to say she’ll never know the combination.

    Oddly enough, after living in Houston most all my life, I’ve never had a home or apartment broken into and our neighborhood, which is not in the suburbs, has very few breakins and almost none that occur at night. My husband is a lifelong hunter and gun collector and very responsible and we both agree that you don’t shoot someone a) through a closed door or b) even if they’re in your room until you’re sure it’s not a family member. If that means you miss the chance to shoot an intruder, that’s preferable to shooting your child or spouse (there have been a number of tragedies like this in Houston recently).

    So I feel that the kid is pretty safe from the gun (we’re still vigilant about it, of course) and the gun is accessible if we need it.

    Problem is that I’m the one most likely to wake up if someone is trying to break in, and even if I get to the gun I’m not sure I’d remember how to shoot it. My husband, who can reach the gun in seconds, sleeps like the dead.

    When our daughter is a little bit older we’re going to review the gun safe placement.

  61. Julian:

    Sorry to hear about what happened and I can understand your frustration about not even having the OPTION to defend yourself.

    Since we’re sharing war stories…

    The night I was robbed (and shot), I did EVERYTHING the gun grabbers tell you to do: I obseqiously handed over my wallet to two swaggering gang members and avoided any type of confrontational posturing (although I wanted to smack the little fucker with the gun)…

    What did I get? The bastard started accusing me (a rather generic-looking surfer dude) of being in a rival gang!

    Next thing I know, he’s leveling the gun at my face. The guys eyes had the tell-tale thousand mile stare of a crack addict and his hands were trembling. As he started screaming at the top of his lungs, I knew I was seconds away from making the front page of the “Metro” section.

    Being the Nietzschean superman that I am, I ran like HELL!

    Five shots rang out (it was a .22 semi-auto) and one of them creased my shoulder and took out a small chunk of flesh.

    Needless to say, my opposition to gun control laws (I’m in Los Angeles) has become a bit more strident…

  62. Nothing is more useless than an unloaded firearm. A loaded nightstand gun is an unmitigated good idea for anyone with training. In my house, that is everyone.

    If you have kids, they make quick access safes that allow you to store a loaded weapon you can get to if you need to. http://www.gunvault.com/

    Dogs bark at many things and eventually you ignore them. A noise making security system to wake you and deter entry, a telephone in your room, and a weapon that you can use to prevent entry into your bedroom are the building blocks of home security. If you are feeling frisky, add a high intensity flashlight to the picture. If you’ve never had the privelidge, let your eyes get night adjusted as a burglar’s would be and shine a 60 lumen light in your face. It is an unpleasant experience. Surefire and Insight make them that mount right on your handgun or shotgun.

    Stay in your room and control the doorway while you make the call. Don’t try to search the house unless you have to. If you think you might have to, get some training beyond target practice and safety. There are definitely dos and don’ts to clearing a house. Some of the best training in the country is here:

    http://www.tdiohio.com/

  63. Thanks for the URLs, Jason.

  64. AK-47s and most other semi-auto rifles is a no-no. As I understand it, DC defines “machinegun” as any semi-auto weapon that can hold more then 12 shots without reloading. I believe their actual definition covers any rifle can accept a 12 round magazine.

    You have to be 21 to buy a rifle or shotgun unless your parents sign something. As other posters have mentioned, ammo and gun must be kept separate.

  65. a stick beats a fist…a knife beats a stick

    Actually, no, a good stout stick will beat a knife almost every time. It’s all about the reach. Unless the knife wielder is very skilled and the stick wielder very unskilled, the stick wielder has the advantage because of about 30″ more reach. The best stick is by far rattan, followed by a sawed off pool cue and axe handle. A golf club is also good, irons & putters prefered over woods. An actual axe or bat is too tip heavy and difficult to ready for a follow-up if your first strike is ineffective or misses. With a stout stick you can easily break the hand & fingers holding the knife. Continue by beating the attacker about the head & shoulders, paying particular attention to the temples. Pokes to the face, eyes & throat and knee shots are also very effective, but perhaps best left to more practiced stick weilders.

    Sword does beat stick though.

  66. Get out of DC, for god’s sake.

  67. For those of you looking at the shotgun option, check out these babies to load it with:

    http://www.polywad.com/qs12ga.html

  68. “Dogs bark at many things and eventually you ignore them.”

    The sound and behavior of a dog when someone is breaking into your house is completely different from when he sees a squirrel in the yard or a kid on the sidewalk.

  69. The sound and behavior of someone who sees my shotgun while breaking into my house is completely different from when he sees my dog.

  70. “Are you as angry about your landlord’s pet policy as you are about the city’s gun laws?”
    –joe

    I can’t answer for Julian, but as far as I’m concerned there’s not much difference between an absentee landlord and a government. The person occupying a piece of land IS the owner. Any fee he has to pay for the right is a kind of tax.

    On the topic at hand, I subscribe to the UK Libertarian Alliance’s yahoogroup, and I hear horror stories like this all the time from gun-free Britain. As it turns out, when the predators know their prey are unarmed, they get a lot bolder. Who woulda guessed?

    On self-defense trumping gun laws, such an argument might persuade a jury to nullify the law. But any defense attorney who tried to argue in court that the law was void in a particular case because of an inalienable right to self-defense would probably be slapped down for contempt so hard he’d need a window in his belly-button.

  71. Why on earth get a dog? They’re dangerous, expensive, and unreliable.

    How many people do you know who have been shot? How many people do you know who have been bitten by a dog?

    Guns are cheap, reliable, and easy to use – with a simple “Point and click” interface.

    Besides, people tend to love their dogs more than guns. If someone attacked, maimed, killed your dog it’d just add to the downer of getting robbed.

    If I were a robber, I’d turn tail at the sound of a shotgun shell being chambred – but for dogs? Just bring some doggy treats and the problem is solved.

    Does DC ban “Hunting” shotguns? Might be a good choice for home defense.

  72. I can’t answer for Julian, but as far as I’m concerned there’s not much difference between an absentee landlord and a government. The person occupying a piece of land IS the owner. Any fee he has to pay for the right is a kind of tax.

    Not true. If it were, I could tear down the garage, which my landlord uses to store his junk.

  73. Gotta go with Dog. I have a half German Shepard who never barks unless someone approaches the house. For whatever reason he inherited a pretty impressive noise machine which has proven sufficient in keeping people away.

  74. “Why on earth get a dog? They’re dangerous, expensive, and unreliable.”

    Dogs are only dangerous when unsocialized. My dog was $80, and is extremely reliable. A god dog for protection is an Australian Cattle Dog (aka blue/red heeler). They are relatively small (30-40lb) and can be very fierce. They are also wicked smart, as all herding dogs tend to be, and as such are a good judge of character. I would love to see you come in my house and try to get past my dog with some dog treats, you would promptly be handed your ass.

  75. Two comments, a gun is never sufficiently “hidden” from children. It should be unloaded and all ammunition secured.

    The adult in charge of using the gun should carry a loaded magazine or two with them, or some revolver speed-loaders. If you’re going to do that though, might as well just carry concealed.

    Also, unloaded guns, look-alike guns, etc. all *sound* nice to people who are waffling on the notions of guns being a useful and safe deterrent. The fact is, pulling an un-loaded gun on someone is a really good way to get shot.

    Don’t go to a gunfight without a (loaded) gun.

  76. I grew up with loaded guns in my house. My father instructed me on their use and capabilities. He managed to instill respect for guns that remains unchanged to this day. It doesn’t take much to get a kid to respect a 44, let him witness the destruction first hand. I learned never to pull out a gun until it was likely needed to kill, and only to shoot to kill. It seems to me a fake gun is asking for trouble, a very bold bluff indeed. My father is a police officer and has told me on repeated occasions, ‘we are just here to clean up and do our best to stop the perp from doing it again’.

  77. A dog and a gun go hand in hand for home defense. 1) The dog may be alert when you are not. 2) It will be much easier to cap they guy with your dog chewing on his ass. As an added bonus dogs are fun to have around.

  78. Sorry about the attack, Julian.

    Absurd gun laws, and now you’re going to pay for a new Major League baseball park in DC.

    No reason to stay a DC resident anymore. Head for Virginia/Maryland.

  79. I thought the park was being built in the ‘burbs.

  80. A dog… yep, Ol’ Spock (cause he was pointy-eared and waaaaay too smart) was a friendly cuss until someone looked at me cross-eyed (which caused a problem as I was wrestling with a friend in fun. Spock never liked him after that.)
    His most effective warning came one night when he suddenly stopped barking (I think I heard a yelp, but it’s kinda blurry). At this point I grabbed my Marlin 30-30 and jacked a round into the chamber (I’d moved to the front door by this point).
    A jealous ex-girlfriend of my neighbor’s turned and ran back to her car (he and I had nearly identical cars, and she’d drunkenly mistaken mine for his) and fled. I have no idea what her intentions were, but Spock had been clubbed with something. He recovered only to be killed sometime the next year by that same neighbor’s ‘defense’ dog (pit bull/heeler mix) who’d broken his chain and entered my yard. Spock wasn’t around for ‘protection’, he was my li’l Border Collie buddy and I deeply regret that he’d become my first line of defense. If and when I ever decide to adopt a new friend, I’ll keep the pup safe and rely on a proper alarm and a shotgun. As for children, education trumps ignorance every time.

  81. Actually, no, a good stout stick will beat a knife almost every time. It’s all about the reach. Unless the knife wielder is very skilled and the stick wielder very unskilled, the stick wielder has the advantage because of about 30″ more reach.

    In sparring, perhaps.

    A real life fight is another matter. The key is that you don’t try to fight the stick at distance. You attack, accepting a blow from the stick if you must, and then use the knife to effect.

    . . .The best stick is by far rattan, followed by a sawed off pool cue and axe handle. A golf club is also good, irons & putters prefered over woods. An actual axe or bat is too tip heavy and difficult to ready for a follow-up if your first strike is ineffective or misses.

    Funny, the battle axe was the weapon of choice of Vikings and others of the period. The key to using it is to fight with aggression, not to to “spar” your opponent, allowing him to use distance. The rattan stick moves well, but a single impact isn’t going to win a fight, and that’s all you are going to get against someone who is aggressive with a knife.

    With a stout stick you can easily break the hand & fingers holding the knife. Continue by beating the attacker about the head & shoulders, paying particular attention to the temples. Pokes to the face, eyes & throat and knee shots are also very effective, but perhaps best left to more practiced stick weilders.

    Yes, if the guy with the knife is afraid of being hit and “spars” from a distance. If he closes agressively, you get about one hit with your stick (probably a glancing blow), then he goes to work with the knife.

    Sword does beat stick though.

    Yes, and a sword will also beat a battle axe if the user tries to “duel” or “spar”. In actual combat, the battle axe dominated.

  82. Also, you have to figure that a professional criminal can probably kick your ass, and if he’s armed, he’s probably more willing and able to use it that you are.

    The criminal may be all pumped up from his time in prison, and he may have polished his knife fighting skills in the pen. But his gun handling skills are probably poor.

    In gunfights with police, criminals score hits about 10% of the time, and these fights occur at near contact distance. By contrast, police score at about 25%. Police as moderatly trained, a good civilian school like Gunsite turns out alumini with much better skills than your typical police training. And if you are not interested in training, you still probably won’t do worse than your typical criminal.

  83. Oh, and to add: when I was in the martial arts, in an advanced class, we studied a knife fighting book by an ex-con, who detailed his knife fighting training conducted in prison and, previously, in reform school.

    Also, a skilled attacker won’t just rush into a stick wielder, he will draw a blow, then follow it in. With a rattan stick or similar it will be real hard to do without being hit, but the hit will probably not be full force. Once in the attacker will make full use of the knife very quickly with considerable aggression.

  84. All this talk about fighting with knives has made us aware of the need to get started on our new crusade. Nobody can be permitted to possess these dangerous weapons.

    THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!

  85. Bigger than Sanchez’s landlord’s policy regarding dogs, the landlord of The District of Columbia has a policy which endangers its residents. Handgun bans must fantastically increase the confidence of a home invader, and similarly raise the potential for harm. It is as if DC banned seatbelt use.

    There are ample valid reasons an individual may choose not to keep a weapon or a dog. Simply by keeping those options available to all acts as a deterrent to crime, even if few actually use that particular liberty. It seems an example of how a majority harms itself by restricting behaviour because “there’s no good reason/I don’t like it”. So much better to hold harmers responsible and let the rest live as they choose.

  86. All this talk about fighting with knives has made us aware of the need to get started on our new crusade. Nobody can be permitted to possess these dangerous weapons.

    I understand that Australia is banning swords, or at least restricting them. And there are regulations on knives in England and Japan.

    Knives are deadly weapons, and ones which require a very agressive application to be really effective. They are a weapon well suited to criminals, particularly the most violent ones.

    Firearms, by contrast, call for cooler heads and self control. Your typical suburban homeowner will be at least as effective as a typical criminal with a gun, probably more so if he/she has training of some sort.

  87. According to Mr Ayoob, if you can’t/won’t keep a gun beside the bed, the next best thing would be a 4-cell (or 3-cell for smaller people) Maglite. Pokers and pool cues are so long you can have trouble swinging them in close quarters and the Maglite has more heft so it’ll do more damage if you connect. The light can dazzle a burglar in the dark, as mentioned above. And if you live somewhere that you justifiably fear prosecution for attacking a burglar, then a Maglite is not a weapon you had prepared yourself with but a common household item that you just happened to grab.

  88. Pepe,

    And if you are really going to go high output light (maglite is heavy but not nearly the 60 lumens you’d want for dazzle), the fine fine people at GG&G have created the Tactical Impact Device that screws on those lights.

    Imagine planting this on a burglar’s head after you dazzle him: http://www.gggaz.com/products/tid.php

  89. Jason Ligon, this thread has confirmed my admiration for you.

  90. Sorry that your friend got attacked.

    “Armed combat beats unarmed combat any day”

    Pepe is right: a 4-cell Maglite is great to have around the house. You’ll use it when the lights go out or you investigate. If you have to hit someone, it was just there. A baseball bat has a good feel and a longer reach, but if your worried about prosecution for unfairly defending your life against a violent offender, the flashlight is better.

    Rifles should not be used as the bullets over- penetrate. (My local indoor range allows shotguns but won’t allow my AR-15: the .223 goes through the metal plate.) Rifles and shotguns are cumbersome. They have long barrels that are easily grabbed from the side, and you can’t operate them effectively with one hand while, say, dialing the phone. If handguns are not allowed, then a small shotgun defending a fixed position isn’t bad. A 20 guage has the muzzle energy of a 44 magnum but won’t go through as many walls.

    Take away the element of surprise: alarm systems are not that expensive. (A small god is basically a fury alarm system.) If the bad guy sets off an alarm while climbing in the window, he’s got to figure that you are calling 911. Statistically speaking, he has plenty of time to hurt you and leave. However, he doesn’t have time to hurt you, take your valueables, and leave. And in any case, is he really going to hang around to see how long it takes the cops to get their?

    Of course, at the earliest possible time I would move out of Washington, D.C. Who wants to live in a place the values the lives of felons over decent citizens?

  91. The sound and behavior of a dog when someone is breaking into your house is completely different from when he sees a squirrel in the yard or a kid on the sidewalk

    Um, ok. I’ve never had anyone break into my house, so I don’t know what special noise dogs make under those circumstances. But I do know that the dog we had when I was a kid exhibited every range of behavior from “occasional barking” to “howling itself hoarse and tearing through the screen windows to get outside” over stuff as simple as a cat on the lawn.

    Dogs are marginally smarter than grapefruit. It’s not a good move to build your home defense plan around something that can easily be outwitted by a five-year-old child.

  92. Rifles should not be used as the bullets over- penetrate. (My local indoor range allows shotguns but won’t allow my AR-15: the .223 goes through the metal plate.)

    But houses aren’t made of steel plate, are they? 😉

    Actually, it has been proven that .223 penetrates fewer layers of drywall than standard buckshot and slug loads, as well as typical handgun bullets. The reason (as I understand it): the first drywall sheet destabalizes the .223 bullet, leading to tumbling; the tumbling bullet impacts more drywall sheets at high velocity, breaking up into fragments; the fragments rapidly loose velocity.

    That’s why the SWAT teams are replacing their H&K MP-5s (9mm) with M-4s (.223).

    Don’t feel bad. Back around 1990, everyone “in the know” would have agreed with you.

    If you want more info, try http://www.ar15.com.

  93. Oh, and there was that DC case from the 70s: several goblins broke into a home, and one of the women in the home made several calls to the police. The goblins rounded up all of the women in the home. One policeman knocked at the door, then left when no one answered. At the second call, a police cruiser drove around the block.

    The women were raped and tortured over something like a 14 hour period, before they were released by the goblins.

    The women filed a lawsuit against the police for failing to protect them. The courts final response: you are responsible for your own defense.

  94. I should also add to my point on .223 penetration in drywall: this applies to .223 bullets that fragment: XM193, the Black Hills 68 gr, 75 gr, and 77 gr stuff, etc. I wouldn’t expect it to apply to the stuff Wolf makes. Of course, since .223 depends upon bullet fragmentation to make it effective, you shouldn’t use Wolf and other non-expanding stuff for defense in the first place.

  95. Pepe: I worked as a cab driver in a college town for 2 years. It was neither legal nor particularly necessary for drivers to carry guns, (where your most likely threat was an unarmed drunk college kid) but we all carried mag lites. They were useful for spotlighting house numbers, and made an excellent close quarters weapon if necessary.

  96. It brings to mind the old definition of a conservative, “a liberal who’s been mugged”.

    Comment by: Yaron at September 28, 2004 04:18 PM

    And a libertarian is a conservative who’s been arrested.

  97. JS Fan

    Don’t get your hopes up. The bill is unlikely to be considered by the Senate.

  98. Damn, looks like the Republicans won’t be able to run the plantation the way they’d like. Boo hoo.

  99. Damn, looks like the Republicans won’t be able to run the plantation the way they’d like. Boo hoo.

    Plantation owners were (a) Democrats, and (b) vehemently opposed to allowing blacks or poor whites to arm themselves. Looks like not much has changed.

  100. Damn, looks like the Republicans won’t be able to run the plantation the way they’d like. Boo hoo.

    And I thought the Democrats were turning over a new leaf with respect to gun control. By defending extremist gun bans, the Democrats are saying they really want to go about buisness as usual.

  101. Dan: Actually, most big plantation owners were Whigs.

    Anyway, one can consistently believe that (a) the District’s gun laws go too far, but that (b) it should be the people of the District, not Congress, who should repeal them. Let’s not forget that if Congress has the power to *prohibit* the District from having anti-gun laws, it has the same power–limited only by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is not necessarily going to be the same as libertarians’ interpretation–to *impose* anti-gun laws on the District.

    (Yes, I know that Congress does have the power under the Constitution to legislate for the district. But whether it should *exercise* that power or instead show some respect for home rule, is a different question. I know perfectly well that the DC government sucks. But I say it’s up to the people of the District to change that.)

  102. I could agree with you on that, David. Here in AZ, we voted for medical MJ and the congress tried to overturn it, saying the voters were duped. That pissed off a lot of people, so when it came up for a vote again, you better believe it passed again.

    Unfortunately, people didn’t make the jump that if they were duped into voting for the medical MJ prop, they were probably duped into voting for the fools in congress and get rid of them the next time around, but 1 outta 2 ain’t bad. :/

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