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Old August 4, 2009, 01:41 PM   #1
bababooey32
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Shooting through closed doors

I took my CHL class this weekend and one of the participants in the class asked about a situation where someone is beating down your door - are you justified in shooting through the door. To my surprise, the instructor said "yes"! He said if you are reasonably fearful of serious bodily injury, you may employ deadly force (true). While I don't necessarily object to his legal reasoning (in fact I do believe here in TX you would be no-billed shooting through a door at an intruder), I do take issue with his recommendation from a tactics and from a safety standpoint.

Rule # 4 says know your target and what is behind it before firing. In this case you know neither As I pointed out to my wife later, even if you are quite positive it is just the BG at the door, what if I was sneaking up behind him to bash him in the head with a chair (WWF style)? If she were to shoot through the door, she could hit me too!

In any case, I wanted to see if I was on track here. I also decided not to speak up in class, and I kind of regret it.
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Old August 4, 2009, 01:51 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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You're right.

There are a few extremely select scenarios wherein you would be justified in shooting through a door.

One may be if the BG is shooting through the door at you.

One may be that they are beginning to break down the door, especially an inner door that you have taken shelter behind.



In most cases, your best move would be to take cover in a relatively safe room and call LE. For one thing, this would put one more door between you and the BG. For another thing, by the time Mr. BG makes forced entry through one door and is attempting another it leaves little doubt to your justification and, for yet another thing, anything you can do to safely prevent your having to shoot someone is going to benefit you.
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Old August 4, 2009, 02:10 PM   #3
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I also think that shooting through a door is a lousy idea. You should always be able to identify your target, and you want to see your target to improve your chances of hitting it and limit the number of stray bullets flying around.

If you're prepared and he gets through the door, you'll have your chance. If the cops arrive first, they'll handle whoever was trying to get through the door.
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Old August 4, 2009, 02:29 PM   #4
butterboy
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If some ones trying to come through the door to harm me or my family, them getting shot though the door is quite likely, whether I wait for them to break it down and come through at me or start shooting through the other side at me I dont think I would wait very long before I fired .
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Old August 4, 2009, 02:46 PM   #5
bababooey32
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Quote:
If some ones trying to come through the door to harm me or my family
That would appear difficult to evaluate through a closed door. All you know is that someone is trying to come through the door. Could be the police.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:12 PM   #6
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A shorter list would be situations where I would shoot through a closed door, even if someone were belaboring it with boots and shoulders.

Assuming the door yields (mine would, no doubt), I will soon enough have unobstructed lines of sight (and fire, if need be) not only to the bad guys coming in, but to anyone or thing that may be behind them. Two big bennies: the identities and intentions of the subjects are much better known, and I don't have to worry about ventilating a poor neighbor across the street walking his dog.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:23 PM   #7
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Never shoot at a target you cannot see.

My dad almost shot a hunter because he thought the noises comming from the bushes was a hog, turned out it was some guy crawling around. He remembered never shoot at a target you cannot see and it saved a life.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:34 PM   #8
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I remember an incident in Dallas,Tx that happened about 20 years ago give or take. An executive for the Texas Rangers baseball team shot an intruder through a bedroom door. He had his family in the bedroom and the intruder was trying to force thier way through. The intruder was killed when the home owner fired a single shot from a .357 magnum handgun through the door. He went before a grandjury and the shooting was ruled as justified.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:35 PM   #9
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What if your house was on fire and you shot someone trying to warn you! The instructor is an idiot to suggest this... even if it was legal, which I seriously doubt.
You missed an opportunity to start an argument...I guess.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
My dad almost shot a hunter because he thought the noises comming from the bushes was a hog, turned out it was some guy crawling around. He remembered never shoot at a target you cannot see and it saved a life.

Quote:
What if your house was on fire and you shot someone trying to warn you!

We could list 10,000 scenarios wherein shooting through a door would be stupid. Most of them are self explanatory.

Someone banging on your door because your house is on fire is not going to be doing nothing but banging on your door. They're going to be shouting about a fire and how you need to get out, not to mention that there would very shortly be other indications of a fire.

Shooting at a noise walking in the woods is entirely different than shooting at someone who is trying to break down your door.

Like I said, it's almost always a bad idea, but only "almost" always. There are exceptions to nearly every rule.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:47 PM   #11
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I still submit it's always a bad idea to shoot through an unopened door.... I guess only exception I can think of would be if you can see who it is from a window or camera etc.
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Old August 4, 2009, 04:32 PM   #12
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my only though on this would be yes, but only in specific scenarios. best example if my dog wakes me up to someone trying to bust my door down, and i say to leave, and i am calling the police, but the door is weakening. If its almost through im not waiting until it busts. if you have time to bust my door down you have time to say who you are.
If a dog, and a warning that I am home don't make you leave, then you aren't going to stop after you break the door anyway.
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Old August 4, 2009, 04:55 PM   #13
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NC law on using deadly force to protect yourself in your home is screwy.......

You can use deadly force to prevent unlawful entry into your home. You do not have to have evidence of intent to do bodily harm other than the fact that they are trying to break into your occupied dwelling. So yes, in theory, in NC, you could shoot the person trying to break your door down through your still standing, still closed door and be legally justified.

Once the person gains entry you then are required to have reason to believe that the person intends to do you or yours harm.

Screwy, but that's the way it breaks down here in NC. We do not, as yet, have a "castle doctrine" other than the ability to use deadly force to prevent entry. Several bills have been submitted to fix this but they've all died in committee.
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:02 PM   #14
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Last week in eastern Washington my son's collage professor had returned to his unfamiliar hotel late from a school conference. Got on the wrong floor and was trying to figure out why his key did not work on "his" door when the occupant fired a .45 through door, hitting him in the chest, killing him.

No clear target, no legal threat in view, NO SHOOT.
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:05 PM   #15
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Last week in eastern Washington my son's collage professor had returned to his unfamiliar hotel late from a school conference. Got on the wrong floor and was trying to figure out why his key did not work on "his" door when the occupant fired a .45 through door, hitting him in the chest, killing him.

No clear target, no legal threat in view, NO SHOOT.
The discussion of scenarios wherein it is illegal or inadvisable to fire through a closed door would be endless.

It's almost always a bad idea, but only "almost".
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:09 PM   #16
PT111
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The legality and practicality of shooting hrough a door are two different things. Yes under certain circumstances it may be legal and may even be practical but I think those would be very few and far between. Just wait until he breaks through the door and fire away if you can.
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:13 PM   #17
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I think it sounds like a bad idea to shoot through a door. I could not say unequivocally that I would not...if if ififif then maybe I would.

If all the fam were accounted for
if I knew I had not brought police there for my wrong doings
if I knew the house were not on fire
if they were demonstrating violence on the door w/o id'ing themselves
...and so forth.

It just depends on the situation and how much the spidey sense tingles I guess.
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:20 PM   #18
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Overall, bad idea. Rule #1 - Identify your target. To shoot, you must be in imminent danger of loss of life or severe bodily injury. It's a fine line to walk there. IMO, I'd wait until the door was JUST breached, Identify the person as an unknown, then unload on the intruder.
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:36 PM   #19
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I have seen many officers kick in door of houses on fire to check for victims. It was even on an episode of Cops.
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Old August 4, 2009, 06:16 PM   #20
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Exterior door, it is a bad idea. But, you would probably be legal in TX at night. An interior door, I have zero problem shooting through a door or wall in my house at a target that I can't see. I live alone, and anyone in there that I didn't let in, is not there for a good reason.
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Old August 4, 2009, 06:23 PM   #21
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I have to admit that my two doors have large windows and as soon as I see someone trying to force their way in I would be able to see them... but on the case of not being able to see... I wouldnt shoot... however the OP says that this was at a CHL class so if say... I were out and I was chased into an area where I could hide behind a door would I do it before I shot the threat or would I do it from behind a door... personally I would shoot the threat before I would hide... if I were female I may have a different idea... especially if there was a better chance of getting away... but if someone showed up to help there is a chance of hitting them as was said before... so just dont hide behind a door... that is ofcourse if the door in question isnt you house door...
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Old August 4, 2009, 06:42 PM   #22
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Back in the mid '70s I knew a woman who shot through her bedroom door and killed a BG. Turned out he was a serial rapist/murderer.

When the BG started breaking down the front door of her double-wide, she retreated to the bedroom, locked the door (good lock plus a piece of 3/4" rebar in brackets inside the door), got her Ruger .22 auto, and called the cops. While she was on the phone, the BG started breaking down the bedroom door and she fired, IIRC, 8 shots through the door.

The bedroom door was pretty flimsy, so the high-speed HP bullets penetrated with enough power left to kill the BG.

She was hysterical. The cops were delighted.

That's a rare case.
Still, shooting through an interior door would be a lot easier to justify than shooting through an exterior door. In Florida, the fact that the guy broke in at all is justification for use of deadly force.
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Old August 4, 2009, 06:49 PM   #23
Nnobby45
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In my State, Nevada, bare fear is not justification for use of deadly force.

Has to be a reasonable basis for the fear, and shooting someone banging on your door, because they need help, likely wouldn't constitute a REASONABLE fear--even if you're terrified. Without re: to criminal charges, a civil suit would certainly be successful.

Doesn't mean that shooting thru the door if you know someone is trying to invade your home wouldn't be legal in my state. But you'd better know who you're shooting.

Last edited by Nnobby45; August 4, 2009 at 06:54 PM.
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Old August 4, 2009, 06:54 PM   #24
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I was taking a LE class and at one point we asked our instructor the same question. He was retired Coast Guard (Warrant Officer) LE, was chief of police in a small town in Virginia (Cant' remember the name Ill ask when I see him), and had over 40 years under his belt. His answer surprised all of us. It was something along the lines of "Only an idiot would wait for his door to be broken down and his family to be in danger to react. You start at the headboard at the top of the door, fire one shot there, wait ten seconds to see if the intruder decides to stop, next 2 shots center mass."

I know this is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, and in all honesty probably not what I would do (though I don't live with my family) Just stating what I was told.
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Old August 4, 2009, 06:56 PM   #25
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
When the BG started breaking down the front door of her double-wide, she retreated to the bedroom, locked the door (good lock plus a piece of 3/4" rebar in brackets inside the door), got her Ruger .22 auto, and called the cops. While she was on the phone, the BG started breaking down the bedroom door and she fired, IIRC, 8 shots through the door.
Sounds like she did everything right. This is a perfect example of why it's only "almost" always a bad idea.
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