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Old January 6, 2000, 05:11 PM   #1
Matt VDW
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Can you imagine any situation in which you would violate safe gun handling rule #4 (Identify your target and know what lies beyond it)?

Consider the following scenario:

You're at home, asleep. Suddenly, you're awakened by what sounds like someone breaking down your front door. (Your dog, if applicable, is also barking furiously). You hear a crash, then footsteps, then what sounds like a scuffle between Rover and the intruder, then a couple of gunshots and no more barking from Rover. By this time you're fully awake and you've armed yourself and dialed 911. You also shout a warning and rack your shotgun. But instead of hearing a hasty retreat, you hear footsteps pounding up the stairs towards your bedroom. You repeat your warning but whoever's outside jiggles the handle, then starts kicking the locked bedroom door. It looks/sounds like one more good kick will knock it down.

Do you risk shooting through the door?

Note: At no point during this incident have you heard the intruders make any attempt to identify themselves as police.
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Old January 6, 2000, 06:07 PM   #2
Jeff White
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I find a place in the bedroom that offers cover, barring that concealment like a corner on the wall that the door is in, wait till the intruder enters, ID the threat and take action from there.

I can't think of any grand jury or states attorney that would accept you blindly shooting through the door. Even in a state like Texas where you can shoot to defend property after dark, I doubt that you'd survive the civil suit with any type of a life after it was over.

If you are waiting with the doorway covered you will almost certainly be able to shoot first if the situation calls for it. (dumb luck excluded)

Jeff
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Old January 6, 2000, 08:39 PM   #3
Special Agent
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I would not shoot. This could be anyone! What if Rover has a batch of rabies?

Possibility Numero Uno: Your neighbor was attacked by Rover, who was salivating and mad from the illness. The neighbor chased the dog into your yard with his gun, right into the doggie door. Then he thought he saw the dog in your kid's bedroom because of an errant shadow moving across the window. He kicked down the door in a mad attempt to save a life, shooting the dog dead when he saw it again. Now he's trying to make sure you are okay.

The only problem is, your neighbor is a deaf-mute. He cannot hear your shouted warning, nor can he speak of his own accord. He can only open that door and ensure that you are safe...

This is far-fetched and rediculous, I know, but it is just one example of how crazy life can be. Stranger things have happened, right?

It is simply smarter to give it another second and hose the person once they are in the room. Your weapon will be more effective if it hits the Bad Guy directly anyway, versus through a door.

Possibility Numero Dos: The B.A.T.F. has gotten a No-Knock Search Warrant (or perhaps they are Bounty Hunters, also known as skip chasers, who don't need a warrant!) but has pegged the Bad Guy they are seeking as living in your house instead of the one next door.

They are in your house in a flash, but had not accounted for the heavier security doors, dual deadbolts, attack dog and lack of unbarred windows. This has slowed them down considerably, much to the Team Commander's dismay.

You shoot first, through the door, without having seen the obvious B.A.T.F. (or Bounty Hunters Intl.) logo on the Point Man's jacket. When the point man is knocked back by the 00 buck, badly injured but alive, he and the rest of the team open up.

Full auto fire rips through the room, killing you, your Wife AND Baby Bonnie in her crib across the room.

And why? A few seconds more and you would have begun a dialogue, possibly saving all your lives.

These are just a few of the thousands of possibilities...

I'm new here, BTW, so hello! I'm hailing from Glocktalk and Shooterstalk, glad to find yet another board-full of pro-gunners!

------------------
Yours Truly,

Special Agent
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Old January 6, 2000, 11:26 PM   #4
larry_minn
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In my situation I would "attempt" to get out of my bedroom before they get to my door. It is necessary in order to protect my family. I have a 3-way light so "if I have time while rover does his job" I can light up the area the intruder will have to go thru. I have "fair" cover "a older 6ft long older type stereo" If the person "persons" pass thru that area armed I will fire. As far as what they are wearing..... Do you really think you can read the "police, ATF, Sheriff, etc" on their black "ninja" suit with face covered??? Besides which anyone can buy a "police type" uniform with a "badge,patches,gear, and gun"
IMO I have a much higher chance of criminals attacking my home then other LEO swarming my home.
But to answer the question as asked>>> If I was able to get my family into my bedroom. "which is my safe room" and they were able to kick that door down to. "and if help isn't there" I have challanged "and when I call out a challenge people listen"
But at the point they are comming thru the door I will open fire. There isn't room or time after the door is down. I don't have enough cover to protect my family and no matter who is comming through the door shots will be fired. Think about it "lets play devils advocate" It is a joint Fed task force "otherwise I or others would hear about it and tell them to get their info checked" They have pumped themselves up, killed a family pet, broken down doors, If you wait till they enter the room what do you think they will do if you have a firearm aimed at them?????????
I feel I have no choice but to shoot to STOP THE THREAT. If it is a Law Enforcement unit I can only pray their body armor will save their lives. And that they have smart team leaders that will pull back and attempt communications. "Which is often a good choice."
No insult intended but I think a "reasonable person" would feel his/her/kids life is in danger in above situation. Shots fired, doors broken down, no ID, etc and the intruders won't be thrown back so very good chance even if you fire first after you wait until they enter they prob will be able to fire off a few rounds. What about your family???
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Old January 6, 2000, 11:52 PM   #5
nobody
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Your front door has been smashed in.
Your dog has been greased.
The intruder(s) are attempting to breach your bedroom door.
I THINK THIS IS CALLED A CLUE!
Your life is in jeopardy.
If its my house, whoever the intruder is will be met by a hail of gunfire (5.56mm) THROUGH THE DOOR.
I am not giving him a chance to get through and shoot at me.
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Old January 7, 2000, 01:41 AM   #6
Phillip
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What Jeff said.
Also my 2 cents added:
In Texas, a homeowner has no duty to retreat further into their home than a reasonable man (or woman) would.
In the situation you describe, if the next kick is going to knock down the door, ID the target and then make your choice to shoot or not. I personally think to fire sight unseen is irresponsible in the least and may be seen as a criminal act by a jury, at worst. Hopefully you have either turned on enough light to see the source of the trouble, or you have a tac light next to or mounted on your HD weapon.
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Old January 7, 2000, 09:29 AM   #7
ctdonath
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The target has clearly, unquestionably identified himself as a target that needs shooting. The only issue is where he is; the instant he comes thru the door I'll know that important tidbit and act accordingly. Shooting thru the door increases your chance of missing...it may give him second thoughts, you may waste the shot, he may have a hostage that you might plug instead, etc.

Note that the door will
(a) obscure your view of the target
Consider the angles. He's 1-2 feet behind the door (he's kicking it, remember). Don't know about you, but I'll up against the wall the door is on...to fire well I'd either have to shoot thru the wall at a sharp angle to hit behind the door (even then, not much will get thru closet door, closet wall, and hall wall), or move in front of the door (just as the door comes crashing down and putting me right where Mr. Perp expects to see me).
Also not likely to get a center-of-mass hit when I can't see the mass.
(b) absorb shot energy
While a shotgun slug may not notice my door, a 9mm hollowpoint may lose much energy.

Take the extra seconds to gain composure, acquire a strong stance, get behind cover, and prepare to plug the target once you know where it is (i.e.: comes thru the door).

Cooper's Rules always apply. Such questions - and they are valid - are best answered within the context of The Rules.

But...

What if I do shoot thru the door? I'll assume a shotgun w/slugs. I know the target: anyone killing my dog in my house at oh-dark-hundred IS a target. I know the location: to kick the door requires target placement within a small area (about 4 square feet). I know what's behind it: more house, a berm, and beyond those mostly empty space as far as one can see; I live alone, so the likelyhood of innocents present is nil. I've identified the target and what's behind it, though not quite to the degree of waiting for the door to crash open. Rule #4 is still followed...but that's because of the known situation; this may not work for others with in-house family or close neighbors.

So...

Settle in, get ready, and pop the intruder as he comes thru the door; a better implementation of Rule #4.

Don't violate the rules. Be aware of how they apply to your particular situation. Shooting thru the door might work (and follow Rule #4) for a rural bachelor, but not work (and violate Rule #4) for a suburban father.


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Old January 7, 2000, 09:32 AM   #8
cyriaque
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In La., I don't think there would be any criminal legal problem if you shot. We have pretty good laws regarding car jacking and home intruders that put legalities on our side. For example, in a case around halloween a few years ago, a fellow came out of his house and confronted a teen ager who he felt was a threat and advanced upon him. He then shot and killed him. In my opinion, he committed manslaughter, but he was acquitted. He did lose a big civil suit, though.
Here, if anyone breaks into your house, they're dead meat, if you chose to shoot. Obviously, shooting may not always be prudent in these cases. In the case of a friend of mine who had been raped, the guy come back a few weeks later. She was in her bedroom with the door locked and had a .38. He talked to her thru the door and she chose not to shoot. I wish she would have but I don't have to live her life.

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Old January 7, 2000, 10:13 AM   #9
Matt VDW
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First of all, I'd like to thank you all for responding to what I have to admit is an unrealistic scenario. In real life, most intruders are motivated by greed and the thrill of criminal "adventure", not bloodlust, and so they wouldn't make a noisy, frontal assault against an armed homeowner.

Next, before addressing the legal considerations of this scenario, I'd like to get some agreement on the tactical side of things. Doesn't knowing where the intruder is (right outside the door) while he has only a vague idea of where you are (somewhere behind the door) give you a definite advantage that will lost once the door is down? Once the intruder enters the room, you can ID him (provided that there's enough light) and know exactly where he is, but he also becomes a moving, shooting target with a much better idea of where you are (depending upon the lighting). He might also have an accomplice right behind him, in which case you now have two targets to deal with instead of one. It seems to me that shooting through the door would be an application of the military principle that "all obstacles are covered by fire". (BTW, I still remember being put on the spot by one of my drill instructors with the question, "All obstacles are covered with WHAT?" My response: "Barbed wire, sir!" Oops, wrong answer. )

Anyway, I also think that in this scenario you can, perhaps, "identify" a target without visual contact. Consider the three requirements that someone must meet to qualify as posing an immediate threat of death or grave bodily harm:

1) Ability - Yep, you've already heard gunshots, so you know the intruders are armed.

2) Opportunity - This one is a little sticky. You can't see if the weapon is actually pointed at you. Then again, you're well within range and the intruder is one good kick away from having a clear shot at you.

3) Jeopardy - These people have already broken down your front door and killed your dog. They probably aren't here to sell you Girl Scout cookies.

You also have a good idea of where the target is, so while you will be firing "blindly" in one sense, your odds of a hit are pretty good. It's also possible that you can end the fight with one shot (killing/wounding the kicker and prompting his accomplices to flee) rather than risking a hail of bullets once the door is down.

Let's also consider two variations on the original scenario:

A) In this case, after the initial jiggle of the doorknob, the intruder outside the door starts shooting through it, rather than kicking it. Does this change your plans?

B) In this case, you've recently provided testimony which has resulted in the conviction of a local criminal on multiple felonies. You learned at the trial that this felon belongs to a violent, drug-dealing gang, one of whose members said to you, outside the courtroom, "You're a dead man". Now the intruder who's running up the stairs is screaming something along the lines of, "Hey, so-and-so, it's payback time!". Does this change your plans?

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Old January 7, 2000, 11:23 AM   #10
ctdonath
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The varitions don't change much. Ability, opportunity, jeopardy (wow, someone else recognized the necessity of those points!) are present. Original scenario, or modifications A or B, he's still armed, violent and coming for you.

Again, consider the likely angles involved. He's likely to shoot straight-on thru the door; are you going to be there? I'll be way the heck off to the side. He shoots blindly; are you going to stand there returning fire or will you get the %$#@ out of the way (or both, not always practical)? Why be right in front of the door when you can get to cover?

Again, Rule #4 DOES APPLY: KNOW YOUR TARGET. Being a hermit, I know that anyone on the other side of that door at oh-dark-hundred is a threat; those of you with kids CANNOT make that assumption. He may be shooting thru the door; is he holding little Bobby in front of him while doing it?
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Old January 7, 2000, 11:30 AM   #11
Glenn E. Meyer
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Get a big strong bedroom door and frame, such that it would take a sincere effort to kick it in. I should do that as I preach.

Surefire or other tactical light the door
as it opens.

Have an accessible alarm activation in the
master bedroom to sound the sirens.
(yes, they cut the alarm - but there are solutions for that. Call cops on cell phone.
Yell the warning.

Tactics depend on whether you sleep with a qualified combatant. Do you have a drill for this? Or are they (or you) losing it?

If non-combatant, can they do the phone?

If the door does now crash in - hope you have
planned your position.

Shooting through door is a bummer though.

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Old January 7, 2000, 11:56 PM   #12
larry_minn
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With A there is no debate.. Open fire through door. Empty the mag, reload, repeat challange and wait for response.

B) I would hope I have removed family to a safe location. But would have to go with my origional answer. I would fire thru door but not empty the gun.
This thread got me thinking a shotgun and my carry piece is not enough. Will be removing my rifle from safe as soon as I figure out where to place it. No young children in the house. If guests the bedroom is locked. "What you don't have a keyed lock on your bedroom????"
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Old January 8, 2000, 03:07 AM   #13
Cecil
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A reasonable neighbor (even a kid) does not kick-in another persons door late at night.
A reasonable home owner does not assume that a deaf mute may be trying to gain entry (this sounds like some plot from Murder She Wrote).
A reasonable person would rightly assume that harm is intended by the door crasher.
Reasonable does not mean a home owner has to be telepathic or hear like a dog.

Also, if you do smoke the door crasher and it turns out it was a crinminal assualt, is it really so wrong to testify that the assailant made harsh verbal threats and that you thought you heard the voices of accomplices?

Didn't the guy who shot the Japanese tourist kid (who did not understand the word "Freeze") get off?
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Old January 8, 2000, 01:45 PM   #14
TEXAS LAWMAN
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Cecil's post today (1-8-00) sounds reasonable to me. In some respects, as a peace officer, I'm expected to exercise restraint above that of the "citizen" (yes, I'm also a citizen), but I don't think I would have a problem shooting thru the door!
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Old January 8, 2000, 01:47 PM   #15
TEXAS LAWMAN
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Negotiating with fanatics is a no-win situation.
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Old January 9, 2000, 01:16 PM   #16
Erik
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What if it's the neighbor?
What if it's a LEO?
What if it's your children?
What if it is the badguys, with any of the above in close proximity?

Never violate the four rules...
Wait, and take the appropriate action.

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Old January 9, 2000, 05:19 PM   #17
nobody
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If my neighbor kicked in my front door, shot my dog, and is trying to breach my bedroom door after repeated warnings from me-he dies in place.
LEO? ditto (I can't imagine a lion breaking into my house, but what the heck).
My children? I wouldn't have abandoned them in the first place, they would be with me.
Lets recap. Your front door is breached, your dog is shot, your bedroom door is being forced. Its time to shoot. Why wait for the bad guy to make it through the door, and possibly shoot you? Rule 4? Not in this case.
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Old January 10, 2000, 12:02 AM   #18
ctdonath
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"nobody"-
No, you ARE following Rule 4.
As long as you can account for all innocents (i.e.: either with you or none at all), the target is clearly identified as having the ability and opportunity to kill you and is placing your life in danger. You know that whoever is on the other side of that door should not be there with the obviously exhibited intentions.

In my case, if someone has fired a shot in my house and is kicking in my bedroom door at oh-dark-hundred, he IS a target. I know where he is: right on the other side of my door. No innocents to worry about; I live alone and nobody has any reason to be in my house without polite entry. The backstop is also known: the rest of my house will stop any rounds fired. In the scenario given, I know my target.

Recognize that the application of Rule 4 depends on circumstance! Do not violate it, but know its application. If innocents are in the house and not with you in the given scenario, DO NOT FIRE because in that case you cannot properly follow Rule 4.

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Old January 10, 2000, 11:48 AM   #19
opusxx
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Broken down the front door, huh?
Shot my dog, huh?
Is currently kicking my bedroom door in, right?
let me first say hello to you guys. I am new to this forum.
Now, when the smoke clears and the barrel of my 12 ga. has cooled, i will look through the holes in what used to be my bedroom door and take a sitrep. THEN, i'll call the police, my lawyer, and the animal hospital (in that order).
You can come up with all the angles you want. (my wife was sleep walking and shot the dog then in a fit of depression forgot how to use the door knob and began kicking it in, Jesus Christ came back and my dog was the devil, ATF had the wrong adress and thought i was the last Davidian...)
I DO NOT CARE.
Whoever it is, they are done.period.
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Old January 11, 2000, 11:54 PM   #20
Zensho
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Is waiting a few seconds for a positive ID going to lessen ones chances given the fact that they have had: 1) ample warning of a possible problem. 2) ample time to dial 911 and/or seek decent cover? Too many variables for a hasty decision, once the bullet leaves the muzzle it is done.
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Old January 13, 2000, 12:02 PM   #21
pluspinc
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Shooters love scenarios and they never have much to do with reality and get so bizaar Chuck Norris couldn't match them for lack of reality.
A more realistic one is, " you wake up with the thug looking down on you." With an estimated 3,000 OCCUPIED homes burglarized in our state each year that have guns we average less than one self-defense shooting a year by a homeowner. That will give you a clue about reality.
You'll probably wake up and your wallet will be gone from your pants on the floor next to your bed.
Also 66% or MORE of home burglary is via UNLOCKED doors. Thugs don't even need a tool to get into most homes. and many of those are homes where the occupants SWEAR they ALWAYS lock the doors etc.
You also won't be confused or baffled wondering who is trying to kill or harm you. Ray Charles will be able to see the problem in the real world. It won't be a mystery.
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Old January 13, 2000, 09:41 PM   #22
Erik
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More thought needs to given here...

What if the neighbor, policeman, or anyone else entered the house, causing the BG to flee, and was attempting to knock the door down to check on you? His bad luck? Have a good life as the new poster child FOR gun control! Unreasonable? It has happened before, and will again... Also, you failed to address the possibility of the BG being there, but that good guys may be in the immediate vicinity. Your would be rescuers are in harms way, as none of you can garanty 100% hits on a target you cannot see. Once more, you become the toast of the town amongst anti-gun circles...

Erik
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Old January 14, 2000, 10:11 AM   #23
Matt VDW
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Erik: You state, in reference to a neighbor or policeman knocking down a door in order to "check on you", that it "has happened before". Could you please give some details on an actual incident of this type? It seems highly unlikely to me that someone interrupting a home invasion would then storm into the house and break down the bedroom door without making any effort to identify him- or herself. For that matter, how likely is it that a police officer would even just happen to be passing by as the bad guys broke in?

Suppose the door breaks in and an armed man enters the bedroom. How do you know, at that point, that the intruder still isn't just a concerned neighbor or an undercover police officer? And maybe he's shooting at you because he thinks that you're the bad guy. And maybe he's wearing a mask because he's afraid of germs.

Pluspinc: Yes, it's an unrealistic scenario. What's your plan for waking up with a thug in the bedroom?
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Old January 14, 2000, 10:19 PM   #24
Erik
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I heard the story at the police academy, then from a DOC firearms trainer, and finally again from my department's firearms instructor... I'll have to ask about more specifics, though. It is passed around as a "common knowledge" incident that happened a few years back.

Erik

Oh, I'm in Colorado, though am not sure if the case stems from here. Seperately, though, never shot at what you cannot see. I do know that a Denver officer shot through the wall at someone shooting at him. Reasonable, right? Well, he killed another officer, not the BG.
Br reasonable and prudent- nobody can gaurantee hits on someone they cannot see.

Erik
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Old January 15, 2000, 03:57 PM   #25
James K
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As unlikely as some of these scenarios are, is this the place to suggest to the LEOs out there that identifying themselves is a good idea? I won't go into my opinions of "LEO"s who dress like terrorists, remove badges, cover their faces to avoid identification in court, and just love to machinegun everyone in sight.

Jim
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