View Full Version : Doorbell rang after 1am in the morning...

September 3, 2009, 07:53 AM
I'd like to discuss my actions and perhaps hear of some options I may have overlooked.

I was dead asleep in our upstairs bedroom when I half made out the doorbell. My wife immediately says "Someone is at the door!". She is pregnant and has trouble sleeping as of late. I ask her if she's sure it was the doorbell and she says "absolutely".

My first step was to roll out of my bed and access my Gunvault handgun safe which is concealed next to my bedside. I grab my Glock 19 which is loaded but with an empty chamber. (I know this is a controversial subject and many will say to keep one in the pipe, but I also have a 3 years old, and I prefer not to take that chance) I look out my bedroom window to the driveway to see if I can see someone at the door. If I saw a police car or someone's car I recognize, I would then lock up my pistol again before heading downstairs. I see nothing. I told my wife to get the phone and go into our son's bedroom while I looked out different windows from upstairs checking the side and back of the house...nothing. We have designated our master bathroom as the saferoom, but at that point I didn't feel threatened enough to have them move into there.

In my mind I figure it's 1 of 2 things...a kid playing ring and run (it was a weeknight), or a criminal checking to see if we're home before attempting a break in. *We have one of the nicer homes in our area and I think we'd be a likely target. There have been more and more break in in our area as of late too. I flip on some outside lights and head downstairs with the inside lights still off. Taking my time, I search the downstairs and all was fine. Nothing outside and nothing inside. All doors are still locked and windows are fine. Still unsure, I kept the Glock at hand and stayed up another hour before heading back to bed.

One thing I did not do initially was to grab my flashlight. My son discovered its location next to my bed and loves to play with it, so it was not there when I needed it. I will address this issue for next time. While going through the house I did find it, but much later on.

What could I have done better? Should I have called the police to be sure? Were my actions overkill?

Thanks for the input!

September 3, 2009, 08:16 AM
Have your wife dial 911.

September 3, 2009, 08:49 AM
FWIW, my Glock 17 is my home defense gun and I don't keep one in the pipe. I had a situation similar to yours several months ago. I keep my glock in a mini-vault just so my child can't get to it. When I check out my house I keep one hand on gripped on the slide. I can rack the slide on a Glock and fire very quickly if necessary.

I don't tend to call 911 for things that go bump in the night, etc. I get my gun and carefully check out my house. My land. My house. My family. My responsibility.

September 3, 2009, 08:58 AM
Do you have motion sensing lights? On garage lighting the driveway, on the outside doors?

I have and usually notice that the light coming on awakes me (ok sometimes :rolleyes:)

Set the sensor using a medium size dog to avois cat/racoons from tripping.

With the wife, probably be best to roll LEO's with a 911 call. You stay on watch until they show-up.

Each situations unique, sounds like you handled it.

September 3, 2009, 09:01 AM
I don't think you did that bad. I am not sure that I agree about calling 911 quite that quick. Kind of hard to describe what the emergency is: "I think the doorbell rang, and it's late."

Since you had no reason to think anyone was inside, I don't think you were wrong to look around inside the house. I don't think you need law enforcement to investigate every night noise. But you might reconsider going outside to investigate - if someone is up to something, they have the advantage of position and darkness, plus opening the door could conceivably give them access to the house and your family.

I understand your desire for safety with a young one around, but reconsider whether you need both an empty chamber and a gun safe - seems a bit redundant. And what about moving your good flashlight into the gun box and getting a cheap one for you and your son to share? (There are some LED flashlight at Lowe's and Home Depot for $10-12 that are not high enough in output to get the "tactical" label but are still bright enough to be pretty useful to you and fun for him.)

Last comment, and it is a mild criticism: If you have a plan to use your bedroom as the safe room, and you are concerned enough to get your gun out of the safe, why not follow the rest of the plan, too? You picked your safe room with some care, I am sure, so it's best not to let instant decision making, with less thought process, over-rule a plan that was made with thoughtful deliberation. Heck, most 3-year-olds can be moved to Mom and Dad's bed and back to their own in the middle of the night and not even remember it in the morning.

People are going to pick things apart on here, because that's what they do, but you are way ahead of most people by having given it advance thought and making preparations. Your commitment to the safety of your family, both in considering your emergency response and in the way you store your firearms, is commendable. Small tweaks will suffice.

September 3, 2009, 09:18 AM
make sure gun is not on nightstand reachable as you did so you are coherent when you have a firearm in hand. Flashlight is an absolute need. You must be able to identify the target. I may even suggest and Insight Technology M6 with a laser. The laser is a great deterent, not quite as good as the old racking of an 870 but most bag guys know the laser is attached to something that is not good for them. Great job on having your family retreat to a safe room but make sure you are between potential threat and your family. Have a cell phone available in case you hard line does not work. Make sure your safe room has some barriers if at all possible to stop/slow down and incoming rounds and the door has a solid lock on it. You may want to consider training your wife in the use of a firearms as well and if you decide to dial 911 you must give them a description of the house along with number of people and location and advise them you have a firearm

Claude Clay
September 3, 2009, 09:27 AM
seems fine......as in alls well that ends well.

perhaps add some lights that can be remotely turned on from the MBR. i have found that to be useful.
my house gun is a BHP. mag seperate & one chambered. my choice to trust the mag safety. i have never read of one failing and all in the house have training. again--my choice. a Shurefire flash is next to it.

to understand what happened to you--bell rang, wife heard it but no car drive off; my guess is kids playing or your light sent the thief elsewhere.

September 3, 2009, 10:01 AM
That's funny, almost the EXACT same thing happened to me Sunday night around 12:30am. My fiance woke me up and said that our doorbell rang... I didn't even hear it (I was PASSED OUT). I asked her if it was our doorbell..

To which she looked at me bewildered and kind of gave response along the lines of, "Why would I care if someone ELSE'S doorbell rang??"

I was in a deep sleep... leave me alone.

Anywho, I checked outside from our window (2 floor townhouse) but couldn't see anything. Door bell rang again and again. I grabbed the shotgun and head downstairs. I peaked out one of our side windows to get a better view from under the front awning. I didn't want to move the blinds at all to give away my position, but I saw a man in a red shirt walking back and forth very close to the door. Of course I wasn't expecting this, and if someone is ringing my doorbell at 12:30am on a work night, you better have a damn good reason. So anyway, I tell my fiance (still waiting upstairs) to call 911. After 10-15 minutes, PD showed up and I explained the situation. Turns out a guy in a red shirt was down the street some ways helping load a car up. My guess is that he went to a friends house to help out and just got the address wrong.

Looking back, what could I have done differently? I think that after I saw the person out front, it would've been a smart move to move back upstairs, and use the bedroom window to ask if I could help the gentleman to better assess the situation. Wrong house? No problem, have a good night. Suspicious questions/answers? The doors stay locked and 911 is getting a phone call. The last thing I would like to do, and I'm glad I didn't, is to open the front door to confront the gentleman. Locked doors and windows are your first line of defense, I'm not about to unlock the door and let a Trojan Horse into my living room if I don't know you.

Willie Lowman
September 3, 2009, 10:43 AM
Kind of hard to describe what the emergency is: "I think the doorbell rang, and it's late." Makes me think of the scene in "Scary Movie" where the girl calls 911, they ask her emergency and she says "White woman in trouble!" Police cars arrive instantly.:rolleyes::p

Seriously though. If the OP's 3 year old is playing with the flash light, I would recomend a Surefire or similar small, powerfull light that can stay in the gun-vault. I keep an x-300 on my Glock with a Executive-elite in my bedroom gun box (extra mag and spare batteries too)

serf 'rett
September 3, 2009, 10:44 AM
Just wondering how you could search your house without a flashlight or turning on lights. Was there enough ambient light? Correct me if I’m wrong, but you didn’t actually go outside, did you? I read it that you scoped out the outside from the inside.
Since I live in a neighborhood, a 1:00 AM ring on the doorbell wouldn’t get me too amped up, but about a month ago I was jarred awake by a 12:45ish crashing sound somewhere in our home. Put the wife on high alert and made the home tour in the semi darkness with pistol and gadzillion candlepower spot light at ready (didn’t turn on spot – street lights front and rear). No further noise and didn’t call 911, but it took a while to get back to sleep.

September 3, 2009, 10:53 AM
Just one comment about people ringing doorbells at 12:00 midnight. I once had to do this. I was riding my motorcycle home and spotted a motorcycle lying in the grass by the road. Looked like someone ditched it, and then I saw a guy lying about 15 feet beyond the motorcycle unconcious.

I ran to the nearest house, rang the doorbell to try to get help. No response. I went to the next house, rang the bell. Someone came to the door, and I told them they didn't need to open it, but asked them to call 911. I finally was able to convince them to do that.

The only reason I mention this is because I've been on the other end of this scenario. I didn't have a cell phone, what else could I really do? The guy was lying face down (no helmet), unconcious, in a bed of fireants. His face was grusome - mising flesh, blood and fireants. I didn't want to move him because he could have had a broken back or neck.

I figured if I begged enough, someone would at least call the cops. Fortunately someone called 911 and the ambulance showed up within minutes.

September 3, 2009, 11:55 AM
Great input guys. First thing I will do is buy and store a Surefire flashlight in my Gunvault. Taking Tailgator's advice, it makes sense that if I'm concerned enough to arm myself, I should have my wife move our son into the saferoom. Even if it's overkill, it never hurts to practice carrying out an emergency plan.

Sorry if it wasn't clear in my OP, but I did not go outside to investigate. If I felt the need to go looking around, I would have then called 911 and stayed with my family.

Skans brings up a good point. Let's say I see someone outside who looks like your average citizen that may need assistance and I decide to open the door. (I don't have a chain on my door) What do you do with your handgun? I would probably keep it in hand and talk through the door to get some info. If you decide to open it, what would you then do with it?

September 3, 2009, 12:02 PM
Even if it's overkill
It's only overkill until you need it.

My wife used to think me a bit "silly" for insisting on having a few "code words". Then we had one of those situations where we needed to get-out without letting the bad-guy know we were on to him (as long as the bad-guy believed we had no idea what was going on we were free to leave, if he'd realized we did know and were leaving to call the cops the bad-guy would have freaked). It was really nice having a plan in place that we could follow.

I've posted a couple of "events" over the years so that they could be critiqued (much like you have done). If you want to see the older threads (here and elsewhere)....

"An alert and what was done (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=368683)"

Real World Scenario...voices in the night (http://www.thehighroad.us/showthread.php?t=400808)

September 3, 2009, 12:16 PM
Seems to me you did everything correctly. I wouldn't have called 911. No reason.
I have 2 suggestions, take a cell phone with you & put a light on your glock.
I have a sig with a light on it by my bed and it sure comes in handy when securing the house. Much easier to open doors & it's always right with the gun. I have another light or two next to the bed also. O ya maybe 3 things, Dogs are very useful, if you ring my door bell at 2 am you will be greeted, before I can get out of bed, by a 90# pit.

September 3, 2009, 12:28 PM

I don't think it's a great idea to be spelunking around in your house in the dark when you had a troubling noise in the middle of the night.

It also doesn't merit a 911 call every time you hear it... because houses just make noise and teenage kids are a PITA when out unleashed in the middle of the night to make relatively harmless trouble.

I'd suggest holing up in one place with your family, or taking up a strong position where you can defend your wife and child, and being absolutely quiet so you can listen to your house. Chances are, nobody is in the house but you don't want to stumble into a criminal from a gut initial reaction to clear your house.

Sit in a strong place, and listen to your house. Give it 10 minutes. If you don't hear anything, then go and check doors and windows.

If you do hear something, then call the police and hold that strong place.


Having a dog helps a lot. My lab/mutt mix would let me know if my house was amiss. I feel comfortable investigating night sounds because I can tell if he's keyed up on something or not.

September 3, 2009, 12:38 PM
It appears to my that you were/are prepared to protect your loved one's and you talked with your wife about what to do. I think that puts you way ahead of the general public on that one.
even if I see what appears to be a citizen in need I DON'T OPEN THE DOOR. That's when I'd call 911. There was a posting on here not to long ago where someone did and the small, petite young lady went to use the restroom and took all their medication. I believe there was jewelry in there too that she took. My family is still number 1 even if there is someone in need. I take care of them first. If I saw a person being beat at my front door I would probably open to help. Maybe open the door just enough to give the BG a little pepper spray at the least, after I called 911.

O ya have you ever pushed hard on a door with a chain on it? It opens really easy.
I arm myself all the time in my house, outside my house it doesn’t mean that I need to put the family in a safe room.
If someone one's trying to beat down the front door, okay. But like you said probably some kids playing r&r.
O ya motion sensor light outside work at keeping BG away. My wife insists on keeping the front porch light on 24/7

September 3, 2009, 12:41 PM
Maybe go downstairs, turn on the outside light, and look through a window near the door (or through the door peep hole) to see who it is and what they want. Don't see anyone? Go back to sleep.

That's not a very tactical suggestion, is it? :D Sorry, but I can't see calling the police, or moving everyone to a safe room, or clearing the inside of the house in that situation. Somebody rang a door bell. It happens.

September 3, 2009, 03:29 PM
I hope I never have any need to ring on your door bell late at night due to an emergency situation or for any reason.

Used to be different, times sure have changed.

Not every ring of the bell is a BG. Huge amount of paranoia here lately...

September 3, 2009, 03:46 PM
only thing i think id do different is goto the door with gun in hand, cellphone in hand with 911 dialed but not hitting send yet, and yell thru the door asking them what they want. If its a burglar they will probably split, if its someone needing help id direct them to step back from the door where i can see them and then open up if i feel safe.

September 3, 2009, 03:47 PM
Paranoia, I don't think so. Times have changed and not for the better. It is amazing to me how many people who have no concern for anyone or thing and care only about what they want and they will do anything to get it. I know I live in an everchanging world and will do what ever I have to do to protect mine.

Lil story: had a friend who was 50+ yrs old. Had a very successful auto repair shop that he owned for 25 years. Smoked crack one day 2 months later no more shop and he turned from a very likable neighbor and great for the community to scum of the community. Sad but true

September 3, 2009, 03:58 PM
goto the door with gun in hand... if its someone needing help id direct them to step back from the door where i can see them and then open up...

Just to be clear, when you say you'd "open up"????? ;):D

September 3, 2009, 05:20 PM
First of all, Don't call the cops. They are very busy.
I exit a rear door and loop around from the back with a flashlight(gun mounted). Mine was a neighbor in need.

September 3, 2009, 07:02 PM
I guess it seems that most of you would not have called 911 either given the circumstances. Would you have armed yourself also like I did, or do you think the situation didn't merit that?

Man, it must really suck to live in a country with no right to bear arms. I would have felt very vulnerable. Yes...before you ask...I am NRA.

September 3, 2009, 07:06 PM
I only had to open, late at night once for a girl that had crashed her bike along the rural road that runs next to my single street subdivision. She had rang at 3 or 4 houses before I answered. I got her a phone and she called her grandma for a ride home. I did not let her in until I checked the porch for others, but being I am a very large and she was not I was not too worried. My wife had a guy stop by claiming his mother was having a baby and needed help. My wife would not let him in but did offer to call the police for him, at that point he left. I think our difference response was because of the hinkiness of the visitors, my wife was saying he kept elaborating his story, whereas mine was pretty straight forward about her troubles. Also barring a weapon, she posed no threat to me and the guy did pose a potential threat to my wife.

September 3, 2009, 07:10 PM
Depends on how I was woken. If it was a doorbell like this scenario, I would automatically reach for my handgun like you did. If it was someone banging on my door like they were trying to break it down or if it was a huge crash, I'd reach under my bed and pull my AR-15 out before I did anything.

September 3, 2009, 07:17 PM
If your town is small just call the fuzz. They have nothing better to do at 1 am and would love to go look around for some thieves. Unless I can hear someone in my house I don't open the door for anyone at 1 am. If they are breaking in then the door will open but at 1am it only opens from the inside out and it comes with some buckshot.

September 3, 2009, 07:23 PM
Mostly I think the OP did good. You turned on the outside lights and didn't go out. Don't call 911 right away, but have the phone in hand (or her hand).
I keep a SIG P226 and a flashlight in my bedside lockbox, as well as a J frame .38 for my wife. I don't really like mounted lights, but I have bright flashlights stashed all around the house.
I have a little, nervous dog to sound the alarm, and a big dog to back it up.

September 3, 2009, 08:08 PM
...after 1am in the morning
Is there any other kind of 1 am?

Okay, re: the GunVault...are you saying your 3-year old can get into it? If not, why is a round not already chambered? Don't you think the GunVault slows you down enough to begin with? You feel the need to handicap yourself further by having a locked pistol in Condition Three? Really?

Hmmm, maybe you want to add a trigger lock and slow yourself down a bit more, what say? How about having your wife handcuff you before bed (no, not for that :rolleyes:)

When the BG comes through your window, how many layers of self-imposed "safety" do you want to struggle through?

Guess you could always move to DC or Chicago and only own a weapon that is disassembled and locked up...or you could live in Britain and have to leave your firearm locked up at the Gun Club.

I guess I just don't understand your logic.

Yeah, I'm being kind of rough on you, but you really need to think about this a bit more. Please do so....soon.

September 3, 2009, 08:18 PM
I would arm myself and go to the door and yell out loud"What do you want."
If nobody answered me I would be vigilant for 5-10 minutes and go back to bed.Why dial 911 just because the door bell rang? It may just be someone needing help or maybe the Cops themselves.

September 3, 2009, 08:19 PM
Not every ring of the bell is a BG. Huge amount of paranoia here lately...

Well, only a quick study of "game theory" would show that
Armed+Badguy= probably best you were armed and prepared.
Armed+Neighbor in need = No harm, no foul
Unarmed+Neighbor in need = no harm, no foul
Unarmed+Badguy= serious trouble.

out of all those possibilities the only one that leads to trouble has "unarmed" involved.

September 3, 2009, 08:24 PM
orionengr, I see your point. I have thought long and hard about that decision. The honest truth is that shortly after getting my gunvault and glock, I got home from work one night and noticed that I left the door open on the safe. My heart sank and I got sick to my stomach. I totally did not remember leaving it open and I have never in my life done that with my rifle safe. The only solace I had was to know that the chamber was empty and that it would be close to impossible for a 2 year old to rack it. My fault I know... I still can't believe I did it. I am so thankful nothing happened and I will never let that happen again.

I compare that feeling I got to the half a second it will take me to rack it if necessary, and I'm confident in my decision. If I wake up with a BG on top of me, there's no way I'm going to be able to open the safe anyway. Spyderco is on my nightstand though...Powerlifting and martial arts helps too.

September 3, 2009, 08:28 PM
Fair enough.

I don't know where you live. Is having a CHL an option?

For me, any loaded pistol that is not in the safe is never more than arm's reach away (when I'm asleep). If I'm awake, it's on my person, so a lot of variables are eliminated.

Also, don't count on "half a second to rack" unless you are exceptionally well-trained and all goes in your favor. Files are rife with examples of people who forgot to disengage the safety while the adrenaline was flowing.

In the end, it's your call. As long as you are really thinking through the possibilities (especially the less attractive ones) and are comfortable with your conclusions, you will rest easy (and you will probably be fine). It is not my place to say you are wrong, only to give you something to think about...

September 3, 2009, 09:10 PM
I do not keep a round chambered in my safe for one reason, I figure the most likely time I am going to grab the gun and grab the trigger is pulling it from the safe, by the time I get to the safe, open it and get the gun and spare magazine out, another second to rack the slide is not going to make a difference. When holstered, I would have a round in the chamber.

September 3, 2009, 09:30 PM
Last time that happened to me I was just getting ready to hit the sack. My wife was out of town. Doorbell rings, I stick the J frame in an IWB and answer the door. It was the police, so I am glad I didn't call them.

They were looking for my son, which is a long story. He now has his DL changed to his correct address.

Someone was trying to jam him up and the address on file for him was ours, not his.

Officer was not concerned at all about my being armed, which was good.

September 3, 2009, 09:35 PM
Btw, when carrying a handgun I DO keep one in the pipe. Just not in the safe. If I didn't have kids I certainly would though. I appreciate everyone's opinions...thank you guys.

September 3, 2009, 09:41 PM
I wouldn't call the police just because someone rang my doorbell after 1 am, but I'd go to the door armed and with it showing.

Anyone coming to my door after midnight can expect to see me checking the door with a loaded (in the pipe) gun.

My wife would do the same thing, but would not open the door, but would speak thru the door.

Luckily we have some glass in the door, large enought to see thru, but not large enough to get thru ... if you know what I mean.


September 4, 2009, 03:41 PM
Armed+Badguy= probably best you were armed and prepared.
Armed+Neighbor in need = No harm, no foul
Unarmed+Neighbor in need = no harm, no foul
Unarmed+Badguy= serious trouble.

I didnt know BGs knocked.. Regardless I do not answer the door with a handgun in my hand. I have a kid or two and at times wierdly enough, their friends may drop over at odd times. Now that isnt to say a weapon isnt close to me, I just dont have it in my hand ready to shoot until I know it is needed.

Geez dont anyone have perimeter defenses and bouncing betties ready to deploy?

September 4, 2009, 04:21 PM
Okay, re: the GunVault...are you saying your 3-year old can get into it? If not, why is a round not already chambered? Don't you think the GunVault slows you down enough to begin with? You feel the need to handicap yourself further by having a locked pistol in Condition Three? Really?

I keep my gun in one of those minivaults, and I don't keep a round chambered. Why? Because it's a Glock - if it was a DA/SA I'd keep a round chambered. I shoot it quite a bit, put it in my car, pull it out of my car, put it back, bang it, drop it...- lots of handling. It's just safer for me to never keep a round in the chamber - too easy to NDS.

In fact, this is the reason why I want a different gun for Home Defense - I want a DA/SA that holds 20 rounds and is every bit as indestructabel and reliable as my Glock. If My Smith 659 held 20 rounds - I'd have the backstrap professionally shaped and go back to that.