An email I wrote to a friend regarding home security

I’ve been quiet lately because all the ranges are closed, and classes and matches are getting cancelled. Dealing with the kids’ distance learning and working from home full-time has also been a combination of stressful and distracting.

One recurring theme I’ve seen online (and in person!) is that gun stores are getting hit hard by new gun buyers who are just figuring out that the state isn’t always the best thing to rely on to protect you in a crisis. I’d like to share an email I recently wrote (lightly redacted) I wrote to a friend when he asked me about home security. My response is not gun-oriented, but goes over options that include them. I’m not an SME, and doubtless left things off I shouldn’t have, but I think it covers a number of topics that people who are unfamiliar with protecting themselves should think about.


The military has an acronym “METT-TC” that I find helps with these decision-making processes:

  • Mission
  • Enemy
  • Terrain
  • Troops available
  • Time
  • Civilian considerations

Your mission is “home security”. What does home security mean to you? Are you trying to literally secure your home, or are you trying to deal with intruders who breach? Or both? This is a scope question.

I don’t know who you envision the enemy to be. Wild animals? Looters of opportunity? Hardened criminals? Deserted marauding soldiers?

Terrain is presumably your house. Does it include your yard or other parts of your property? How far away are your neighbors? People sometimes question why I need a good rifle, but if someone’s shooting at my house from a hundred yards away, nothing else is going to work against that threat. I don’t consider it likely, but if things get bad enough, unlikely things can happen.

Troops available is… you? Your wife, too, perhaps?

Time is an interesting consideration. I would say one month should be your planning horizon, but sooner is better. But you should also consider how long the time that you need heightened security will be.

Civilian considerations is a thing. You have a family, with younger kids. Whatever solution you come up with needs to take them into account.

OK, with that covered, let’s talk about lethal and less-lethal:

Pepper spray is less-lethal. Your hands are probably less-lethal unless you’ve had martial arts training. Tasers are generally considered less-lethal, but have killed people before. “Stun guns” are generally considered toys by professionals.

Lethal weapons include knives, bludgeoning weapons, and guns. Baseball bats are lethal weapons. You can easily kill someone with one with a good head strike.

Some thoughts:

  1. Less-lethal weapons tend to be less effective in a general sense. Tasers fail (cops use them because there’s often more cops behind them). Empty-hand requires training and, frankly, can fail against a larger stronger opponent even if you’ve had it. Pepper spray is the best of the bunch, but still requires a modicum of practice, does not incapacitate all attackers reliably, and has obvious issues with accidentally getting it into your eyes in close-in situations.
  2. Lethal weapons require mindset to use effectively (or, potentially, at all). Your average person doesn’t have as many qualms about pepper spraying someone as compared to shooting them in the face. (To re-iterate: there is no legal or even moral difference between you hitting someone with a baseball bat and shooting them!) Normal, law-abiding people are raised to not seriously hurt other people. You will have to make the call on whether you can get into the mindset to do so.
  3. Your only realistic option to defend against multiple attackers rushing your house is a firearm, carried on you. Home invasions happen fast. (As a teacher of mine says, “there are no time outs in a home invasion.”) Multiple attackers are not as rare as people want to believe, and if the economic situation gets bad enough, could become more common. That is not what most people want to hear, but it’s worth considering.
  4. Whatever you choose, it will require some amount of practice. The time to figure out how to utilize a defensive weapon is beforehand, not during.

I have no idea about dogs, having never owned one. I suspect they are probably pretty good at alerting you of trouble. I am more skeptical they are going to take an active part in a fight without training or a lot of time spent with your family. Objects don’t hurt people on their own, but animals can make that decision. Also not sure I’d want another mouth to feed in uncertain times. Something to think about and research.

Here is what I do (not for public disclosure): [redacted for opsec, sorry!]

If you would like some immediate things you could do:

  1. Get some POM pepper spray and a couple of trainers (which just contain water). Practice with the trainers.
  2. Read Varg Freeborn’s book “Violence of Mind”. It is not a super long book, and it will give you some insight into what you might face. I don’t necessarily endorse every word in the book, but you will walk away with some new perspective.
  3. Figure out the answers to the questions I posed above.

Let me know if you have further questions.


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