A Little Reality in Home Defense

I must confess, I get a bit concerned when I read what some preppers say about home and personal defense. I think we’ve all seen a few too many post-apocalyptic movies, where there’s no law and order, warlords’ rule their little territories, and only the fastest on the draw survive.

Can things get that bad? Yes, it has happened in other parts of the world and we’re not immune. But the chances of something like that actually happening here are slim, mostly because there are so many privately owned firearms. The criminal element where those warlords would come out of might have guns and the willingness to use them; but objective reality would force them to recognize that they aren’t the only ones with guns.

In a very real sense, a post-disaster world would be much like the Old West. Not the Old West of Hollywood, dominated by fast-draw gunslingers seeking to build their reputation. Not by criminals robbing the bank or the stagecoach. Those things are inventions of the movie industry. There is no recorded case of the fast-draw being used in the Old West and the crime rate was very low.

Being a criminal wasn’t a good-paying “profession” in the Old West and was usually short-lived, because just about everyone in the West had fought in the Civil War. Someone who has stood their ground in the face of gunfire isn’t likely to be buffaloed by some hotshot that thinks he’s something, just because he has a gun.

Granted, most of us have never been in the place of having to stand under fire, even though there are plenty of veterans in the prepping movement. But we do have guns and we’re accustomed to using them. It’s a whole lot easier for a criminal to ride roughshod over someone who’s unarmed, than it is over someone who not only has a gun, but is well-practiced in its use.

This is not to say that there won’t be any criminals or criminal gangs out there; I’m sure there will be. But I’m also sure that there will be citizen groups that take up the slack if our law enforcement abandons their posts. You and I, being the type of people that we are, will likely be involved in such groups, helping to keep our communities safe from the criminal element.

You see, I don’t really expect us to reach a time of total lawlessness, at least not for more than a few days. Regardless of how bad things get, American citizens will step up to the bat, taking care of their communities. That doesn’t just mean law enforcement, it means a citizens’ court system as well.

Herein is where I see a potential problem for a lot of preppers, specifically those who are putting a lot of money into ballistic armor and sniper rifles. Some of them act more like they’re preparing to fight a war from their home, than preparing to survive a disaster. While a war might come, if it does, it will likely be much more widespread than your home and your neighborhood.

Deadly Force

It is a principle of American law that we have the right to use deadly force in self-defense. Some states add the right to use it in defense of others and even in defense of property. But there’s a huge caveat hung on there; that is, the courts have to agree with you, after the fact, that it was self-defense and the use of deadly force was necessary.

That’s not going to go away if we have a disaster. You or I might get away with killing someone, calling it self-defense, but only if it is clearly self-defense. Our communities will judge our actions and if they determine that we are a danger to them, because we haven’t merely acted out of self-defense, they’ll take action on their own, taking us out of play. So, we’d better understand what we’re doing and apply a little bit of restraint to our actions.

Let’s talk legalities for a moment. For something to be considered self-defense, it has to be defending against “an imminent threat of life and limb.” The word “imminent” there means “right now.” That means an adversary is close enough to you, and facing you, to actually use the weapon they are holding against you. If they are farther away than that or are facing any other direction, they are not an imminent threat. The “live and limb” part refers to them being able to either seriously hurt or kill you. There’s a lot of grey area there, such as someone rushing you with a stick. Can the do serious injury to you? That’s something for the court to decide.

Another test that’s used is what’s known as the “reasonable man rule.” The question is raised whether your actions were those that a reasonable person, put in the same circumstances, would feel their life was in danger to the point where the use of deadly force was a reasonable action to take. Killing someone shouting threats from down the street isn’t seen as reasonable; but if they’re in your face and are threatening your life, it probably is.

So, what does this all mean for you and I in a post-disaster world?

First, it means we can forget about sniper rifles. Unless someone starts taking pot-shots at your home from a couple hundred yards away and you can see them shooting, there is no way that you can legitimately call the use of a sniper rifle at long range self-defense. Keep the rifle, but use it for hunting instead.

Secondly, we get into a really sticky area when it comes to defending our homes. For the most part, the courts will see someone in your home, facing you, with a weapon in your hand as an imminent threat of life and limb. But what if you’re facing five or six people with weapons, who are outside your home, threatening to attack you if you don’t give them food? While you and I would see this as an imminent threat of life and limb, there’s no telling whether the courts would or not, especially if the jury was composed of hungry people who are jealous of our food stockpile.

There’s no way that I would let 5 or 6 armed people into my home, just so that I could satisfy the courts definition of “imminent threat.” At the same time, I recognize the great risk I would be taking in fighting them, even if I could keep them outside my home, while I fought from inside. If I win, it’s not going to look good to others and losing is not worth contemplating.

More than anything, I think that defending our homes during such a time is going to require a lot of restraint. Rather than being quick to shoot, we should avoid shooting as long as possible, giving our antagonists every possible chance to steal away. A fight not fought, where the bad guys give up, is still a win in our books.

If you do end up having to pull the trigger, then I’d try to make the fight as short as possible. That means taking out the leaders first, to demoralize the rest of the gang. Once the leaders are down, it’s quite possible that the rest will give up and flee, especially those who are only there because they were pressured to join.

A Better Option

Rather than waiting to see if our homes are going to come under attack, it makes a whole lot more sense to be proactive about our community’s security. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a good chance that law-abiding citizens will come together, forming a defensive force to protect their homes. We should not only be part of that, but quite possibly be the ones who are organizing it.

Why us? Because we’re probably the best equipped and prepared people to organize such an effort. Not only are we armed and prepared for a disaster, but many of us are former military. That gives us training which will be invaluable in protecting our communities.

But I’ll give you an even better reason than that; I can guarantee you that there will be groups forming, with the goal of redistributing necessary supplies. These socialist groups will believe that they have just as much of a right to your food stockpile as you do and that you would be selfish not to share. If we allow such groups to take hold, we’re going to find ourselves outnumbered and eventually overwhelmed. Rather than helping to protect our communities, we’ll find ourselves having to protect ourselves from those communities.

Most people will be looking for someone to bring order our of chaos. If the person who does that promises to get them food, they’ll easily gain a following. It would be better that we gain that following than they do. While that will increase the responsibility on our shoulders, it will be much safer for us than having to fight our neighbors.

Being proactive won’t stop others from trying to form groups to take away our food; but it will put us in the position of having a group of people with guns, who are available to protect anyone who needs protection. That includes ourselves. So, if those other groups decide to storm our homes, we will hopefully have others standing with us; enough others to convince those demanding our food to go elsewhere and lave us along.

Let’s Take that a Step Further

Of course, the best way to ensure the loyalty of those who are working with us it to help them meet their own needs. A few bags of rice and beans and enough extra seed to help them start their own gardens will go a long way towards gaining their trust and support; enough so, that they might just vote you in as their leader. While that carries extra responsibility; it also helps ensure that your family and your community will be taken care of. Isn’t that worth it?

Written by

Bill White is the author of Conquering the Coming Collapse, and a former Army officer, manufacturing engineer and business manager. More recently, he left the business world to work as a cross-cultural missionary on the Mexico border. Bill has been a survivalist since the 1970s, when the nation was in the latter days of the Cold War. He had determined to head into the Colorado Rockies, should Washington ever decide to push the button. While those days have passed, the knowledge Bill gained during that time hasn’t. He now works to educate others on the risks that exist in our society and how to prepare to meet them. You can send Bill a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • Yeah, I’m sure we all have that general idea in the back of our head, but it WILL go out the window in societal chaos. And it should. Anyone that wants your stuff bad enough will come for it, regardless. If their first attempt fails, which it probably won’t because criminals and the desperate don’t follow rules, they’ll just come back with more non law abiding and desperate people. So, the takeaway here is, don’t give them the opportunity to get reinforcements. The phrase “shoulda took care of it when you had the chance” shouldn’t be in hindsight, plant that little phrase right on your forehead. True or not, don’t let that blah blah legal blah crap scare you into risking you and your family’s survival.

    • Yeah, Mike’s right. I’ve been reading Bill’s very good articles for years, but I think a god-fearing elderly man by now and his ‘faith’ in humanity is ‘influencing’ his better military judgment.

      First off, what makes anybody think in an all out HEMP first strike which the Chinese military is already planning, which if implemented successfully on a non-interceptable intercontinental hypersonic missile, which will cause a total power collapse for months which is predicted to cause a 90% death rate of the entire population in that time span…that any so-called authoritative judgment system like like we once had will even still in existence at all? We’re not talking a Florida Cat 4 or 5 where roving looters who will eventually get arrested if not justifiably first shot while attempting home invasions against armed home owners. And in due course first responders and the National guard will eventually get there.

      If We are talking an Apocalyptic total collapse there will be survivors in any nuclear MAD scenario but most would be in rural areas not near major military bases and most of those who make long-term it would be the one’s well ‘prepped’ and ready.

      So the Big thing wrong here is that in the initial chaos of this magnitude, after the initial shock and awe is over for the most part and people come out of hiding there will be different behavior in their social integrations depending primarily on their ‘supply’ situation, to varying degrees. From instant desperate violent insanity if they don’t still have a modicum of access to food and water. Again, in certain communities that were not necessarily avid preppers but where most of your neighborhood knows each other and are decent persons who were pretty self-reliant in their lifestyles would come together to help each other out as people usually do in catastrophes. At least for a while until the supply chains dwindle from the power outages. And the hunger games begin.

      Then those who have no supplies or resources but do have firearms will start to emerge first as general looters and scavengers because there will be a lot of abandoned ‘stuff’ as depicted in a lot of survival movies because in an ‘all-consumptive society where ‘more’ is the standard of its existentialism, a good scavenger will last for a while if he can find water and not freeze to death and won’t need to attack anybody on a daily basis., especially what looks like a possible well defended compound. Again, the variations and extremes are primarily in direct proportion to location and resources. And of course, the main cause of death will be lack of almighty electricity and attendant starvation and disease and within a few weeks most of the population will be dead or dying and too sick and weak to do much of anything, let alone home invasions. If you have an armed gang of desperados trying to make a living out of mounting assaults on someone’s occupied home falls under the Clint Eastwood aphorism that ‘dying ain’t much of a living, boy’ Because these criminal groups were at a ‘survival’ disadvantage to begin with because they were not preppers, how long do you think they’ll continue under worst case scenarios, especially against better equipped and better prepared and potentially better trained with a real tactical defense plan.

      As far as the scenario example the article depicts this would never be happening in my case. and obviously not in Mike’s case either.

      Several armed men would never get close enough to my camp, let alone my living quarters to be within ‘talking distance’ in a really bad all out SHTF TEOTWAWKI environment. If they ignored the no trespassing and caution plague victims ahead warning signs and tried to move closer after reading the message, Then that is something the now extinct courts once had a Latin phrase for that meant the ‘criminal had a presence of mind knowing that he would be committing a criminal act; Which under the old criminal justice system the victim, me, would never be charged for taking them out under any circumstances if they tried to make past the perimeter defenses, and the dogs, a couple more ‘exciting’ deterrents, and then me, who will have already flanked and check mated them giving them one last chance to drop their shit and give it up, or guaranteed a quick demise, the only thin left would be deciding which one i’d just wound so I could ‘persuade’ him to talk about his problems and confess if they had any more bad people in their group out there.if he wanted to be treated for his wounds and have a hot meal and a cold beer so he could live another day as a good Christian convert and reformed sinner. I know that might offend some religionists but i think that would be mighty Christian of me? After all, didn’t old Jeeze himself tell his Apostle Survivalists to gun up, er, Sword up for the potential dangers?

      The takeaway here is two fold. You never ever start a ‘chat room’ with some armed people trespassing on your property. You give them one warning to turn around immediately and go far away, and you get set to take them out There is no such thing as friendly Great depression style homeless people riding boxcars who will ‘work for food’ in an Apocalypse. Especially if they smell, look, and act funny while holding guns. Anybody like that is automatically a deadly danger imminent threat not open for debate and/or discussion Get the F away or die…

      ideally, you should never have let them get that close to begin with.

      The most important factor in a survival scenario is not your food and water stash. It is your physical location security. If you’re lucky to have a rural BOL set up a simple and relatively cheap barbed wire and tree branch perimeter with punji stakes if they slip down and fall and crossed barbed wire trip wire 6 inches high on the other side of the fence i they try to get over it with kaltrops you can easily make if you have a spot welder out of 10 penny or larger nails spread ahead so when they trip and fall they get ‘nailed’. while setting off other trip wire pull alarms that people carry on their key chains very cheap 130 decibal screamers to alert you in time to set up in a pre built concealed ambush hide as they try to tear themselves free and you have an almost undefeatable advantage.

      I think Muhatma Mujesbude wrote an article here on Survivopedia a few years ago on perimeter security ‘How to Secure your BOL like a Viet Nam Vet’ or something like that? And of course you can upgrade to several tier levels in layers depending on your expense ration. To make your castle virtually impenetrable–at least by moron criminal Zombies.

  • one of the better articles I’ve read lately >>> if you’re going to follow the letter of the law most places – stand in your doorway waiting for the mob to finish up with your neighbor’s home – might as well kizz your azz gone ….

    simple resistance has shown previously across the world that a mob will go elsewhere for eazier oickings >>> be a hickory nut and not a softshelled peanut

  • Spray the area down with lead repellent and those looters will go away.

  • If someone is creeping around in my backyard at 3am, I’m not asking any queestions.

  • Anyone threatening you with force or deadly force is a ROBBER at the least which is a felony. Give them a little and they will come back for more later with the same demeanor just like MAFIA enforcers collecting the monthly “Insurance Contribution” for the Godfather. It’s one thing if they ask or do try to take and are not armed. It’s another if they threaten any force or harm to you, your neighbors or family. As to long range shots: if the hoard of pillagers are at your neighbors threatening harm, arson etc. anyone stopping them with well placed shots is defending their neighbor i.e. third party defense. As for hanging: if you are not part of their felonious group they may do worse than hang you and your family, neighbors etc. Who in your group is going to hang you for defending your family or your group? Get real! The advice in this article sounds exactly like UN Bovine Scatology and we know how that always turns out. Besides, that bag of rice might be the last you have for your family etc. Forgive them if they leave peacefully? Yes, but, Never trust anyone who threatened you: you will regret it later!