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Friday, September 10, 2010

Home Security Checklist

This is a repost of our most recent Weekly Newsletter for your reading enjoyment!  Click to sign up so you get them directly to your email each week -
Home Security Checklist, Part 2

In our last issue, we discussed preventative measures you can take to keep yourself safe.  In this issue, we'll discuss some of the defensive steps you can take in case you find yourself nose-to-nose with bad guys.


There are a number of options, all of which are generally restricted in some form or another.  It is of paramount importance for you to understand the laws regarding any self-defense tool you purchase. 

For instance, in California, pepper spray is legal, but it has size limitations.  In most states, expandable batons are legal, but they're illegal in California.  Use one to save your life, and YOU will be going to jail.

Pepper Spray - an excellent all-around defensive tool.  Causes involuntary closing of the assailant's eyes and makes breathing difficult.  Easily carried and concealed, and relatively inexpensive to purchase.  Able to stop multiple attackers, allowing you to escape.  Generally considered to be non-lethal.

Stun Guns - very effective tools, but require direct contact with the assailant.  The disable the attacker with an electrical charge (up to 1 million volts) that causes involuntary muscle seizures.  Easily carried and concealed, inexpensive, but only able to stop one attacker at a time.  Generally considered to be non-lethal.

Tasers - like stun guns, the attacker is disabled by an electrical charge.  The civilian models fire electrical probes up to 15 feet.  Both of the probes must make contact with the attacker to be effective.  In the event the probes miss their mark, the Taser can be quickly converted into a stun gun.  Expensive compared to stun guns or pepper spray.  Generally considered to be non-lethal.

Handguns - fires a projectile (the bullet) at a high rate of speed into the attacker, causing trauma to their internal organs.  Possession is highly restricted in most states, unless state-sponsored training is completed.  Very effective if used properly.  Able to stop multiple attackers.  Considered to be a lethal weapon.

Shotguns - the favored home-defense weapon by most experts.  Home defense models can be purchased for less than most handguns, and they are allowed in virtually all states.  Contrary to popular belief, shotguns must be aimed like any other weapon to be effective, but when "shot" is used (as opposed to slugs), the defender has a greater margin for error to ensure they stop the attacker.  Effective against multiple attackers.  Considered to be a lethal weapon.

Rifles - generally not recommended for home defense, as the risk of "over penetration" (the bullet hitting the attacker and still passing through walls behind him) is too great.  Like shotguns, they are generally allowed in virtually all states.  Effective against multiple attackers (less so for bolt-action rifles).  Considered to be a lethal weapon.


Once you have decided on the self-defense tools you wish to use, and which are legal in your jurisdiction, proper training is very important.  Simply owning a defensive tool is not enough - you need to know how to use it to its highest effectiveness.

Non-lethal weapons - there is very little training available for non-law enforcement individuals.  Individuals in Northern California are able to take our Defensive Sprays and Stunning Devices workshop at their place of business or meeting hall.

Lethal weapons - there is a great deal more training available for handguns, shotguns and rifles.  We offer the NRA certified FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation class on a regularly scheduled basis.

Additionally, for individuals interested in gaining some additional handgun self-defense skills, we offer our Practical Defensive Pistol courses.  Most geographic areas have at least one training center for these types of classes.

Many local shooting clubs have basic trap and skeet shooting courses for individuals to be able to learn how to properly use a shotgun.  Most of these skills are transferable to defensive situations.  The NRA also offers a number of shotgun courses around the country.  One note, though:  Home defense shotguns generally have a shorter barrel - 18 1/2 inches or so.  Be sure to get some practice to be able to see how your shot pattern changes with the shorter barrel.

As noted above, a rifle is not a great choice for a self-defense weapon, but the skills you learn can be transferred to pistol and shotgun shooting.  Rifle training is offered by the NRA, but I believe the best rifle training is offered by the Appleseed Project.  It is two days of practical training that is geared towards males and females of all ages. 

I truly cannot recommend this training highly enough.  Women of all ages, men under 21 or individuals in the military are all able to take the training at no cost (other than for ammunition).  The fees for all others is very reasonable (it was $70 for two days of training when I took the course in May of 2010 - see here).

Put together a plan.  The first choice is always avoidance.  The best place to be when disaster strikes is somewhere else.

Sadly, our world doesn't always allow us to avoid danger.  Obtaining the proper tools and training will go a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Next Issue:   Using A Holster

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


MikeH. said...


I find it ironic that should one use, for example, an expandable baton to protect themselves from attack they would be subject to arrest for the use or possession of the baton.

On the other hand though, I can fully understand the justification anyone might have to leave the scene (post haste) after beating the hell out of OR scoring an "X" ring shot on some low live tough guy who was looking to do the same.

I suppose this line of thinking falls under the "I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six" logic.


Chief Instructor said...

Mike, it hurts my head to think how our laws are so twisted. The batons, in particular, drive me nuts.

They could be a great self-defense tool. They're small, light weight, and can be used to even the odds, for women in particular.

But some cop got beaten, or a politician's kid got hit, so they had to be banned. And look how much safer we all are as a result.

Anonymous said...

You didn't discuss a knife. Very useful in a defensive situation and easily concealable which offers the advantage of keeping an attacker overly confident.

Ryan said...

Chief, A point of disagreement when it comes to the relative penetration (or over penetration) of rifles in comparison to shotguns. There is a certain amount of penetration necessary to be an effective antipersonnel weapon. I think smart folks say 12-18 inches of human like material.

When folks think about the penetration of shotguns they sometimes fail to factor in using shot(a complicated discussion in and of itself but certainly it needs to start with "buck" not "bird") sufficient to stop large predators. Heavy shot will go through multiple stick frame type walls.

Personally I have been leaning more and more toward the rifle for home defense. A bolt action 300 win mag with an 8 power scope would be a poor choice however an M4 or AK series could be a real good one. The right ammo will manage over penetration as much as can be done. They hold a heck of a lot more than the 4-7 shots a standard pump gun does. Also the second shot (and third, fourth, etc) are a lot faster. In these days of home invasions by 2-3+ armed goblins that is a real advantage. Shotguns are cheap and relatively easy to use which are big pluses. However I have a lot of muscle memory with rifles (particularly the M4) and already own one which negates those points.

Tis something I have been thinking about lately.

Chief Instructor said...

Ryan, point well-taken about the number of available rounds. Still, a 7.62 round is going to have much more over penetration than 00 Buck. I personally don't want that in the back of my mind.

My issue of late has been the training. Finding a range that allows buckshot is tough to find. I think I've found a private party that will allow me and my business partners some regular range time on his property.

Oblio13 said...

A 5.56 carbine with ammo such as M193 is perhaps the best of both worlds, less over-penetration than buckshot, and greater magazine capacity and effective range.

Having said that, I think people worry too much about over-penetration and not enough about misses.