Over the weekend, there was a heated discussion on a firearms board I moderate. The basic question was, What should you do if you come home and find the front door to your house wide open?
Several people — including yours truly — said that the smart thing to do would be to call the cops. Let them go looking for trouble while you stay safe.
The idea of staying out of unnecessary danger didn’t sit well with the tactical crowd. Many wanted to immediately rush in and “clear the house,” playing hide-n-seek with a potential intruder. Some people feel that calling the authorities would mean they were too wimpy to take care of their own homes, and many didn’t (and don’t) realize they could literally die of embarrassment if they let their fear of social awkwardness dictate their actions.
You might remember reading my own point about this not all that long ago: “Don’t go looking for someone who wants to kill you. Not by yourself, and not without extreme need.” To reinforce that point with some additional perspective, here’s a truly excellent post from “Powderman,” who is a law enforcement officer in a western state. I have used it with his permission.
This is addressed to those who say that they will clear their homes alone in this eventuality; those who would hesitate to call the police, and those who are concerned about false calls or false alarms, and “crying wolf”.
I am the one who gets the call from Dispatch saying that a person has an open door; possible burglary in progress, (address), homeowner/occupant is (insert location here) and is watching the residence.
My reply is, “Received. Do you have a description of the homeowner?”
Dispatch then gives me your description.
By this time, I’ve got every light on the vehicle going, but no siren. Why? I want to CATCH them, not scare them off. Usually, there are at least two units responding to back me up, as well.
My lights go off a couple of blocks away. I and at least one other officer will contact you and ask a few questions.
Does anyone else have a key?
Have you given anyone permission to enter?
Did you leave anyone home; is everyone accounted for?
Are there any pets inside?
Did you leave any firearms or other weapons accessible inside?
Finally, do we have permission to enter and clear your home?
Units will set a perimeter to observe and secure all sides of the home.
I’ll prepare to go in with a partner. We’re both wearing body armor and radios with earpieces. Both of us will grab our patrol carbines (AR15 type) and chamber a round. We’ll make sure we have a couple of reloads as well.
I’ll then tell you, “Stay behind cover, and whatever else you do, do NOT approach or enter the house until you see us come out.”
We will then enter and clear the home.
We are wearing body armor and carrying rifles. We do NOT, except under extreme emergency, enter a home alone.
We accept that if someone is there, there is a good chance that we’ll get into a fight–possibly a gunfight at VERY close quarters.
My son was in Fallujah in 2004. He cleared buildings with other Marines for two solid months–and Fallujah is a pretty big city. And yes, he told me that he did encounter hostiles while clearing buildings and houses. If you think trading a few shots inside is a daunting challenge, try getting into a gun fight, with both sides going full auto at almost muzzle contact range.
HE has told me that he will NEVER clear a building or house alone–and this is a guy with more experience than most of us can ever think of.
For those who still want to do it, think of it in this way–what is a more somber trend of thought–you waiting for the police to arrive, with the possibility that your hard earned belongings are being taken…
…or having someone approach your wives, husbands, sons or daughters to tell them that one of the people they love most in the entire world just got shot to death?
Folks–PLEASE do not attempt to clear the house by yourself. Call us. It doesn’t matter how many times you call–I would rather respond 100 times to your address to clear your home with no result, than have to respond ONCE to collect your dead body.