Identify before you shoot

Perhaps because I am also a professor (though not at all tactical), I enjoy reading “The Tactical Professor” and have reblogged his work on legal defense plans and learning from the masters previously.

The negligent shooting that occasioned this piece occurred in my adopted home state of North Carolina so it caught my attention. What also caught my attention is TP’s attempt to quantify how rare the likelihood is of having to deal with a home invasion. His point is, it is rare, which is crucial to bear in mind when you have a gun in your hand and formulate your tactics.

Now, I am not a statistician, but in his admittedly rough estimate, TP suggests that with a burglary rate of 27.6 per 1,000 households in 2011, there is about a 3% chance that someone coming into your bedroom is a burglar and a 97% chance that it is not.

To reinforce (not challenge) TP’s point, I would add that the 27.6 per 1,000 households burglary rate is for the entire year. The burglary rate for any given day of the year is 27.6/365 per 1,000 households, or 0.08 per 1,000 households. So, there is a 99.92% chance that the person outside your bedroom door is not a burglar.

That is not zero, but it is close. And all other caveats apply: it only takes one bad incident, not every locale is equally dangerous, etc.

But Tactical Professor is exactly right. Even more so than he said.


The house alarm sounded and the wife shot her husband through a closed bedroom door thinking he was an intruder, according to Fayetteville police.

Obviously, that was a ‘negative outcome.’ Therein lays the problem with simply having a gun without doing any scenario training with it. My research has brought me to the point where I am less concerned with the marksmanship aspects of personal protection than I am with 1) proper gunhandling and 2) appropriate decision-making. Those two items are almost completely absent from most gunowners’ repertoire.

There are a competing set of probabilities we have to consider in a home defense situation. If you have anyone else living in your home, the most likely probability is that the 3 a.m. bump you hear or shadow you see is, in fact, a member of your household. For sake of argument, let’s put that probability at nearly 100%. There…

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