There are many facets to developing a home defense plan, and for many people, this begins with the purchase of a gun. This is a big step, but the plan doesn't end there.
However, since the purchase of a gun is likely to be the first step many take in securing their homes, it isn't something to be taken lightly.
There's no shortage of options for guns to consider for home defense.
What you choose will be predominantly influenced by your budget, your experience level, and what best suits your needs for defense.
Regardless of what your specifics are, there are three main types of guns from which to choose: rifles, shotguns, and pistols.
Each has its own set of pros and cons, but with a little research, you can decide which is right for you.
Pistols for Home Defense
Handguns are very portable and easy to carry with you. They weigh considerably less than rifles or shotguns and are much smaller, making it easier to keep one with you at all times.
This means you're more likely to have it on or near you in the event of some kind of trouble. Handguns are also easier to conceal, making storage much easier than with other kinds of guns.
While any good instructor will tell you that you should use both hands for shooting a pistol, they are much easier to manipulate and fire with one hand than other guns are, which could free up your non-firing hand if need be.
Interestingly enough, the compact size of handguns is both a credit and a detriment.
There's a greater potential for missing your intended target because of the smaller barrel size. Longer barrels equal increased accuracy.
When you add in the adrenaline of a defense situation, aiming and pressing the trigger are more difficult, making overall manipulation a little more challenging.
Power is an issue as well, as there exists the potential for both underpowered and overpowered rounds depending on the caliber. Neither is good for you in a defensive situation.
Too weak, and the assailant keeps coming; too powerful, and the round might go through the criminal and hit an unintended target.
Rifles for Home Defense
Rifles are inherently more accurate than handguns, especially if you're an inexperienced shooter.
Their longer barrels mean better aiming accuracy and a more accurate trajectory of the round because of the bullet twist. They're inherently more stable than handguns because you're forced to use both hands and brace the rifle against your body.
Rifles are also less gross-motor-function reliant than handguns, which is helpful in the stress of a self-defense situation.
Rifles are quicker and easier to reload than shotguns.
In most cases, they also have a greater bullet capacity than both shotguns and handguns, which is great if there are multiple assailants or in the event you miss.
There's also a level of intimidation present with a rifle — especially something like an AR — that aids in making your would-be attackers reconsider their decision to invade your home.
All of those pluses do come with some drawbacks, one of which is the size. Being bigger helps for accuracy but not maneuverability.
It can be more difficult to wield a rifle in tight spaces, making searching your home for your assailants a little more awkward.
The size of most rifles also makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to shoot one-handed without having specifically trained to do so.
Additionally, many rifles are chambered in calibers that are too powerful for home defense.
Most hunting calibers and rifles are likely to over penetrate, which could do serious damage to your property and potentially cause injury to another person.
The last thing you want to do hurt your neighbors or loved ones while trying to defend yourself or others.
Not all rifle calibers are like this — some can be great for defense — but be aware that there are a considerable number of rifles that will fall into this category.
Shotguns for Home Defense
First things first: Shotguns are scary. They're loud and powerful, and the sound of one racking is universally recognizable.
There's an element of intimidation with a shotgun that other guns just can't replicate. Plus, shotguns have the same stability as a rifle because they also have a longer barrel and the ability to brace the firearm against your shoulder.
Not to mention, their stopping power is fierce.
If you shoot something with a shotgun, it's going down. Because shotguns shoot in a pattern that spreads outward from the barrel and covers a larger area than a pistol or rifle, it is less likely you'll miss any shots you take.
All that power and intimidation comes at a price — and that price is the power.
The power of a shotgun combined with the spread pattern means that while you are far more likely to hit your target, you're also going to hit everything around it.
There's increased chance of incidental damage and penetration through walls, especially if you do happen to miss, making it more dangerous for anyone else in the house.
Another sacrifice is your shoulder. Shotguns have considerably more recoil than handguns and rifles, and this can cause issues with extended shooting.
The effects of heavy recoil can make follow on shots slower as well as less accurate because you might start anticipating the recoil.
Shotguns are also a little slower to operate in most cases and more likely to have a malfunction of some kind.
These malfunctions tend to take longer to correct than those of handguns or rifles do. Shotguns also come with the same maneuverability issues as a rifle, so movement through your house will be a little more restricted.
Gun Laws for Home Defense - A Brief Overview
Another major component of the gun you choose for home defense will be the legality of the firearm.
Not surprisingly, gun laws differ from state to state. In some cases, the gun you select for home defense might well be dictated in large part by the state in which you reside.
When it comes to guns, the laws are as varied as the guns and the states themselves, so it's worth taking the time to discuss a few points.
Being a responsible gun owner and staying within the realm of the law is entirely up to the individual. It's up to you to make sure you know your state and local gun laws as well as your own rights.
You have a moral and legal responsibility to act in a way that ensures your own safety as well as that of your community.
Part of your home defense plan should be to ensure you're safe legally.
Defending Your Home
Remember that no matter what weapon you select, the important thing is being able to use it.
You must get training and practice with your firearm(link to” Where Can I take a Gun Safety Course) to ensure your proficiency with it.
It doesn't matter if you've selected the absolute best possible home defense weapon on the planet if you can't operate it effectively when the time comes.
In the unfortunate event that your home is invaded by criminals with hostile intentions, there's a considerable amount of stress to be had. It's a dynamic event that moves rapidly and with the highest of possible stakes.
In situations like this, we often don't rise to the occasion, but instead fall to the level of our training. If that training is nonexistent, so too is the response.
Speaking of preparation, it's equally as important to prepare for the after effects of using your gun in a defensive manner as it is to plan for using it.
Understanding what will happen when the police arrive is of vital importance to ensuring your rights aren't inadvertently violated.
Worse still, if you aren't prepared for the police encounter, it could end with you finding yourself arrested.
On top of that, it's just as necessary to understand the psychological impact that this could have on you and your family.
Make sure your plan addresses those considerations as well. A good home defense plan will mitigate exposure and help prevent long-term implications, but it's fundamental to understand that there could be issues afterwards.
It's a traumatic event.
Having a home defense plan is just as important as having insurance and knowing what to do in the event of a fire.
The preparation you put into selecting a home defense weapon and developing a plan lets you act swiftly and decisively in the face of adversity.
Prior planning prevents poor performance at the most critical time.