Are Guns in the Home the Solution?

More from the Petworth Listserv:
“Laying in bed with my wife this past weekend, hearing gunshots outside the window of Illinois, between Farragut and Gallatin…I came to the resolution I would purchase a shotgun for the safety of those in my home. An end I would have swore to never happen in my life, but our fear is becoming a daily piece of our District of Columbia life. And that is a tragedy.”

27 Comment

  • Yes. A gun in the home, safely secured from unintended, untrained users, is the best chance you have to come away safe should you experience a hostile intrusion.

  • The problem now, is that in order to own a registered shotgun or rifle in your home in DC, it must be unloaded, unassembled, and locked. This way, all you have to do is fumble around in the dark, unlock it, reasseble it, and reload it, all in the 10 seconds it will take someone to run upstairs to your bedroom and put you on your ass.
    Great law. Way to to “protect” your citizens. Sure, if no one had guns we’d all be safer. blah. blah. blah. Sorry, reality check time. There are illegal guns out there, and they get used in crimes. Crack down on illegal guns you say? Thank you for the novel idea. Maybe the police will try that. Oh wait. . .

    The thing is, no matter how hard the police try to stop all the bad people running around out there, there will always be that element. And as long as there is, government should allow its citizens to rightfully defend themselves in their last stand of individual rights, the inside of their home.

  • The unmistakable sound of a pump-action .12 gauge will send the fear of God into any intruder.


    Don’t be a sucker for this ridiculous law and leave your shotgun disassembled. If anything just leave a gun lock on, and a key near by. If, and I hope you never will, have to use your shotgun in self-defense, at least you’ll be able to tell the police/court/judge that you are a responsible gun owner, registered your firearm with the ATF and used a gun lock. If you are defending your home and family, a detail like leaving your gun assembled in your house probably won’t land you a lot of jail time in the eyes of a jury, if any at all.

  • Guns in homes are 22 times more likely to cause harm to the residents than to be used in defense of those homes, so I guess it depends how you feel about those odds

  • mt: Those figures are often quoted without pointing out that they include suicides and accidents. Often gun-phobes use this figure to suggest that this means that said guns are taken away from the owners and used by intruders, which isn’t the case.

    The other significant part of those accident numbers include kids killing themselves or their buddies with said guns. This problem is very serious, but IMHO stems from people having guns and not properly educating their kids or properly securing those weapons. I grew up in a Texas household with at least three dozen different firearms from pistols, to shotguns, to an AR-15 supporter with a 15x scope (but no grenade launcher — “let me introduce you to my little friend”).

    Let’s be honest… kids(especially boys) are going to go through your shit when you aren’t around. It happens. I knew where the Playboys were, I knew where the keys to the 1966 Stingray were, and I knew where the semi-automatic weapons were.

    But because my father scared the bejesus out of me at a young age demonstrating how dangerous firearms were, and took the time to show me how they worked and trained me to always treat every gun as if it were loaded, I am extra careful with firearms.

    Even so, what 13 year old boy isn’t going to pull out the AR-15 and marvel at it? You just have to make sure the kids either (a) can’t get at the guns when they are too young, or (b) make sure your kid knows how to unload the weapon and operate it safely.

    Also, I think it helps that I wasn’t a (completely) dumb kid. If you have stupid children then don’t get any guns… and hide the cutlery too.

    But let me also say, I’m not in favor of you witless yankees wandering around the streets with pistols since you’ll git spooked and shoot at anything that moves. Better yet, you’ll hit me when you’re trying to hit a perp. If you’ve never even *held* a weapon before and you think you’re gonna buy a semi-auto pistol and be able to defend yourself on the street then, yes, you’re really dumb and unless you are willing to take a training course and head to the range regularly, carrying a pistol is pointless to the extreme.

    Also, pistols are not as useful as a shotgun for home protection. Number one, as previously mentioned, a pump shotgun being racked is a sound any reasonable burglar is going to run from. Number two, you probably can’t hit anything accurately with a pistol in low light or difficult situations. If you have never used a pistol with regularity then you’re a poor candidate to own one for home protection. Number three, even a New Yorker like PoP could clear a hallway with a pump shotgun (provided he remembered to take the trigger lock off). It’s hard to miss and a 12 gauge has more stopping power in close quarters than any handgun.

    It is a *stupid* law not to allow law abiding people to have operational shotguns in their homes. If perps knew that people in DC had shotguns legally in their homes then that would stop a lot of these burglaries and home invasions right at the planning phase. Those are the crimes I am most concerned about.

    But pistols? Probably a bad idea.

    As far as these muggings and other street crimes go: it’d be nice to see MPD do their f’ing job and PATROL THE DAMN NEIGHBORHOOD.

    I’m glad y’all are seeing more of them actually out of their cars other than to go into the donut shop. If you’ve got a gang of boys hitting the same spots on New Hampshire, over, and over, and over then that’s BAD POLICING, nothing more, nothing less.

  • If you are caught with a gun in DC (ie when you call the cops after you’ve shot an intruder) you can be arrested for possessing a firearm.

  • All the stuff about proper training and education are important. In fact, it’s probably the best thing the NRA does. Granted it does a lot of other kooky stuff, but its educational programs are excellent.

    The problem is, most people are lazy and so will not go unless forced to by state laws. Even then, required course are very basic, and as with most things, practice makes perfect. The average person who buys a firearm then just puts it in their closet are the people who end up with all the accidents.

    However, just because some people are stupid and lazy, doesn’t mean the gov’t should limit me in my own home. Liberty is a basic right, and so is the right to defend that liberty, again, especially within one’s home. People don’t like the gov’t coming into their home to tell them how to have sex or other things, so why is it ok to let them into your home to take away your liberty?

    Lest laws be girded to tight, without liberty, man is a syncope. Ibid, your honor.

  • Bad legal advice all around. Remember that ALL guns are illegal to possess in DC. If you shot someone you will face charges for having a gun in DC. If the jury finds that you were not justified in using deadly force, then you will be convicted of murder. Remember that if you are convicted of a felony in DC you end up in the FEDERAL prison system.. (ie you will end up doing your time in Kentucky or Arizona etc).

    Buy a German Shepard instead.

  • Absolutely wrong. All guns are NOT illegal in DC. You can legally buy a shotgun or certain types of rifles in VA/MD/elsewhere, and have it registered in DC. The process is long and tedious, and, there are a lot of requirements for how you can keep it in DC. But they are 100% legal. Like I said earlier, you have to keep it disassembled, unloaded, and locked at all times. And the other person was right, if you use it to defend yourself, even if in any common sense use of force scenario, you are 100% right, in DC, you are 100% wrong.

    And that deprivation of being able to defend your own liberty that I’m talking about.

    Sorry, here’s the correct quote:
    “Liberty is the soul’s right to breath, and when it cannot take a long breath, laws are girdled too tight. Without liberty man is a syncope.”

  • And sure, having better police patrols will help, but they can’t cover everyone’s house. And what happens when someone does break in? Wait, the police are coming? Wrong, they can’t enter without consent or unless it’s 100% clear there are exigent circumstances. So again, you’re left to defend yourself.

  • I’m vehemently anti-gun, I believe that all guns should be banned (with the exception of law enforcement), and I believe there are ways to effectively implement such a policy in less 5 years.

    That said, Odentex makes a compelling argument about shotguns and their usefulness in preventing home invasions.

    Reading about the muggings, reading about the murders, seeing that little thug running away with a woman’s purse by the metro last night…all that stuff becomes a pretty heavy weight. Grabbing a weapon is not the right way to fight back, but without a demonstration of real committment from the police to make our area safer, I understand why someone might go get a gun.

    We get scarce reports of people actually seeing cops walk the beat and don’t see cop cars cruising the neighborhood that often. We have some CC Cameras and that’s a good thing, but as TA Uqdah points out in his awesome post yesterday on the listserve, there is so much technology out there that we are not implementing. Part of the solution is more cops and/or more proactive cops…but a big thing we need is technology to stop criminals before they can strike a 2nd time.

    It’s really damned frustrating if you let yourself think about it.

  • technology? technology isn’t going to stop crimes. does a huge bulletproof glass window prevent bank robberies? no, the robbers just get more creative. do CCTV cameras in bodegas and gas stations and everywhere else for that matter, stop/deter crime? how many hundreds of cameras all around London? and crime still occurs. Technology my friend, is not the answer, it’s just a tool. A helpful tool, yes, but not an “answer”. The “answer” is composed of several tools, such as better education, jobs, police, community efforts, etc.

    And I don’t think anyone is arguing that guns will stop muggings. I’m talking about defending oneself in one’s own home, and I that was the original question. I don’t trust the average person enough to let them carry concealed. Too risky.

  • PoP, Odentex, anynomous, others, how common are hostile intrusions? What really are the ods of that, even in CH/Petworth? I don’t know, I am just asking.

    Odentex, I would think those numbers quoted by MT are mostly quoted exactly to show that guns at home lead to many unnecessary accidents, a lot of “drunken” and “passion” crimes etc. and to some suicides that might have been avoided. You were lucky to have a father like that. And even with a farthers like that, gun “accidents” do happen.

    Perhaps a “shotgun-racking-sound-machine” is what I should get.. πŸ˜‰

  • Heh, gforgood…I was thinking the same thing. Maybe they sell “shotgun racking” on iTunes…?

    I really feel for that listserv poster. His fear and frustration is palpable. In that very good story about Windows Cafe that PoP posted, a long-time Bloomingdale resident says that he really tries to break it down for people — not everyone is cut out to be an urban pioneer.

    I am not trying to say that this guy deserves to get run out of his own home, or that “urban pioneering” should mean dodging bullets. But I have to say, if I were lying in bed at night thinking about getting a shotgun, I’d also be thinking about getting the hell out of the city. I don’t care how much other people like it or how much city life is so great *most* of the time — it’s not worth that kind of fear. Yeah, maybe the criminals win, whatever…I can’t blame anyone for saying that it’s just not something they want to deal with.

  • Lookit, I’m not saying y’all should run out and get shotguns today!! It’s illegal to have a usable one fer christsakes! I’m just saying I don’t see WHY it is illegal.

    I also understand that there are a lot of bad accidents with firearms. People also find ways to kill themselves in hot tubs, burn down the house with candles (fireworks again, anyone?), and die falling down the stairs.

    It would be a good idea to make training mandatory for people wanting to buy guns, and I’m all for idiots not being allowed to have guns, be able to drive, or live anywhere in the area except Virginia (where they will feel at home with their kind). This is all sound policy.

    Having owned many weapons I feel comfortable in saying that handguns are pretty useless except for killin’ yourself, shooting yourself accidentally, or accidentally grazing your target. Actually you’re probably better whacking someone on the bridge of the nose with a loaded .357 snubby (they’re nice and heavy) than trying to shoot it straight.

    Dogs are good to alert you as well. Our dog alerts us to the newspaper man, the neighbors, the sun, the wind, a squirrel across the street, and periodic phantoms.

    My dad was smart not to hide the guns from me, but looking back I’m pretty sure he didn’t know that I broke out the AR-15 (unloaded, of course) in a Rambo pose every once and a while. Otherwise I would have got a whuppin’. I also am pretty sure he didn’t know I tooled around in the Stingray when he was gone. But smart man that he was, he helped me buy a ’67 Firebird to keep me away from the Vette.

    So maybe the answer it to buy a .357 for every kid? It works in Texas. πŸ˜‰

  • Hehe.. good poinst ther. Well, I guess I am just not cut for this liberal (?) gun policy. Heck, they banned toy guns where I grew up and I am all for even that ban. πŸ˜€

  • I have asked Commander Burton to increase patrols in my neck of the woods (Upshur/Varnum/Webster – right by the old Soldier’s Home) for YEARS! I always get the same response — let me get back to you and he never does. Even when my neighbor was shot in the head and chest (last summer), we only saw patrol cars go by for about a week. I never see any police presence in this part of Petworth. That is why there are still a bunch of young adults selling drugs all day and all night. AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGG!!

    As far as home security goes, I would be too nervous to have a gun in the house with 2 little ones. We have a home security system and 2 dogs πŸ™‚ I totally understand why anyone in DC would want to purchase one. Does anyone out there have taser?

  • Don’t tase me, bro!

  • Amyc-
    I’m pretty sure that Tasers are illegal in DC….try a knife. As long as the blade is 3 inches or less (approx the width of your plam) and is not button-action (like a switch blade), it is legal to carry. It doesn’t have quite the same impact as a shot gun but, hey, its certainly better than nothing.

  • why is guns and issue that seems to polarize people? where are the moderates in the middle who can get something done?

  • I can’t think of anything worse than to feel scared in your own home. I would remind everyone that Petworth has less crime than many areas of DC, including Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. While home invasions are understandably one of most people’s worst nightmares, they don’t happen very often. Really, they just don’t. Don’t take my word for it, read the Post, look at the MPD website.

    Moving into Petworth is not “urban pioneering”–a term I have significant problems with. The best way to arm oneself is with education and community involvement. Please look for ways to combat not only criminal acts but their precedents, such as lack of education, employment, and affordable housing. Petworth is a wonderful, vibrant community that is not defined by crime. It is and should be defined by the families that live here.

  • I feel the need to chime in here…my dad designed security systems, and although guns were perfectly legal in my home state (TX), they were always designated as a last resort. Home security, just with any other type of security, must be multi-layered. Think of a castle: moat, drawbridge, door requiring a battering ram, guards on the roof, etc. Your home’s security configuration should be similar. People interested in infiltrating your home are looking to get in and out quickly, thus minimizing their chances of getting caught. More layers=more time. Basically, here’s how I plan to do it:

    1. Perimeter fence. Height really doesn’t matter, it’s just another hurdle. Especially if the gate squeaks, then I can hear it.
    2. Motion-detecting lights. Always plant the seed of doubt.
    3. Metal security door, installed professionally. A well-installed security door is near-impossible to kick in. Bars on windows that are fully retractable from inside.
    4. Home security system.
    5. My yappy dog.

    Also, always leave a radio or TV on when you’re not home. Lights on always. A house should always look occupied. Keep your blinds shut when you aren’t there, you don’t want people able to look inside and see you’re not home. Lock up your things outside, and for Christ’s sake lock your doors. If you have a window within three feet of the door handle, wall it up. Too easy to break the window, reach in, and twist the doorknob.

    Basically, if someone can get through all of this, by the time they get to me I will be in my basement, with my shotgun that I have had time to fully assemble and load. Then it’s go time.

  • Good advice I guess, but isn’t it sad that one has to go such extremes and be so afraid of intrusions.. And my question still remains: does anyone have real statistics how common intrusions (when people are in the house) really are?

    And yes, it is true, people breaking into houses to steel stuff mostly do it when they know the house is empty, and want to get in and out as quickly and with least noice etc. as possible. That’s the reason I guess most break ins happen through doors which are easier (and cheaper) to secure than windows.

  • AmyC: I would be happy to join you in your next approach to Burton. I’ve only seen a cruiser between Upsur and Webster near the OSH once after living here for months. The one time they were here was LONG after a shooting on Webster (standing around, looking at the ground, doing nothing).

  • Wow, is everyone in Petworth sitting at home trembling in fear all of the time? That makes me really sad if so.

  • No it just happens a couple of times a year when a crime is publicized.

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