Georgia Woman Defends Herself in Home Invasion

This incident occurred on September 16th, 2016 in Atlanta, GA. The woman was a restaurant manager and was staying with a coworker for work reasons. About 4 AM, two armed men and a woman entered the home. The woman was awaken and grabbed her gun for protection. She did sustain an injury and killed one of her three attackers. Incredibly, she had surveillance footage inside the house, so we can watch how this went down. The video is overlayed with her 911 call.

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View the video first, and then I have some comments.

At 1:04 in the video, it appears that the first shots may have been fired. Two of the invaders turn and run out the front door and the third runs from the hall and exits out the rear door.

At 1:07, the woman appears and is shooting out the front door. This is the first issue I have. The invaders have left the house at this point. I am not sure that her life is still being threatened. You can’t see what is going on outside, so perhaps the criminals are shooting back at her, or they may be running away. It is hard to definitively say if the threat has passed or not, but this is area of concerns me for two reasons. First, she is shooting one handed while moving at a moving target. This is a very hard shot. All of her bullets are landing somewhere, but where? I count 5 shots. Second, not sure that she can legally articulate that her life was in danger at this point, especially with the 5th shot at 1:14 in the video.

Good on her for calling 911, but when she is chasing the criminals out of her house, I think she would have been better off to put the phone down and use two hands on the gun.

At 1:14, the final shot, she steps into the doorway (below). This is not an effective use of cover. I think, when she came out of the bedroom, she would have been better served to take a position of cover in the hallway behind the wall leading into the front room. She would still have been able to see out the door and into the front yard.

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At 1:17, she shuts the door and puts her back to it (below). I don’t see that she locked the door. If she was justified in firing the 5th shot just 3 seconds prior, then there is still an immediate threat in the front yard. It seems she may want to lock the door. Perhaps the door is broken and won’t lock. In any case, she knows where the threat is and turns her back to it.

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It also appears the slide is locked back on the gun, so she is out of ammunition. It seems like she is confident the danger has passed, and switched back to condition White.

At 2:42, the one criminal that left through the kitchen, exits by running through a glass door. That had to hurt.

Despite my comments, she did a lot of things right. First off, she had a gun. She had it stored where she could access it. It appears she had some training. As I said, shooting one handed is hard, shooting on the move is hard, shooting at a moving target is hard. She combined all 3 and connected with at least one hit. She immediately called 911. For what was going on, she was amazingly calm with 911. Obviously, this woman had a heavy accent and it sounded like there was a bit of communication issue with the 911 operator, but she remained calm. If the woman had been hysterical, that would have only hindered 911 getting help there.

The other thing to consider, the time from the criminals enter the home until they are chased away is 1 minute and 7 seconds. If your plan to deal with a home invasion is to call the police, shelter in place, and wait for them to solve the problem, think about that plan long and hard. Even if there just happened to be a police car sitting in front of the house, it is going to take some time for dispatch to notify them of the problem, and when the cops are told there are armed invaders in the home, they are not going to run right in to help you. They need to protect themselves as well, and are going to need to formulate a plan. Even with a cop in front of the house, they cannot solve the problem as quickly as you could. And, I doubt your house would be robbed if there was a cop in the immediate area, so add in drive time for the cops, and possibly the need to get into their car, and you can see, response is not immediate.

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TSA Pre-Check is awesome!

tpc_artToday was my first experience with TSA PreCheck.

I always opt out of the porno-scan, instead getting the pat down. On top of that, on this trip I carried some liquid medication with me that required refrigeration. So, I had a small cooler with frozen foam blocks and my medication. At last on the trip down I am under the limit for liquids, but I won’t be on the way back because I had an unopened 8 oz bottle in my checked bag. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated until it is opened.

So, I go to the United counter at Indianapolis, check my checked bad and declare a firearm. No big deal there. I have to commend United for not putting any additional identification on the outside of my suitcase.

Something I always do is empty my pockets into my computer case, so I did that. I went through the Pre Check line, which had no wait, walked up to the conveyor, and put my laptop bag and cooler on it, walked through a metal detector with my shoes and belt on, grabbed my cooler and laptop bag on the other side, and walked away. I literally only stopped moving for maybe 5 seconds to wait for my stuff to come out of X-Ray. The longest part was having my ID checked, and that was only an issue because I had prematurely packed it. Now, that being said, this was 11AM on a Sunday in Indianapolis. There was no line that I saw for the common folk either, but still, I would have had to remove my laptop, shoes, and belt, and the the pat down takes 3 or 4 minutes if someone is available right then.

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Since I got the Pre-Check, I learned there is a Global Entry option, which is $15 more ($100 vs $85), but it had a lot of advantages. I didn’t know of it at the time, but that is what I will do when I need to renew. If you do any amount of flying, I would highly recommend it. It makes flying like it used to be 20 years ago.

 

Just Making Stuff Up

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In this Boston Globe article, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wants to sue Remington and Glock over safety concerns. You may recall back in July of this year, Healey effectively banned the sales of many semi-automatic rifles in the state, in a move that most likely will not survive a lawsuit. Since Healey wants you, the law abiding citizen, disarmed, and has been unsuccessful is getting legislation passed to prevent you from buying these guns, she has focused her sights on the manufacturers. After all, this is a technique that has worked so well. By making the purchase and manufacture of crystal meth, heroin, and cocaine illegal, these drugs have completely been eliminated from public use. (Hold on, my fact checking department is telling me that may not be a true statement, while I research this farther, let’s look at Healey’s claims).

The Boston Globe article is well written and seems fairly unbiased. But, I do have issue with the claims that Healey in the accidental discharges she sites.

For reference, let’s review the 4 rules of gun safety, as we teach at GunSense:

1.Treat all guns as if they are loaded.

2.Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.

3.Always keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to fire.

4.Be sure of your target and what lies beyond.

In responding to Glock’s lawsuit, she referenced 3 stories.

The first is an “accidental” discharge at the San Francisco Hall of Justice. On thing I am not clear on, is what the fire arm was. According to an NBC Bay Area report, the handgun was a “baby Glock” in 22 caliber. However, I cannot find that Glock manufactures a gun in 22 caliber. There are 22 caliber conversion kits, but those are non-Glock parts. Glock does manufacture a Glock model 22, which is chambered in .40 S&W. If the picture in the article is an actual photo of the incident, the hole in the locker seems more consistent with a 40 caliber bullet instead of a 22. Regardless, that is not the point.
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The incident went down like this. Deputy A brought the privately owned “baby Glock” to work for show and tell, and handed it to Deputy B. Deputy B wanted to know how it worked, pointed the gun in the direction of Deputy A and pressed the trigger. Deputy B must have slept through the presentation on the first THREE rules of gun safety. This is not a case of accidental discharge, this is a case of the gun doing EXACTLY what the gun was designed to do.

The second example is an accidental discharge that left a LAPD officer paralyzed. Let’s walk through this one. The officer had a loaded handgun laying in the back seat. He placed his 3-year -old son in the back seat, and not in the car seat he was legally required to be in. The young boy picked up the gun, pressed the trigger, and shot his father. Again, the gun did exactly what it was supposed to do. The father is claiming that if the gun had a grip safety, the 3-year-old would not have been able to fire the gun. However, grip safeties have lighter springs than the trigger, so if the the child was able to pull the trigger, he would have been able to depress the grip safety. Again, this story has nothing to do with Glock and everything to do with you to securely store a fire arm. (Hint: It should be on your body or in a safe)

The third example is of a man who was dancing and the “gun just went off” in his pocket and shot himself in the leg. Fewer details are available in this one. Here is what we know. The man was drunk. According to Bearing Arms, the gun was not in a holster. Healey is claiming that the light trigger on the Glock allowed the gun to discharge because of his dance moves. But let’s look into that.

An important feature of a gun being being drop safe, that means the gun can be dropped on the ground and not fire. Here is the physics behind this. Let’s say you have a gun oriented so that the muzzled is aimed perfectly straight up, perpendicular to the ground. You now drop the gun, so it falls, grip first to the hard ground below. Newton’s 2nd law of motion tells us that an object in motion stays in motion without the action of an external force. As the gun falls, it accelerates and picks up speed. At the exact instant the grip contacts the ground, both the gun frame and the trigger are falling at the same speed. However, the frame, now contacts the ground (an external force) and the gun stops moving, but the trigger still has motion, and so it continues downward. This is the normal direction of the trigger when it is being pulled to fire a shot. You now have two forces at work on the trigger. The momentum of the trigger (momentum is the product of mass (weight) times speed) is trying to pull it downward, and the trigger spring is trying to push it upwards. One of the two forces will win. If the trigger momentum is greater, the gun will fire. If the trigger return spring is greater, the trigger stays put.

As an aside, Taurus recently recalled many of their handguns because of a defect that rendered them not drop safe.Manufacturers are concerned about this and will take to remedy the problems. Manufacturers, while I am sure they are concerned about lawsuits, are really concerned about the perception in the market. There are thousands of different semi-automatic pistols out there, and for the most part, they are all the same. Different manufacturers will add some little do dad here or there to try to separate them from the rest, but in reality, they are all the same. But, they also don’t want to be differentiated on the negative side. If you earn a reputation of being not drop safe, like Taurus did, then when shopping for a pistol, and you look at a Taurus, a Glock, an M&P, and an XDm, and can’t make up your mind, you are probably going to drop Taurus from the list based on safety concerns.

Manufacturers really only have 3 ways to solve the problem to make their pistols drop safe.

The first is to reduce the momentum of the trigger, meaning make the trigger weigh less. That means making the trigger, say, from plastic instead of steel or making the trigger thinner to reduce the amount of material used. The downside is reliability and comfort of the trigger. As you make the trigger lighter, at some point, the trigger becomes to weak and will break instead of fire the gun. As you make the trigger thinner, it makes the trigger feel heaver on the pad of the finger because there is less surface area. So, like everything in engineering, this is a compromise between reliability, comfort, and weight.

The second is to increase the spring pressure. As the spring pressure increases, that means the trigger needs to be more beefy as well. It also means the gun becomes harder to shoot. The more pressure required on the trigger to fire the shot, means the gun is more likely to move off target just at the last moment before the trigger breaks. So, again, it is a compromise between accuracy, reliability, and safety.

The last method is to add an interlock to not allow the trigger to move unless it is depressed. Glock and the Smith and Wesson M&P series use this approach. Glock17Target&Trigger 004The Glock has a little tongue that locks the trigger to the frame when the tongue is not depressed. Because the tongue is not part of the firing mechanism, it can be very thin and light and not hurt the reliability of the firing mechanism. Also, the tongue return spring can be relatively stiff, compared to the weight of the tongue, and not interfere with the firing sequence. S&W uses a similar, but different approach in the hinged trigger. The result is, decent sized reliable triggers and reasonable spring weights provide for a comfortable and accurate shooting experience without compromising drop safety.

So, let’s circle this back to our drunk dancer. First of all, the gun was in a hip pocket, and he was shot in the leg. This means the gun was being carried muzzle down, which is the correct way to carry in a pocket, so the grip is available for the draw. This also means gravity is helping you by pulling the trigger towards the muzzle, keeping it from firing. I cannot image how dancing could cause enough g-force in the UPWARDS direction to cause the trigger to fire. And, that would assume that he replaced the well designed Glock trigger with an aftermarket competition trigger that did not have the little tongue. So, I speculate that what happened here is that our drunk party goer had something else in his pocket, like change, keys, or chap stick. At some point, something in this pocket shifted into the trigger guard, and the entire contents of this pocket shifted up, then the object became wedged between his leg and clothing, but the gun was free to slide downward and the object in his pocket activated the trigger. Again, this is user error and not the fault of the gun.

In conclusion, I really wish Glock and Remington success in defending the baseless lawsuits brought by Attorney General Maura Healey.

And, secondly, if you carry a gun, please get training. At GunSense, I am currently putting together an entire 4 hour class on just holsters. In Concealed Carry I, students will learn good and bad features of a wide range of holsters, and learn and practice the proper draw stroke from both an unconcealed and concealed holsters. Look for this new class coming shortly.