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A Firearm For Home Defense

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In other words, I'm saying "You should ask yourself the question 'why do I need a gun?'".

The other thing I would like to add to this is the concept of restricting the things we do to only what we "need". I'm in a position, as I suspect you are, that I don't have to limit my actions and choices simply to things that I "need". I do many things because I have a desire to do them, and good reasons, but I don't necessarily "need" to do them. I'm not convinced that possessing, owning or carrying a firearm is something that is necessarily restricted to one's "need". Now, certainly there are some contexts in which a person's possession, owning or carrying does rise to the level of a "need".

Now, usage of that firearm against another person should ALWAYS be based on NEED as discussed previously. By usage I mean more than just firing it, but taking it out and brandishing it as well.

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I think a lot of people are putting too much stock into laws against carrying concealed. For one thing, it is possible to get a permit in almost every state. In fact, a Florida permit will allow you to carry in well over half the country.

Even where it isn't possible, the penalties are often relatively mild. If you are unable to get a permit in CA (which is tough unless you are someone's crony in certain counties) it is only a misdemeanor if you get caught. And how likely is that?

from: Packing.org

California law has a gray area, a de facto quasi-right-to-carry. The state law provides that carrying a concealed weapon (including a knife or blackjack) is a FELONY, however, a clear exception exists. If you are carrying a gun (not a knife!) AND it was legally purchased AND it is registered to you AND you are not a gang member (yes, there is a statutory definition of gang member) AND it is your first such arrest, then concealed carry is a misdemeanor. A typical fine is $200.

As for people saying that carrying is a pain because they have to leave the gun behind all the time to follow the law, my answer is leave it in your pocket anyway.

So what if your employer has rules against it. Buy a small pocket gun, keltec_p32_200.jpg

and don't talk about it. How will anyone ever find out about it unless you need it?

The same applies for bars/schools etc.

There is a saying that applies here:

Better tried by twelve than carried by 6.

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Even where it isn't possible, the penalties are often relatively mild. If you are unable to get a permit in CA (which is tough unless you are someone's crony in certain counties) it is only a misdemeanor if you get caught. And how likely is that?

Remember also the possibility of civil liability. There's this idea of "negligence per se," which basically means that the fact that your conduct violated a law is proof of negligence. So if you cap a guy with an illegal weapon, that might not look good in a wrongful death suit. (More thought might prove this to be totally ridiculous, given that you were acting in self-defense, but for now I'll leave it open as a possibility.)

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Rational Cop,

I was wondering if you knew anything about the effectiveness or not of the .32 ACP. Is it too small to be of much use for self-defense?

I really don't have any experience with that round. Larger caliber rounds, in general, are going to tend to have more stopping power, and depending on the type of round, do more damage. However, ANY round well placed can be very effective, even a .32 cal. Most people, even criminals, don't want to be shot be ANY kind of gun either. :dough:

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I think a lot of people are putting too much stock into laws against carrying concealed. For one thing, it is possible to get a permit in almost every state.
I was actually shocked, a few years ago, to learn that concealed carry was illegal in Ohio, a fact that became obvious only when we had a campaign to change that. I had simply assume that concealed carry was a basic right recognised under the law. Remember that the "right to carry" only hold on certain kinds of public property. There are any number of "public" locations which can ban weapons (my university; the local library; any state building; any place frequented by children such as schools or day care centers or anywhere near a school, for example) and any private property. In reaction to the new concealed carry law, businesses here are checkered with "No weapons" signs". This is not a minor inconvenience. Of course there is as always the option of breaking the law. It's possible that one could get away with breaking the law for quite some time, though my employer is as likely as not to institute random office searches for illegal weapons so I wouldn't consider taking the risk. OTOH, if your life really is constantly at risk from killers on the street, I'd suggest carrying an unconcealed and large weapon. Also, I'd suggest picking a better place to live, but that's a separate issue.
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The other thing I would like to add to this is the concept of restricting the things we do to only what we "need". I'm in a position, as I suspect you are, that I don't have to limit my actions and choices simply to things that I "need". I do many things because I have a desire to do them, and good reasons, but I don't necessarily "need" to do them.
There is a viewpoint on "need" which says that you only "need" that which delays your admission to the morgue for another day. I don't accept that view of "need", because living is not simply "failing to be a corpse". If you live in fear of being attacked (even mild fear), if that fear is rational, and if carrying a weapon will alleviate that fear, you need a weapon. If you enjoy going out in the woods in autumn to bag a deer, even if it ends up costing you more to get that deer than to buy the equivalent amount of fillet mignon, then you need to go hunting.

In light of that, I'm curious what kinds of thing you do that you don't need to do.

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David,

Regarding the topic of "need", I have thought about it for awhile (and taken a nice refreshing motorcycle ride in the country) and here are my thoughts. For the purposes of my explanation, I will use motorcycling as it is something that is pertinent to me.

On one thing we definitely agree, if I enjoy motorcycling (which for my purposes in this particular instance could also be read "if I want to ride a motorcycle"), then I need to have access to one. It's quite impossible to ride one if I don't have access to one. That is certainly a need. However, the root of this is the desire to ride a motorcycle. Do I actually need to ride a motorcycle, knowing that I do enjoy the activity? My answer is no.

Many years ago, before my son was born, I rode a motorcycle quite often. I enjoyed it then, as I do now. I like the feeling of freedom I get while riding, the wind flowing across me (no windshields or fairings on my bike thank you), and the gas mileage (particularly now). When my wife and I decided to try and have a child, we decided it would probably be best to have safer transportation, not wishing to take a slightly greater chance of orphaning a child or leaving a child to the other's solo care. I probably could have ridden anyway, but that's what we decided. So I stopped riding a motorcycle for about 18 years.

Now my son is 17 years old, and that is no longer as much a concern. I started riding again. I don't regret my decision in the least, and I don't think my life has suffered in the least during that time when I didn't ride, even though I would have enjoyed it. Thus, I don't think of engaging in motorcycling as a form of recreation to be a need for me. Nor do I think that I'm irrational for choosing to ride, or enjoying riding, even though I don't need to ride. Nor do I think I had to resort to the standard of "avoiding being a corpse" in determining how I view the concept of need. I may generally have a need for entertainment, but the specific manner in which I attain that entertainment can be the result of acting on a choice of different desires, not neccesarily needs. Each of those different choices can certainly be well founded in good reasoning.

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I really don't have any experience with that round. Larger caliber rounds, in general, are going to tend to have more stopping power, and depending on the type of round, do more damage. However, ANY round well placed can be very effective, even a .32 cal. Most people, even criminals, don't want to be shot be ANY kind of gun either. <_<

:)

Another question, if you don't mind:

Do you think silvertips or full metal jacket would be a better self-defense choice for a smaller caliber pistol?

I have heard that for smaller caliber rounds hollow-points are a bad idea because they don't penetrate far enough to substatially damage the attacker.

I've never talked to a Cop about these things before, let alone a *Rational* Cop! So I value your opinion!

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<_<

Another question, if you don't mind:

I certainly don't mind answering questions when I can. :)

Unfortunately, I can't give you a well-informed opinion about the two different small caliber round types you mention. That said, I would suspect that a "silvertip" round is more likely to spread or break apart once it enters a body than a jacketed round. The jacketed round is more likely to maintain it's original configuration, but perhaps penetrate deeper or go all the way through. I would again refer back to shot placement however for ultimate effect.

Penetration is certainly one aspect of the damage, but you also have the shockwave trauma caused by the round. If I remember correctly, a 9mm round can do shockwave damage of approximately 8-10 inches in diameter from the bullet entry. This means tissue, organs, and such are rapidly displaced, though only slightly, but with a very real potential to do serious internal damage. I don't know what it would be for the smaller rounds.

That's not much of answer. Perhaps RSalar (or another forum member) has more knowledge on the ballistic and damage characteristics of the rounds you mention.

Edited by RationalCop
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The FBI did a very in depth study on handgun wounding potential. You can read it here: Handgun wounding factors and effectiveness

They concluded that a bullet must penetrate at least 12 inches in order to be effective, whether or not it expands. I would advise you to use a FMJ round in anything with less power than 9mm+P. In winter time, penetration becomes even more important because people will be wearing thick coats.

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I refuse to waste any time regarding need or legality (debate on such issues usually makes me sick), and am just going to reply regarding the original question.

I would also recommend a shotgun first and foremost (probably 20 gauge or larger preferably). I think the issues of ricochet would be highly dependent on the amount of hard surface area in your home. Certainly brick walls provide a higher risk of ricochet, but even a hard floor means that the shot is still traveling away from you. The only thing I would be even remotely worried about with ricochet is my eyeballs. Also, a pistol round still has that potential to bounce around. I really don't think you can go wrong with a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870. An 8+1 capacity (2 3/4" shells 12 gauge) Mossberg 'cruiser' (pistol grip only) can be had for as little as about $225-$230 (after tax and background check). You might go somewhat more practical and get the stock right off the bat, but you can always add a stock (and foregrip if you so desire) later. Hogue and Knoxx Industries seem to make some quality products, and Knoxx has a couple of shottie stocks that they claim reduce felt recoil enough to fire 3" magnum shells one handed (assuming your arm is strong enough to hold the gun up in the first place), and even have demo videos on the website (www.knoxx.com). If you didn't mind spending quite a bit more, I know I'd love to have an FN Tactical, HK/Fabarm, or Benelli M1. :)

If you insist on a pistol, one can be just as effective in the right hands. However, I'm of the position that the only reason to go with a smaller round would be the inability to handle more recoil (which is somewhat moot in a defense situation due to the adrenaline, but you need to be able to get proficient with the weapon). Therefore, I'd go at least .40 S&W, but would prefer something like .45 ACP. Glocks are a lot of gun for your money, and strictly business. They make plenty of full size and compact models in quite a few different calibers (9x19, .357 Sig, .380, .40, 10mm, .45 ACP & GAP), though I've only fired a 9x19mm G17. It was an older generation and I still liked it quite a bit. Only problem was that it threw brass into my forehead a lot. The new ones are pretty sharp, though, and I don't think this is a consistent problem with Glock. I have also fired a Sig P229 in .40 S&W, and I absolutely loved it. Light, compact, and I put every round exactly where I wanted to (though I only fired a few). Plus, typical to Sig, everything is right where your fingers can get to it without changing your grip. My friend had a Ruger P90 in .45 that I was able to shoot a few times and it was a pretty decent gun. Rugers are renowned for ruggedness and reliability, but I never liked the fact that I was always fully conscious of the slide's movement when firing. As far as H&K goes, if I could afford it, I would not hesitate to buy a USP .40 or .45, or even a Mark23 (though they cost about $1800-$2200 and are about the size of a Desert Eagle). Although I haven't used HK, I imagine they're probably worth every penny. It's just a lot of pennies. Finally, never discount the 1911. With all the different manufacturers, sizes, and features, you're bound to be able to find one you like (that is, unless you are entirely averse to the design).

In the long run, the most important thing about choosing a pistol is how it fits you: your hand, your wallet, your situation, your ability. I would recommend checking out some gun shows/shops and just holding some pistols and trying out the functions (see how it feels in your hand and see if you can easily reach slide/magazine release, safety, decocker [if present], etc.). The more research you do beforehand, the more satisfied you are likely to be with the end result.

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NewIntellectual (like the title!),

That was exactly the sort of response that I started the thread in search of! (not to put anyone else down! I appreciate every post so far... great stuff, everyone)

My research into shotguns suggests the same thing, except that the pistol grips aren't for greenhorns. (which I must admit I am) If I knew that richochet wasn't an issue, I must admit the shotgun would be the winner hands down.

What do you think about what's been said about revolvers?

Scott:

That article seems to indicate the optimal round is the biggest one that you can control.

I think at this point it is a question of finding the biggest round that I can control and going with that.

There is definitely some range time in my future...

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Do you have suggestions on how a person who is unable to carry a firearm for protection, due to legal or other practical reasons, can best defend themselves in an emergency? In other words, second-tier ideas that may not be as effective but are still useful.

Please excuse my delay in resonding to this question.

I think the "best defense" is contextual to the individual. That said, here are some things I think are generally useful.

My general thoughts on secondary defense against firearms is (when the defender lacks one himself), run like hell. :wub: Clearly this option is dependent on a number of factors, not the least of which is range, but as noted previously, moving targets are much more difficult to hit. One simply needs to be generally in reasonably good physical and cardio-vascular shape to more effectively employ this option.

I would suggest that being physically fit is probably the best all round passive defense. When a person otherwise lacks the tools to effectively defend themselves, excellent fitness can at least improve their chances of surviving should they take damage. A survival-oriented attitude is also helpful. Street Survival seminars focus alot on mental preparedness. The linked FBI report earlier in this thread alludes to how psychology plays a role in target incapacitation.

Virtually anyone can use pepper-spray (Oleoresin Capsicum). I have had very good results using pepper spray on the street, in less-than-lethal combat situations of course. There are some folks who are less affected by it, and some who can practically ignore it, but in most instances, it seriously debilitates an aggressor relatively quickly. In my personal experience, in almost all cases I have utilized pepper spray, it was like turning off a light switch on the person, causing them to rapidly go passive. Not being able to see or breathe takes the fight out of most folks. It effects usually only last 30-45 minutes, with no injury/damage done.

Martial Arts training. Not just a few lessons, but serious, long term training and practice in a practical art with a serious instructor. Now personally, I like the grappling type arts, but that's because of their applicability to my occupation, and my general demeanor. To be honest, I don't practice the few techniques I know nearly enough. I have RARELY struck anyone during the 20 years I have been on the department. The one time I used a flashlight to strike a combative suspect, I caused a fracture to another police officer's hand. Not good. In the majority of instances that I have to fight people, their actions dictate that I simply try to control them. They are not actively trying to assault me so much as elude apprehension.

My preference aside, striking arts can be just as effective, if not moreso, when trying to quickly disable an opponent. Most striking arts are more brutal, generally designed to seriously injure or damage your opponent, versa grappling arts which generally focus more on opponent control. Obviously, there are control techniques integrated most striking arts, and injuring techniques integrated in most grappling arts.

Of the weapon oriented arts, I have heard good things about Kali (Filipino Stick Fighting). I can see that on the practical side, there are very few laws, if any, regulating sticks or canes. Also, they give you some distance from your attacker as opposed to the other hand/feet oriented arts. If I understand correctly, many of the techniques that are a part of Kali can also be used empty handed as well.

Is any of this helpful?

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Inspector,

Thanks. I'm glad to have been able to provide you with some helpful information.

What do you think about what's been said about revolvers?

I think psh is steering you in a pretty good direction. Reliability is paramount in a defense situation and for this, a wheelgun cannot be beat. Some autos these days do impeccably well, but with a revolver, I tend to think that a part would have to physically break for it to malfunction (assuming good ammo, of course).

Also, fast, high-capacity reloads are good for combat, but in a home defense scenario, if it comes down to deadly force, it is generally over so quick and with so few rounds as to make reloads a relatively unimportant issue. Besides, you can always keep a full speed loader with the gun. Get some practice with one, and you should be quick enough to handle a situation that might otherwise warrant an auto.

Finally, regarding variety of ammo, there is definitely the advantage of many revolvers to shoot more than one caliber, let alone different loads, as psh mentioned about the .357. Some revolvers are chambered specifically for pistol rounds such as .45 ACP, too, if you were perhaps inclined to get an auto of the same caliber later. I'm not 100% about its potential for home defense (it would probably fit the bill pretty well, but take a look at this one for variety of ammo: Tarus .45 LC

Edited by TheNewIntellectual
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This website may be of interest to anyone thinking about using a firearm inside their house:

Box 'o Truth

The different tests are in the gray bar towards the top of the page, and the results are pretty interesting in my opinion. (And often very different than "conventional wisdom")

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Scott,

Thanks for the link. I spent a good deal of last night reading about all of their tests. I especially liked the Level IIIA vest test, where you can see the hydrostatic shock effected upon the modeling clay. I'm not sure if this is the correct term, but it probably ought to be, since while the idea of a projectile moving through soft tissue creating a shock wave has many times been discounted as nonsense, the force transfered through a vest into such tissue is definitely not, as can be seen by the substantial craters in Old_Painless's modeling clay. Of course, with actual flesh the tissue rebounds, and rather than craters, you have considerable bruising (like being hit with an ultra-glorified paintball). Not that I am rejecting the notion of hydrostatic shock myself necessarily by the way, just that many claim that it violates laws of physics.

In any case, it's a cool site. I'd love to see more in depth testing done so that we might draw more concrete conclusions about impact ballistics and penetration. Some tests on automobiles and brick or concrete (alone, as is more practical) would have been really nice. I wish he had tested more calibers, too. I would have liked to see the .30 Carbine's effect in all of the tests. I'd also love to see more 7.62x39mm, .22 Magnum, .38 Special, 7.62.54R, .50 BMG, .50 Action Express, .32, .380, and probably most of all 10mm.

Oh, thanks for the FBI document as well.

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I'm glad everyone has found the two above links helpful. I find that there is often a real lack of research and facts in gun discussions. If you are really interested in making suggestions, Old_Painless posts new tests fairly regularly in the general discussion area of AR15.com

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I really don't have any experience with that round. Larger caliber rounds, in general, are going to tend to have more stopping power, and depending on the type of round, do more damage. However, ANY round well placed can be very effective, even a .32 cal. Most people, even criminals, don't want to be shot be ANY kind of gun either. :)

Good point about accuracy being more important than size. The Mossad uses .22 silenced pistols and have close to 100% kill rate because they train to the point they just don't miss. Of course, they have just about every other gun in the world at their hands but still, a small round placed well will beat out a large misplaced round.

I agree with your other post that "best defence" is contextual to the individual. Some people would be best served with a 20 guage with a pistol grip and some akin to a trap round. No, you won't take someone's head off with it but you will mess them up while not punching holes through your kid's bedroom wall. I've shot trap all my life and find pistol grips on shotguns to be a pain. Yes, they have their place but as it was said elsewhere some people find them hard to use.

Personally, I have a PPK and load it with Hydrashock's from Federal. I won't be punching holes through walls and I don't want to. If I hit someone with it they will most definately feel it. I do have a .357 that I used to hunt with. I could easily use it for "home defense" but if I miss, heck, even if I do connect there is a real risk of over penetration and the bullet going astray. I also have a .22 auto rifle and a 12 guage trap gun. Still, my wife and I find ourselves most comfortable shooting the PPK accurately and under stress.

When it comes to what round is best, everyone has differing opinions. Some people go for expansion, some rate tumble or penetration best. The military uses full metal jackets because the Geneva Convention calls for it. FMJ in theory will go through a person and will cause less damage than things like hollowpoints. The Geneva Conventions idea was to cause as little death as possible and anyway, a wounded soldier takes 2 people to carry back to the rear whereas a dead man doesn't require anyone. So for that reason I'm not a big fan of FMJ for use in anything but target shooting becuase you can buy it dirt cheap.

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You should look at the box o truth. Shotguns go through drywall like a hot knife through butter.

That is why I said to use a trap load. It's much a much lighter powder charge, literally a 1/4 of the loads he was using, and the pellets themselves are also lighter. Using 00 buckshot is like using multiple 9mm rounds at once. The result is about the same. Plus using a 20 gauge is more sensible than a 12 since it's a much lighter, compact, and easy to handle gun with a pistol grip.

Plus, I can speak from personal experience that from about 6 feet the trap load will go through one thing of sheetrock but will leave a dent or be embedded on the other side. And that was without any insulation or conduit in the wall. Actually, I may take some drywall pieces left over from my project at home to the range and see if the Hydrashocks will go through them both.

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Actually, if I'm reading it right, the box o' truth is telling us that ANY round or load that will be "stopped" by walls is going to be terribly ineffective at stopping a man. And of course, the reverse is true: anything that will truly stop a man will go through walls like butter.

If so, then it would be wise to abandon these "safe" loads and rounds.

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