My mentor in the law, when asked to prove the depravity of man, produces from his pocket a common set of keys. He then asks, if men are not morally depraved, why he must lock his home when he leaves it. His belief in the common depravity of man is such that he (quietly) celebrates the fact that many of the lawyers in the office carry concealed sidearms, believing that the fact that many of us are armed makes all of us safer. Everyone who locks his door has taken the first step toward securing his home, but there are many further steps that better ensure the safety of your family and possessions. While we can talk about these steps as a good idea in times of relative peace and order, they become critical lifesaving decisions whenever the thin veneer of civilization collapses.
The signs of a gathering storm, which we daily read from the pages of our papers, call us to the preparation for a lawless future, where we face the hand of evil men who hold themselves accountable to neither the law of God nor the law man. In the day of that storm, which may come slowly or arrive with great force, you will need a mentality of preparedness centered on deterrence, detection and deadly force. In preparing deterrence, you will hope that the evil man will see the height of the prepared ramparts and choose other targets. If he approaches, preparedness for detection will allow you to know he is there and preparedness for deadly force will allow you expel him with the minimum necessary proper force.
Much of what I write here is centered toward the needs of the urban survivalist. My family and I make our life in the heart of a great city, on 1/3 of an acre. Much of what I write here will also apply well to the rural retreat, but some of it will not. The principles of deterrence, detection, and deadly force are constant; how you apply them will vary with your own terrain.
Deterrence involves creating in the enemy two beliefs. First, you want him to believe that there is nothing in your home and lands worth stealing. Second, you want him to believe that, even if the target is tantalizing, the cost is simply too high. You seek a very specific deterrence. Seek to alter his incentives and to convince him that the rewards are greater and the risks are lower someplace else. That a man wishes to perpetrate a felony is none of your affair; seek merely to compel him to do so elsewhere. Deterrence, it must be said, is fairly passive in the hour of urgency. Deterrence is all about what you did before the balloon went up. Well-planned deterrents are designed to self-execute, even in the absence of a power grid.
For the first point, that there is nothing worth stealing, it should be your constant habit to hide from view things that are of great value. Expensive automobiles are a decadent form of foolishness; they scream that portable wealth is to be had for the easy taking. Similarly, small items of personal property in plain view are an evil. Good order and discipline forbids clutter left about, and good order and discipline will compel you to hide expensive items, like cash or a pistol or electronics, from plain view from your window. Discipline yourself to put up your tools and your toys. Almost anything can be stored in a proper cabinet or drawer. Dummy electrical outlets can serve as safes for small valuables. Gun safes can be tucked away in closets (and bolted to the deck—don’t make it easy). You can hide a rifle in the wall by cutting a hole in the wall and mounting your medicine cabinet over the hole. If the repairman or the deliveryman comes to your home, reduce his access to your house to the greatest extent possible, and hide from his view those things which are valuable. And don’t leave keys to the house laying about in plain view; make the attacker believe he must cut his way in through a window and kick his way out through a door. This first point is a thorough going discipline; you have to do these things all of the time.
For the second point, that the risks of breaking and entering are too great, let the whole world see your preparations, and layer them at differing perimeters. As a first perimeter, a fence too high to be easily jumped, surrounded by cactuses, and topped with spikes, will deter the lazy. At a second perimeter, rosebushes and cactuses surrounding windows will discourage the undetermined. Between the second and third perimeter, have a very barky dog, and maybe a clothesline to deter nocturnal attackers. At a third perimeter, visible window locks and alarm sensors tell the professional thief that penetration into the building will be a slow and uncertain process. Motion lights make the thief wonder if he has, in fact, been detected. A sign from an alarm company, whether you have an alarm or not, warns the felon of the difficulty of finding enough booty before he is detected and apprehended. If you are inclined toward burglar bars, they complicate entry and exit considerably. Within a fourth and final perimeter, heavy interior doors, heavily locked with deep throws, give a place for your family to hide (behind a door and a receiver) and prepare, and they encourage the evil man to stick to that which may be easily stolen and to forgo other, more heinous, acts.
The hone st truth is that some men will not be deterred, and they must be detected. From the moment that a felon decides to enter your home, he has seized the initiative in the critical encounter that results from his actions. The element of surprise is his advantage until the moment of detection, and you must make that moment happen before he has closed within the range to do you real harm. Detection is not passive. While you may deter men with preparations before the hour of danger, detection must occur through vigilance at the hour of need. Specifically, you must be alert to the telltales of impending jeopardy, but you should expect subtle cues. It is unlikely that you will see the enemy coming through NVGs while standing post; we will all be too busy for that luxury. The only one with the vigilance and adequate night-vision is your dog.
Detection must also be layered. The combination of an indoor dog and an outdoor dog is very wise. It is also wise to give your next door neighbor’s son a puppy (with parental consent). In the outermost layer, telltales may be very subtle. I am a fan of the little solar walkway lights. If something walks in front of one of them while I am looking out the window, even at a good distance, I notice; I also investigate. These solar-lights are particularly handy in that they are even more useful in a grid-down disaster.
Closer to my home, I am installing motion lights, such that you will not be able to get within five feet of a door or window without setting off a light that gives me an idea of trouble in a particular area. If you choose bright enough lights, you can also blind an assailant. You may want to choose a supplemental power system for the lights, to prevent problems when the grid is down. A denizen of the French Quarter also implemented an excellent grid-down alert mechanism, a perimeter of thin (displaced) roofing slates. They crackle when you step on them, alerting you to the presence of heavy footfalls. Install peepholes at every door. Some people like video cameras, but cameras need power.
I will talk for a minute about alarm systems. Most of them are applied so superficially as to be useless. In candor, sensors are more valuable than monitoring, and this may encourage a do-it-yourself approach. Brinks will attempt to sell you a sensor-light monitoring-cost-heavy package. They will try to alarm some doors and not others, missing your real need in the process. First, you need spare batteries to operate the system and sensors if the grid is down. Otherwise, the entire system is useless on the morning after the balloon goes up. Second, you need open/close sensors at every window and door, coupled to glassbreak sensors at every window. This provides you with the appropriate level of perimeter security. Assuming that the perimeter is thwarted, motion detectors in core rooms of the house are very handy. Spend money on sensors before you waste money on monitoring. If the Schumer and the fan are commingled, then knowing the enemy is present is more valuable than calling for help. On that note, though, thieves frequently cut phone lines. A cellular backup for your alarm is handy.
Ultimately, though, the key is vigilance. The telltales may be subtle, and everyone has to know how to read them. Train your wife to realize that a dead phone line and a motion light suddenly on are signs that trouble may be afoot and she should get to the safe room and draw a gun. Train your children to realize that, if the alarm system or the dog is acting strangely when they arrive home, they should clear the scene with all haste. Train your dog to bark at the things to which you need to be alerted, and not to bark otherwise. It is of note that my dog is sufficiently well trained that, if he barks during the night, the M1911 finds my hand immediately. Train yourself to look through a peephole every time you open a door, not merely when you have reason to think someone is outside. The sound of broken glass is a late warning. Listen for the clues that come before the enemy is that close, and you can retake the element of surprise.
I have spoken repeatedly of dogs in this discussion. Dogs are the 4th ‘D’ of home defense, and, while you could argue that some people do not need guns, everyone needs a well-trained dog. A dog provides deterrence, both in the threat of detection and in the threat of deadly force. Dogs also work when the grid is down. By the way, when someone kills your dog, you can count on something: they just told you who is next.
Finally, we come to deadly force. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, he worked with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. It should be likewise with you. If you have to step more than once to reach a lethal weapon in any room of your house, you need more lethal weapons. The same goes for your car. A good pistol under the seat is a minimum. A good rifle behind the seat is good preparation, and a second pistol in the glove box is a courtesy to your passenger. Even as I write this, on a quiet Friday evening in my own study, I am wearing a pistol in the waistband of my gym shorts. I wear that same pistol when I turn the compost pile.
If you’re not comfortable with guns, buy tactical batons and knives. I am plenty comfortable and a little proficient with a gun, and I keep ASP batons and knives discretely and in plain sight in places where gu ns are not appropriate. You also need to think through your tactical situation. Identify the choke points in your house, where you can place yourself and your firearm, like the Spartans of Thermopylae, between the people that you love and danger. In my house, there is a nice ‘dead-man’s corner’ in the hallway to the bedrooms. Woe be unto the man that enters that hallway as an uninvited guest. Use the minimum force necessary to stop your assailant, but be sure that he is stopped. Go for solid projectiles. We saw in the Denver papers today that scattershot is generally not enough force.
Once upon a time, I came home from work, and I found the door unlocked. I took that as a warning; I don’t leave doors unlocked. Not being one to let that warning go unheeded, my sidearm and my hand promptly found each other. As I entered the house, I discovered a (now very) scared repairman, who claimed that my air conditioner was fine, and that he couldn’t find the problem. I asked his name. I then politely explained that I hadn’t called for service, and that I would consider it a great courtesy if he stood very still while I phoned the apartment manager to verify his identity. My gun had never left my backpack, but he had ascertained that the hand that he could not see was important. The apartment office vouched for him, and we got along quite well after that. I am always grateful to God that he was what he claimed to be, and I pray that the Lord will keep me the type of person who locks doors (deterrence), who notices when they are not locked and should be (detection), and who reacts forcefully when a threat is identified (deadly force).
I hope that you are also such a person, and that the words that I have written will keep the ramparts of your own home secure and quiet.