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January 30, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

An armed homeowner’s use of force policy

The first round in your weapon should always be a blank. Why? Each person has a different stage at which he “fears for his life” and/or feels his life is in “imminent danger.” These disparities usually surface from differences in gender, age and health.

The laws on using deadly force do not take these aspects into consideration. Generally, for homeowners, juries will only justify the use of deadly force by when an individual is actively intruding, or has broken into your dwelling. Anything short of this will most likely cause the homeowner much grief in the judicial process.

In these “gray areas,” I recommend utilizing a blank round or what is commonly called a “popper.” Generally, the sound of a gunshot will scare the intruder away. By adopting this policy, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. If the warning shot is not effective, the next bullet should be a live round.

The author is a retired Nevada state peace officer and POST-certified academy instructor.

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  1. What Mr.Chapline offered in advice is quite reasonable. Sure, you are in a situation that requires split second decision making, that warning shot might give reason for return fire, but, one would hope, that the intruder was sufficiently distracted with other noises of unfamiliar surroundings enough to think twice and turn tail. If not, then that second shot will have to be rendered with UNfortunate consequences. No one wants to be confronted with such a dire situation ever, and that is why using deadly force should be the last resort.

    Let's hope, Bradley, that the lowlifes that are intruders are not reading this, as it may incite them to be more aggressive thinking everyone has a blank or popper as the first shot.

    I like what you have to offer in advice here, because it encourages MORE thought about weapon use, and brings a little more peace of mind, either way when one is more resolved. Might I add that staying in practice with using one's weapon so they are more ready, confident, and a proficient shooter is also a good idea.

    Blessings and Peace,

  2. Bradley: all training classes i have been to reccomend a two shot burst if the situation ends in the requirement to fire, any extra effort to protect the criminal will endanger your life. A home invasion does allow time for blanks but that is a personal choice baised on weather you value your family or the criminal most.

  3. Revised: does not allow

  4. Clyde, Have you actually experienced a home invasion?

  5. Enjoyed the letter, Mr. Chapline.

    You opened my eyes. It makes sense to have the first round a blank. Simply due to the fact that you are using just enough deadly force to chase someone out of the house. And if that subtle hint is not followed by the home invader and they come at you still, then the next five (I have a revolver, call me a dinosaur all you want because I don't have an automatic, but I'm more comfortable with it, trained that way, why change?) are the real thing, especially now that there is actually a feeling of being threatened and a clear intent by the perpetrator to cause bodily harm.

    I too have been trained in the use of deadly force before, but the first shot being a blank was something I didn't ever think of.

    I have a weapon in my house and I am going to heed your advice and set up my weapon like that.


  6. Shaffer: YES., when i lived on crawford in NLV.

  7. "The first round in your weapon should always be a blank."

    Chapline -- having faced a violent home intruder in the past, that's sound advice. But are they available, especially for a shotgun?

    "The worst case scenario for a homeowner that utilizes a "popper" ... is that, the homeowner could be held accountable for discharging a firearm in the city or county limits of Las Vegas."

    BChap -- since one's right to self-defense is nearly absolute, this is just another example of profoundly stupid lawmaking. That there should be an investigation is reasonable as any trespassing resulting in violent encounters should be.

    "Sure, you are in a situation that requires split second decision making, that warning shot might give reason for return fire, but, one would hope, that the intruder was sufficiently distracted with other noises of unfamiliar surroundings enough to think twice and turn tail."

    star -- personally I like my shotgun and keep the chamber empty. First because it's an excellent point-and-shoot weapon -- no precise aim needed. And if the sound of jacking the first round doesn't stop the intruder that tells me he/she/it means business, then I do too.

    "Shaffer: YES., when i lived on crawford in NLV."

    nez212 -- so far it appears you and I are the only ones here who've had this experience firsthand. To me that's usually the best qualifier.

    "...the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table." District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S., at __ (slip op., at 64) (2008)

  8. In my case the only thing that saved my family was that we had a half wolf and a blue healer that took the law into their own hands. Fortunatly the invader didn't come back and sue me for his injuries.

  9. Popper is a waste these days. With criminal mindset these days, nobody in their right mind would use anything but a live round. Look around and see what the liberals are producing these days, these people expect everything for nothing and if they can't get it, they'll take it with force. Look at the Occupy movement and the rest of the liberal nutcases where crime is the highest of the country. These people have one goal and they're on a mission, rob, steal, and take from those who have at any cost.

  10. I am not going to weigh in on whether or not a blank is a good idea or not".. Just wanted to make the statement that if you use any type of automatic weapon be it a shotgun, assault rifle, or pistol do NOT adopt this course of action.
    With no projectile, the backpressure is not sufficient to cycle the weapon and you could be looking at a stoppage situation at the worst possible moment.

  11. "In my case the only thing that saved my family was that we had a half wolf and a blue healer that took the law into their own hands."

    nez212 -- nothing like a good dog. I'd prefer a good pit.

    "Look around and see what the liberals are producing these days..."

    its2hot -- and how many home intrusions have you experienced?

    "Fear is the foundation of most governments." - John Adams "Thoughts on Government" (1776)

  12. Clyde,

    Tell us more about your experience.

  13. Killer:

    Never, I've seen what liberals have been doing to America for the past 30 years where I took into account their rise in the human cesspool category and have prepared for such.

  14. Tim Wiggin has some major problems with reality and anger management.

  15. Lmao, no anger whatsoever; I just understand the liberal cesspool and the agenda of liberals. Quite sickening from my point of view, I just prepared for the onslaught of liberals gene pool and their offspring. They only cram so many in house and when they're communities are picked dry, they're moving closer to respectful communities where it won't take long for them to venture and start their crime sprees , it's in their blood, they're liberals.

  16. Yes, "liberal cesspool" is not inflammatory rhetoric taking the place of thought at all. The rest of your post is one step removed from the reasoning of racists. Would this:
    be part of that "liberal cesspool"?

  17. Bchap: agreed
    Mshaffer: the criminal brook in thru the back door and managed to get to the livingroom and grabed my wifes purse before the dogs got him, he dropped a machate but held onto the purse on his way out the door. I was waiting with my family "armed" in the bedroom area to see if there were two. An outcome that saved this one animals life (he got away with purse and it was found about two blocks away the next morning minus money and credit cards) now I keep myself more prepaired and wary.

  18. Burritto: I wouldn't wish this on anyone ever. I also have no sympathy for any criminal animal who gets due process while in the act.

  19. In my opinion live ammo should always be used (responsibly). The risk associated with breaking into someone's occupied dwelling should be real. Anyone who doesn't realize that may not be fit to function in a lawful society. Loss of life should be the ultimate deterrent. Self defense in your own home is not a conservative or liberal issue. It's an international right.

  20. Clyde, That certainly sounds bizarre. A machete? More importantly, did the police catch the suspect?

  21. No

  22. Tim Wiggin,

    When you say "These people have one goal and they're on a mission, rob, steal, and take from those who have at any cost."

    1. Could you please define "These people." What do they look like? How can we positively identify them?
    2. Where can I find their mission statement or any other data that verifies their intention "rob, steal and take from those who have at any cost?"
    3. Is the evidence you have for your statements empirical or is it conjecture?

    I'd like to think that we live in a fact based world so there should be some reasonable standard of proof offered for you to make such statements. If there is none then you may as well blame the woes of society on the tooth fairy and expect the readers to believe that.

  23. The way I read tim's post, I imterpret "these people" to mean criminals, but thats just me.

  24. Duke: When someone breaks into your home they are not there for a hug!!!

  25. Lmao, to put simply when I say these people.

    You know who they are; they look and act the part. Criminals though it is hard to spot the obvious ones while there are the ones stand out like a sore thumb. They migrate from their communities they've desecrated into run down filth habitats and where crime is their preferred career choice.

    They come in all races and colors except for the most part that nobody can really dispute; they're liberal and support the liberal agenda.

    You know the ones, poor me, you owe me and they really believe that they're too stupid to think on their own unless it's illegal; they expect everything for nothing. They blame past for their poor choices of today.

    They're like guppies; the liberals throw monthly bones when it's their payday. When they hit their monthly jackpot, they're off getting doped or drunk and crimes settles down for a few days. This just makes their day, they can get something for nothing and cry poor me and start their hysteria all over again, poor little me -- poor me. They believe making another baby is like hitting the lottery, 18 more years of freebies. Then comes the offspring, for the most part, they beat to the same old drum, we're owed and we're entitled to receive freebies. They think just because they use a nationality hyphenated with American, they're entitled to it.

    If you're still confused, do some homework. Research the highest crime ridden communities in the USA, more often than not, liberals control their local government and they like it that way. Keep their mindless trolls drunk, doped up, and a in a life of crime where their elected officials can justify their existence in the political arena.

  26. I generally attach a good deal of respect to comments made by Mr. Chapline because of his experience and knowledge in his field. In this specific case, I have reservations about his advice.

    I have always been taught (beginning when I was a child with my first BB gun) that there is no such thing as a warning shot. The gun classes I've taken reinforced that. What my dad and the classes all taught was that a gun is a tool that is used to kill with. You never use a gun unless you intend to kill. And you never draw a gun unless you are prepared to use it.

    I understand the argument Brad is making. But there is the underlying assumption that most gun owners are likely to make a bad decision with regard to whether or not to use a weapon.

    I would suggest using a load of bird shot for the first round in a shotgun, and a snake round in a revolver. Semi-automatic pistols are too picky about the load to justify taking the chance of a jam by using non-standard loads, in my opinion.

    I also like the idea of jacking a round in with a pump-action shotgun, but that could take precious time. (But yes, the sound of a pump-action is distinctive.)

    Again, I appreciate what Brad is saying, but I think the proper approach is for a gun owner to be trained and spend regular time at the practice range.

  27. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  28. If you break into someone's home then you risk being shot. Don't want to risk getting shot, don't break in! As the homeowner, why should I risk my life or a family member's by offering an invader the opportunity to run (or attack)?

  29. Tim, Less fear and paranoia would help too:
    "Preliminary figures indicate that, as a whole, law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation reported a decrease of 6.4 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention for the first 6 months of 2011 when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2010. The violent crime category includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The number of property crimes in the United States from January to June of 2011 decreased 3.7 percent when compared with data from the same time period in 2010. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Arson is also a property crime, but data for arson are not included in property crime totals. Figures for 2011 indicate that arson decreased 8.6 percent when compared to 2010 figures from the same time period."

  30. If someone wants to break into a house and they think there might be a gun there are ways I can think of (but won't detail for obvious reasons) to ensure the death of the homeowner and pick up weapons to sell on the street. Do yourself a favor and don't advertise you carry as it just makes you a juicier target.

  31. Mr. Schaffer: your statistics going down coincide with, reportedly, thousands of illegals going home on their own steam due to the economy.
    When even violent crime doesn't let you earn a living, time to move it on down the road.

  32. Good advice Mark, thanks

  33. Mark:

    I have no fear or paranoia; these people will never coexist in my domain or move into the area during my life span. Should they try, lmao.

  34. I, also, respect BChaps' opinions, but screw that "popper"; I'd rather shoot off REAL ammunition first as a warning shot, something whizzing by the scum's head or towards his lower extremities. Then if he doesn't run, I'd aim better and shoot until I hit my intended target on the scum's body (and too bad if my aim is so off that I hit him repeatedly).

    Oh yeah - how's that for a "liberal's attitude"??

  35. On a side-note to Det_Munch's "liberal attitude", my ex-wife hated guns with a passion right up until our first baby arrived. Then she was right there with me at the range. Her preferred weapon was the 6" S&W .357 we had.

    She became a pretty good shot, but for some reason her groups were consistently a little low, sorta near the groin region. (That might be part of the reason she is an ex.)

  36. Lol, a republican or intendment in a disguise a liberal!

  37. Brad, I can see the distinction you are drawing.

    Thankfully I have never had occasion to defend myself or family with deadly force. In my own mind, I don't see myself using a gun against a potential threat, only in the event of an actual threat. I could be wrong, but I hope not. I think that is main reason I said I have reservations about your advice. I'd like to think I know the difference.

    I agree completely with your bottom line, however.

  38. I must admit, firing off a blank instead of a warning shot makes a lot more sense with regard to potential unintended consequences and collateral damage.

    As an aside, I can see where someone could be prosecuted for assault even for firing a blank depending upon circumstances. But even that would be better than the alternative.

    I think the prime example would be where a person comes out of their house and fires a round (either a blank or "warning shot") at a person breaking into their car in the driveway as a means of stopping the action. Without justification, I doubt that it being a blank will matter in the end, especially for a civil assault case.

  39. I have heard the blank round idea before. I won't be using one or endorsing their use but then I am not you.

    Your mileage may vary and blanks have their own hazards. Blank rounds can, in some circumstances, harm or even kill someone up close. They can permanently harm hearing or vision. Mistakenly putting a live round into a gun instead of a blank can have it's own tragic circumstances.

    I always secure firearms unloaded and in a quick access safe or lockup. I only put live ammunition into firearms; I always know they WILL KILL. I ALWAYS presume ALL firearms are loaded and dangerous. I never trust state of loading, devices, safeties, or triggers to keep ANY gun from going off. I have had a supposedly well maintained Colt automatic go off unexpectedly, at a range, with my finger off the trigger. This being due to a cracked part inside.

    I have always planned to NEVER confront anyone in my home but rather to fort up in the house and call police. I will not be "clearing" my house with a firearm EVER.

    Do only what your legal adviser says is legal and within that legality do what you find moral.

    An empty pump Mossberg with a full magazine being LOUDLY racked to load will chase off most burglars. I like the Mossberg (as do the Marines) due to it's reliability and noisy slide.

    Telling 911 a burglar is entering and you have a loaded shotgun and you are forted up in your home often reduces their response time. The pump shotgun is my choice despite having many other choices for self defense.

    Plan ahead and be trained to not be a victim.

  40. My healer took about 18 stiches, the half wolf was ok.

  41. I think most of us agree that the right way to do things is to know your weapon, know the law, and never treat a gun as anything except a tool to kill with.

    But for those people who simply refuse to do it right, then I think I might prefer that they follow Brad's advice. It might not save their life, but it could save the life of a friend or family member.

    One thing was alluded to but not stated explicitly: the most dangerous gun in the world is an "unloaded" one. Having a blank in the pipe, or thinking you have a blank in the pipe, is almost the same.

    If the time factor can be ignored, I think there is a general consensus that a pump shotgun with an empty chamber and full magazine is the best compromise. The saying about an unloaded gun still holds, but if you train yourself to not assume the chamber is empty and *always* jack one in you won't go wrong.

  42. You never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to kill them.

    You never pull the trigger of a gun unless you intend to destroy your target.

    Anything else is just plain foolish and dangerous. Guns are not toys or noise makers, don't treat them as such. They must be treated as a deadly weapon at all times, and as nothing else.

  43. Comment removed by moderator. Name Calling

  44. Brad,

    You mentioned earlier that blanks aren't prone to jamming in automatics. I would have thought that there is a higher risk than you gave.

    I have to qualify that by saying that I don't have much experience with pistols. I like to hand-load and have stayed with revolvers for that reason.

  45. westvegas,

    I am in full agreement with your philosophy. That said, we have seen many people post on other stories that the homeowner should have "fired a warning shot." For people who insist on doing that, having them fire a blank first makes a lot more sense and poses much less risk of collateral damage.

    You and I, as well as Brad and every other responsible gun owner, know that there is no such thing as a "warning shot."

    Look at it this way. People who are incapable of being responsible with guns stand a good chance of being nominated for a Darwin Award.

  46. Bradley, I do appreciate your comments.

    My comments are NOT a how to. No one should ever do anything based on anything I or anyone else says in any forum such as this.

    Before you do ANYTHING with ANY firearm get proper in person legal hazard training with an accompanying firearms safety/use course on your firearm of choice, and this applies especially if you are disabled or physically challenged in any way.

  47. Brad, I'm going to address the question you pose to westvegas.

    If we grant that the use of deadly force is only appropriate in the defense of life and not of property (and that would never fly in Texas where property is more valuable than life) then I think I can argue that a responsible citizen is obligated to take such action as a service to the community as a whole.

    That is, if a person fails to take positive action to defend himself and eliminate the threat if he is able to, but rather runs away or hides, and thereby allows life-threatening actions to continue in the community until the authorities can deal with the party responsible (if at all), then that person has failed in his duty as a member of society.

    In light of those conditions, I submit that not only is it acceptable that the only course of action is the use of deadly force, but such is the only proper course of action.

    We would all look down on a person who failed to defend his family when he had the means to do so. We should feel the same about a person who is too cowardly to be responsible in his community.

    The real problem is that people simply don't know when it is appropriate to use deadly force and when it is not. And that is a failure of education and parents.

    I can understand why you suggest what you do, if only in the light of there being so many people who refuse to accept the responsibility of being not only good gun owners, but good citizens.

  48. If you are reading this, don't even think about listening to this writer (my previous description was removed due to censorship). First of all, you may only get one shot. If the intruder has a gun, and you fire a blank, you will most likely not get that second shot. Secondly, you better have a revolver, because most semi-auto pistols will not cycle with a blank.

  49. On a less philosophical note, the public expects, even demands, that law enforcement personnel be properly trained to know what level of force is appropriate. This is due to the fact that law enforcement deals with many more diverse situations than what an average homeowner (or citizen if you will) would normally encounter.

    The average homeowner's greatest and most likely threat to life will come from a home invasion of some type. A law enforcement officer can be subject to many more situations, many of which call for less than lethal force.

    So it is absolutely right that the Sheriff is taking steps to improve the public's trust in Metro given recent events. And it is just as right that a homeowner concentrate on what he can reasonably be expected to have to deal with.

    It is an apples and oranges comparison.

  50. Now what was that quote that christians are supposed to live by again?

    Ahhh...that's the one.

  51. Now what is that quote that killing a thief is not murder?

    Ahhh...that's the one.

  52. Bradley,

    No, I am not advocating vigilante justice and I detest it. I am saying that there are different levels to the debate.

    It is my understanding that the vast majority of peace officers never have occasion to discharge their weapons, or even draw them. The same should hoped for in the case of private citizens having to defend themselves.

  53. Cool boftx! So you are good with these biblical quotes as well?

    "Kill People Who Don't Listen to Priests
    Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

    Kill Witches
    You should not let a sorceress live. (Exodus 22:17 NAB)

    Kill Homosexuals
    "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

    Kill Fortunetellers
    A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death. (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

    Death for Hitting Dad
    Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

    Death for Cursing Parents
    1) If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will go out at the coming of darkness. (Proverbs 20:20 NAB)
    2) All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)

    Death for Adultery
    If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

    Death for Fornication
    A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

    Death to Followers of Other Religions
    Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed. (Exodus 22:19 NAB)

  54. If I was a Christian, or even a religious person, I would have major problems with the apparent inconsistency.

    But since I am an agnostic I am free to view the writings in the Bible and similar texts as incomplete or inaccurate history combined with folk stories and illogical philosophy that have had a major impact on society.

    I was merely putting up a counter to your post. If you are a believer, then I ask you the same question, do you have a problem with those passages? You don't need to answer that since whether you are a believer or not is your business alone.

  55. Lmao,

    It only makes sense to liberal to have a blank in the gun if they're on the receiving end.

    History speaks for itself when on the giving end and the shooting; their mindless trolls are the primary benefactor of the liberal agenda and they are the ones who commit most of the crimes in America. Yet they create hysteria and hype something up that needs not to be. They're creating this to justify their offspring to commit more crimes while it's being further investigated. Just another excuse for them to wreak havoc and scream, poor me, poor little me.

  56. Tim Wiggin must certainly have a large glute since he has Lmao'd it off numerous times.
    boftx, my original comment would never have applied to you as a non christian mythology believer but for you then to use a biblical quote in defense of murder makes me wonder if you at believe it justifies such immoral behavior in defense of mere property. To be clear, my original use of the quote about thou shall not murder was a challenge to those who carry weapons, ARE christian, and might even support the death penalty. It does not apply to you which should have been obvious.
    More importantly, do you buy into the fear and paranoia spread by most media (although it is particularly prevalent in conservative gossip radio fests) about crime in general?

  57. Consult your legal and knowledgable firearms/force experts before arming yourself and especially before using force of any kind.

    I have no religion. Religion nor it's arguments pro or con have nothing to do with deadly force. The falsity of the use of religion in this argument is contemptible and beneath reply.

    Statistically a prior felon who commits one act of violence will do so again as they repeatedly and deliberately go where violence is a probable consequence of their own actions.

    So, if one's refusal to defend oneself from a violent felon in one's home results in probable subsequent violence; don't ethics demand that you protect yourself in your home, at point of contact, using ONLY legal means? The instance of defense may halt a continuing cycle of violence. The use of judicious LEGAL force in defense of your home is designed to foster an atmosphere of calm and safety in a community.

    Vigilantes leave their homes, often under color of law, to seek out others who they think may have criminal intent. They lie in wait or set traps to secure their victims. Vigilantism is NOT a legal nor judicious use of force. Vigilantism fosters an atmosphere of violence and is counter to the rule of law.

    Many people opposed to civilians arming themselves lump ALL violence by criminals and non-criminals together to encourage people to avoid arming and defending themselves. This is disingenuous at best and malignantly mendacious at worst.