Self-defense for the homeowner: the aftermath

A few years ago, I posted an article about a homeowner killing two burglars. I brought up some points, both good and bad, regarding the actions Mr. Smith took in self-defense. There were some heated comments and I remember receiving a bunch of nasty emails because some people didn’t appreciate the fact that I gave a nuanced opinion instead of picking a side in the pro-gun/anti-gun issue. We’re two years later now and Mr. Smith has been put on trial and has received his sentence:

Byron Smith has been found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. His sentence is life without parole.

Take some time to watch this video to listen to some of his testimony and audio evidence from the trial. You can also listen to more of the audio evidence here, starting around 4min. WARNING: NSFW, nor for children:

I’ll refer to both of these in a bit. First, I’d like to make a few points:

  • It’s not about morality. I tried to explain this in my original article but noticed a lot of people didn’t get my point; I’m not arguing a moral point. I believe you definitely have a right to defend yourself in your own home. My article was about the specifics, about how Mr. Smith did that; the things he did both right and wrong. The same applies for this article.
  • It’s about the law and its consequences. For decades now, I’ve been teaching self-defense and I’ve met tons of people who have a very skewed perspective on it. They think the self-defense laws give them a blanket permission to use violence in whatever way they want. My point in this article (and in most others here on my blog) is that this is bullshit. That’s not how society works, not for self-defense and neither for most other laws. It isn’t what you think that matters, it’s how the legal system sees it. If you willingly ignore this aspect, then you’re not all that bright…

That said, let’s take a look at the trial. [Read more…]

How to survive a home invasion: a practical guide

A little while ago, the police released this video of a home invasion in Milburn, New Jersey. It shows a man brutally attacking a woman in her home in front of her three year old daughter and with her one-year old daughter upstairs. This footage is explicit and acts as a reminder of something I’ve written about often: only you can protect yourself when violence comes your way. To do that, it is important to have practical information and that’s why I wrote this “How to survive a home invasion” article.

This topic is disturbing for many people because first of all, they rarely (if ever) come into contact with violence. It’s just not a part of their lives and they no longer have the knowledge or skills to handle it. But more importantly, this is a scary topic. Not only does the invader come into your house, he also threatens you or actually does harm you. At worst, he takes your life or that of one of your loved ones.

It’s human nature to want to stick your head in the sand and pretend this problem doesn’t exist. Human nature, yes, but it doesn’t help you survive a home invasion. So the first step in securing your home is accepting that bad things can happen to you there. If you can accept that at a gut level, you’ve taken the first step towards a solution.

Before we go on, take a look at this video so the rest will make more sense. It is explicit and not suitable for work or children.


They caught the bastard, so there is some good news here but even though this is a graphic example of a home invasion, it isn’t the worst one that ever happened. Some are less violent than this one but others are much worse. Please read this last sentence again. It illustrates one of the fundamental aspects of violence:

It’s unpredictable.

Sure, there are patterns to recognize and predictions you can make but when that thug enters your home, you don’t know what he’s going to do to you. Nor do you know how he will react to whatever you decide to do. Or how far he’s willing to go to get what he wants.

You just don’t know.

You can’t know.

If you can’t know how it will play out, then I believe it is only sensible to gather as much information as possible, think it through, talk to experts in various fields and form your own conclusions. You might decide that some of the advice I give here below doesn’t apply to you. Or you might tweak it a bit to fit your specific situation. Either way, you can only get to that conclusion if you do some serious studying of the problem so you can decide on a reasoned and thoughtful course of action.

So by all means, don’t look at what I write here as a definitive guide on to how to survive a home invasion. Instead, consider it more as a source of information to get you started on keeping yourself and your loved ones safe in your own home. [Read more…]