Gun safety and self defense: Know your target and what is beyond it

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: homeowner hears something go bump in the night, grabs their trusty home defense gun, and ends up shooting their own child, spouse, or someone else that definitely wasn’t a home invader. It has happened before, and it will happen again, as long as people refuse to know their target.

Rule 3 of gun safety still applies in a self defense situation, after all. We don’t spray rounds indiscriminately into crowds, so why would someone shoot at someone or something they hadn’t positively identified? This is why I’m a huge believer in weapon mounted lights for home defense guns. Understanding the role of a WML for home defense is critical to using it – WMLs aren’t for searching, they’re for target ID. Here’s the scenario: there is a person in your home that you believe to be a threat, you point your gun at it that’s equipped with a WML and see that it’s a 6’9 dude with white power tattoos and a machete, so you light him up. Good clean shoot. Same situation, but this time your light reveals your teenage son sneaking in after curfew. Because you had a WML, congratulations you didn’t shoot your jerk kid!

Of course, there is a circumstance where WMLs aren’t necessary: turn the lights on in the house. I’m an even bigger fan of this over WMLs, but for some reason a lot of people hate that idea. “But Caleb, you’ll give your position away!” Well, since I’m not worried about my home being invaded by Army Rangers, my position is already going to be compromised by me shouting “I HAVE A GUN AND I’VE CALLED THE POLICE DON’T COME IN HERE OR I’LL SHOOT” while I’m on the phone with 911.

So the moral of this short post? You’re not a ninja. You’re not going to creep around your house in the dark looking for ninjas who are breaking in. Turn the lights on, or get a WML for your home defense gun.


  1. Which is one reason I, if I ever have the opportunity to build my own custom house, will include one UPS-powered, relay-controlled circuit for “all lights on” (using at least one strategically located full spectrum photon emitting device of suitable intensity in each room) with activation switches in several equally strategic locations (yes, it can be done today with X-10 or GE’s version (whatever they call it), but not with consistent reliability.

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