*Disclaimer - I don't have an agenda or an axe to grind. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome.*
I've been a homeowner for about 8 years now. Never had a major incident, although I've had a few scares here and there. Yesterday I would have confidently stated that I don't need a gun; but today, I'm not so sure.
Before today, my strategy was simple: Keep exterior lights on at night, turn alarm on at night, and make sure I have quick access to my cell phone & clothes just in case I need to leave quickly (based on the few scares I've had, I still have work to do on the last part). If my alarm went off in the middle of the night, my plan used to be to call 911 and hide. Now that I'm a mom, it's not as simple since my son's room is down the hallway, but I still didn't see that as a reason to buy a gun. In fact, a couple weeks ago, my home alarm went off for the first time since my son was born in 2011. I was really disoriented, but I had to leave my room which is right by the stairs, to get to my son's room. When I saw that he was safe and somehow sleeping through the sirens, I locked his door and went back to the steps. It just so happened that this was the one night that I thought I'd save electricity and downstairs was pitch black (but I think I left the exterior lights on). I guess my plan was to guard the steps to make sure nobody came up. Not sure how I would have done that because I didn't even have a vial of pepper spray. I know I handled the situation all wrong, but at the time I was thinking that I didn't want any potential violence to occur in my son's room. The police arrived in about 6 or 7 minutes. They said my front door was open, but there was no sign of forced entry. Hmmm... ok... I went ahead a changed the locks, just to be safe.
That incident is not what led me to make this post. Ironically, that incident actually made me less afraid. Of course, it helped that I didn't have to face gun toting intruders, but there's something to be said about facing your fears...
Anyway... Here's what led me to point of contemplating gun ownership: This afternoon, I got on Facebook and my news feed was flooded with local news stories about a metro Atlanta woman who shot an intruder. I was curious and clicked on the story, and it pretty much reminded me of a similar incident that made national news a few months ago (young woman asked 911 operator for permission to shoot intruder). Then I saw the list of related articles, one of which told the story of another metro Atlanta woman who also was the victim of a home invasion last night; however, she was shot multiple times by her intruder(s). Both women hid from their intruders, and both women were ultimately confronted by their intruders. Their outcomes, however, were very different.
Here's the first story that's all over the news today:
Woman hiding with kids shoots intruderOkay, here's the second story that I saw right after seeing that one:
The woman was working in an upstairs office when she spotted a strange man outside a window, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman. He said she took her 9-year-old twins to a crawlspace before the man broke in using a crowbar.
But the man eventually found the family.
The woman then shot him five times, but he survived, Chapman said. Full Story
Home intruders shoot, injure woman in Fulton CountyAnd while retrieving the link to the first story, I just saw this one (unbelievable!):
54-year-old Melissa Burke heard a knock on her door. Moments later, she heard the intruders breaking into her house on Estonian Drive near Fairburn just before midnight and called 911. They say Burke, who was home alone, tried to hide but the intruders found her and opened fire.
Investigators say she was shot multiple times. Burke was taken to Atlanta Medical Center, and was listed in stable condition. Full Story
Man shot by burglar in south Fulton Co.Again, these stories aren't unusual at all. And I included pictures so people could see that these aren't run down projects where these incidents are occurring. There's a lot of violent crime in Atlanta and it's surrounding suburbs, but I guess what struck me this time is that hiding, while a good first step, needs to be coupled with something else, especially now that I have a child to protect. Now that I think about it, I can't really "hide," because a locked room pretty much indicates that someone is probably inside. My son is 23 months old--he can yell or cry at any moment. The best I can do is "hide" my son in the closet of the room that I choose to barricade myself in. But what happens if an intruder tries to get in that room? It's at that point that I would need a gun, especially if the person is trying to get in despite hearing a baby in the room! I hate that I even have to think about things like this. I want to block it out and hope for the best. Unfortunately, a break-in is more likely than a fire around here.
A man was shot during a home invasion early Thursday morning. The homeowner said he thinks the burglar thought no one was home, and scaled the fence in the backyard before coming up to the back door. He said his roommate went to the back door first.
"So (my roommate) immediately banged on the door and said, 'Get out of here.' As soon as he did that, the shot went off. One shot went off ...and then another shot went off immediately after that," the homeowner said.
For now, I'm in the process of upgrading my alarm system with video surveillance. I still would like to think that cameras combined with an extremely loud alarm is enough... I do not want to own a gun, but I'm now wondering if I need to have one, just in case...
Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 8:54 AM PT: Update 1/6/13: I read and absorbed the comments here, and I did a lot of soul searching last night and this morning. I questioned myself: "Am I losing it? Do I need to get counseling? Is my neighborhood really that unsafe?"
My conclusion (for right now) is that in some ways, I am "losing it." I'm experiencing an unusually high level of anxiety and stress right now, and probably should talk to a professional. But, I also took a look at my specific area's crime rate and my concerns about break-ins are justified, as my specific area's crime rate is almost 10 times higher than Georgia's crime rate.
Based on that, and my dwindling trust in my neighbors, I think the best thing I can do right now is set up a temporary residence with family. During that time I can view surveillance footage of my home to get a better understanding of why certain things have been happening. Depending on what I find, I will either return to my home or begin the grueling tasks of property management and relocating to a safer town.
I'm not ruling out gun ownership indefinitely, but I don't feel it's something that can be rushed into.