Monday, July 7, 2008

The danger of relying on 911

I've written before about the real danger of relying on the police and the 911 service to summon help when you're the target of criminal aggression.

That danger has been made horrifyingly clear in a number of recent news stories. To name just two:

There are many more such tales out there. Here's another one. There's even a book, Dial 911 And Die, that's full of such horror stories.

I'm posting this because a friend of mine found herself in a similar situation this morning. She had a restraining order against her former boyfriend, but when she left her apartment to go to work, he was standing by her car, smirking at her, one hand concealed behind his back, beckoning to her with the other. He said to her, "I'm going to settle your nonsense for good and all" (or words to that effect).

She turned and fled back to her apartment. He followed, but a stream of other people leaving for work slowed him down. By the time he reached her apartment, she'd been able to get inside and lock the door. She was calling 911 as he began pounding at her door, yelling insults, describing (graphically) what he was going to do to her when he got inside.

The police did their best to respond: but morning rush-hour traffic delayed their arrival. They got there twelve and a half minutes after her call. They arrived to find her front door splintered, panels kicked out, and on the point of breaking open.

The only reason my friend is still alive is that the apartment next to hers is occupied by a very nice couple. The husband is in the Marines, and he insisted that his wife learn to shoot. Hearing the disturbance, she stepped outside carrying her shotgun, and proned out the bad guy on the floor, waiting for the police to arrive. This was three minutes after my friend had called 911. Without her neighbor's intervention, the man would have been inside her apartment four minutes after she called . . . and would have had over eight minutes to do as he pleased with her until the police arrived.

He was carrying a butcher's knife.

Anyone who knows even a little about the use of such a knife can use it to kill anyone else - particularly someone smaller and weaker than themselves - in less than thirty seconds.

Even if he hadn't been armed, he's more than strong enough to have inflicted crippling - perhaps lethal - damage in short order. It only takes one punch in the right place, you know. If you don't believe me, read this - and think again. There are plenty more stories to confirm that truth.

I've spoken with my friend on several occasions, urging her to arm herself and get training in personal protection, but she's always said that she could never shoot another human being.

Guess what? She's just changed her mind!

I gather from my conversation with her this afternoon that her neighbors have willingly agreed to take her shooting with them every evening this week. Tomorrow morning she's going to a gunshop with them, and will invest in a shotgun as a 'starter weapon'. I reckon that by the weekend, she'll be able to use it well enough to protect herself in her apartment. She's also going to start the process of applying for a concealed carry permit, and will buy a handgun and learn to use it.

She's lucky. Thanks to her neighbors, she'll have time to do so. (Her ex is behind bars, and will stay there for violating his restraining order until he's tried on the latest charges.)

Many who are caught in her situation aren't so fortunate.

Dear reader, if you haven't prepared yourself to deal with a robbery, or assault, or similar situation - do so now.


You may not have time to do it later.


EDITED TO ADD: In response to e-mails received concerning this post, I've started a series about a suitable firearm for home defense (assuming that the individual is a beginner, not an experienced shooter). The first article is here. I hope it helps.)


Evil Transport Lady said...

Wow! Scary stuff!....and good advice!

Kevin said...

Way too many people believe that a criminal will be stopped by a piece of paper.

Restraining orders a pure crap. If someone is demented enough to require a court to tell him/her to stop a certain behavior, then that person is not rational enough to understand the PFA/Restraining order and should be locked up until they understand civil conduct.
Either that, (in a perfect society) the courts would issue a gun with a restraining order to give the paper some teeth!

Pass on my best wished to your friend, and make sure she has the ability to shoot along with the mindset to be armed until the slime is not longer a problem

Crucis said...

There's nothing like that heart-stopping moment, when you think someone's trying to break into your home. I had such an episode last week.

I work at home, telecommuting for a large communications company. I was sitting in my basement home office when I heard a noise from the basement back-door as if someone was trying to turn the knob. I have CCW and keep my carry pistol in my office.

I picked up my pistol, a .45, checked it to make sure a cartridge was chambered and walked slowly to the back door.

No one was there. It was the cat playing with a toy that I'd heard, and I could have been knocked over by a feather from the relief that it was all for nothing.

I've had my CCW for four years and have never had any episode when I thought I'd have to draw my pistol. This time, it certainly jacked up my blood pressure, but I'm glad that I was prepared and ready to respond if necessary.

I never thought to call 911 even though I'm 500 yards from the Police station. It would have been all over by the time they got here if it was a real intruder.

It turned out to be a small thing, but It does make you think about contingency plans.

Anonymous said...

Relying on a piece of paper (restraining order, PPO, etc) is like Neville Chamberlain relying on his famous "Peace in our Time" piece of paper from Adolf Hitler.

In 1976 I was dating a woman who was murdered by her ex-husband one night. He stabbed her 32 times as she came home after work. She knew he was stalking her (although nobody used the word "stalking" back then), but she didn't arm herself because she "didn't want to break the law" as back then our state didn't allow ordinary citizens to carry weapons for their protection. IF she had been armed with a gun, there's a very good chance she'd still be alive today and her assailant instead would have been the dead one.

The one incident made me a believer in the right of self-protection, using deadly force if necessary. I also hope that all of the "lawmakers" back then and now who don't want to to allow you to carry all rot in their own special section of Hell.

-- chicopanther

LabRat said...

Security line 1 is the two big dogs with clear alert levels ranging from "loitering teenager" to "Deliveryman!" to "Trespasser!!" to "CHARLES MANSON IS AT THE DOOR!!!". It's their job to detect inbound threats.

Line 2 is the two armed humans.

Also, there's almost no crime here. I have never even BEGUN to imagine having "piece of paper" be involved anywhere.

Anonymous said...

How incredibly disturbing. Such a shame that articles of this kind ever have to be written, just because of the amazing sicko's out there.

Anonymous said...

As we used to say when I was police officer:"When seconds count, we're only minutes away".
Folks that expected me to lay down my life to protect them but wouldn't raise a hand to protect themselves used to really irk me.

Beto_Ochoa said...

Years ago we lived in a duplex outside the city limits by two blocks so response was very sketchy. Sometimes PD showed up only to call County before proceding away and sometimes County got the call. LOTS OF GANGS. Very slow response. The bad guys knew they had lots of time and could hear and see the cops from a long way off.
One night, our single neighbor pounded on the wall yelling that some guys had broken into her car and were breaking in her front door. I confronted them with a Russian SKS, 16" blade bayonet deployed.
They were very compliant when I told them to empty their pockets and sit in the yard until County arrived.
The Deputy Sherriff was laughing about the situation and said, "Nothing warms my heart like finding a gang of bad guys held at bayonet point!"

Simon said...

What I don't understand is why America is such an unsafe place in the first place. Here in the UK this sort of thing is very rare but it seems to happen in the USA all the time. Personally I'd never want to live somewhere where you're always in danger of being shot or stabbed by some nutter. Is it this bad in Mexico and Canada?

Anonymous said...


America isn't an unsafe place compared to the UK. A little research will quickly show you that, apart from the unarmed cities, most places in America are much quieter and less violent than most places in the UK. We very rarely have Hot burglaries, or stompings in bars. Or youths accosting people strolling in the street.

stuie said...

I have read your aviation articles and found this article interesting. The main issue here is that some people just can't be trusted with guns, and sometimes there is no way to tell wether that random person at the gun shop is trustworthy or not. but most people can handle the responsibility of firearms and maturely use them to protect themselves. I can understand some apprehension on the part of lawmakers, but in the end an American citizen should be able to own a gun if they want to.

Anonymous said...

As for the 500 yards away from the police station it doesnt matter, one time a bank right accross the street from the police station was being robbed, and from the time they hit the panic button when it went to the security company to the dispatch to the police station the robbers had already got away

Anonymous said...

A friend asked me once why I needed a gun when the police respond "within five minutes".

I put my watch on the table, then hit my fist on the table for two minutes. Then I said, "Imagine you are that table, and my fist is attached to someone who wants to hurt you."

It was graphic, but it worked.

People who haven't had the "bad guy" coming at them don't realize how long a few minutes is; nor do they realize how much damage one person can do another in just two minutes.

Anonymous said...

i also come here to read the aviation articles

i am a criminal justice major and its a fact that when the pubic arms themselves crime does go down.

Besides if they made guns illegal or something then good people will be unarmed while criminals who dont follow the law any ways will still have guns, it makes no sense to take guns away from law abiding citizens. No matter what people who you think shouldn't have guns will get guns, no law will stop them.

Bergman said...

To answer Simon, take a look at a map of the UK. Now take a look at a map of (just) the State of Washington. That right there is about the same land area as the UK, and it's almost as densely populated, in a total people per total square miles sense.

Now compare the population and land area of that one State to the entire country. Then compare the number of crimes you hear about in the US to the number in the UK. The results will be fascinating.

As for myself, my home defense weapon of choice is a battle-ready three foot European broadsword. At any range you'd find a sawed-off shotgun useful, a broadsword is generally deadlier than any pistol. Makes a beautiful display piece too.

Anonymous said...

Where i live there are more guns per capita than any other state.
"Welome to the Gunshine State- we don't call 911"!