Including... • Self-Defense for Armed Couples: An Interview with Lynn & Tom GivensNetwork Affiliated Attorney Explains Issues Surrounding Media Interviews (Part 2) • DVD Review: Make Ready with Massad Ayoob: Home Defense   • plus columns from the Network

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Couple’s Defense:1+1 is greater than 2

Interview by Gila Hayes

With more and more Network members taking advantage of our household discount to buy membership for a second member living in their home, we’re increasingly aware of the numbers of armed couples working out their defensive strategies together.

We spoke recently with Tom Givens (shown to the right), a member of the Network Advisory Board, and a noted firearms instructor, along with his wife, Lynn Givens (shown below, coaching a student on the range), who also teaches armed defense skills, asking questions about couples defense preparation. The Givens are the owner/operators of the Range•Master training facility and indoor range in Memphis, TN and they travel extensively to teach, as well.

From beginning to end, the solutions Tom and Lynn discussed drew on principles that anyone could use with another person whose company they share frequently, and instead of tactics specific to a particular situation, they offered common sense patterns of behavior we would all do well to turn into habits.

Let’s switch now to the Q&A format as we delve into personal defense strategies that work great for couples.

eJournal: Do self defense tactics and techniques differ when there are two armed good guys in the equation?

Tom Givens: Most of the things we do would apply to couples whether one or both are armed. What we try to do is avoid problems in the first place. Most of the precautions that we take are geared toward staying out of trouble rather than shooting our way back out of trouble.

eJournal: What do couples need to learn in order to work together to stay safer? Lynn Givens: Couples really need to have a plan. They need to read what is in the newspapers; read about the crimes that happen and plan out what they would do if they were confronted with those same circumstances. That helps a lot because they start thinking about how they would handle it, what the process would be for them.

Tom Givens: It is about the communication more than anything else. Let me real quickly tell you what we [Tom and Lynn] do, and you can work from there. We break it into three areas: at home, out in public, and in the vehicle, because we all spend a lot of time in cars. At home, we have the contact and cover concept. If the doorbell rings, we don’t both go to the door. The other person gets off to the side and watches what’s going on. Then there aren’t three people standing in the door. You’ve got two at the door and one off to the side, to see who it is, what they want and to verify that things are as they should be.

If the alarm goes off in the middle of the night, one person’s job–in our case, Lynn’s–would be to get on the phone to 9-1-1 to communicate; my job is to repel boarders. Her job is to let the cops know where I am, what we look like, what not. We have a steel door to our bedroom, so she has a fortified position while I sort out if it is a real alarm or not, and that is how we approach the at-home problem.

When we are out in public we watch each other’s backs. When we eat at a restaurant one of us sits so we can see the entrances and the cash register and the other one’s watching behind that person, so we have 360-degree coverage instead of just one person who can only do about 150 degrees.

When we’re shopping, if she’s looking at jewelry, I’m looking at the other people. I’m not looking at the counter. That is critically important. While you’re looking at clothing or trying on a pair of shoes, it is really hard to keep up your situational awareness but your partner certainly can do that. I don’t have to look at the pair of shoes she is trying on; I can be looking at the crowd.

eJournal: That is great advice because it is effective for anyone, even if they do not have as capable a spouse as you have.

Tom Givens: Sure! If you have an unarmed or un trained spouse, you can teach them what to look for in terms of suspicious behavior and they can keep their head up and eyes open while you’re doing what ever task you are doing in public, whether it is grocery shopping or gassing up the car.

eJournal: What about when you are in the car?

Tom Givens: We’d extend that same thing: if one is driving, the other’s job mainly is to keep a lookout in all directions not just for bad guys but to help with traffic, when you change lanes, to look for directions so you don’t get lost or to look for the right street signs. It makes it a lot easier to operate when two people are looking, doesn’t it, instead of just one?

When getting in the vehicle, one person is busy unlocking the doors, while the other person’s responsibility is to look around the parking lot to watch for people approaching or people getting out of nearby cars. Again, we are trying to avoid getting more than one person’s attention devoted entirely to just one task. With another person there, they can pick up some of that observation duty whether they are armed or not. They take observation duty and that frees you up to do what ever you are doing.

eJournal: I’ve heard women talk about how vulnerable they feel when they are trying to get their young children strapped into their car seats. That is certainly one place that a second set of eyes sure would be wonderful.

Tom Givens: Absolutely! What you typically see untrained women do is open the car door and bend over from the waist leaning into the car as they put Junior into the car seat. All anyone has to do is walk by give her a little shove on the butt and she is in the car and they are in the car with her and she can have some real problems. Obviously the thing to do is to get in the car, lock the door, then put Junior in the car seat, then get out and go to the driver’s door and get in. People don’t think of this unless you point it out to them.

eJournal: Switching to more general concerns, do you think when two are watching their safety together, that one has the lead and the other defers to the lead’s judgment calls? Or do we go back to building entry training, at least what I was taught, was if you see a threat, you move immediately to control it.

Tom Givens: It would depend entirely on the circumstances. You might say to your spouse, “Did you see that guy over there?” to get them cued in on the right area, but it would depend entirely on the immediacy of the threat. The other night Lynn and I were in a restaurant when a guy who seemed really jumpy came in wearing a much heavier coat than was needed for the weather. When he came in Lynn saw him immediately and very quietly mentioned him to me and motioned in the right direction just to make sure I was aware of the person. No one person sees everything, so if you see something you think is noteworthy, just quietly let your spouse know. Not being blind sided by something is worth a great deal. That is the key.

eJournal: If he becomes a threat, what’s your next step?

Tom Givens: If you see me go for a gun, that’s a clue to get out of the way [chuckles]. No, but if one person goes for a gun, I’m not going to be sitting there wondering what is going on. I’ll be getting mine out, too.

eJournal: How do you split your focus between the apparent threat and looking for accomplices that may be nearby. To make it worse, when you are with a person you care about, the urge is to watch out for that person. Is your attention on dealing with the threat or moving your loved one toward safety?

Tom Givens: Again, it is just so situationally dependent. With an unarmed spouse, you may need to interpose yourself between them and the threat or depending on circumstances, you may be better served by moving away from that person so as to draw fire away from them.

eJournal: Switching to the topic of home defense, what happens if a threat gets into the home? What kind of tactics do you advocate for families?

Tom Givens: If you live alone, you have one set of problems; if it’s just you and your spouse, you have another set of problems; if you have four children, then you have a whole other set of problems, so, again, what you do is situationally dependent.

If you don’t have kids off in some other part of the building, the smart thing to do is to just stay where you are and let the problems come to you. Circumstances favor the defender in that circumstance, but if you’ve got kids at the other end of the house screaming, “Daddy! Daddy!” you are probably not going to be able to stay in your bedroom. So, again, it depends on what is going on.

eJournal: Let’s suppose both spouses are armed and one of them has to go to the other end of the house to care for the children. What hazards attach to splitting up?

Tom Givens: If you leave your bedroom, you are still better staying together, because when you do get to the kids, somebody is going to have to wrangle them. It is better to have one person wrangling the kids while the other covers everybody, rather than have one person go and try to work the corners and work the kids all at the same time. 

We don’t have kids, but if we did, I would much rather have Lynn gathering the kids up behind me and herding them back to the strong room while I cover our retreat, than me trying to work a gun fight and a bunch of kids at one time.

eJournal: It underscores how much there is to work out in advance of needing to defend yourself. What do you think are the top points armed couples need to work out?

Tom Givens: Number one: Overlap your observational skills so that both see more than just one person can. It won’t do much good if two people look in the same place all the time, so do like I mentioned earlier, sit so you have opposing views in the room so you can cover 360 degrees of the room instead of such a narrow band.

The second thing would be to communicate. Learn to pass little signals and key words you can use that your spouse would understand so you don’t have to say, “Hey, look at the guy in the orange shirt,” because the guy in the orange shirt probably understands English. Have some simple little communications worked out between you and your spouse. Have some discussions beforehand. A perfect example is one we just talked about—having one person wrangle the kids and the other cover your retreat back to the strong room. You don’t want to have to discuss that in the hallway at 3 in the morning. That decision should be pre-made, not on the fly in the hallway where the bad guys can hear you and you are wasting precious time and energy.

eJournal: What a nightmare: two people disagreeing about the best tactics in the middle of an intrusion!

Tom Givens: [Chuckling] That’s right, one saying, “I’m going this way!” and the other, “No, I’m going that way.” Home defense needs to be worked out in advance.

You know, we can talk about street robberies and car jackings in real general terms, but we don’t really know how they are going to happen. Home invasion or intrusion is about the only emergency I can think of that we know in advance where it is going to happen if it ever happens. There really is no excuse for not having it choreographed, having decisions made ahead of time, having a plan in place and perhaps having even rehearsed it a few times. When it happens it would be kind of stupid to say, “I never thought about this stuff,” because it happens dozens of times a day in every big city.

eJournal: Exactly, so you recommend couples go through their home and talk about what they should do.

Tom Givens: Figure out where the difficult corners are, where the chokepoints are, and how you can deal with them before you get to that point. Don’t wait until three in the morning to do it.

Lynn Givens: For example, Tom and I’ve gone through the house, and done things like putting up a little mirror to help see around corners and that sort of thing.

eJournal: Those little things could make a big difference some time! Well, wrapping this up, it is pretty hard to argue against the effectiveness of two people working on their safety together.

Tom Givens: Two people are vastly more effective than just two times the effect. Two can cover a lot more area visually and there are a lot more rounds that can be fired before somebody has to stop and reload. That’s why they used to have two people in police cars in high crime areas, because one cop by himself can arrest one guy; two working together can arrest half a dozen.

eJournal: How does that apply to private citizens?

Tom Givens: You can split up and divide the bad guy’s attention. If you create a little distance between the two of you, he can’t watch both of you at the same time. There are a lot of things two can do to be more effective than just a single person with a weapon.

eJournal: That gives our readers a lot to think about. Thank you both for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. 

President's Message

I received an email this morning from an individual who recently took a course at The Firearms Academy of Seattle, Inc. (my other business). In that email, he was lamenting the fact that during his Advanced Tactical Handgun Course, he made some mistakes in judgment and in one exercise he totally forgot to look at his sights and instead, watched the target as he pressed the trigger (missing the target, of course). My response to him was to start competing in IDPA competition, as one will get better at shooting under stress if one shoots under stress on a regular basis. This leads me to the heart of the matter in this month’s column, that being the value of training in a defensive shooting incident.

There are two main reasons that a person should seek out and participate in defensive handgun and tactical training. The first reason is that you will actually increase your skills and abilities, and be better enabled to make that critical shot or instant response when needed. Advanced skill with a pistol can be vital for your survival. If one follows the statistics, one would believe that all you need for pistol skills is the ability to hit center of mass on a target at five feet or so, because that is touted as the likely scenario one will face. And I agree that many, if not most deadly force altercations occur close in, and can be resolved fairly simply. But, I am a pessimist. I like to train for the worse case scenario, not the most likely. Over the last several years, I have traveled over 100,000 miles in my vehicles, but have not had a flat tire in all those miles. But, I still carry spare tires, jacks and repair kits. Why? Because I am a pessimist. I even plan on arriving 15 minutes early for any appointment, to give me time to change the tire if necessary.

I also figure that I might just need to take a ten-meter hostage rescue shot, engage an active shooter with body armor, or fight for my life in some dark parking lot some night, so I train for those occurrences. We also teach our students to do the same. For example, in the Advanced Tactical Handgun Course mentioned above, we do a drill called “fight and shoot.”

The drill calls for the student to shoot a diffi cult course of fi re comprised of ten steel targets while moving into and out of cover over the course of about 50 yards. In fact, it is so difficult, that basic handgun students many times never complete the course, running out of ammo before they run out of targets. But, at this advanced level, most students complete the course of fire within 30-45 seconds. This is right before lunch, after a morning of warm-up shooting exercises. Then, at the end of the day, they shoot the course again, but this time, before doing so, they have been made to fi ght off four combatants for 30 seconds.

The drill is a very controlled form of chaos, but it achieves the desired result. That desired result is the shooter has needed to exert maximum effort for 30 seconds, raising the pulse rate up to 160-190 beats per minute. Then, they need to shoot the same diffi cult course, with no rest break. As one would expect, the time to shoot the course usually is longer after the fi ght and shoot than before, but not always! In fact, routinely, students shoot better the second time.

What I see in these students who do perform better after the fi ght, is twofold. One, they’ve taken more advanced training over the course of several years, and two, they have experience in competitive shooting.

For several years, I kept track of the times, and it turned out that on an average, students took about 50% more time to shoot after the fi ght, than before the fi ght. That was a major turning point in my thinking as an in structor, as I came to realize that we need to be training the students to be TWICE as good in training as they likely would need to be on the street, because they are likely to lose half the skills they have in a “fi ght to the death, deadly force encounter.” So, we train for the worse case scenario.

The second reason advanced training is valuable, is the legal aspect. Most if not all states in the union allow the defendant to explain to the jury at trial, what their decision making process was that resulted in needing to kill another human being. If a person can reach back into their training fi les and justify their actions based on their previous training, then that training can likely be introduced in a court of law. “I was following my training, Your Honor” sounds a whole lot better than “I felt I had to shoot him, but don’t really know why,” or “I just had this gut feeling he was gonna do something.” Of course, after you explain how you were trained and why you acted the way you did, hopefully we can bring your instructor into court to verify the training.

Training is a two-edged sword, meaning that society will hold the individual who has had good training to a higher standard than the individual who cannot demonstrate any training, or in states that require a course to get a concealed handgun license, they took only the minimum training course. But, the argument that you spent your own money and time to receive training will go a long way to persuade the jury that you were nothing more than a responsible member of society, who recognized the necessity to go armed, and who took it as their societal responsibility to get properly trained.

If you haven’t been to a training course lately, I would recommend you seek out the services of one of the Network Affiliated Instructors listed on our web site, and make a phone call.

Affiliated Attorney Question of the Month

Thanks to the generous help of our Network Affiliated Attorneys, in this column we introduce our members to our affiliated attorneys while demystifying aspects of the legal system for our readers. The current question we’ve asked our Affiliated Attorneys concerns dealing with the news media after acting in self defense. These questions asked stemmed from an inquiry from another of our Network Affiliated Attorneys seeking input about managing publicity after a self-defense shooting. We started this topic last month and will finish it up with this edition of the eJournal.

  • How would you respond to requests for interviews with the shooter or with you as their attorney?
  • What do you do if newspaper or TV reports are inaccurate or slant their coverage against your client?
  • How do you manage questions from reporters during a trial?
  • Have you any particular concerns about commentary posted on the Internet by bloggers?

Stephen T. Sherer
Sherer & Wynkoop, LLP
730 N Main St., P O Box 31, Meridian, ID
83680 208-887-4800–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1. As an attorney, I find it distasteful to comment to the press regarding any pending criminal matter. However, such comments can sometimes be useful in defense, and can subtly change the public dialogue about a particular incident or charge. Because of the power of the press to frame the debate, my response would be not to seek out the press but to hammer the defense theory–usually self defense or defense of others–during any press interviews. I would generally not allow the defendant to make any statements to the press. It may be that the prosecution cannot even carry their burden of proof without testimony from the defendant, especially in the case of a dead “victim.”

2. If coverage is inaccurate, again I would not likely pursue coverage to correct the record. However, if approached, I would mention that the newspaper or other media “facts” were not accurate, without elaboration. This is the best way to dispute the stated facts without trying the case in the press. If they don’t know what is inaccurate, they cannot tie you to a particular factual scenario.

3. During a trial I would not answer questions or give interviews. The jury is already chosen, so nothing said in public will reach their ears until after the trial. No point in meeting with the press.

4. The commentary posted on blogs, along with pretrial publicity, is handled in voir dire, which is the process by which the jury is chosen. Both attorneys do what they can to root out information gained by reading newspapers, blogs, etc. If someone is overly conversant with the case, then it may be they are trying to get on the jury to write a book, or have already made up their minds on guilt or innocence. Unfortunately, it is not reasonable to track down every blog or blogger to correct misstatements or conclusory logic–just have to rely at some point on the integrity of the system and the individual jurors to disqualify themselves if they have already been convinced one way or the other. 

Peter N. Georgiades
Greystone Legal Associates, P.C.
2130 Fox Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
412-381-8100–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This month’s question is actually a set of four questions. Of the four, three do not call for advice to the armed citizen; rather, they are more on the order of advice to counsel on how to conduct their practices. I will not presume to advise my colleagues, especially those who practice in other states.

The fourth question addresses “concerns about commentary posted on the Internet by bloggers.” On that score, I have a few thoughts.

For purposes of this question, I will exclude consideration of those whose careers depend upon good public relations, such as a football star, an actor or a politician. Such public figures have professional publicists calling the signals, shills who will carry whatever public message the public figure wants to publicize (without attribution, of course), and counsel who are used to playing that game.

For the rest of us, attention in the press is not likely to be a problem. Relatively few self-defense shootings draw sufficient public interest to warrant more than a ten second spot on the eleven o’clock news, let alone blogs or throngs of reporters seeking comment. Still fewer such cases will go to trial, and if they do it will not likely make the news. Although involvement in a shooting will likely figure as a major life event to the individuals involved, and will of course be of concern to the involved officials, nobody else will pay it more than passing attention.

It is only if one is unlucky enough to shoot somebody famous, or shoot someone under circumstances which tie into some larger issue of public interest, that one will become blog-fodder. But even in this unlikely event, it will not be the Internet bloviator or his ditto-head readers who will decide your guilt or innocence. Their opinions, one way or the other, are small. The good news is that nobody else will pay them more than passing attention, either.

If some commentator goes so far as to defame you, invade your privacy or intentionally inflict severe emotional distress upon you or your family, your lawyer should know what do to, if anything. Otherwise, nothing you say to the press or on an Internet message board has any discernible potential to help you, and all you are likely to do by commenting is encourage them to further exploit your personal misfortune to their own ends. Ignore them. If you are ambushed with a microphone, all you have to remember is: “On advice of counsel I decline to comment at this time.”

Maintaining your dignity will be difficult enough. Let your fifteen minutes of fame pass quietly.

James B. Fleming
Fleming Law Offices, P.A.
P O Box 1569, Monticello, MN 55362
(763) 360-7234–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

--How would you respond to requests for interviews with the shooter or with you as their attorney?

I have a hard and fast rule, developed through much painful experience, and the experience of many other skilled, experienced attorneys. News people are in business to sell a product, not to tell truths. Going into an interview, you have no idea of their agenda, their political slant or what they intend to ask. I do not try cases in the media; I try them in the courtroom. This is a time when a person’s liberty hangs in the balance. It is not a time for political or philosophical statements. Therefore, I do not grant such requests, ever.

I once had a client on death row in Nebraska. Geraldo Rivera (whose real name is Jerry Rivers, by the way) was going to do a show on death row inmates. I listened to his shtick, said no and listened to him yell foul names at me for a few minutes. I participated vigorously in that exchange. Later, the show aired. It was a hatchet job, where the inmates on camera were suddenly confronted by family members of their murdered victims that had been hiding off stage. It was a blood bath.

--What do you do if newspaper or TV reports are inaccurate or slant their coverage against your client?

You can expect this to happen in every case. Sometimes they are just lazy. Sometimes they have a political message to spew. Sometimes media types will do this to try to get you to engage. Don’t do it. Focus on the presentation of your case in the courtroom, how to educate your jury by using experienced experts, and building your fact case one brick at a time.

--How do you manage questions from reporters during a trial? 

“Sorry, no comment.” They will press, throwing confrontational statements in your face. Stay calm, stay focused, remember whom you have to convince. -Have you any particular concerns about commentary posted on the Internet by bloggers? No, you can drive yourself nuts trying to follow all that nonsense. Some of them want attention, some of them are nuts to begin with, some of them have an agenda of their own, and none of them is going to serve on my client’s jury. And I always make it a point to ask pointed questions about the prospective jurors’ participation in online discussions about the case. I cannot always be right, but I can always do what I can to preserve a Mistrial motion for juror misconduct. And lying during voir dire is juror misconduct sufficient to justify a mistrial.

We appreciate the contributions our affiliated attorneys make to the Network, including their interesting responses to questions in this column. Contact information for our Network affiliated attorneys is linked at Member log in required. 


This month in the wonderful world of networking, I have to share some interesting ideas from various members, and make a small request.

Our good friend Scott King has called a couple of times to talk about the radio programs and podcasts to which he listens that include gun and self defense topics. Like most of us, he gets good information from most of them, and he brought up the idea of having Marty Hayes or some one else from the Network guest on these shows, to help spread the word. I can tell you that we are working on several projects in that arena, such as the podcasts that Alex Haddox does, about which I wrote last month.

We know that there are talk radio shows dedicated to gun and defense-related topics. Massad Ayoob and Gail Pepin’s ProArms podcast is a great example, as is Tom Gresham’s GunTalk radio show. A lot of our members credit those as being the first time they heard of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network.

So, here is the small request I started with: I know that you listen to or watch many other radio and on line programs that might make a good venue for our message, and help to educate and inform folks, too. We’d love to know who those hosts and programs are! Just email me the name of the host, station or web address, maybe a phone number or any other information that will help make a contact, and we’ll see about getting in touch with them. It would be a great opportunity for the Network message to get out there, and it would give the shows another positive thing to promote. Just send any information to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In networking news this month, I want to welcome several new folks to our ranks. Steve Severs runs SCC Pistol Training, in Wakefield, Nebraska. It’s a new venture for him, and one that he is optimistic will take up a good amount of his “post-retirement” time. Best of luck to Steve on this venture.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood of Kuna, Idaho, which is about three miles off Highway 84, between Boise and Nampa (beautiful country!) you could meet up with Ken Neybert. Ken makes sure that the folks he deals with all get a copy of the Network booklet, What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law, and we thank you for that, Ken!

Casey McPartland and Leslie Nye are the principal consultants for Focus On Defense. They teach out of the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center and you can find them at They have a very slick website and offer “instruction from the basic to the advanced, plus customized training and coaching.”

We just began our association with Dr. Pat Baranello, in East Aurora, New York. Dr. Pat and his wife run a sporting goods shop plus they hit up to 20 gun shows a year, with Dr. Pat, his 80-year old dad and other family members operating their gun show table, where they are popular, well-established, familiar faces. They will be giving out information about the Network to all of their clients, and that brings me to another small request:

If you know of a gun dealer or exhibitor (maybe you ARE one) who attends shows on a regular basis, please get them in contact with me. If they join the Network as an affiliated member, we can provide them with a huge amount of information and benefits and that’s a win for everyone! Remember, you can always reach me through email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and my direct line for phone calls is 360-623-0626.

Last but not least, I’m thoroughly jazzed to be able to say that the team is going to SHOT Show this year! Though I’m a lifelong shooter and gun show junkie, I’ve never been to a SHOT Show, so this is going to be…KEWL! I’m looking forward to meeting and talking with lots of the folks we saw at the NRA meeting in May and making new friends, as well. We won’t have a booth, but I’ll be strolling around the floor and stopping at all the booths. I’m always up for a cup of coffee and a chat, so I hope to see many of our affiliates and corporate sponsors there. 

DVD Review

Make Ready with Massad Ayoob: Home Defense

Panteao Productions LLC.
701 Gervais Street, Suite 150-193, Columbia, SC 29201
94 minutes $49.95

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

Massad Ayoob has taught thousands of people the self defensive use of guns, so it may come as a surprise when a discussion of shooting does not kick off Panteao Productions’ educational DVD featuring this renowned instructor and author. Introducing the topic of home defense, Ayoob explains that guns are only one part of the puzzle, identifying a far broader scope of concerns that must be addressed in pursuit of safety for one’s self and family.

Before addressing specifics of armed home protection and the responsibilities related to having defense weapons in the home, Ayoob leads the viewer on a security inspection of a typical American home. Put yourself in the mind of the criminal and apply information about current burglary strategies in your area, the viewer is advised. Features like motion detecting security lights and various upgrades to intruder-proof doors and windows lead Ayoob’s suggested preventive measures. Bear in mind that these same doors and windows may need to provide escape from dangers indoors, and Ayoob balances ingress and egress concerns when discussing locks, security shutters, glass-paned doors and sliding glass doors.

Ayoob gives an interesting analysis of safety issues associated with attached garages, noting that preferably the garage door should have both the option of remote electronic openers plus open manually with a keyed lock for use during power failures. When opening the door remotely, use the car’s lights to check for intruders in the garage, he advises, adding that after closing the door behind the car and before exiting the car, use the mirrors to check that no one has slipped in while you parked. In addition, garage door remotes must not be left accessible to thieves in cars stored outside the garage, he adds.

The door between the garage and interior of the home is a common security risk about which burglars know, Ayoob continues. In addition, criminals may enter the ceiling crawl space in the garage and thus access the home, he adds later, in a section addressing home alarm systems. While a motion detector can watch such crawlspaces, it is also common sense not to store a ladder where it can so easily be used to break in to your home.

Ayoob gives a good discussion of doors and locks, and recommends the addition of either intercoms or closed circuit cameras as prevention against a home intrusion that starts when the occupant is lured into opening the door to speak to a caller. In addition, Ayoob suggests teaming a dead bolt lock with a spring-style doorknob lock, and he adds a variety of ideas that address both user ease and security.

Check to be sure the frame and construction around the door are solid and in good repair, Ayoob advises, adding that older homes may have settled to the extent that the frame is so weak that most anyone could break it in with one good shove. Get good solid locks, good solid core doors and good solid frames, he recommends before turning his attention to other home security advice.

In discussing home security alarm systems, Ayoob avoids a technical discussion of this ever-evolving technology, alerting viewers instead to known problems that include system installers who have been compromised and feed information about valuables, dogs, when the home is empty and more to professional burglars, explaining that the pros know tricks to bypass many security systems, especially if they know in advance what kind of system awaits them inside. Counter these and other such problems with suggestions Ayoob makes in this portion of the program.

Less sophisticated deterrents include using timers with staggered on/off settings to discourage casual thieves, plus simply closing draperies after dark to avoid revealing location, numbers and activities of those in the home. In addition to motion-activated lights, exterior lighting you can activate from inside the house comes recommended.

Inside the home, smart use of lighting gives a tactical advantage against a home intruder. Ayoob illustrates the “protective curtain of darkness,” concealing his position inside the home, while noting, “I want my opponent to be lit up like a duck in a shooting gallery.” Exercise caution, however, because light switches are commonly located just inside the door to the room, he continues, so if you reach in to turn the lights on, the bad guy can extrapolate where you stand and attack there.

“Make the small investment in a remote control for the light switches,” he recommends, with the master console set up inside the master bedroom, and giving control over lights all across the entire dwelling, including any hallway through which the intruder must pass to get to you and family members.

Broaching the topic of guns for home defense, Ayoob acknowledges situations that prevent having access to a loaded gun, so illustrates quickly loading either a revolver or semi-automatic pistol. Ayoob concludes by explaining that while he doesn’t think an unloaded gun separated from ammunition is the best home defense idea, local law or family-imposed compromises may require a lower level of readiness, and in those circumstances, speed loading skills are part of the answer.

He later covers safe gun storage practices. Safe storage for guns in the home has to be balanced against accessibility in the case of a home invasion or other tumultuous entry. Ayoob demonstrates a variety of levels of readiness, weighing gun safety against the need to get the equipment into use during an invasion. Gun locks, combination locks on locking boxes, carrying a loaded gun on your person, all are analyzed. This segment closes with a discussion of carrying the home defense gun into the yard or driveway during which Ayoob shows how trouble can strike close to home and he cites several real-life examples.

Tactical lights lead the discussion of firearms accessories. Most important is a light independent of the firearm, Ayoob notes, but adds that arguments against gun mounted lights aren’t necessarily valid if you use a gun mounted light and a handheld light in tandem, applying each to the circumstances under which it best serves, he asserts.

The handheld light serves for searching and scanning. However, if someone is kicking in the door, the gun mounted light is appropriate, Ayoob notes. With shotguns and rifles, the awkwardness of trying to operate a separate flashlight while wielding the long gun justifies the gun mounted light, he continues. Long guns serve best from a stationary position, not in searching, he explains.

Laser sights work well in a lot of situations, including impaired vision, Ayoob continues. “It is very effective in getting the aim on target,” although it does not allow target identification or observing actions that may dictate your tactics, and you still need a flashlight for those functions, he notes. Some mounted lights have both the laser dot and a white-light flashlight, and work well for far-sighted people who can’t see the sights well without their glasses, but can see the target and the laser’s dot on it. He calls night sights an “excellent idea,” noting again that a good sight picture is not sufficient; you still must be able to identify and observe the actions of anyone at whom you are pointing the gun.

Next Ayoob moves on to ammunition selection, introducing the topic by recommending that the home defender make sure he or she has extra ammunition for reloading after the initial confrontation, then illustrating ways to carry extra ammunition. Much has been written about specialty ammunition for home defense safety. Ayoob shines the harsh light of reality on the topic, urging viewers to stop wishing for “magical solutions.”

“Common sense tells us that anything that will not go through a sheetrock wall probably will not go deep enough into a 200-pound addict to stop him from continuing down the hallway to kill us or our children,” Ayoob comments. “Remember the purpose of the ammunition. It is to stop a lethal humanoid threat.” He goes on to discuss various ammunition types and their strengths and short fallings.

Concern about shots going through walls to harm others is valid and so Ayoob advises viewers to scope out their home or apartment “like a general selecting a battle ground.” He advises on advantageous positions, as well as protections against missed shots going through walls to harm others in the home. Wall penetration is yet one more reason not to go through your home searching for an intruder, he adds. With the tunnel vision common in a lethal encounter, the shooter may not see what is behind his target to determine if it is safe to shoot or not. Plan your home defense tactics and work those plans without deviation if someone breaks in.

Later discussion explains safe rooms equipped with communications, weapons, lights, and items for cover and concealment against an armed intruder. A mattress is not sufficient cover, Ayoob stresses, and angles of fire make it altogether the wrong shape to provide protection anyway. Bear in mind, he adds, that shooting the bad guy is not the main objective; keeping yourself and your family safe is the primary goal, and shooting may be only one way in which that is accomplished.

What can others in the home do to ensure the best outcome if an intruder enters? Ayoob notes that without solid prior planning, it’s impossible to effectively marshal various home occupants in an emergency. He suggests intrusion drills like the accepted practice of fire drills, encouraging viewers to establish a routine response if the alarm goes off. Focus the intrusion survival plan on ensconcing in one safe place, he suggests.

Ayoob discusses law enforcement’s interaction with the homeowner during and after a home invasion, giving advice about how to give responding police officers access into the home if the intruder may still be inside, as well as personal safety in those edgy moments in which you, the intruder and the police come together. He discusses what to tell police dispatch when calling 9-1-1, and what to do if you have had to shoot the home intruder before law enforcement arrives.

This is a long program with many more topics than I’ve mentioned in this review. It may be best viewed in two sittings to be sure you absorb all the information Ayoob includes from beginning to end. He closes by noting that he hopes the viewer never has to use what he has taught in presentation. Being prepared is not paranoid, he explains. Being ready for a home invasion doesn’t make you a cop wanna-be any more than having a fire extinguisher means you are playing at being a fireman. Watching this DVD presentation will help you practice better home security and be better prepared should a criminal target your home.

Editor’s Notebook

Network members are the best!

Early one Monday morning last month, I resolved to email the early membership renewal notifications for November. We tread a fine line in renewal requests, not wanting to junk up your email in box with dozens of requests, while providing adequate reminders to be sure you have ample opportunity to keep your Network membership and its protections current. On this Monday, I’d arrived early, determined to write and send that notice before the phones began to ring at opening time. With relief, I clicked “send,” letting 150 faithful Network members know that in six weeks their memberships would expire.

Within minutes of sending out the reminder email the barrage began–online renewals flew in, the phones rang and the rest of the work day was spent speaking with members wanting to be sure their Network membership continued uninterrupted. Many of the callers mentioned how pleased they are with the growing strength of the Network, and I enthusiastically agreed, while pointing out that THEY are the reason for the increasing power of the Network!

A few days later, I couldn’t help but smile while speaking with another renewing member. This gentleman had called after closing the day before, and when I called him back, he said he was at the hospital having just welcomed a new baby granddaughter into the world. One of his jobs during this time was taking care of his little grandson, he added distractedly. I told him to call back when it was more convenient, but within four or five minutes, he had found a private place and phoned to give a credit card for renewal.

“I love you guys and getting your announcements and journals,” he enthused. After quickly transacting our business, I thanked him, congratulated him, and sent him back to his happy family. I was surprised that in all the hubbub at the hospital, this gentleman was organized enough to be taking care of membership renewals, but on further thought I realized that being able to defend his family, even its littlest members, defines who this gentleman is. And having the Network’s post-incident protections, our aggressive preparatory education, and our support of his commitment to keep his family safe, is also important to him. Important enough to him and our other members that they go to great lengths to keep their Network memberships going. I’m not very sentimental by nature, and it’s sappy, but I have to admit that I smiled most of the morning thinking about that member and his new granddaughter.

Questions! We Get Questions!

I had a good question from a new member last week:

“I just joined as a member of your dedicated organization. I have a question, where does the other 75 % of my dues go?”

I think this topic interests most members so include the answer in this column. I responded—

“The Network’s services to its members go well beyond building up the Legal Defense Fund’s ability to grant financial assistance. Members also receive a number of valuable educational DVDs, a monthly journal and more.

In addition to member education, we know that membership recruitment for a new organization such as the Network, is critical to long-term success. One of our outreach projects, which also serves as an educational tool, is our 24-page booklet What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law. We distribute thousands and thousands of these booklets through gun shops and firearms instructors, never charging them a cent for either the booklets or the cost of delivery. The booklets not only bring new members to the Network, but also serve to increase understanding of post-incident realities among the gun-owning public in general, and that makes a better legal and political environment for all of us. Naturally, the Network has to pay for printing and delivery of this product.

Each of the above efforts has a cost, and is paid for by the Network, not by the Legal Defense Fund. The remainder of the membership dues covers those expenses, as well as the day-to-day costs of keeping Network operations running smoothly. The Network is not a charity, it is a straight-out business operation and since we don’t have the backing of a rich contributor or big corporation funding the Network’s mission, membership dues have to be split between operations, the projects we’ve discussed above, and the Legal Defense Fund. We think all are important.”

Later in the week, another member had a question about how to use the list of Affiliated Attorneys that is available to Network members when they log to our website at

“First, let’s clarify the role of the Network Affiliated Attorneys,” I answered. “Our affiliates are attorneys who make their contact information available to Network members, many of whom are diligently seeking a gun-friendly attorney with whom they can confer prior to carrying that attorney’s number in their wallet or cell phone as their goto resource for post-incident legal assistance.

The Network does not insert itself between the member and the attorney, so any arrangements or consultations are strictly between you and the attorney you choose. The Network will extend the membership benefit of the deposit against attorney fees or the grants of further financial assistance with legal fees to the attorney the member specifies, without regard for whether or not that attorney has chosen to become a Network Affiliated Attorney.

Obviously, we urge our members to consider the Affiliates, because these attorneys are Network members just like you and me, and they have shared the same educational programs you’ve received from the Network so in general are more likely to be on the same page in handling the aftermath of a self-defense incident.

Probably the most important question in your email is whom you should call after a self-defense incident. If it is at all possible, call your attorney. That means you really need to have a consultation with a qualified attorney in advance, as part of your preparation. Take this just as seriously as you take firearms training and other preparatory measures. If it means paying for a quarter- or half-hour of the attorney’s time it money well spent, because you should walk out of the lawyer’s office with a clear idea of how to get legal assistance after a self-defense incident.

Calling the Network after acting in self defense is the second choice, but we offer that alternative because a lot of Network members travel extensively and may not be anywhere near their own attorney if something bad happens to them. Network membership is never a substitute for having an attorney with whom you’ve consulted because–and this is critical–NO attorney client privilege exists between you and the Network because we aren’t your lawyers. Should a member call us post-incident we will have to be quite severe in limiting what is communicated, asking only enough so we can get the assistance the member needs underway, and possibly even asking that you NOT tell us one thing or another if you’re feeling the urge to talk about what happened, as would be very natural. As a result, we strongly advise that the member have a family member or trusted other person place the call to the Network and explain what has happened. A friend or family member’s report to us would not be subject to subpoena if litigation over your self-defense incident ensued.

Now, a few thoughts about scheduling a short consultation with a gun-friendly attorney (in advance before you need to phone for help from someone you’ve never met, after defending your life). Setting up and paying for a little meet-and-greet with an attorney should not only yield ways to contact them or their associates when you need them, but should also be used as a time for you to be sure you are up to speed on your area’s gun laws, to ask questions about how court cases involving self-defense issues are currently trending, and get information on armed defense-related issues that the attorney may see fit to offer. Hopefully, such a face-to-face would leave both sides comfortable with one another, so if the need to work together under less propitious circumstances ever arose, there is already a foundation for a good working relationship.”

I’m in a great position, being able to talk with a number of armed citizens every week. I always find the conversations instructive. I appreciated the questions from the members I’ve mentioned here, and hope their questions may help clarify issues that are on the minds of other members, too.