"Babe, Where’s the Pistol?"

Three AM, a friend of mine, was nested away, sleeping. It was one of the first few nights in his newly built home. He, his wife, and two kids were excited about this new chapter in their life. Woke from a dead sleep, my friend hears his doorbell ringing. A three AM doorbell ring is enough to startle anyone, so for this family, a doorbell ring is unheard of on the outskirts of a rural Tennessee town in the rolling hills with only two stop signs.

My friend and I have discussed several things over the years concerning his home defense strategies. We don’t necessarily see eye to eye on many things, but I think he’s thinking more about his home protection plan after talking about what happened.

Start a stopwatch in your head, and think through what follows. Springing into action, my friend went around his bed and into the oversized walk-in closet. His large gun safe is stored in the closet, by design, to keep the family’s valuables safe and nearby. He punched in the numbers to the digital lock on the gun safe, opened it up, looked inside, and said, “Babe, where’s the pistol?” The answer to that question was, “I think it’s in your truck, honey.” All of his other firearms, such as the shotgun he’d keep for home self-defense, were stored elsewhere while building their house. He grabbed the only thing that was inside, a sai. Yes, like a ninja turtle would have.

He took to heading down the hall armed with his sai and approached his front door. He looked out the window and saw no one. He opened the door and looked around, nothing. Thinking maybe whoever was there went to the back of the house, he looked out a window by the back door, nobody—opening the door, still nothing. He said he thought it must have been a deer, in his mind at that time…Where I come from, the deer usually knock, they don’t ring bells. I always fancied them being Luddites.

My friend did a little digging around before heading back to bed and found that the newly installed doorbell shorted out. The mechanism for it was burning hot and engaged itself into a state of disrepair. He secured the power to the doorbell and went back to bed.

In talking to him, he said it was a “holy s*it” moment when that doorbell went off…because who comes ringing the bell at that hour of the night? I listened to his story to the end and then asked a few questions:

1) Okay, your pistol was in the truck. We are not even going to discuss that…But where was your wife’s .380 she keeps in her purse? (In her car)

2) How long do you think it took you to get to your empty safe to realize you were going to have to go at this like Raphael? (Silence)

3) Did you have a flashlight? (Silence)

4) Did your wife go to the kids’ rooms on the other side of the house? (You guessed it, silence)

5) Are you going to get a lockbox to keep next to your bedside now? (Let’s talk about that)

For years I had been on him about thinking his way through a home self-defense plan. He always said he was good with the ole 1911 in the safe and shotgun hanging from a clothes hanger in the closet. Well, maybe. This time was a unique situation. They were just finishing moving in, and really, he did not have all of his firearms, never mind the one that he kept in his truck (which should have been with him). When we got done going through my questions, I think it dawned on him the amount of time he spent getting to and into his safe to get a protective device. Which, in that case, that night was a sai, cowabunga!

From there, we discussed what kind of furniture he has in his bedroom; nightstands, dressers, the whole gambit. Then we talked about options. He was finally interested in looking into some bedside lockboxes to store a handgun. Previously I’ve discussed the importance of having your defensive weapon nearby for when you need it, and this is a perfect example of not only having your firearm but caused reflection on where he should store it.

The great debate on the best defensive firearm can go on and on. The critical part here is not the debate but the thought process. The homeowner and any potential spouses/domestic partners need to think through and discuss the hardening of your home. Where and how you’re going to store defensive options. Think about what you would do when things go bump in the night. The thing about what you would do when things go bump in the day! The current circulating statistics are that day-time break-ins are 6% more likely to happen than those at night. Ruminate on that a little.

Things like live walkthroughs are essential. Pretend you are asleep and need to access whatever defensive options you have available. Go through the motions of what you would do. Take note of the situation. Was it easy to get to your firearm? How much time did it take you to get it? What if you are in the main living space and your gun is in your bedroom? How long does it take you to get that secure your family and respond appropriately?

The next morning, my friend’s son was mesmerized by the sai he saw on the bedside table. He told him, “Son, I used to be a ninja, and when I retired, they let me keep this to protect your mom.” Need-less-to say, my buddy, got elevated to hero level ten in his son’s eyes. The point is, let’s keep all of ourselves at hero level ten by not becoming victims…have a plan, so if something were to happen, you’re ready for what may come at you! Keep those kids safe, train – train often, and think about your needs (in real-time). Survive and don’t become a statistic…then you can talk about it over a pizza with Leo, Donnie, and Mikey!

Stay safe out there and think before you do!

John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and USCCA certified instructor, NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on Twitter at @johnpetrolino and on Instagram @jpetrolinoiii