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We have a 21mo and another due in February. Lately, I have felt compelled (internally, not from any external pressure) to do more to feel prepared to protect my family, in the unlikely event of a home intrusion.

I am not a gun person, but I've even considered attending a few trainings at a firing range in order to get a license for a firearm for home.

I talked with my wife, she suggested a home security system, but I am a tad distrustful of how effective those actually are.

Has anyone else dealt with similar feelings? Did you take any specific actions, or instead focus on acceptance or other means of comfort?

  • Personally, I feel like good, solid bolts, locks, windows, screens, and doors will do much more good than a home security system. Having good locks etc. and getting into a routine of checking them each night before retiring for bed has helped calm my uneasy feelings of safety for my family. – Cornstalks Oct 8 '14 at 3:54
  • @Cornstalks Yeah, I already do the lock check routine nightly before bed. Curious the stats on invasions with and without the 'breaking' part of B&E. – Pete Oct 8 '14 at 4:02
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Ah, nesting instinct for guys :)

Personally, I wouldn't go for guns, I just can't see any situation where that would really help, or where something else wouldn't be more effective. The problem with guns is that, especially with kids in the house, you will need to lock them up well, which means it'll take you a while to get to them; and even then who says you'll be able to reach them at all? What if you're in one room, the guns in another, and the intruder somewhere in-between? I don't buy the argument that having guns would help you if combined with locks, windows, etc. - in my opinion, if used properly, those will keep the intruders away on their own. But more about that below. And also, I'm from Europe, so I just might have a very different cultural mindset.

As Cornstalks mentioned above, I would rather do two things: make sure your house is fitted well with bolts, locks, etc. (and use them, even during the day!!), and also check your local crime statistics.

I believe that implementing good locks etc. and using them, even during the day, is by far the most important thing you can do for your safety. Let's face it: most intruders are just looking for some quick cash, and will only go where they can get it easily - where they can climb through an open window, or easily open the door, or just walk through the back door (!), etc. Try to adapt the mindset of an intruder for a moment - a well-secured house makes their job way harder, and the risk of being disturbed or getting caught is a lot higher, which is not something they would want. So unless you are really, really rich, or you have made yourself enemies in your local organized crime scene, just why would they run such a risk and go through the hassle of breaking into a well-secured house?

Also, check your local crime statistics. Of course I have no idea what they look like in your area, but I would expect them to be something like:

  1. motoring offences
  2. domestic violence, and other cases where the perpetrator is an acquaintance of the victim
  3. burglaries where the home was NOT secured well
  4. organized crime
  5. (right at the bottom of the statistic): burglaries where the home WAS secured well

I understand your need to protect your family, but please be aware that this might be connected to your wife's pregnancy, and the dangers might not be as real as you fear.

  • 2
    +1 think about how you will access your gun. I bet your 21 month old gets into everything. I will not debate if should have guns or not, but with little kids I will argue until blue in my head that they MUST be unloaded and locked up. I would add that you could consider something like a baseball bat under your bed - effective, but not harmful for the kids to get ahold of. – Ida Oct 8 '14 at 16:37
  • If you can get it, bear spray. It's like pepper spray, only more so, and I have it on good authority that it'll stop a grizzly bear or a charging Marine. – Mark Oct 9 '14 at 4:46
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    Here, have +1 just for that first sentence. :) – sbi Oct 10 '14 at 20:03
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There are a two parts to protecting your home that the other answers have touched on and I wanted to consolidate it a bit to provide a more comprehensive answer. First there is prevention and second reaction.

Your first line of defense should be keeping the criminals away from your house. The easiest threat to deal with is one that never comes inside. Like @LittleMsWhoops said, good doors, locks and security habits are crucial. Making your house a hard target means it is far less likely someone will even want to break in in the first place. Locking the doors and turning on a light when you are away are excellent first steps. Get to know your neighbors. Get them to peek out a window when you are on vacation just to make sure nothing weird is going on at your house. We have a dog that barks at anything that comes near our house, meaning any criminal will know we will be alerted if he tries to break in. Having a security system with a sign in your front lawn might scare a few thieves away too. Bottom line is make your house as unattractive a target as possible.

Despite making your house as unappealing to thieves as possible, someone might be determined enough (or dumb enough) to try to break in anyway. At that point you need to be able to react. The best way to react is to have a plan. Keep a phone by your bedside so you can make a 911 call if necessary. If you have a security system, the company can also react for you (though they may not be fast enough). Keeping a weapon close (whether that is a baseball bat or a properly locked up gun) means you can hopefully scare an intruder into submission / running away. If they don't scare, you at least have the option to use force at that point. Also make sure your family knows what to do if something happens. Should they hide in their closet? Yell for help? Run into your room if it is safe? Are you going to come get them? Make these kinds of decisions before hand so you don't have to make them when someone is in your house and you are panicking.

How you decide to protect your home is ultimately up to you and what you want to put up with. Are the benefits of having a security system worth the hassel of keypads and false alarms? Are you comfortable with keeping a gun in the house? Are you able to properly secure a gun and ammo? Is it worth paying for better doors, windows and locks? For some things, the benefits far outweigh the pains, others maybe not. It is something you and your spouse will have to evaluate.

If nothing else, thoroughly prepare to keep intruders out. Then plan how to take care of them if they do come in (and pray you never have to execute that plan).

  • "Making your house a hard target means it is far less likely someone will even want to break in in the first place." - THAT. You don't really have to run faster than the bear. Just faster than the guy next to you. – user3143 Oct 10 '14 at 17:40
  • And +1 for balanced answer. Wish I could give another +10 for "have a plan". – user3143 Oct 10 '14 at 17:41
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Every police officer I've talked to has recommended more light as a way to deter home (or business) theft over dogs, locks, guns, etc. For the biggest bang for your buck, I would recommend buying motion sensing flood lights to cover your home/property's entrances and exits.

  • I'd +1 if you found some more authoritative sources to back this up than anecdotal evidence. – user3143 Oct 10 '14 at 17:43
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Guns are unmatched when it comes to defending your home. But you have to make sure your kids have no access to them, make them safe for your own family. You have to spend quite a lot of time practising so that you can use a gun in a stressfull sitiation.

Solid doors with good quality locks, unbreakable windows (very expensive, as far as I remember!) are very likely to stop the intruder, or at least slow him enough for the police to get there (or for you to grab your gun from a safe).

You could get yourself a telescopic baton or pepper spray. Pepper spray should not be used indoors, but if you're with your back against the wall it's better than nothing. Batons would be decent against unarmed opponents.

Home security systems are good for detecting intruders. A security company will have a reaction time specified, but they may always come too late.

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    i agree, if you want the capacity to defend yourself and your family then you need a gun, anything else will just be security theatre. – user1450877 Oct 8 '14 at 18:49

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