I’m a member of a Toastmasters corporate club at my day job, and I recently gave a speech that has relevant ties to the subject matter of this site.  Before I cut it up into speech notes, I normally write my speech out beforehand, as though I’m delivering it.  Keep in mind, my target audience was a group of white-collar cube jockeys, many of whom have never handled a firearm.  That said, I tried to keep things simple.  I know my colleagues enjoy being forced to listen to me spit gun rights propaganda in their faces for 5-7 minutes…I award you the same pleasure:

According to the FBI, in the United States:
– an aggravated assault occurs every 35 seconds
– and a forcible rape occurs every 2 minutes

According to the United States Department of Justice:
– 38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur during a home invasion

Statistically, 1 in every 5 homes will get broken into.

I got the stats mentioned above from the following site.  I’m pretty sure they’re outdated, as  I believe crime rates in those categories have dropped a bit…nevertheless, they make good persuasive speech fodder…yeh, I’m one of those guys.

Fortunately in Ohio, the law serves in favor of the property owner.  Under our state’s Castle Doctrine Law, if someone is unlawfully in your home and you feel they intend to do you or your family harm, you have the right to defend yourself and your loved ones through any means necessary, including deadly force.

If you kill an intruder in your home or your car, you legally do not have the burden of proof regarding your actions, nor do you have the “duty to retreat”, essentially meaning you tried to avoid a fight during the home invasion.

Don’t pay any mind to my words–read your state laws…here’s Ohio’s.

Home invasion, aggravated assault, rape; these are all elements of society that we, as good law-abiding citizens, generally don’t like to think about. That, however, does not excuse us from having the duty–more importantly–the right to prevent ourselves and loved ones from becoming victims.

Taking preventative measures like consistently locking our doors and windows and investing in a monitored alarm system are certainly excellent steps in the right direction, and will likely deter the majority of criminals.  That said, there’s always the looming possibility, as minimal as it may be, that the intruder–or intruders–in your home don’t plan on leaving.  The 10 minutes it takes a police unit to respond–assuming they’ve even been notified–can be along time to wait when your life is in danger.

Regardless of how enthusiastic your neighborhood watch program is, there is always a chance that YOU have to be the first responder.

So what home defense tools…what weapons do you have in place?

My guess is the majority of you don’t really have anything.  In other words, you’re unarmed.  Despite my previously mentioned alarming statistics, chances are still pretty darn good you’ll never be forced to stave off an intruder in your home.  I hope you don’t, but if you do, I hope you’re a heck of a boxer.

Another few of you may be relying on a more melee approach.  You might have a knife or a baseball bat under your bed or in the corner of your room.  While they don’t require any ammunition, and virtually zero maintenance, they’re also quite limiting.

Their effectiveness depends on you getting close to the assailant(s), and weapons with extended range likely require you to use two hands, thus making it nearly impossible to hold a flashlight.  Not to mention, there’s always the possibility that the intruder could overpower you and use it against you.  And frankly, there likely aren’t many of us in this room who posses the mental and emotional capacity to be able to effectively beat or stab a man to death.

Enthusiasts like myself, as well as security experts generally agree that the best weapon class for home defense is a firearm.  That, however, is the point where general agreement stops.  For every expert out there who thinks semi-auto pistols are tops, there’s another who prefers double-action revolvers, and yet another who swears on civilian carbines like the AR-15 and Mini-14…let me save you the hassle of inconclusive research–the best home defense gun is one that you’re personally able to operate with the most proficiency.

Now for those of you who don’t currently have a firearm included in your home defense solution, I encourage you to ignore the aforementioned experts, and heed the words of those who praise the almighty shotgun.

A shotgun has a strong advantage over other classes of firearms in three categories:  ease of use, price and availability, and sheer stopping power with minimal risk of over-penetration.

The shotgun is believed to have been around since the 18th century, allowing hundreds of years for manufacturers to design a breed of weapon versatile enough to be used by nearly any man, woman, or child for sport, for hunting, or, in the present case, self-defense.

Barring LE use, and special NFA regulations, Barrel length ranges from 18-20”, which is a maneuverable length ideal for home defense usage, all the way up to 30-34” barrels, popular for trap shooting.

Unlike other guns, shotguns don’t fire bullets–they fire shot or slugs, which are packed into shotshells.  The shot in shotshells consists of small pellets, and the size and the number of pellets in the shell is primarily determined by gauge.  Now, I won’t get into the details of determining gauge, and load variance

What’s important to remember is that nearly every shotgun round, despite the gauge, has man-stopping potential, allowing you, regardless of your stature and shooting experience to find one that you can operate.  You have virtually limitless options

Each shot from a shotgun can send anywhere from half a dozen to several hundred pellets (depending on the load) at a target in a conical pattern.  That said, the further you are from a target, the more the pattern will spread.

This phenomenon is no doubt what has inspired the common myth “you can’t miss with a shotgun”.

Inside your house, shooting down a 15 foot hallway, doesn’t give the shot pattern much of an opportunity to spread.  That said, you can absolutely miss with a shotgun.  This is why it’s so important to, as with any other gun, learn how to safely, and effectively operate it.

And the only way to become proficient is to shoot, and shoot often.  Fortunately, shotgunning relatively affordable.

A decent pistol will cost you $400 on the low-end, and a good, stripped down AR-15 can rarely be found for less than $800.  On the other hand, a gently used, low-maintenance pump-action can be commonly purchased for as little as $150.  For the sake of practice, ammunition is also comparatively inexpensive.  A box of 25 rounds of 12 gauge birdshot can be purchased for under $6.00.

Proficient shooting is a discipline that requires a good financial investment, but with a shotgun, you’ll at least be able to keep costs to a minimum.

Finally, there is no other class of firearms available to the civilian market that rivals the stopping power of a shotgun in a home defense scenario:

One round of 12 gauge buckshot can do as much damage to an intruder as hitting them with 9 rounds from a submachine gun.

410, the smallest shotgun gauge can pack the same muzzle energy as a 357 magnum.

and a round of 20 gauge buckshot, which is significantly smaller than the aforementioned 12 gauge, hits with the equivalent force of shooting an intruder with 2 44 magnums at the same time.

Those of you who can’t appreciate the magnitude of that comparison, go watch Dirty Harry…go watch it anyway…

Perhaps the shotgun’s strongest suit is that it can provide the said level of power while keeping penetration to a minimum, meaning you likely aren’t risking the lives of those behind the drywall when you take a shot at the bad guy.

The bottomline is, if you’re caught in a situation where your life is in danger, you need to end it as quickly as possible, while minimizing risk to innocent bystanders.  I challenge anyone to find a weapon that more adequately meets a balance between stopping power and damage control.

I could discuss for hours the benefits of a shotgun for home defense.  Fortunately, for many of you, my time is limited.

I know that not all of you are about to run out and add a shotgun to your home defense arsenal, and some of you might outright be opposed to firearms in general, and I certainly respect an educated argument.  If you take anything away from this speech, it’s my hope that regardless of your defense strategy, you become more cognizant, and in turn more vigilant in your efforts to enjoy peace and safety in your home with your family.