Clearing Your Home of a Suspected Intruder - Part 2


By Larry Pomykalski

In this edition of Firing Line, we’re continuing our discussion of clearing a house or apartment safely and effectively. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this article, you’ll need to do that before reading this.

If you’ve done your homework, you’ve found a large number of spaces in your home that could conceal an intruder. Even in the smallest apartment, you probably found fifteen or more such places. Now that you’ve begun thinking about your interior spaces in this way, we’ll discuss the basics of clearing them of intruders.

In the typical ‘bump in the night’ scenario, the biggest danger is simple, but all too often overlooked-know where your family is! How often have we all read of people shooting family members, their friends or invited guests in ill-conceived attempts at responding to strange noises? It’s a totally preventable tragedy.

Let’s say you live in a house where your bedroom is on the second floor. You have two pre-teen children in two separate rooms on that floor, as well, and a teen-ager living in a bedroom in the basement. In the middle of the night you hear the unmistakable sound of glass breaking, followed by muffled voices, from the first floor. Do you grab your favorite blaster off your nightstand and head down to see if there’s an intruder? Stop right there…

Let me ask you this, how many times have you gotten up to use the restroom in the middle of the night and only barely remembered it in the morning? We humans have an amazing ability to operate on ‘auto-pilot’ in familiar situations and surroundings, and that can be a lethal enemy in the situation we just described.

Aside from the inherent silliness of keeping a weapon out on your nightstand with children in your home, there’s nothing to prevent that ‘half-awake you’ that makes the nightly bathroom visits from rolling over and grabbing that pistol off the nightstand, is there? Do you trust that sleepy man or woman to use that pistol correctly, and with proper judgment? I know I sure don’t, and that’s why I strongly suggest that you secure your defensive firearm in some type of locker or safe when you’re sleeping. I recommend something with a mechanical Simplex lock, if possible. The reason is quite simple.

I can open the Simplex equipped safe in my bedroom in under two seconds. I know, because I’ve practiced it and timed it. There are no batteries to fail, no key to lose, and it requires that I be fully awake to do it. The sleepy guy that runs to the bathroom doesn’t have enough brain cells awake to punch in even the simple and quick code required, so I don’t have to worry about him getting up and going after strange noises in the night. I know that, by the time I’ve punched that code, at least the majority of my brain is awake and powered up, and I’m not letting my firearms fall into the wrong hands, even if those hands are my own.

So let’s rewind our scenario a bit. Same house, same layout, same sounds in the night. This time you quickly grab your defensive handgun from its secure storage, and you also get the powerful and fully charged flashlight that’s there next to it. Now this fully-awake and equipped you goes out to make sure your family is safe.


One thing to consider as we prepare to search our home-in a minute or so, there’s definitely going to be a man or woman walking around our house with a gun out and ready. We need to do everything within our power to make sure that person doesn’t increase the danger to our family by being reckless or uninformed. If it seems we’re taking this topic awfully slowly, that is why.Next time, we’ll discuss how to search your home without endangering your family members, and start working on search techniques and patterns.

  • I’m going to give you some more homework before we finish up-I want you to make a mental list of everyone who could possibly be in your home legitimately in the middle of the night. Sound easy? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Did I give a key to my mom/dad/neighbor in case of emergencies? Could they think there’s a problem and have come in to see?
  • Did my teen-aged son or daughter invite some friends (possibly friends I’ve never met) over late?
  • Do we have a houseguest I’ve forgotten? Could they have invited someone over?
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    "Larry Pomykalski is a former military firearms instructor, former police officer and certified instructor in pistol, knife, OC and defensive tactics."