FLINT, MICHIGAN — A son mistook his father for a burglar and shot him when he entered the doorway. The incident occurred late at night and the father survived and was taken to the hospital.
According to the police report referenced by Michigan Live, the son heard someone breaking in and took up position with his pistol. The thirty-seven year old man mistook his own father for an intruder before he pulled the trigger.
Okay, obviously it’s a low light situation and it’s hard to see who’s coming in. Kudos for taking up position with cover and all that jazz. Unfortunately, target recognition at night has always been a problem. That’s why people illuminate their target or use a call and response to determine friend from foe.
This is nothing new.
Tragic? Yes. New? No.
I’m glad his dad made it out alright.
Look, I’m not going to make excuses but if you’ve ever had a few drinks and then tried to fumble with your keys to get in the front door, you know how ridiculous that looks. It can also get sorta loud when you drop your keys and then cuss like a sailor as you try to get back in the door. Unfortunately, his son thought he was likely making so much noise he thought the house was being broken into.
If this story didn’t end in bullets, it’d likely be something they’d laugh about for years to come.
However, back to the original point: darkness and target recognition.
If you don’t know who you’re facing but you have other occupants in the home, you have the added pleasure of determining which is intruder and which is occupant before you pull the trigger.
Does this put you at added risk? You betcha. Could you easily get shot or hurt by an intruder while trying to find out if it’s actually an intruder or not? Yep. Probably.
However, it’s your duty to make sure that the rounds that leave the barrel of your gun both a.) hit their intended bad guy target and b.) don’t hit other people. If you can’t do that, don’t pull the trigger.
There are tools you can use. There’s fancy flashlights you can mount on your gun or you can get a Walmart special $9.99 flashlight and illuminate your supposed target. There’s also the old tried and true method of having a call word and pass.
This was popularized during World War I and II when, at night, soldiers didn’t have night-vision goggles and they couldn’t easily determine who was crossing the battlefield. If you detected a disturbance, you called out a simple phrase.
And someone who was familiar with your home, or lives within it and comes home late at night, can respond.
Does it sound tacky? You bet.
Is it something I’d tell a roommate who comes home at 3 a.m., drunker than a skunk and ricocheting off the door as he tries to open the lock? Definitely.
Even if he responds with something that isn’t the response, I have some idea of who I’m dealing with.
You figure out what method works for you. Feel free to tell us in the comments section below. Definitely identity your targets before shooting. Figure out some method whereby neither you nor someone else who lives in your home has to get hurt.