This is not the post i have been working on this week, that will be done this weekend most likely. What it is however is something i have been thinking about since speaking with Guy a couple weeks ago. Several folks i know, both directly and indirectly, have mentioned to me since i started this blog how they would react in a self defense situation and not once did anyone mention taking into account lines of fire or even an awareness of what is on the other side of their walls. In many area's this failure to think ahead could at a bare minimum lead to a lawsuit if not to a very real tragedy should your rounds make their way into a neighbors home and cause injury.
While most of us hope to never be in a situation where we will have to use lethal force to defend ourselves it is inevitable that someone will and at may very well be you or I. When speaking to Guy i didn't really understand his surprise at my awareness of what angles of fire within my home are safe for my neighbors and which are not, I just assumed every gun owner did that for some reason. Unless you are using a .22, live in a stone or brick house, or live in a rural area with distant neighbors there is a strong chance that any rounds you fire in self defense (especcially those which miss the bad guy) will penetrate your walls. For those of us who are veterans, especially infantry and combat veterans the concept of fields of fire are nothing new although we were trained to setup overlapping fields of fire for combat conditions the basic principle remains the same - Know where your weapon is pointed and where your rounds are going as well as how far they CAN go.
In my home for example i live fairly close to my neighbors although there are several safe directions in which i can fire should the need arise, and while it is unlikely that most people would be able to take this into account during an actual incident it can be compensated for if we plan ahead and think about what we need to be aware of before hand. If you can, avoid firing toward major streets since you never know when a vehicle full of innocent bystanders may be driving by. Don't waste your shots or fire a warning shot (something which is illegal in many area's in any case,) remain calm or at least as calm as possible and make your rounds count. In real life hitting the white is more than just a miss, it may mean someone uninvolved just got shot by a stray round.
This leads me to my next point, even though the economy sucks and many of us can not afford to go to the range as often as we would like, make a point of going often enough to at least maintain a basic level of proficiency. If you cannot afford to go to the range, or as is the case for me at the moment your range is closed for the season, get a pellet gun and practice with that. While it won't train you to handle the recoil of a real firearm it will allow you to maintain the fundamentals such as aiming, trigger pull, etc.
Ok that is enough preaching for the moment, feel free to comment and view the video below. While this kind of situation IS rare and in many (but by no means all) cases safe from prosecution under the various self defense laws, do you want to live with an innocent life on your conscience?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuhKCiY-lu0 - pay attention to where some of the rounds went, what would have happened if someone had been on the other side of that garage door for example?
http://failimage.com/126/funny-fails/24419/line-of-fire.html - This may be intended as a joke but when real ammunition is fired there would be nothing funny about it.