A friend of mine had a defensive gun use (DGU) a few days ago. Not the kind you see reported in the news, but a DGU nonetheless. He’d parked a bike near the front door of his home, affixed to a metal chair with a decent cable lock. His dog started to bark at the door, in the middle of the day, during the week. There was no knock or doorbell ring. My friend accessed his house gun, a S&W N-frame model 28 he’d converted to .45 ACP. The security door was locked. He opened the inner door with his left hand, the revolver in his right. In the entryway stood a 16 to 18-year-old young man with a shaved head and tattoos down his neck. My friend hadn’t seen him in the neighborhood before. The young man was studying the bike, the lock, and the chair. My friend held the revolver in the attitude shown in the picture above. You do not see more of him because he wishes to remain anonymous. In the actual event, he was in the doorway, visible through the locked security door.
In fluent Spanish, he asked, “May I help you?”
The tattooed youth looked up. He didn’t say anything. My friend said that he then did a very credible 100 yard dash. My friend did not pursue. There was no reason to do so.
He never pointed the pistol at the youth. He never threatened anyone. He never reported the incident to police. What was there to report? No crime had been committed, except perhaps trespassing.
In Arizona, you are allowed to threaten deadly force to prevent trespassing. As the young man immediately left the property, it’s unlikely a judge or jury would convict him of trespassing. My friend had only asked him if he needed help.
This is a good approximation of the “typical” DGU. No shots fired. The mere presence of the firearm defused the situation. If no firearm were present, the youth might have been emboldened to further action. As it was, there was no physical confrontation. It appears that a guilty conscience (or the sight of Springfield’s finest) was sufficient to command flight.
It’s not hard to believe that such incidents occur hundreds of thousand of times a year, as noted by the CDC in 2013 (pdf):
Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010).
There is no incentive — actually a fairly strong disincentive — to report this kind of non-newsworthy incident. In fact, there’s a small but real potential that involving authorities would bring trouble down on the homeowner. Case closed.