Individual ownership of a firearm no more qualifies the owner to protect themselves and their property and defend the rights granted by their creator than individual ownership of a cowboy hat qualifies the owner for the National Finals Rodeo.
Responsible ownership of a firearm requires not only adequate training in its use, but also a mental mindset capable of formulating and implementing a plan should that tool ever be required. Irresponsible use of a firearm often provides opponents of the right to keep and bear arms a useful weapon, especially considering their willing accomplices in the congress and the media.
Training with your chosen firearm should occur frequently, weekly if possible, at the very least, monthly. Always practice on silhouette targets and not bull’s-eye targets. Reality is a must in training. Devote quite a bit of practice and ammo on headshots. Criminals frequently wear body armor. Train diligently to become ambidextrous in the use of your firearm in the event your strong side should become incapacitated.
If one has decided to become trained and may be forced at some time to use his weapon for defense of his home, life, family, or rights, he/she should take the time to talk this decision over with members of their family. Each should be aware of the inherent danger should events occur that require a firearm to be employed, and where they should position themselves to remain as safe as possible.
The person(s) most likely to use the firearm should be aware of where other members of the family would be and to make every effort to insure that any missed shots not endanger them. High-powered magnum pistols and rifles can penetrate several internal and/or external walls.
It is imperative that one have complete knowledge of his living environment: where are your firearms located, can you negotiate your way through the house without lights, etc. It could prove invaluable to possess the ability to navigate each and every room in your house in complete darkness without giving away your position.
Keeping your firearm and ammunition in separate locations is absurd. An unloaded $800 pistol or revolver can instantly become a very expensive rock. Have an adequate supply of ammo. I, personally, have a firearm and ammo discretely located in each room of my home so as to never be isolated from either should the need arise.
I do not recommend the use of the laser sights now in vogue with many gun owners. In a dark environment they give away your position to a possible adversary. Not a good thing in a gunfight. A high intensity flashlight can be a force option, used to locate, identify, and temporarily disorient a potential bad guy, but should be employed with discretion when one is facing multiple targets, for the light too can give away your position.
Home invasions are becoming more and more in the news and usually involve a multitude of bad guys. Know whom you are admitting into your home. It is not unusual in a self-defense situation to find oneself in a target-rich environment. One magazine or cylinder of ammo may not be sufficient for the situation. Practice your reloads until they are automatic.
An adrenaline rush will cause one’s aim to be unsteady and erratic. Sometime before you practice on your silhouette targets, run in place for several minutes, pick up your firearm and attempt to engage the targets. Raising your heart rate is the closest one can come to duplicating the adrenaline rush brought on by a potential life or death encounter.
Do not rush toward the sound of a forced intrusion into your home; in so doing you give away your position and could draw fire from several adversaries at once. Do not turn on lights as that too could give away your position and draw fire. Stay low, think on your feet and react. Fear should be a motivator, but never the director of your actions.
What I am going to mention next is something I have personally done and recommend to all. Either travel to your local law enforcement, or, if you have a group of like-minded citizens or a shooting club, ask a representative of law enforcement to attend a meeting. At this meeting ask the LE representative if he/she understands their oath to uphold and defend; have a copy of their oath handy. Pointedly ask how an unlawful order to seize public firearms would be handled by their department. If they answer the order would be executed, ask what would be their department’s response if citizens refused to comply. I believe this serves to inform those in LE that adherence to unconstitutional confiscation might not go as smoothly as they expect and serve as a subtle reminder of who they are paid to "serve and protect" and who is paying their salaries.
If you have a number of like-minded patriots, or a gun club with members you trust, establish a phone tree. In other words, should one of your group become the target of a criminal invasion, they would call the first person on the list who would in turn call two people on the list and so on until all members were notified. Criminals prefer to execute their crimes with relative cover and quiet. A number of well-armed, concerned folks arriving at the scene could possibly insure a positive outcome and/or provide much needed assistance.
Train hard; train often; train in realistic scenarios; your life and the life of your family may depend on it.