A lot of bytes have been sacrificed in the unending debates and conversations we pro-rights activists have about the efficacy of various calibers in self-defense situations, but it is a rare opportunity indeed to come up with some actual, hard data concerning how a small piece of lead traveling at high velocities will affect the human body. One such opportunity presented itself in Gwinnett, Georgia this very week:
Gwinnett police Cpl. Edwin Ritter told the AJC that the woman, who is in her late 40s or early 50s, was getting out of the shower when the intruder, who she did not know, turned out the lights and attacked her.
She fell back into the shower, injuring her back, and attempted to fight the man off with the shower rod, Ritter said.
"She was telling him that she has money and please don’t hurt her," Ritter said.
"He forced her into her bedroom," Ritter said. "Once inside the bedroom, she retrieved a .22-caliber pistol and shot him several times."
The suspect, who was in his 20s, collapsed outside the house. He was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, where he died.
1. There is almost no way this is not a clean shoot. A stranger broke into this woman’s home and attacked her in her shower while he was wielding a knife – barring some odd circumstances, that is the very definition of self defense, and thankfully the Gwinnett police have indicated that charges will not likely be filed.
2. Once again, guns are "bad news" for women… only in that "not" kind of way. What chances do you think a naked, scared, caught-off-guard, 40- to 50-year-old woman would have against a 20-something thug armed with a knife? Not odds I would like to bet on, that is for sure. However, thanks to her being willing to defend herself and having a tool with which to do so (namely, a firearm), this victim is still alive, still unraped, and still mostly undamaged. That is a win.
3. The victim employed a .22 caliber handgun, and it worked; however, there are some pretty big caveats to go with that statement. First, the scumbag home invader was shot "several times", but was still physically capable of making it outside the woman’s house before he collapsed. This indicates he would also have been capable – if he had the presence of mind or desire to do so – of killing the woman before he collapsed from his injuries; remember, he was armed with a knife.
Likewise, the attacker did not die until after the victim had called the police, until after the EMTs had arrived, and until after he had made it to the hospital (a trip of at least five minutes, according to maps). This, along with his ability to leave his victim’s house, indicates that one of the primary measurements of caliber effectiveness – central nervous system disruption – was not met. Is this due to shot placement, or deficiencies of the caliber? Hard to say. But given the average energies imparted by an average .22 caliber bullet, I am definitely leaning towards the latter, with considerations given to not-quite-perfect aim due to a high-stress situation.
So, yes, a .22 caliber handgun worked… slowly. Too slowly for me to feel comfortable with*. However, if a .22 is all you feel comfortable with, and all you can reliably and accurately hit targets with, then it sure as hell beats being robbed, raped, or murdered.
4. Crime happens anywhere. Not many people plan on being accosted in their showers by a knife-wielding stranger – understandably so – but we rarely expect most of the bad things that happen to us.
In the end, the victim only received minor injuries from which she will recover, and the home invader’s recidivism rate has been reduced to zero… no matter what armchair quarterbacking I do from the comfort of a state away, score two for law-abiding citizens defending themselves with firearms.
(* – That said, I still toy with the idea of a Tactical Solutions AR-22 SBX-equipped .22-caliber AR platform, complete with suppressor, for home defense. Compact, no need for hearing protection, and 20+ rounds on tap. Unfortunately, even the fastest versions of those rounds only yield about 200 ftlbs of energy, which is damned close to "useless".)