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SOTG 398 - Home Invasion: Where is your Gun?

(Photo Source: popularmechanics.com)

Following up on a previous episode of SOTG radio, we examine the disgust criminal trend of home invasions. You may be saddened to realize just how little the state is doing to keep you safe.

Our SWAT Fuel Warrior of the Week has a question about traveling from state to state with firearms. We have advice for armed travelers this summer.

Also, Monday is our Motivational Day for troops overseas. Don’t miss Paul’s thoughts this week.

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From www.ammoland.com:

Brownells’ retail gun store in Grinnell, Iowa, will host its grand opening celebration this coming Saturday, June 11, 2016, from 9AM to 6PM.

An 8:45 AM ribbon cutting ceremony will kick off the day’s festivities. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Grinnell Mayor Gordon Canfield will deliver comments before company owners Frank and Pete Brownell cut the ceremonial ribbon.

The in-store activities ramp up at 9AM starting with free hats for the first 100 people through the door.

Customers will enjoy sale pricing on an array of firearms from manufacturers like Ruger, Weatherby, Smith & Wesson, Glock and Bushmaster. Sale-priced ammunition will be offered from Wolf, Federal and Remington, including limited-quantity .22 LR ammunition priced at just $74.99 for an ammo box and 1,300 rounds.

Prizes up for grabs include a Daniel Defense AR-15 rifle valued at $2,500, a Glock 43 pistol valued at $450 and a $200 Brownells Gift Card.
In addition to all of the great deals, customers are invited to visit with factory reps from popular companies like Apex Tactical, Benelli, Beretta, H&K, Hornady, Leupold, Trijicon, Streamlight, Surefire and more.

An appearance by Brownells ambassador and The Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno, will add to the day’s excitement. Ferrigno will meet and greet customers from 2PM to 5PM.

“We’re very excited for our grand opening celebration,” said Pete Brownell, CEO of Brownells. “There will be lots of great deals, prizes and things to do for the entire family. We encourage anyone with an interest in firearms or the firearm culture to come check out the new store, get an autograph or maybe even buy that new gun you’ve been thinking about. We’d love to have you!”
Brownells’ gun store is located at 3006 Brownells Parkway, just off I-80 exit 182, in Grinnell, Iowa.

From www.nj.com:

On a September afternoon 22 years ago, Shawn Custis broke into a brick split-level home on a quiet suburban street in Delran, Burlington County, and started rifling through a jewelry box in the bedroom.

When he heard the front door open, authorities say, Custis hid in a closet. Seconds later, he jumped out and attacked the unsuspecting young mother and her 18-month-old daughter who had just arrived home. Custis pushed the woman onto a bed and punched her repeatedly, according to police reports. When she broke free and tried to grab the child, Custis yanked her by the hair, then pushed her and her child down a flight of stairs. He escaped in the woman’s car.

The mother and child survived the attack and Custis was arrested the next day, attempting to sell the stolen Ford station wagon in Camden. He was later convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Details of that case from 1991 are eerily similar to last month’s brutal attack in Millburn, where Custis is accused of breaking into a locked home on Cypress Street and beating an unsuspecting mother in front of her young child in an assault that was captured on a nanny cam and broadcast nationwide.

Custis, who was arrested in Manhattan late last week, pleaded not guilty today during his first appearance in Superior Court in Newark.

Authorities say that on June 21, Custis broke into the Millburn home where the mother and her daughter were watching cartoons. On the tape, the assailant pummels the woman, repeatedly punching her, kicking her and yanking her by the hair as the 3-year-old sits, frozen, on the couch, just inches away, clutching a blanket.

Another child, an 18-month-old boy, was asleep upstairs. Neither child was hurt.

The intruder goes upstairs three times, returning each time to continue beating the woman. He eventually throws her down the basement stairs before leaving through the front door.

The woman, who has not been identified, suffered a concussion, chipped teeth, an injured lip, facial swelling and leg injuries. She agreed to release the video, which prompted dozens of phone calls and a three-day manhunt ending in Custis’ arrest in Manhattan June 28.

“The video shows what violent crime looks like,” acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said at a press conference after today’s hearing. “We have a tremendous amount of violent crime in Essex County as well as in the state and the country, but when people in the community see what it really looks like I think that’s why we got the outpouring of assistance that we did.”

Murray said last week that investigators received “the biggest break” after several Newark residents who had seen the video said they recognized Custis, a career criminal who was most recently released from prison in December.

The 42-year-old Custis faces charges of attempted murder, burglary and two counts of child endangerment. In court today, Custis, wearing a blue button-down shirt, his hands cuffed in front of him, Custis muttered that he understood the charges against him. He kept his eyes fixed on the floor throughout most of the brief proceeding.

Afterward, Chief Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly said the brutality of the beating led to the top charge of attempted murder.

“We believe it was his intent to kill the mother,” he said.

Fennelly said it does not appear the Millburn woman nor the house, located in the middle of a tree-lined, upper middle-class neighborhood, were targeted. Authorities say Custis kicked in a locked back door.

Custis’ attorney, Sterling Kinsale, declined to comment.

The Delran burglary, archived in the yellowing pages of a police report, provide a sinister preview of a life of crime to come. Custis pleaded guilty in that case and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Since then, he has committed at least 12 felonies around the state and serve four separate prison terms, according to court records.

In 2006, he escaped from a Department of Corrections halfway house in Clinton and was charged with more than 20 residential burglaries in the Hamilton and Trenton areas, according to an article published in The Times of Trenton. He was on the lam for about a month until police picked him up wearing shoes he had stolen from an earlier burglary, according to the article.

Custis, whose last known address was on Irvine Turner Boulevard in Newark, was most recently jailed in connection with another string of burglaries across New Jersey in March 2011. He was sentenced to three years in prison and served 10 months at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Cumberland County, according to court records. He was released in December.

Prosecutors refused to comment when asked at the press conference whether Custis should have been released so soon, given his criminal history.

David Thomas, executive director of the New Jersey State Parole Board said the board “deemed (Custis) maxed out, served his time.”

Custis remains in custody in lieu of $750,000 bail. His case will be presented to a grand jury.

On Cypress Street in Millburn, one resident, Annette Romano, is organizing a community watch and collecting cell phone numbers and email addresses to foster better communication among residents.

“The idea is just to tell people to get to know your neighbors, talk to one another so you know if someone stays home and if something is out of the ordinary,” said Romano, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years. “Don’t hesitate to walk up to someone suspicious. Look out for each other.”

Romano, who lives just five doors down from where the attack occurred, said she is installing a security camera this week.

“The fact that this man probably walked right past my house is just the scariest thing.”

From www.studentofthegun.com:

It was the middle of the day on June 21, 2013 in Millburn, New Jersey. A young mother of two sat in the living room watching cartoons with her three-year-old daughter. An eighteen month old son was asleep upstairs. Without warning, Shawn Curtis, a 42 year-old man entered the house and immediately attacked the young woman. A nanny cam recorded the vicious and brutal attack including the screams of the terrified woman. Her daughter sat frozen in fear as her mother was pummeled, choked and slammed around the house.

What made this horrific attack even more heinous was the fact that Shawn Curtis had committed a nearly identical crime years earlier. He beat and brutalized a young mother in front of her child, leaving her bloody and battered before he stole her car. Curtis had been arrested, convicted, and was back on the street free to commit the Millburn attack.

Home Invasion Reality
A truly sick and disgusting comment on our modern world is the reality of home invasions. Unlike the days of old when people most feared a break-in while they were away, home invasions are violent intrusions into an occupied house. The Modus Operandi generally includes multiple armed felons who are prepared to attack and brutalize the occupants of the home.

Although the weak-minded apologists would label the previous paragraph as “fear mongering”, all that is required of an honest minded person is to pay attention to the news reports or conduct a quick search engine scan for the term “home invasion”.  While writing this article I did just that and a news report only six hours old from N. Philadelphia topped the search page.

As a nation, the people of the United States have become so numb and tolerant of criminal behavior that they have allowed this plague to grow nearly unchecked. Rather than becoming outraged and demanding that home-invading monsters be put away for good, we instead shrug our shoulders and say a silent thanks that it was not us.

Where is your Gun?
During the last five years or so, the number of firearms purchased expressly for “home” or “personal” defense has broken industry records. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans have bought guns to keep at home “just in case”.

Depending on your level of training and experience, how and where you secure a gun for home defense can vary dramatically from person to person. I cringe when I still hear people say that they keep a gun under their pillow.

Most folks will begin in the bedroom as they seem to be more concerned about a break-in while they are asleep. They sit down on the bed and look around for a place to store/hide their gun. (*Author’s note; we will focus primarily on handguns in this review as first-time gun owners tend to gravitate towards them.)

One of the biggest concerns for responsible gun owners is how to deny access to the gun. Small children, who cannot yet be trusted around firearms and sharp objects, are a prime concern. For this reason, many gun owners will choose the “hide it” method. They put the guns in dressers or nightstand drawers or on shelves out of sight of prying eyes. Of course, anyone with children can tell you that hiding something only works for a short while.

Specialized gun safes are another option. Numerous companies product electronic “quick access” gun safes that use a push button system, an RFID system, or other high tech. Most all of these handgun safes can be bolted or secured so as not to be moved.

The primary downside to the gun safe is that you do not take it with you. You leave the gun in the safe and you are only close to it when you happen to be in bed or in the bedroom. What will you do the other 16 hours you are not in your bedroom?

Securing your Gun
There have been innumerable articles written and videos produced that address the subject of securing your defensive gun at home. Strangely enough, most everyone of the aforementioned attempts skip right over the most obvious and simplest solution; carry your gun on your person, in a holster.

Yes, I am actually telling you to get up in the morning, dress yourself, put on a gun, and then continue throughout your day. Take a moment to digest that.

Regardless of how you secure your gun at night, while in bed, can you rely upon the notion that you might actually be near or in your bedroom when you need it? Whether you stay at home during the day or move about in the world, if you are serious about using a firearm as a life-saving tool, you need to have it ready at hand.

Consider the incident at the beginning of this article. Let’s say this family kept a home defense gun stored securely in a handgun safe upstairs in the bedroom. What good would that have done the young mother being beaten in front of her child in the living room?

For argument’s sake, we’ll say that you do have some indication of a home break-in and realize you should run for your gun. Are you alone in your house? Do you have children? What happens to the kids while you run upstairs to retrieve your gun from the safe? Few mothers that I know would leave their kids unprotected, even to get a gun. Their first instinct would be to shield the kids. What happens if the home invader(s) get(s) between you and your gun?

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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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