By Serah Keating

After printing the last presentation for Monday, I headed out for the weekend. I rushed out the door so I could surprise my daughter Charlotte and pick her up at school and take her to a new frozen yogurt place in town. We have a girl’s weekend ahead since Chris is out of town working for the next couple days.

Our house sits on 10 wooded acres in the country and we don’t mind spending time alone there. My mother is a 911 dispatcher in the county we live in, so I have no delusions about the amount of break-ins that we have here, even in this quiet, sleepy country town.

Arming Up

I decided that nothing was worth letting harm come to us. A friend suggested that I get a .38 Special revolver. Before making the purchase I went to the range to familiarize myself with such a firearm. I found the recoil too much for me to handle comfortably. I wanted to be certain that I can maintain control of any firearm I’m going to use to defend myself and my family. After trying different gun types, I ended up going with a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm semi-automatic. This came out of the box reliable, functional and simple.

It also came with a number of different grips, and as a petite woman, I was able to make it fit perfectly to my hands. I followed the S&W gun with a Springfield Armory XD(M) 9mm and take both guns to the range regularly for practice sessions.

I took lessons from a local Special Forces veteran. We talked about safety, stance and the fundamentals of marksmanship. We added the shot timer to simulate stress and train me to keep shooting until there was no longer a threat, something I had never thought of. One shot, if not aimed properly, will do nothing but enrage an assailant. I learned how I was slapping the trigger and had to learn trigger squeeze and reset. I learned to shoot with both eyes open and to keep them on my target. I learned to be comfortable with my weapon.

Defense Planning

I have had many talks with my daughter on gun safety. Charlotte and I are mentally prepared because we have a plan that we have rehearsed, and we fully accept the world that we live in exactly as it is. While I want quick and easy access to my weapon in an emergency, I do not want my daughter to be able to get it. No matter how many talks you have, accidents can still happen. I knew I wanted access to it quickly, so I did not want a traditional gun safe. After some research, I decided on a GunVault SpeedVault (, which is biometric. All I do is lay my finger on the scanner and it pops open in an easy-to-grab position. It was also easy to mount on the side of my nightstand.

I installed floodlights on both sides of my house as well as one in the driveway. I have two large dogs that are wonderful family pets. They act not only as an early warning system, but are a better deterrent than any house alarm I could have. The average response time for a 911 call is 20 minutes and the average break-in only lasts 10 minutes. Having a plan already in place, and having the dogs can buy precious minutes, and to me this is vital.

If trouble comes our way, Charlotte knows to stay upstairs and call 911. She knows our address and we have made practice live 911 calls so she knows exactly what to say and feels comfortable with it. Every emergency department allows this. I call them beforehand and let them know her name and what number she will be calling from. I have Charlotte do this once a month so she will get in the habit of doing it. We have the number listed right next to the phone as well, so even in an emergency if she were scared she would not forget who to call. When we practice this scenario, we always do so like it is really happening. We do it the same way every time and change the outcome.

I open my safe with one hand while reaching for my phone with the other. I use voice command to call 911. I yell for Charlotte to stay upstairs. She knows this means she is supposed to call 911 as well. This may seem redundant, but if one of us gets cut off the other can still talk to emergency personnel. Also, having a job to do and someone to speak with will help to keep her calm.

I go to a single point in the house where I can cover and see all entryways into my house. I am also protected in this position as well, and will stay there unless the house is breached. I shout to the intruders that I am armed and the police are on their way. Hopefully this is enough to deter them. If not, I am prepared for the next eventuality.

Don’t Be A Victim

I have done my research and know that the Castle Law exists in my state. I have every right to protect my home and my family, with deadly force if necessary. The attackers can have anything they want outside, but if they enter a door or a window, they will have made their worst decision. That is my phase line, which is the moment when I will act to protect my daughter and myself.
I am a woman, a mother and a professional. I like living off the beaten trail and have accepted that the world can be violent. I have also accepted that there are victims and there are people who make decisions, and sometimes they are between bad and worse. Not for my little girl, not tonight.

I will make the hard choice and protect my home and my daughter, but most importantly, I will always have a plan. If you have not trained, practiced or gone through drills, you will not react quickly when necessary. No one makes a heroic decision under stress, you only react to what you are conditioned to do. I want to be conditioned to be calm in the face of an adversary and danger so that my daughter and I will be safe.

This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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