My post yesterday on using an AR (or AK, I suppose) for home defense elicited a few comments worth discussion.
Let me start by saying that I'm not making a recommendation one way or the other. If you can intelligently explain your choice of defensive tools, then drive on with your bad self. If I decide to equip the hearth and home with an AR, I've got the fact that Uncle Sam spent a bunch of time and money teaching me how to use it, I've fought overseas with one, and there's simply no firearm that I perform better with. Apartments may not be ideal keeping AR rounds out of your neighbor's place, but according to the Box O' Truth, pistol rounds go through sheetrock pretty well too. So maybe the overpenetration concern is universal if sheetrock is all that separates you from next door. I wonder what separates townhouses from each other. Anyone in construction have a line on this?
As Tim pointed out, Harold Fish's prosecution for murder was an outlier, and not a good gauge of what to expect if you use force in self-defense. However, Arizona's laws at the time, where self-defense is an affirmative defense, remains the rule in the overwhelming majority of the states. That's IF you get prosecuted. Prosecutorial discretion is the factor that makes most self-defense shootings remain news stories and not court cases.
Frank W. James weighed in to point out that the castle doctrine makes the weapon a non-issue inside the home. That's true in certain instances. But all "castle doctrine" statutes are not created equal. Some are really "stand your ground" statutes that remove the duty to retreat outside the home. Some are just laws strengthening defense of habitation claims.
Take North Carolina, the California of the South in terms of gun laws. The Castle Doctrine statute is really a defense of habitation measure. If a lawful occupant is preventing or terminating unlawful entry that they reasonably believe is going to harm/kill someone inside or commit a felony, then the lawful occupant can use any level of force against the intruder. But once they are inside, then the proportionality of force requirement applies, but without the duty to retreat (if reasonable) that exists outside the home. If you come downstairs for a glass of milk at night and find an intruder already inside who does nothing to threaten you, then ejecting a trespasser is supposed to be done first with "gentle hands." The NRA-supported bill to change this state of affairs bogged down.
Virginia doesn't have a castle doctrine statute, but the case law on self-defense is such that you'd have to really screw up to get prosecuted for shooting someone in your own home. There's a lot more to that explanation, and it takes about three hours.
Frank also had some smart things to say about magazine retention and bugging out if society breaks down or the zombiepocalypse hits us. Then he said some more smart stuff. Good blog, now on the blogroll.