Knowing How to Keep You & Your Apartment Safe

Renters understand that part of being a tenant involves adhering to a set of rules outlined in the lease. Illegal activities, excessive noise, and burning candles are a few items most apartment complexes ban, and rightly so, but one line item that I believe needs discussing is the use of a firearm in self-defense.

Responsible gun owners know that accidentally or randomly discharging a firearm in a residence is a terrible, careless mistake and could harm others inside the home or a neighbor. Many apartment complexes prohibit firing a weapon inside a unit or on apartment property for that reason, but what in the case of self-defense? What are you supposed to do, other than threaten the intruder breaking down your door that you have a gun? Firing warning shots is not an ideal choice as those rounds could end up in your neighbor's walls (or worse) and waiting until your apartment is broken into gives you precious seconds to make a decision. Policies such as this mean that if you fire a gun in self-defense, your lease could be terminated. You're alive, but you're also now homeless.

Colorado's Make My Day Law prevents prosecution if you use a firearm in self-defense, but when you sign a lease that includes this kind of verbiage, another set of issues are uncovered.

Colorado's Make My Day Law 

  • Applies only to dwellings
  • Does not explicitly state "no duty to retreat"
  • No presumptions about a potential threat required 
  • Does not allow the deadly force to stop other felonies
  • Individuals who defend themselves are protected by Civil Immunity 

Less-Than-Lethal Choices

There are ways to defend your apartment that don't include the use of a firearm, but many of those options require close-range encounters. Pepper sprays with powerful blasts can give you a distance of 25 feet between you and your attacker and even bear spray can reach up to 35 feet.

For apartment complexes that don't include this clause, there are options that conscientious gun owners who rent can use to minimalize damage to property and reduce the amount of harm inflicted on an intruder.

Frangible Bullets

These types of bullets are intended to break into small pieces upon impact to reduce their penetration of other objects such as walls and floors. If you are concerned about the stopping power of your current ammo supply for home defense, consider using frangible bullets as an alternative to prevent bullet entry into a neighboring apartment. Available in a variety of handgun calibers, frangibles are a better choice over traditional handgun ammunition.

Birdshot

If you have a shotgun, using #8 birdshot loads are a solid choice as the pellets are very light and inflict minimal damage on the property. While not as penetrative as a buckshot load, it will still be an effective option at close range. 

Take Classes

No matter how good you are with a firearm, there is always something to be learned with professional training. Classes on firearm handling, situational awareness, and self-defense as well as information on preventing burglaries are available the general public. 

As much as we'd like to live in a perfect, crime-free world, that is not the case. You have a right to your own personal safety and protecting your apartment. Keeping defense items in your apartment, as well as knowing your rights as a renter make a safer home, but sometimes you'll find, that as you begin to research what options are available to you, there are a whole other set of tradeoffs for you to consider. Do your homework and make the best choice for you and your community.

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