Image 01 Image 03

Why do we even have to ask for permission to shoot?

Why do we even have to ask for permission to shoot?

Two men break into a home in Oklahoma. A widowed young mother and her infant are alone in the house. The mother calls 911 to ask if it is okay to shoot the intruders:

“I’ve got two guns in my hand — is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?” the young mother asked the 911 dispatcher. “I’m here by myself with my infant baby, can I please get a dispatcher out here immediately?”

The 911 dispatcher confirmed with McKinley that the doors to her home were locked as she asked again if it was okay to shoot the intruder if he were to come through her door.

“I can’t tell you that you can do that but you do what you have to do to protect your baby,” the dispatcher told her. McKinley was on the phone with 911 for a total of 21 minutes.

When Martin kicked in the door and came after her with the knife, the teen mom shot and killed the 24-year-old. Police are calling the shooting justified.

She will not be charged, prosecutors say.

How have we come to the point that this young mother’s first reaction was to ask permission to defend herself in her home?

Well, for starters, the law is muddled.  The so-called Castle Doctrine is not universally adoptedWisconsin and Pennsylvania, for example, only recented passed legislation protecting homeowners.

Kudos to the 911 operator.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


He shouldn’t have brought a knife to a gunfight.

My friend here in Upstate NY was told, in a class to get her handgun permit, to leave her home if armed intruders break in.

    Awing1 in reply to Kitty. | January 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    While it’s not legally required that you leave your home (you can use deadly force to prevent a home invasion in NY), it’s probably good advice if you can do it safely. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean the intruder doesn’t, and they might be a better shot than you.

      Kerrvillian in reply to Awing1. | January 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Thankfully I live in a civilized state, Texas. I don’t have to leave ANYWHERE I may lawfully be if under threat.

      ThomasD in reply to Awing1. | January 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      You would have someone retreat from familiar territory because the intruder might be a better shot? That advice is as tactically silly as it is morally reprehensible.

“McKinley was on the phone with 911 for a total of 21 minutes.”

Tells the whole story as to why everyone needs to be armed and responsible for their own safety and that of their loved ones. In an attack by an intruder, 21 minutes is an eternity.

Thank God the dispatcher didn’t tell her to assume the fetal position and wait until the police arrived.

Someone else pointed this out to me.

1/ The woman had lost her husband to cancer just the week before. She was the sole custodian of her child.
2/ Hard to say what goes through many minds, but knowing (1) the woman probably wanted to be sure that she stayed custodian of her child vs she being prosecuted and the child ending up under state care.

If both of those motives are true then that indicates a presence of mind on the mothers part far above most would consider on the aftermath of this kind of encounter. Most would shoot first and ask about the consequences later. That’s smart, not dumb.

Also, could you imagine the court house steps theater that the defense attorney would lay against the prosecutor? The Asst DA would be looking for a hole to crawl in as the jury was busy looking for a rope.

My experience: Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are great hunting states. Most rural homes have guns available and not just recently.

As they say: when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.

Owning a gun is just Step One. Regular target practice is Step Two.

For Newbies: start with a revolver (no semi-automatics).

    martywd in reply to logos. | January 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    For Newbies: start with a revolver (no semi-automatics).

    Nonsense!   Ideally a person new to firearms, handguns in particular, should get some training from a qualified firearms instructor with _both_ pistol and revolver and then make an educated choice depending on which firearm they find to be most functional for their needs.

      logos in reply to martywd. | January 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Your point is well taken. Based on other comments here, the NRA offers gun courses and a qualified instructor could be found there to offer advice on the relative merits of each.

      For the large majority of adult newbies, whose skill sets are unknown, who’ve never been around firearms, I believe the revolver – as a starter pistol – to be both safer and simpler to operate and clean – and could avert the type of accident described in the link below.

      “The handgun did not have a magazine inserted, however, a semi-automatic handgun, if loaded correctly, has a round in the chamber that can still be fired with the magazine removed.”

    LukeHandCool in reply to logos. | January 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Honest question:

    Why a revolver instead of a semi-automatic?

    I know almost nothing about guns, but more and more I realize I should get one. I’d appreciate the info and a suggestion on a good, reliable gun for a beginner. I guess I’ll look into NRA classes around here (if the NRA has any presence here on the left coast)!

    When we went to Back-to-school night when our oldest daughter had just started the fourth grade, before the teacher even started talking, one of the moms stood up and gave an impassioned spiel haranguing the assembled parents to support the Million Mom March against guns. Even though I grew up in a house where my father forbade my mother from buying us toy guns for Christmas, my blood started to boil. All the parents were nodding and voicing their support for her wild-eyed lecture. They can’t even keep their politics out of a fourth-grade classroom.

    LukeHandCool (who, as a 14-year-old, defied his father by secretly buying a BB-gun from a friend. But who, after shooting and killing a sparrow, felt so badly about what he’d done, he threw the gun away).

      janitor in reply to LukeHandCool. | January 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      Why a revolver instead of a semi-automatic?

      Among other things, easier to care for and use. For women’s concealed carry, get something light such as the old police standby .38 special or a .357 magnum (which will take lower recoil .38 cartridges), with a short barrel and no exposed hammer spur. For self-defense (rather than target practice), you want high-quality, jacketed hollowpoint bullets. For home defense, a 12 gauge pump action shotgun. And then learn. Join your local NRA gun club and find out where you can get instruction and advice.

        logos in reply to janitor. | January 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

        Good answer.

        I would add that – for newbies – removing the magazine does NOT mean that a semi-automatic Is unloaded; a cartridge may be loaded in the chamber and not easily visible. Once shells are ejected from a revolver, you KNOW it is unloaded.

        crimson Trace laser sights add a layer of comfort for self defense purposes.

        My carry class advised most self defense shoot outs end after an average of no more than two rounds being fired by the defender, making the typical 6-15 round magazine less critical.

        Once a newbie is comfortable with shooting AND cleaning a revolver, by all means, step up to a semi. After observing the disassembly and cleaning of a semi, a potential defender can decide if they can handle the maintenance.

        A dirty gun is an unreliable gun.

        Also, fragile ammunition or “soft” rounds are designed to break apart upon hitting hard surfaces to avoid riccoets during close quarter firing. I do not think the human body is classified as a hard surface, but I believe there is ammo available to reduce over penetration.

        Neo in reply to janitor. | January 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

        Keep in mind that there is a statistic that 90% of shootouts of armed persons within 12 feet of each other end with no injuries at all.
        In other words, most folks really stink at shooting, so that practice is really important.

          logos in reply to Neo. | January 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm

          I recommend Laser sights.

          Kenshu Ani in reply to Neo. | January 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

          That’s why you see a shotgun mentioned for home defense. You don’t have to be accurate, just close enough.

          I also have seen a revolver advertised called the Judge that fires shotgun shells. I’ve never handled one, so I won’t recommend it, but it is one to consider as well.

          profshadow in reply to Neo. | January 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

          Yep. Three yards, three rounds, three seconds.

      I will say that I do not believe that a revolver is automatically better for a newbie than a semiautomatic. One reason: many newbies find the long trigger pull of a double action revolver harder to shoot accurately than that of many semiautomatic pistols.

      The key, especially for newbies is training, and trying out different types of handguns. There is no reason that a newbie can’t learn a semiautomatic well enough for their first handgun: I did.

      LukeHandCool: you say you are on the Left Coast? Are you perhaps in the San Jose CA area? If so, check out the Bay Area Professionals for Firearms Safety and Education:

      Sign up for the NRA Basic Pistol class. It is a full day of lecture and hand-on exercises designed to teach you everything you need to use a handgun safely. At the end of the day is a range session in which every student gets an opportunity to shoot single action revolvers, double action revolvers, single action semiautomatics, and SA/DA semiautomatics. I found this class to be a great introduction to handguns

        The link below offers a quite comprehensive discussion of the revolver/semi-automatic issue. Brief excerpts below.

        “Ease of use: Revolvers are undeniably simpler mechanical objects than semi-automatics are. Their operation is easy to understand. They have fewer moving parts.

        However, it isn’t that hard to learn the basic operation of a semi-auto.

        …if your hands are so weak that it is difficult for you to pull the trigger of a double-action revolver, and you also have difficulty racking the slide of a semi-automatic…”

        read the whole thing here:

        I’m in L.A., Left Coast. But thank you kindly for all the info! When I get a little more free time I’m going to start checking into buying a gun and taking the necessary classes.

      LukeHandCool: one other thing. If you are in the San Jose area and wish to shoot, I can take you to a range where you can shoot my guns. Bring your wife as well. And I really mean about BayProfs. They are a great group of people.

      LukeHandCool in reply to LukeHandCool. | January 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks for all the info you guys!

    WarEagle82 in reply to logos. | January 5, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Many ranges around hear grade down scores if you use a revolver instead of a semi-auto when you are applying for concealed carry permits…

    Of course, there are some nice revolvers available. Taurus makes a revolver that fires both .45 and 410 shotgun shells. It is easier to hit a target with the 410 shells if you don’t practice that much…

The CNN interviewer asked the woman why she didn’t run. It seems she lives in a mobile home that was up about 5 or 6 steps above the ground. Clearly, some people would have expected her to grab her baby and jump out of a window about 6ft above the ground and then (if she didn’t break an ankle or drop the baby) she would have had absolutely no barriers between her and the two assailants.

What the heck has happened to this nation that a woman has to ask permission to protect herself against two obvious perverts trying to break into her house? How is it possible that people even question her as to whether she has any regrets?

We clearly have a problem with all of the liberals in this nation and it seems to be getting worse each day. We cannot possibly continue to live side by side with these people and consider them to simply have a different point of view.

We need to try to extricate the liberals from our government, our schools and next, our workplaces. I don’t believe it’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of their political views. They need to start experiencing consequences for their radical un-American views.

    ThomasD in reply to Ipso Facto. | January 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    The CNN interviewer asked the woman why she didn’t run.

    Perhaps the interviewer would have been polite enough to tell her exactly when she should have run –

    A. Before the perps gained entry, thereby placing her and her child outside with both of her assailants.


    B. After they’ve broken in, placing them in control of her house and free to pursue her outside (where she may have less legal right to use of deadly force.)

    Moronic questions like that deserve full exploration.

VetHusbandFather | January 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

A couple notes I got from some different articles:

Ms McKinley had met Martin a week earlier, after he showed up at her house on the day of her husband’s funeral claiming to be a neighbour.

She did not let him into her home that day.


Ms McKinley’s mother told that Martin stalked her daughter at a rodeo two years ago. The two have since bumped into each other at a nearby convenience store. Ms McKinley said she didn’t know who he was until after the shooting, when she pieced everything together.

This was clearly a premeditated crime. It’s frightening to think what would have happened to the girl and her daughter if she had been unarmed.

This is why we must protect the 2nd amendment, and in so doing protect ourselves.

There is substantail difference in exactly what Castle Doctrine covers from state to state.

Another MAJOR issue is potential civil legal liability. In FL, if you defend yourself using lethal force, there is a coroner’s inquest to determine whether your actions were lawful. If they were, you are shielded from a potential civil suit for damages.

This is EXTREMELY important.


    WarEagle82 in reply to DCP. | January 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    A local law enforcement officer once told my brother to buy a pump action shotgun and make sure he killed an intruder if he had to shoot him to avoid civil suits…

Here in Texas, not only can you protect your family, you can protect your stuff!

I swear that if someone enters in the nightime, he/she will get ventilated by a 12 gage, Glock 19 or the nifty snakeshot revolver.

BTW, if you find someone breaking into your vehicle, the same applies…

“There is substantial difference in exactly what Castle Doctrine covers from state to state.”
– – – –

My favorite version holds, as do most versions, that I may shoot intruders into my home.

In addition, if a relative of that intruder attempts to sue me later for shooting her poor misunderstood little buddy, I get to shoot her, too.

Henry Hawkins | January 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm

She didn’t ‘have’ to call for permission to self defend, her ignorance of the law led to that. If a home has a firearm present for defense, every adult living in that home needs to be familiar with the applicable state laws *before* an attack occurs.

State laws vary widely. I have a concealed carry permit in NC. Outside my home, my first duty is to retreat from a threat, if I can do so safely. I am only allowed to defend myself – I cannot jump into a nearby altercation and shoot an aggressor. Inside the home, it’s a whole nuther ball game in NC. The intruder needn’t be armed and I am not required to safely retreat if possible. I am allowed to shoot on sight – Castle Doctrine (“a man’s home is his castle”).

Word to Luke and others who may be considering obtaining a firearm for home protection or a concealed carry permit for personal protection outside the home…. Don’t do this unless you are prepared to: 1) Learn all applicable laws, 2) Learn how to operate and maintain the weapon, 3) Teach every adult in the home the same, 4) Educate every minor in the home on gun safety.

The choice of home defense weapon is open to argument. Your basic choices are four: revolver, semi-auto, shotgun, or rifle.

Revolver – Simple to operate, no safety on most revolvers, never jams, but holds only 5-6 cartridges typically. There are speed loaders, but the typical homeowner will not be able to quickly reload in a firefight.

Semi-auto – More complicated.. safety, magazine release button, usually a lever for disassembly.. will you know instinctively which is which? Is my safety on? Etc. Depending on weapon, mags hold 6-15 cartridges and a mag can be replaced in a second if available. Semi-autos can jam however. You can’t leave one in a drawer for six years and expect it to operate perfectly (though it might).

Shotgun – A little complicated (pump shotgun), safety, holds 3-6 shells typically. Using buckshot, the spread pattern favors the poor shooter – close counts. The weapon is imposing by sight and sound. Normal length shotguns are a little unwieldy, while pistol grip home defenders are harder to fire accurately.

Rifle – A little complicated, safety, either mags or semi-auto, holds plenty of rounds usually. Long and unwieldy inside a home.


Only the shotgun can be loaded with ammunition that can be safely predicted not to penetrate walls behind the intruder – where family might be.

Handguns: Large caliber vs small. Large caliber has better stopping power, while small caliber usually means more cartridges in one magazine or cylinder. The crux of the biscuit is shot placement. A .22 penetrating the head is better than a .50 in the arm.

Long Guns: The shotgun is preferred. Whether nomal length or pistol gripped shortie for home defense, a matter of personal comfort and ease. A rifle shell is likely to go thru the bad guy, thru the rest of the house, and even into the next house.

ULTIMATE consideration: Do you have children in the house? A self-defense weapon isn’t much use if it is trigger locked and stored in a gun safe on the top shelf in the closet. There has to be some level of immediacy in its availability in a crisis. This also means immediacy of availability to your kids. Even if you thoroughly educate your kids on gun safety, is it reasonable to expect 100% compliance? And what about your kids’ circle of friends coming in and out of your house? Will they keep hands off your weapon? My personal feeling is that a loaded available weapon in the home is probably more dangerous than the chance of any possible intruder. I kept all my weapons offsite or completely locked up while I still had kids in the house.

My personal choices (FWIW):

Concealed carry on person out in public: Kel-Tec P32 Semi-auto with extended magazine (11 cartridges).

Concealed carry, stays in my pick up truck: Para Ordnance PXT 1911 .45ACP semi-auto.

Home defense #1: Rossi .38 Special revolver, hidden in one end of house.

Home defense #2: Mossberg 500 12ga. pump shotgun, pistol grip, short barrell, buckshot.

Home defense #3: Max, the Mighty Mutt, 6 lbs of lean, mean, home defendin’ machine.

A short google search will locate most of the arguments for/against the various options I’ve mentioned.

The main things are:

Safety of children in the home

Will I fully train and familiarize myself with the weapon(s), clean them, get comfortable with them?

Bear in mind, when it comes to home defense or self defense on the street, you are expecting yourself to wake up from a dead sleep or from ambush in a parking lot and perform martial, deadly combat right from the gitgo. It takes quite a lot to train our military people to do this. Are you up for that? Or is another plan more realistic?

    janitor in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Even if you thoroughly educate your kids on gun safety, is it reasonable to expect 100% compliance? And what about your kids’ circle of friends coming in and out of your house? Will they keep hands off your weapon? My personal feeling is that a loaded available weapon in the home is probably more dangerous than the chance of any possible intruder. I kept all my weapons offsite or completely locked up while I still had kids in the house.

    Good advice. When my boys were little, I built a safe room. I suspect that kids who grow up in a family that is matter-of-fact about guns (neither fearful nor enamored), given lessons, are less likely to misuse them. The irresponsible friends thing is a concern. I also told my kids to immediately leave from any friend’s house in which anyone took out a firearm while they were there. (My “baby” now sleeps with his M-16. Go Army.)

      Henry Hawkins in reply to janitor. | January 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      “I also told my kids to immediately leave from any friend’s house in which anyone took out a firearm while they were there.”

      Also excellent advice. I told my kids the same.

    Henry, for a solid carry weapon, a SIG P220 in .45ACP will do the trick. In the home, a 12 gauge Remington 870 works well. The sound of a shell being “racked” is a universal language. For smaller people, a 20 gauge or .410 bore is also effective. A solid safety course is essential and practice, practice, practice.
    I taught my children about gun safety when they were in their early teens and took them to an outdoor range when they were in their mid teens. They enjoy shooting and are pretty good at it.
    Shooting at a paper target, however, is vastly different from what goes on in combat or a “situation”.

    LukeHandCool in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm


    Every knee-jerk anti-gun lefty (ashamed to say that was me in the distant past) should read your post and see how serious “gun people” are about their guns and gun safety. Cheers for all the info!

      Henry Hawkins in reply to LukeHandCool. | January 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      That’s the legacy of my father, an immigrant to the US, a WWII US Marine in the Pacific Theater, and a career police officer.

Um, forget the law and the phone call. Do you want to take your chances with a guy armed with a knife kicking down your door, or with 12 jurors?

Just sayin’.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | January 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

We may be jumping to the wrong conclusion that she felt she “had” to ask permission. It’s obvious that when she grabbed the shotgun and the handgun BEFORE she made the call to 911 that her self preservation instincts had already kicked in.

My guess is that had the bad guys succeeded in breaking down her door BEFORE she asked the 911 person if it was ok to shoot, her instincts to shoot would have kicked in. As she said, she was determined to protect her baby from the intruders.

But it also sounds like it was good that she did ask “permission”. Because it sounds like the 911 dispatcher advised her that if she shot before they’d actually broken in, there was a higher probability that she might be held liable.

All in all, it looks like she did everything exactly right.

Henry Hawkins | January 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Per my concealed carry instructor, once you’ve shot someone in self defense:

“I feared for my life. I want a lawyer” and say NO MORE. (The police may or may not sympathize or be your friend, but that’s irrelevant. The District Attorney confers charges and is NOT your friend).

This recent news about an expanded “castle doctrine” in Pennsylvania.

SOMERSET, Pa.—A man who fatally shot his wife’s lover with a bow and arrow won’t face criminal charges, in part, because the state’s expanded “castle doctrine” makes it legal to use deadly force on one’s porch or deck, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Got into an argument over this with an employee this morning. She mentioned the story about cops shooting a kid who was waving a pellet gun around. Poor kid. Bad choice. Her point was that they should have shot him in the leg. No. If you draw, be prepared to shoot. If you shoot, prepare to kill. Too many people watched Barnaby Jones pick off a fleeing suspect at 100 yards with a hand gun. Doesn’t work like that. I brought up this story and asked her, “If that were you and your kids in the situation, would you shoot him in the leg or shoot him in the head?” I asked her five times, and she wouldn’t answer.

Professor: Sarah McKinley is a young widow who has tons of expenses related to her dead husband’s medical bills and infant son. I am hoping people will lend a financial hand to someone who will probably use it well. There is a fund set-up by the Blanchard police for her. You can send donations to:

Sarah McKinley Fund
Chickasha Bank &Trust
PO Box 548
Blanchard, OK 73010
Info: 405-485-2300

More details Here:

and here:

I have NO doubt she wasn’t really seriously asking for permission. I believe she would’ve have shot whether the operator said yes or no.

It was a rhetorical question. I do think she was smart enough to think to ask as that put her preparations and presence of mind on tape.

I was hoping they’d play the sound of the shotgun blast but they cut it before. Too bad.

Lots of comments about 21-minutes, more about which gun is better, but little said about the 911 operator. “You have to do what you have to do”.

Let’s just hope some county supervisor doesnt start thinking the 911 operator should get “refresher” training.

Another thing – haven’t seen anyone post anything about the second intruder. From what I read, he is being charged with murder. Good call. Wonder what his family is saying now…(our little boy made some mistakes, but he didn’t kill anyone – how come he’s going to jail and she’s not…yada yada yada, blah blah blah).

Today’s Fortune Cookie:
“Note to burglars – my neighbor doesn’t believe in the 2nd amendment, I do”

    logos in reply to DocWahala. | January 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    The second intruder is being charged with murder? Of whom? Got a link?

      Rorschach in reply to logos. | January 6, 2012 at 12:27 am

      under the felony murder rule, if two or more people are committing a felony and one of them dies as a result, the other participants are charged with his or her murder.

The police couldn’t get there in 21 minutes? Gee whiz! When seconds count, the police are half an hour away?

As far as leaving your home goes. Open any door and you don’t know who is waiting to grab you. AS woman should not be put in a position to endanger herself. Do we have only fools in some of our state goverments?

Does anyone know if OK Castle Doctrine law gives immunity from lawsuits from next of kin the way Texas law does?

Ernst Schreiber | January 6, 2012 at 1:04 am

My impression is that was suicide by cop.

Ernst Schreiber | January 6, 2012 at 1:09 am

Meant to link to Windbag’s comment.

And the kid wasn’t waving the pellet gun around, he pointed it directly at the officers before they fired.

It’s good that she got one of the perps. It’s too bad that she didn’t get the other guy. This is one of the reasons crime is down. More of them in jail or dead.

It is great that this story is getting so much play, unlike any other self-defense story. Usually those stories are buried in local news and never make it nationally–unlike criminals shooting innocent people. There will probably be a warning out on the replacement for Journolist chastising the press for allowing this story to go national.

Regarding the 21 minute response time, on my rural island that sounds pretty good. It can take one of our two deputies that long to go from one end of the island to the other at speed, but usually the response time is greater. So, my philosophy remains–I carry a pistol because a policeman is too heavy to carry around….