Small Castle Doctrine: Home Defense for Apartment Dwellers

Small Castle Doctrine: Home Defense for Apartment Dwellers

While Americans overwhelmingly prefer living in single-family homes, the trending in housing is toward apartment and townhouse life. While I don’t have the statistics, I’d be willing to bet that most of us either do or have lived in an apartment of some sort. Like everything else in this life, apartments come in every hue, shape, size, and varietal imaginable, which makes it difficult to offer a concrete plan for home security.

However, keeping your rental safe and secure is important—for all practical purposes, it’s as much your home as any dwelling can be. The very nature of apartments, however, leaves us with some important things to take into consideration. So here are some thoughts on how to secure your flat:

First, consider the neighborhood. Obviously, you should choose safer surroundings if possible, but that may not always be an option. Take a look around, get a feel for the environment, identify any potential problems, and plan for them. Read more about Problem Neighbors, Bad Neighborhoods, and Other Hassles.

Get to know your neighbors! We live in a world which both fosters communication—you’re reading this via a fantastic network of devices that link us together—and keeps us isolated from each other. Making friends goes a long way toward keeping things safe and peaceful, so fire up the grill and meet the folks who live around you.

Next, it’s time to look at your apartment. Make sure to note all possible points of entry: doors, windows, transoms, and vents, etc. I’d go so far as to draw the layout and map them out. Try to look at them the way a criminal might; how would you break in if you wanted to?

Now we’ll secure those points of entry. There are many landlord-friendly ways to do this, from track locks for windows to security bars on doors. Small battery powered alarms can alert you to attempted entry, as well—and they’re not expensive.

Let’s talk armed home defense. USA Carry is a website and a community devoted to concealed carry, and your CCW is an essential tool for personal protection at home as well. I recommend knowing where it is at all times by making sure it’s in the same place every time—generally a more secure room you can fall back to in the event of home invasion. Some folks choose to carry a gun while home. That’s perhaps handier, but less practical; gun belts don’t jibe with PJs on the couch. Ultimately you’ll have to do what works for you.

Shooting for self-defense is a topic we’ve covered in depth, but the apartment setting creates some complications. As shooters, we’re responsible for every round we put down range, even in an emergency. It’s been demonstrated time and again that most calibers will penetrate multiple interior walls. When devising your home defense plan, keep that in mind and try to minimize the chance of accidental death or injury. Your neighbors will thank you.

Now for the question you really want to ask: which weapon is best for defending your apartment? That’s a tough one—we’ve talked about over-penetration. Shotguns seem to be less prone to this, and they certainly pack a punch. However, handguns are easy to use in the close quarters of an apartment, accurate at the distances you’re likely to encounter, and the skills you’ve developed for CCW transfer beautifully to defending your home.

I hope this article helps get you started. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them and as always: stay safe out there.

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Michael Jenkins is a writer and editor based in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a lifelong reader, gardener, shooter, and musician. You can reach him at
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