Avoiding Mistaken Identity Shootings

Another Mistaken Identity shooting occurred last week. A teenage girl came home from college to surprise her mother with a visit and got shot instead.


The teen’s mother told police that she was in her bedroom when she heard a commotion inside the house. She said the noise scared her and that she was not expecting anyone.

The mother said someone came running into her bedroom and that’s when she fired one round from her handgun. She then realized that she had shot her daughter, the report stated.

Obviously, in between hearing the commotion and firing the shot, the woman armed herself. It’s unlikely that she said anything in the process or her daughter probably would have said something back. The ‘surprise visit’ was most likely a bout of homesickness.

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As I mention in my book Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make, any ‘bump in the night,’ or in this case “commotion inside the house,” carries with it a set of competing probabilities. It could be an intruder, which is the assumption most people make when they hear it, or it could be a member of their household. The member of the household is the most likely scenario. Why is this true? Simply because they live in the same house as you do and they are not constantly updating you on their location. Where teenagers, such as the unfortunate shootee in this incident, are present, the chances of them leaving the house and returning without informing their parents is extremely high. This fact has to be figured into the home defense plan of any parent or adult in the household.

Competing probabilities

Learning to verbalize while holding a gun and preparing to shoot is a skill all gunowners need to practice. Always Challenge a suspect first. If the response is “Mommy, it’s me,” the FBI calls that a ‘clue.’

Verbalization is a learned skill that needs to be practiced. Ideally, it should be practiced at both the shooting range and at home. Simply practice holding the pistol at a Low Ready position and verbalizing some sort of Challenge; “Who’s there?” is probably the simplest. Practicing at home requires following safety protocols to ensure that the gun is not loaded. DO NOT practice pointing a pistol at people.

Anyone who owns a firearm for personal protection should also own some kind of inert gun to practice Threat Management with. Blue guns are the most commonly used in the training community.

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Blue guns are more costly than most people are willing to spend, though. Because a person practicing at home is unlikely to be rough with their inert gun, other substitutes can be used. There are any number of brightly colored toy guns that are very inexpensive. Often they can be purchased at Goodwill for a dollar or two. Even at retail stores, they’re not very expensive.

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While we don’t want to treat guns as toys, there’s no reason we can’t use toys in place of guns for practice. Using a toy is also less likely to be intimidating to new gunowners or frightening to family members. To make the practice even more effective, put a small piece of Velcro® where the trigger finger should be when not shooting. Having a Velcro® trigger finger location point is a very effective method of teaching trigger finger discipline for shotguns.

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Practiced verbalizing with the inert gun in hand at a Low Ready position. Periodically during the practice, bring the inert gun up into the eye target line and fire a shot at a specified target. That target can be a sheet of paper on the wall at chest height. However, make the majority of your practice verbalization only.

Although not applicable in the mentioned incident, you can also practice coordinating use of your flashlight with your inert pistol. My tutorial for using a pistol and flashlight together is available for FREE on my Payloadz Webstore. https://store.payloadz.com/results/337896-tactical-professor

Learning how to do Threat Management is best learned before an incident, as the lady and her daughter found out in this incident. By getting appropriate practice tools and working with them, you stack the deck in your favor and set yourself up for success.

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