There have now been two instances reported on national news media
where homeowners have been shot and killed by police firing into
a house through a window or glass door at night. In the most recent
incident, in Fort Worth, Texas, the officer involved violated department
policy by firing into a building and has been arrested on charges of
In general, since the introduction of repeating firearms, forces holding
a building or urban area have a great tactical advantage over attackers.
A rule of thumb is that the attackers need a three to one numerical
superiority to succeed, and that is with appropriate weapons and tactics,
such as massed suppressive fire concentrated om defensive weapon positions.
In World War 2 the Germans never did succeed in taking Stalingrad.
However, in the case of a house with a well-lit interior and ground floor
windows at night it would seem that the attackers have the advantage; they
can just sneak up to the windows and shoot any visible occupants with
little or no warning. This is not a new problem and in the past has
been addressed in the design of houses in several ways. For example,
the architectural style known as "garrison colonial" was originally
derived from military blockhouses of the period. They were built of
logs or thick planks, and the second floor was bigger than the ground
floor so that defenders could shoot down through gun ports in the
overhang at attackers just outside the walls:
Similarly, the corner turrets on many old British houses were defensive
features in their day, allowing the occupants to see and shoot along the
In an existing house, one simple and economical precaution is to
install and use a good set of window shades or blinds. When
it becomes too dark to see out, closing these makes it impossible
to see in. "Thermal shades" are made of insulating material that
reduces heat loss in cold weather and heat gain in summer, and also
incorporate a track that prevents a gap between the edge of the
shade and the window frame. For what my experience is worth, we
have a set of thermal shades on the windows in our den, each about
six feet high by five feet wide. These have been in place for 35 years
and have had to be adjusted only once, and never in the last 30 years.