12-year-old Kendra St. Claire knew where her mother’s loaded .40 S&W Glock pistol was hidden, and the terrified tween used it to defend herself from a home invader with a single lucky shot:

The 911 tapes tell the story as it unfolded.

Kendra: “I’m at my house. I’m in my closet. And I ran away from (inaudible) someone’s trying to get into my house and I do not know who they are.” Dispatcher: “Ok I have a deputy en route, I want you to stay on the phone with me. Ok?” Kendra: “Ok. Please. I think they are in the house.”

Kendra had taken shelter in a closet, clutching her mother’s .40 caliber glock gun while she listened to the intruder make his way around her home.

Kendra: “Please help me. Please.” Dispatcher: “Alright, alright. I understand. Do you still have your mom’s gun there?” Kendra: “Yes I do. I have it in my hand.”

Her fear intensified to sheer terror, when she saw the knob of the closet door beginning to turn.

At that point, that for the first time in her life, Kendra fired a gun.

It’s tempting to call this a shining example of a defensive gun use by a child and let it go at that, but let’s be brutally honest and admit that this story could have (and perhaps should have) had a far darker ending.

Debra St. Clair left a loaded Glock unsecured in a home that has at least one child in it who knew where the gun was, but who had no firearms training.

In fear for her life, with her fight or flight response system overwhelming her senses with a hormone cascade, Kendra St. Clair could have just as easily shot herself as the intruder. She could have just as easily fired at the sheriff’s deputy responding to the call; remember,  she shot through the door because the handle turned, not because she had any idea who or what was on the other side of that door. Auditory exclusion is common in moments of “sheer terror” like those Kendra was experiencing, and even with a deputy loudly identifying himself, she might not have heard him.

It is purely dumb luck that this story is about a wounded criminal going to jail instead of a cautionary tail about a girl who shot herself and bled out before authorities arrived. This is something that neither St. Clair seemed to grasp in the video shown in the news story.

Kendra said, “I think it’s going to change me a whole lot, knowing that I can hold my head up high and nothing can hurt me anymore.”

That’ sort of false confidence that has put many people in their graves, and if the family isn’t bright enough to address their deficiencies of common sense and either secure the gun or get their children training (preferably both), the next time we see them in the news may very well be because a gun was used with a far worse outcome.