After You Take the Shot

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Thank God, I’ve never had to shoot someone. I’ve pulled a gun twice to stop a crime, but in both cases, the criminals suddenly decided they had to be somewhere else. That’s the best possible outcome, as far as I’m concerned. While I’m ready to shoot if I need to, I’d rather not have to live with the aftermath.

The Emotional Aftermath

There’s lots of aftermath to consider too; both on the legal front and on the more personal one. The human mind has a tendency to punish itself for the taking the life of another person, even if it is clearly justifiable. I suppose that’s actually a good thing, as it keeps us from killing each other off. But at the same time, it causes immeasurable emotional pain and turmoil for those who find themselves forced to kill in self-defense.

Basically, when someone kills another person, they go through the same seven stages of grief that they would if they lost a loved one. These are: shock, denial, anger, bargaining (seeking a way out), depression, testing (seeking solutions), and acceptance. This takes time, and as you can readily see from the words used to describe the stages, it is a difficult process to go through.

At the same time, there may be elation for having survived the ordeal and functioned well under fire, as well as guilt. One might even feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Of all the emotions that people go through after a shooting, guilt is the hardest to overcome.

The Legal Aftermath

The more immediate problem to deal with in the aftermath of a shooting is the legal ramifications. The police have to be called and they have to investigate. If you can, make that call yourself, telling them that you were the victim of a crime, establishing right off the bat that you were not the aggressor. Whatever you do, don’t say that you just shot someone. If an ambulance is needed, be sure to tell the dispatcher who takes your call.

You need to identify yourself and tell the dispatcher where you are. If you have a concealed carry license, be sure to mention that as well, as that establishes that you are not a career criminal. If you need to hold a suspect at gunpoint, be sure to inform the dispatcher of that as well, so that the officer doesn’t automatically assume that the guy with a gun (you) is the bad guy. That’s important information that the responding officers need, in order to know how to react upon arrival.

Once you’ve done that, get off the phone. Part of the dispatcher’s job is to keep you talking until the officer gets there. But the last thing you need to do is talk. This is the time to imitate an oyster trying to protect a pearl. You will be confused and on an emotional roller-coaster, so you’re likely to talk too much. Be careful about that, you can talk yourself right into jail through trying to justify your actions.

If you have legal insurance (which I highly recommend), your next call needs to be to the emergency number on your insurance membership card. This should put you in touch with a lawyer or counselor who can talk you through the process and how to deal with the police. Stay on the line with them as long as you can, unless the police demand that you hang up. If the police want to talk to you, put your phone on speaker, so that the lawyer can hear and be heard.

Unless you need to hold a suspect at gunpoint, holster your gun or put it down. If you can’t holster it before the police arrive, then do so immediately upon their arrival. Remember, they’re arriving at a known violent situation, with the purpose of protecting the innocent and capturing the bad guys. But they have no idea who is who. Don’t make yourself appear threatening by holding a gun or you will be treated as if you are a threat.

The arriving officers will try to ascertain what has happened as quickly as possible. But this is a potential murder investigation, so they aren’t going to be going quickly. It will take time and they will want to ask you a lot of questions. Once again, do your clam imitation, invoking you’re Fifth Amendment rights and politely tell the officers that you refuse to talk without your attorney present.

That won’t go against you. But as we’ve all heard on cop shows, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Please note: there is no converse to that. Nothing you say will be used in your favor in a court of law. What others say might, especially if there are witnesses who can attest to you being the hero of the hour. But nothing you can say at this point will help you. So don’t say anything other than to identify yourself, tell them you have a concealed carry license and show them your holstered gun if they ask.

Chances are, you’ll be arrested. Don’t worry about it. You are a criminal suspect until they gather enough testimony from witnesses and evidence to prove in their minds that you’re the good guy. In a clear self-defense situation, where there are witnesses, this can actually happen fairly quickly.

Finally, realize that you will most likely have to go to court to be acquitted of any charges. There might also be a civil case, if the criminal you shot or their family decide to press charges against you. Depending on the state you live in, being absolved of any criminal charges can release you from any civil charges as well; but that’s not true in all states.

Taking that shot is messy. As you can see, there’s going to be a lot to deal with in the aftermath. But if you end up feeling sorry for yourself, remind yourself of the alternative. How much worse would it be if you or a loved one was killed, because you didn’t take that shot?

That’s why you should always keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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