Dear Fellow Survivalist;
Those of us who carry to protect ourselves and our families tend to be better educated about firearms than the majority of people are. But that doesn’t mean we’re perfect. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have false ideas about how to handle themselves if they are ever forced to use their guns to protect themselves.
The problem is, some of these misconceptions are dangerous; not so much from the self-defense point of view, but from having to defend yourself in court later. One of the peculiarities of American law is that while we do have the right to defend ourselves, even to the point of using deadly force, when necessary, the courts have to agree that it was necessary… after the fact. Courts can be funny in their deliberations and what might seem normal and acceptable in the moment, may look very different in court, where they have all the time in the world to analyze your actions.
So, let’s take a look at a few of the myths that we run across and see what we should really do in those cases.
Myth: If you have to shoot someone, keep shooting until you know they’re dead. If they’re alive, they can sue you.
Fact: While it is true that a live person can try and sue you in civil court for shooting them, so can their estate. Killing them, when you don’t need to kill them, will give the civil court the idea that you are dangerous and need to be punished. That can go for the criminal court as well, which may not think your actions are reasonable. Once you’ve prevented them from harming you or your family, it’s time to stop shooting.
Myth: If you shoot someone outside your home, drag them inside.
Fact: If you are forced to shot anyone, avoid messing with the evidence in any way, other than rendering first-aid. Hiding the evidence that you’ve moved the body is almost impossible and police have ways of finding out what you’ve done that you and I can’t overcome.
Myth: You can shoot them, as long as they’re facing you.
Fact: The shoot/no shoot criteria isn’t that simple. Legally, it is stated as they need to be an imminent threat of life and limb. That means that if you don’t shoot, they are either going to kill or seriously injure you or someone else. If they’re not holding a weapon, pointing it at you or someone else, it’s hard to prove that they are an imminent threat or that they can do serious bodily harm.
Myth: Once they’re in your home, you can do anything to them.
Fact: Once again, this is where the imminent threat of life and limb comes to play. Stealing your TV isn’t enough of a justification to use deadly force in most states.
Myth: If a criminal is pointing a weapon at you, they’re planning on using it.
Fact: Most criminals use weapons to intimidate. Injuring someone, or worse, killing them, is a line that most don’t want to cross. That’s not to say they won’t use it; but you’re always better giving them the opportunity to run away, rather than having to deal with the legalities of using deadly force. Seventy percent of criminals will turn tail and flee, once they realize you are armed.
Myth: Self-defense is obvious.
Fact: Many cases of self-defense are far from obvious, entering into a broad grey area. You want to make sure, as best you can, that if you are forced to use deadly force, it is clear that it was necessary. Hold off as long as possible, without putting yourself in greater danger.
Myth: You can talk yourself out of being charged with anything.
Fact: The part in the Miranda Rights which says, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” doesn’t have a corollary for anything you saying showing you’re the good guy. Police under no obligation to take your confessions of innocence as fact. Unless eye witnesses or physical evidence show that you acted in self-defense, they will take any statement you make as evidence that you committed either murder or manslaughter.
Myth: The police will see you as a good guy.
Fact: While the police may eventually see you as a good guy, their first reaction will be to see you as a bad guy. They’ll need to sort out the facts, before they come to the conclusion that you really did act in self-defense. Give them that time and cooperate with them, without saying anything to incriminate yourself. They may put you in handcuffs or haul you off to jail while they are deciding. But they usually get it right, especially if there are witnesses to sing your praises.
There are probably a whole lot more of these myths floating around; but these are the ones that I run across the most often. Be prepared to protect yourself legally, not just with a gun. The real battle begins after the trigger is pulled and the bad guy is down. D
If you can, get yourself some legal insurance for concealed carry. There are a couple of great companies out there who offer it. I’m not sure if they all do, but the one I have covers the legal costs of the civil case, just like they do the criminal case. It’s good protection, just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.