About SD Carry

As a young boy in Texas, I grew up with guns. They were basic tools, much like my grandfather's mitre box or pipe wrench, there to perform specific tasks when called upon. I was taught gun safety by virtually every male adult in my family. I spent eight years in the US Navy operating and maintaing various guns from .30 caliber to 5" rifles.

After a few years as a moderator on a popular gun forum, I learned that there is much disinformation, prejudice and plain ignorance about guns posted constantly on the internet.

This blog is dedicated to sharing worthwhile information about the increasing acceptance and practice of legal concealed carry in our country. There is much mis-information and wild opinion about this topic among its practitioners and the public in general. The moral, social and legal responsibilities of concealed carry are immense and must be understood and practiced by all who legally carry a gun.

There is also a vast amount of practical and useful information about carrying and the weapons themselves and I hope to be able to share some of that here. Your comments are welcome, but will be moderated by me before appearing on this blog.

Stay safe.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Legal Aftermath of Defensive Shooting

Last night I drove for two hours to attend a class held by Colorado Handgun Safety entitled, "The Legal Aftermath of Defensive Shooting" taught by a defense attorney, concealed handgun permit holder and former attorney with the US Army. Those of you who follow the Elsie Pea Forum (elsiepeaforum.com) will have already seen some of what follows.
First, if similar classes are available to you, by all means take one. Consider this as follow on training to accompany your concealed carry permit. Consider this to be another form of self defense. I obviously can't recap a three hour class but I can say a few things here. It was so good that although it was scheduled for two hours, we went for three. Conversation. Question and answer. Amplifications. Excellent. Some points made in the class:

Know the Law in Your State
In a defensive shooting situation, every bullet you fire has a lawyer attached to it. This, from the mouth of a lawyer that knows what he is talking about.

This means that you should strive to absolutely understand the statutes in your state that pertain to what one might be charged with after a defensive shooting. Charged with does not mean convicted of, or that charges cannot be dropped or defended against, but be aware that serious charges can be brought, regardless of their outcome before or in court.
For example, If your state has a "castle doctrine" or "make my day" law, be CERTAIN you understand under what condition that law applies. One example: if "unlawful entry" is part of that statute, know, for certain, what "unlawful" and what "entry" mean. If you gave someone a key in the distant past to your dwelling (you have to know what "dwelling" means in your state), even though you kicked them out and told them never to come back, and they enter with the old key they still have, the court might not consider that "unlawful". You should have changed the locks. If a potential home invader screams he is gonna rob and kill you, runs on your porch waving a shotgun and you shoot him as he opens the door, did he actually "enter" your dwelling? There is a court case that says, in similar circumstance, no. Self defense? Most definitely. Castle doctrine? Probably not.

Why is that important? Castle doctrine, or similar statute, might protect you from consequences more than self defense will.

Know What Not to Do Afterwards

This is important. If you are involved in a self-defense shooting, the ONLY thing you should say to the police, a prosecutor, an EMT - anyone at the scene or later - is:
"My name is (insert name here). I am a victim. I will fully cooperate once I have spoken with my attorney."
Did I say this is important? Yes. Why?

Because you may say something that will FOREVER REMOVE your right to using self defense in court. At the scene, these scenarios may play out:

Police: "That's ok. I know you are upset and you didn't mean to shoot him."
You: "Yeah, I don't know what happened, I didn't mean to kill the guy."
Adios your right to self defense. You didn't mean to kill/shoot the guy? If you didn't mean to shoot him in self defense, then why did you shoot him?

Police: "You've been through a stressful experience. I know it was an accident and you didn't want to hurt anyone."
You: "I'm freaked out, man. Yeah, it was an accident."
Slam! That sound was your right to argue self defense leaving the building.

Unless you are an experienced defense lawyer, you don't know the law, especially the finer points like maintaining your ability to exercise your right of self defense in court, so repeat after me: "My name is (insert name here). I am a victim. I will fully cooperate once I have spoken with my attorney." Then, shut up. Period. Don't talk to anyone else, regardless of how sympathetic or helpful they are. Don't blab to yourself in the back of the police car - every police car these days has a tape recorder going. Shut up. Get a lawyer and listen to what he or she tells you.

Ask for your attorney, right up front. The questions should stop. If they don't tell them you want your attorney.
Our instructor also said that the first document that your attorney should file with the court is that your defense in your case is based on self defense. If you don't it may be gone forever.

Win The Race
Win the race to call 911. The order in which calls are logged determines, initially, who is the victim and who is the aggressor. Sad, but true.
After an incident - and it doesn't have to be a shooting, maybe you foiled a carjacking and the carjacker fled when you put your 9 mm in his face. Call right away. You don't want him calling and complaining of meancing, or someone else calling who only saw you point your gun at a young man who then ran away.
Once you call, state your name, location, your description (so the responding officers will be able to tell you are the caller not the perp), say you are the victim of the crime, maybe you have the assailant at gunpoint (if true) and you need help. Then PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Don't hang up and don't engage the sympathetic dispatcher in conversation. The 911 dispatchers are trained to keep you on the line and talking. Guess what? It's recorded and anything you say can be used against you.

Do Not Be Negligent With Your Gun
Society has certain common expectations of reasonable care. If you have a driver's license, society expects you to know the rules and how to safely operate your car so that it is not a danger to you or to others. The same expectations apply to concealed handgun permit holders, and even more so. Why more so? A handgun is an inherently deadly weapon. Where a car or a bottle or a baseball bat may be used as a deadly weapon, they are not, in themselves deadly weapons. A gun is. Without question. Therefore, you have a more exact standard of care. To use a gun otherwise is negligent, and usually criminally negligent.
To not be negligent you have to, among other things, hit what you shoot at. This is not as easy as it may seem. Not only must you practice to enable you to hit your target reliably every time, but you must practice in the manner you will most be likely to use in a self-defense shooting situation. This is quick, sometimes instinctive point-and-shoot at close ranges. It is also shooting under extreme stress and while your body and mind is raging in the "fight or flight" mode and all of your senses have been radically altered when your body goes into survival mode. This is not standing at the range popping paper targets. Studies show that even professional and expert gun handlers will miss often under these stressful conditions. You are likely not a professional or expert gun handler, so you must practice even harder to be proficient in self defense scenarios.
Practice like this is not convenient, easy or cheap. However, having made the decision to carry you must have accepted the awesome responsibility that goes along with that. Find a way to practice. Find a way to make the cost acceptable. One way is to buy a smaller caliber handgun, like a .22 caliber that approximates the one or ones you will be carrying and put a lot of lead downrange with the cheaper .22 ammo to build up your proficiency. Dry firing will help with things like grip and trigger control, but it does not give that BANG! and induce the small adrenaline rush that can cause you to flinch and miss.
You have to shoot safely so as to not endanger others. This obviously entails being accurate under stress, but it also means you have to be aware of your surroundings (not easy when cranked with fear) so that you don't endanger others. You also must consider the type and caliber of your carry gun, and the ammunition you choose for it. This is a complex issue, especially among gun people who always have their favorites. Simply put though, I think as far as hardware goes, the most important consideration is the type of ammunition you will be shooting. I favor somewhat lower velocity ammo firing jacketed hollow point type bullets that have a smaller chance of punching through something and hitting an unintended object or person.
There have been books written about all of this and more. However, in addition to reading, I highly recommend a class about these topics taught by a professional and an attorney that knows, from experience, what he or she is talking about. It is too important to leave to internet gossip or hearsay.
Take a class on what can happen, and what you should and should not do after being involved in a defensive shooting. Read books by Ayoob and others. And remember:

"My name is (insert name here). I am a victim. I will fully cooperate once I have spoken with my attorney."

1 comment:

  1. Great write up. Thanks.
    I've been thinking about taking that class.