Editor’s Note: The following is a post from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.
- Ep. 1 Should I Shoot? When Lethal Force Can Be Used
- Ep. 2 Should I Shoot? Why You Need a Lawyer Now
- Ep. 3 Should I Shoot? ‘What Gun Should I Get?’
- Ep. 4 Should I Shoot? Probable Cause
- Ep. 5 Should I Shoot? What If the Crook has a Gun Pointed at the Clerk?
- Ep. 6 Should I Shoot? What Gun Should I Get Part II
During a defensive gun use, you may have to defend yourself or your loved ones alone. After the shooting stops, you will still have to defend your actions–but you shouldn’t ever do that alone. As distasteful as this will seem to some, you need a lawyer.
During my time as a police officer, I can’t recall the number of times a committee (usually a Use of Force Review Committee) took hours to tear apart an event that lasted only seconds. Even with detailed written reports and the events sometimes being caught on camera, every action was scrutinized with the benefit of no pressure to make a split-second decision and a whole bunch of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” based on the group members’ biases (and sometimes even lack of knowledge of the subject matter). This type of hindsight review of actions happens with all kinds of decisions we make. I can guarantee no event will be scrutinized more than a use-of-force incident — particularly one that involves the use of deadly force.
For armed private citizens who are forced to use deadly force to defend themselves or their families, the scrutiny will be in the form of homicide investigations from the jurisdictions in which the events took place. If you make the decision to be armed, you have to be prepared for more than just knowing how to shoot; you have to know when you can legally employ deadly force and you have to research local attorneys who specialize in representing clients who have used deadly force.
The saying, “You won’t acquire any new skills in the middle of a gunfight,” also applies to how you need to conduct yourself post-incident. Take the time to do your learning in the comfort of your own home. If you have read this far in this article, you’re well on your way.
Sitting at your desk, searching the web and having a nice warm cup of coffee while the dog naps at your feet is a significantly better learning environment than trying to figure out what do while in handcuffs in the back of a patrol car on the way to the station for questioning.
Find An Experienced Attorney
I’m not a lawyer, but I have spent more hours with them than most. Some I liked and some not so much, but I do respect them for the knowledge they possess. Take the time to find a local attorney who specializes in defending good guys.
Knowing who you can turn to when and if you actually have to will make your life much easier and you won’t be forced to make rush decisions that can shape the outcome of the rest of your life.
Make A List of Questions
- Make a list of questions you need to know the answers to. For example:
- Does the attorney require you already have him or her on retainer in order to represent you?
- What does he charge? (Don’t faint. It’s going to be really expensive.)
- Will he arrange for you to be bailed out if you’re booked into jail or do you have to make your own arrangements?
- What does he want you to tell the police before he can get to wherever you’re being held (this one is really important)?
Put A Plan in Place
Good guys always want to set the record straight and tell their side. Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is pretty simple: “If you find yourself in the bottom of a deep hole, quit digging and figure out why you are in such a deep hole before you start digging again.”
Rest assured that your attorney will have particular feelings on what you should or should not do before she or he is beside you offering counsel. So, together with him or her, make sure you have a plan in place that outlines what you should do in the immediate aftermath of a use of force situation.
You Will Have Other Things to Worry About
Stressful events affect each of us differently, and events in which you have to employ deadly force will be as stressful as any you’ve ever experienced. Your body will be flooded with adrenaline and you might even get sick to your stomach at some point. Having already planned for this eventuality will put you one step ahead of the game. Listen to the advice the attorney gives you — there is a reason why it costs so much to retain one.
So–a virtual show of hands–how many of you already know the name of the lawyer you would call in circumstances like these?
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.