Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lawyers, Guns, Money, Wives and Husbands

I've spent a good deal of time and money (as most of you have) buying and reading books that deal with the concealed carry lifestyle.  Titles such as "In The Gravest Extreme," "StressFire" and "Concealed Carry," all by Massad Ayoob and "Armed Response" by David Kenik among assorted others.

These books educate us on everything from equipment (guns, ammo and holsters) to tactics, to the physical effects that can be expected in a life threatening situation and, maybe most importantly, the aftermath of the most desperate of moments you may ever experience - the taking of another life in defense of your own life or in the defense of others.

These books, written by professionals who teach what they preach, have specific thoughts on what to do in the catastrophic event of a self defense shooting.  What they keep coming back to is this...

The Police are not your friends. They aren't your enemy either, but they have a job to do and it includes extracting statements from you at a time when your ability to form even the most mundane thoughts will be hampered not only by the sheer weight of the situation, but by the shock and physical stress the most harrowing of experiences has placed upon your body and mind, ie; Adrenaline dump, tunnel vision, fear etc.

It is recommended that we give only the basic information (He threatened to kill me and in fear of my life I shot him in self defense.  Name, address... that's it) and then tell the attending officers that you will not be answering anymore questions until you've had a chance to confer with a lawyer - And stick to it.

Massad Ayoob, one of the preeminent voices on the legal use of lethal force, trains law enforcement around the world, has been a police officer for 30+ years, an expert witness in countless justifiable homicide cases, trains attorneys in the handling of self defense shootings and teaches tactics at his Massad Ayoob Group (MAG) - knows of what he speaks.

Ayoob explains that the responding officers will press hard for a statement, explaining to you that its always best to get this information when its "fresh" in your mind.  The problem is, it isn't the best time.  Ayoob tells us that after a life threatening event, something as simple as the chronological order of events is hard to assimilate into the answer your attempting to give - and when asked the same question several times, there will be several different answers as you begin to calm down and are able to think things through.

This of course will be used by the District Attorney if the case goes to trial.  There won't be any mention of your mental state at the time of questioning, just how your answers were different each and every time you were asked.  Even the smallest mistake in wording of an answer could mean the difference between walking away and spending a considerable amount of time behind bars.

And this doesn't include financial ruin due to civil suits that will be brought against you.

I'm no lawyer and I'm not giving advice here, but I am stating my own opinions.  Take them for what they're worth.  But one gaping hole in everyone of these books, as far as I'm concerned, is... What should your spouse say to the police, if you were involved in a shooting and they were present?

I recently had a conversation about this with my wife.  I wanted her to understand that if that horrible event were to spill into our lives (in hindsight it could be a car accident or any other situation where arrests may be made or civil suits could be filed), it was important that she keep all information to a minimum.  If a call to 9-1-1 was made, all she should say is something on the order of;  "This is  ****, someone broke into our home, threatened to kills us and my husband had to shoot him in self defense."  That's it.  Nothing more.  Why?  Because the 9-1-1 tape can be used against you in a court of law.  If your husband or wife called 9-1-1, in hysterics, and then said "Some s.o.b. just broke into our house, but we're okay, my husband killed that bastard dead," well, you can see for yourself, you might cringe hearing that ringing out in court.

I've asked my wife to tell the police the exact same thing that I will.  I'm not going to answer any questions until I've had an opportunity to talk to a lawyer.  And that's that.  Even with the best of intentions, your husband or wife might dash your defense hopes with a mistaken sentence.

Imagine someone breaks into your home.  You tell your spouse to call 9-1-1, you retrieve your defense weapon and move to the nearest point of home defense that you have practiced over and over before hand.  You holler out that the police have been called, you have a gun and if the intruder does not leave the premises immediately, you will consider it an act of aggression and will shoot if necessary.  The intruder, hopped up on who knows what yells back "I'm going to fucking kill you!" And charges around the corner of the kitchen holding a .38 caliber revolver.  You respond by emptying the magazine, killing the intruder.

Your spouse, under questioning from the police, says that they heard you say "I'm going to fucking kill you!"  In the heat of the moment, in fear of their life and yours, blood pounding audibly in their ears, stress taking over their body, tunnel vision shutting down their auditory senses, this is what they think they heard.  Now, no matter what you claim, the D.A will be able to cast doubt upon what really happened.  You'll tell your side to the jury and the D.A. is going to hammer home to the jury that your own spouse admits that you yelled "I'm going to fucking kill you!'"  And its all over.  Hello prison.

Married couples can't be forced to testify against one another.  But if something is said in a statement, it can be used against the other. Something said on a 9-1-1 call can be used against you.  I think this is a conversation every married couple should have.  You aren't trying to beat the system, but you are trying to protect yourselves in one of the most emotionally debilitating situations that can occur.  Be smart.  Keep your mouths shut.

Probably the only time you can say that to your husband or wife and not get smacked.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Treasonous Traitors And The Sweaty Padre Syndrome

Robert A. Heinlein wrote: "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life".

I think we can all agree that Concealed Carry is a very serious business, not to be employed without investing time in the education of the perils of concealed carry, how to conceal carry, where to conceal carry, the tactics involved and the aftermath of the situation most of us would just as soon avoid in the first place - and a million other considerations.  It is time-consuming, expensive, and for me (and I suspect most CC proponents) a sobering responsibility that weighs heavily on the mind.

So, knowing this is how advocates of Concealed Carry feel, why do those Treasonous Traitors (Second Amendment Haters) still contend that allowing trained, law-abiding individuals their God-given right to keep and bear arms will bring about middle-of-the-muddy-street old west shootouts, gunfights at Baby's First Birthday Party, drunken target practice in the neighbors backyard with a heavily perspiring Priest duct-taped to a tree and a half-eaten apple upon his head... and Armageddon, all at once?

First law of Concealed Carry... Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and De-escalation.

The above quote says it all.  This is the mantra of any person who chooses to carry a concealed gun and should be for everyone who doesn't.  If you carry and don't follow this First Law, you may end up spending the rest of your life in prison... and if that doesn't sober you up to the responsibility of carrying a loaded gun, nothing will.  If you don't carry a gun and you follow this First Law, you will live a safer, longer life, guaranteed.  Not a bad proposition, for everyone, if you ask me.

To the Treasonous Traitors the quote "An armed society is a polite society," means that everyone will be nice to each other because an individual is afraid the other person may have a gun.  The Treasonous Traitors believe they would be living in fear on a daily basis (thus the whole "I'm irrationally afraid of guns, so no-one may have one" thought process), when in truth, the quote has nothing to do with the individual who doesn't carry, while having everything to do with the individual who does.

If you carry, you must be nice.  You don't put yourself in a situation where you may have to unholster your gun.  You don't go to bars.  You don't go to sketchy neighborhoods.  You don't react to idiot drivers.  If you're walking down the street and several guys are walking at you, maybe they look suspicious, you cross the street.  If you're having dinner with your wife and someone makes a lurid comment about her, you don't respond... you don't escalate, you have management handle the situation or you leave... but you don't engage.  If a drunk decides that he would like to take you on, you back down, you find an exit, you leave.

Why?  Because if it all goes to hell in a handbasket and you have no choice but to unholster your gun and fire in defense of yours (or others) lives, the scenario in which the shooting took place will be under the microscope by a District Attorney looking to win another case.

Imagine you're sitting at a nice restaurant, you and your wife, having a peaceful meal.  A drunk at a table close by starts up, louder and louder.  Before the manager can get a handle on the situation, the drunk looks at your wife and says something you wouldn't repeat at an Old Sailors Convention.  Taking offense, you say something (not very nice) back to the drunk.  He then stands up and barges his way between tables straight at you, cussing and slurring a string of expletives that would make a Marine D.I. blush.  You jump up, ready for him.  Your wife is telling you to sit down (as most wives would), patrons have stopped eating and are watching with wide eyes (dinner and a show!)  The guy, who's 5" shorter than you, throws a roundhouse right, you step inside, cover with your left and hit him with a right elbow to the cheek and he goes down like a base jumper with a depth perception problem - landing with a splat.  Two of his buddies get up and come to his aid as you sit back down.  They cuss you and threaten you as they help him back to his table.  Suddenly one of the friends brings out a switchblade and says he's going to kill you. 

All hell has broken loose.  Officially.

He is 30' away and the restaurant is in an uproar as you again spring to your feet, drawing your 1911 and flicking off the safety, taking a step to the left to clear your background.  The drunk becomes enraged at the sight of the gun and comes at you, you fire three times.

The knife drops from his dead hand.  One of the other drunks is also shot but still breathing.  People are screaming and running for the exit which sits not 10 feet behind you. 

It is pure, unadulterated mayhem.

In this situation, you will be arrested and have a very likely chance of being convicted of Murder, spending the rest of your foreseeable future behind bars with people who have nicknames like "Bad Bubba" and "Vaseline Victor". 

Several things have happened here that the prosecuting attorney will convey to the jury.  He will ask you if you called over the manager when the man said something to your wife.  "Um... No." 

Did you attempt to leave at this point?  "Um... No." 

What did you say back to the man after he insulted your wife?  "Um... &#^$% you, you *@#*&!"

The man who you knocked to the ground was 5' 10" and weighed 175 lbs.  How tall are you and how much do you weigh?  "6'3" and 300 lbs."

After you knocked him down, did you and your wife then attempt to leave the restaurant?  "Um... No."

When the victim you shot and killed, pulled out his knife, did you then attempt to leave?  "Um... No."

It goes on and on.  But in the end, even though he began the altercation, you escalated the situation at every step of the way.  You never tried to extract yourself from the premises (Avoidance).  You never tried to calm the situation or call over the manager (DE-escalation).  You were bigger and heavier than the assailant (Disparity of Force).  You were far enough away from the switchblade man that you could have retreated (Avoidance vs Opportunity / Jeopardy).  But you didn't, you escalated the situation. You made it look like you couldn't wait to pull your gun.  Couldn't wait to use deadly force.  And for that, you will spend the rest of your life in a cell.  For that, your wife will be involved in civil suits that will bleed her dry.  For that, its all over but the crying.

But lets say the drunk says something to your wife and you calmly put down your napkin, raise a hand to the waiter and ask him to send over the manager.  The drunk continues his verbal onslaught, but without the escalation of a retort from you, he stays in his seat.  The manager comes over, sees the situation for what it is, calls over his people and they ask the drunk to leave. 

Or, you and your wife, calmly stand up, walk to the cash register, state your problem, pay and leave.

Which way is the better way to handle the problem?  No man wants to walk away from someone degrading his wife, but as someone who is carrying concealed, its your safest play.  Avoidance, DE-escalation and deterrence. 

Its not fun, but when you commit to carrying a gun, its what needs to be done.

This is why an "Armed society is a polite society.  Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."  Or, the rest of his life!  Those who carry, must be polite.  Those who carry, must be forgiving.  Those who carry, must avoid those situations that can turn bad.

To the Treasonous Traitors... we are not the enemy, nor will we be a victim.

But we will be polite.