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Saturday, December 20, 2014

7 Shooting Incident Mistakes

Recently joint-published on

I'm a big adherent to the right to keep and bear arms. I live that belief every day, without exception. I believe that armed citizens are the best deterrent to armed bad guys. It's simple math: There are more of us than there are of them.

But for us good guys, gun ownership and usage comes with a heavier burden than that imposed upon the bad guys. Being honest citizens, we willingly submit ourselves to the American justice system.

If some bad guy breaks into our home, and we shoot him in self-defense, we don't drag the body into the backyard and bury it along with all of the evidence. No, we call the police, report the incident and subject ourselves and our actions to the scrutiny of the law.

And there's the rub. Voluntarily subjecting ourselves to legal scrutiny. Regardless of the legitimacy of our actions, we can end up being detained, prosecuted and convicted.

To add insult to injury, the cost of defending ourselves against the initial criminal complaint and the subsequent civil complaint can ruin you financially.

Most folks have heard of the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. I'm not going to go into the specifics of the case - that's for you to do if you wish. SecondCall Defense - an organization that provides, "Complete legal protection for armed self-defense" recently published an article titled, "7 Critical Lessons From America's Most Notorious Gun Owner".

Self-inflicted shooting incident mistakes can land you in prison.

Here is my take on these 7 shooting incident mistakes Zimmerman made (FYI - in a recent article, Zimmerman noted that his cost from the state of Florida alone - for paperwork requests, etc., amounted to more than $360,000) -

Don't Get Out of Your Car

The entirety of the case against Zimmerman was that he "pursued" or "stalked" Martin, not that he was a Neighborhood Watch participant, and was being a good citizen looking out for his community.

Any situation can be twisted in any way.

The lesson from this is to not to put yourself in the position of being perceived to be the aggressor in any way, shape or form. This includes initiating contact with your bad guy.

If you see a bad guy in your backyard, get a gun, load it, disengage the safety, and call the police. Don't do a "sweep" of your backyard and shoot the guy. You were not in imminent threat of physical harm or loss of life while you were in your home and the bad guy was in the backyard - which is the standard for self-defense in most states.

Someone trespassing on your property is not legal grounds for lethal defense in most states. Like it or not, that's the law. Think before you act.

How will it look when you're on trial for murder and the family of the "good boy, with such a bright future, who had his life tragically extinguished" is weeping in the gallery as you testify?

Don't Rely On Cheap Equipment

I guess Zimmerman fumbled with a cheap flashlight. I don't recall that being an issue.

The point is well taken, though. When your life is on the line, don't expect junk to perform like premium equipment.

Don't Take Your Eyes Off The Threat

Amen to that!

An aggressor is always looking for a point of vulnerability or a moment of weakness. You averting your eyes from the potential threat - even for a second - is the opening they're looking for.

Arm yourself (but don't brandish your weapon) back up, keep moving, locate cover, but NEVER lose eye contact with your aggressor.

Zimmerman erred by allowing Martin to sucker punch him from behind - and this mistake could have easily cost Zimmerman his life.

A related "rule" is to not allow your aggressor to enter your personal "safety zone". If they are within arm's length, you've made a huge mistake allowing them in that close.

Educate yourself regarding your "reactionary gap" - sufficient distance for you to be able to stop injury or to save your life. Seriously, this is something your need to consider and incorporate into your self-defense plans.

Don't Assume Police Are Your Friends

As a law abiding citizen, the police are not your enemy, but you certainly should not assume they're your friends. They're doing a job.

They are investigating a death or serious injury, and you're the one who is unharmed, and has a gun in his hand.

Obviously, that is the goal of self-defense, but someone is dead or injured, and the police gather evidence for the county prosecutors. They gather ALL evidence, including physical evidence at the scene and statements made by any witnesses and by you.

That takes us to the next rule -

Don't Forget To Assert Your Fifth Amendment Right

Other than calling the police to report the shooting, and to request medical service for the bad guy, you need to keep quiet. It doesn't matter how justified the shooting may have been.

It is incredibly easy to say something that can be twisted and shredded - and used against you - at your trial.

Think about how "pumped" you would be after a shooting: An unknown assailant entered your home, threatened your life and forced you to defend yourself. Your heart will be pumping a mile-a-minute, and the adrenaline will be gushing into your bloodstream.

As a result of recent court cases, you are now required to verbally assert your fifth amendment right to silence. They can actually use a simple refusal to speak as an admission of guilt against you in court!

"Officer, I refuse to answer based upon my fifth amendment rights under the United States Constitution."

Once you do this, you must expect to be arrested. Get this in your head right now! Do not speak with anyone until you have spoken with an attorney that specializes in self-defense.

Don't Give Interviews Without Your Attorney

Do you see a theme here?

We non-attorneys have little knowledge of what can be damning self-incrimination. We cannot be compelled to make a statement, but if we voluntarily do so - say to reporters and cameras - our recorded statements can be used against us.

If you fall for the, "If you're not guilty, you should have no problem speaking with the police," garbage, you are sadly misinformed and naive.

This is doubly so in anti-gun states such as California, New York, Massachusetts, etc. Prosecutors in those states want to make examples of gun owners. It's as simple as that.

Don't help them ruin your life.

Don't Be Surprised If A Civil Suit Comes Next

It's the American Way, right? Everyone looks to make another buck.

I've never understood how this works, though. You've got a guy like OJ Simpson who is found not guilty (BTW, I think he was guilty as all hell, but I wasn't on the jury). The Brown family was then able to successfully sue him in civil court and win damages.

How can that be? Not guilty in one court, and guilty in another - all concerning the same incident.

I'd bet top dollar that the police officer in Ferguson will be facing a similar civil trial. It's going to be huge dollars.

Plain and simple, you have to assume it will happen if you're involved in a self-defense shooting.

Yes, SecondCall offers protection for this - up to Unlimited spending for your defense.


I can think of few things more horrible than taking the life of another human being - even the life of a dirt-bag threatening my life. It's unsettling, to say the least.

But if it comes down to the life of a good guy versus the life of a bad guy, I will not hesitate to exercise my right to self-defense. Not ever.

But you MUST think out your various responses to various situations. In my precious metals shop, we discuss - on a regular basis - how we will react to different types of aggression and threat.

My wife and I do the same for our home.

Plan, anticipate, train. Then do it all over again. And again.

Chief Instructor is an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor. He is a recruiter for the SecondCall Defense membership program. He proudly, and unapologetically supports both organizations. He receives compensation if you take a firearms instruction class from his company, or if you purchase a membership from SecondCall Defense through this website (please do so!).
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Copyright 2014 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Anonymous said...

Much needed info.... Thank You
Roger V. Tranfaglia

Adam said...

All good points. Yes, the police are doing a job. Their job isn't to arrest you without cause. Not speaking with almost guarantee you to be arrested if there are no other witnesses who can tell them what happened.

The best thing honestly is to pay for an attorney on retainer or something along those lines. You can get legal advise right then and determine if you make your statement to the police. You have an attorney there to assist you and you can make your statement that will hopefully result in no criminal charges.

You technically don't have Miranda Rights unless you are 1) In Custody and 2) Being Interrogated. You saying you don't want to speak does not mean anything if you aren't in custody. You can say "I invoke my 5th amendment right" and then confess to killing someone and it is still a valid, legal, and admissible confession.

Like I always say, be ready to accept the consequences of your actions. Make that decision before you ever carry a gun.

Chief Instructor said...

Adam, the whole purpose of SecondCall is for the legal aspects. First call to 911, the second one to them. They'll tell you what to say and what not to say until they can review what has happened.

It's true what you say about Miranda rights BUT you always have your Constitutional rights. The fifth amendment can be invoked at any time and any place.

Like I always say, be ready to accept the consequences of your actions. Make that decision before you ever carry a gun.

True dat!