By John M.

The chain of events is only coming to slight clarity now. You’re in your home, in the hallway, holding your firearm.  You’re ears are ringing from the sound of the weapon going off 2, 3 or was it 4 times? You’re not sure. It happened too fast for you to really think about. You see a stranger, who seems to be lifeless, lying in that same hall with a weapon in his hand. A pool of blood begins to permeate the floor.  Is he the only one? Are the kids okay? Your wife is calling 911 now, but she’s hysterical, crying, and knows even less than you. You do know one thing; you just killed another human being. What’s next? . . .

This is only one scenario that, luckily, most of us will never have to face. It’s an ugly situation where an extreme measure had to be taken. So where do you go from here? I spoke to Officer Ramsey of my local Police Department, and asked what can a person expect after a self-defense shooting?

“We would treat it as a crime scene. We would need to investigate the scene and question the shooter.” He continued, “The person can expect to be put in cuffs and taken to the Police station for further questioning. We would also get statements from witnesses and collect evidence. The person shot would receive medical attention on scene. If we felt, with our initial investigation, this was in self-defense, the person could be let go that day. It would ultimately be up the prosecuting attorney’s office if charges are filed.”

Personally, while this seems pretty cut and dry, I would still get my lawyer. Have him present through the questioning. You’re not trying to make the investigator’s job harder, you’re trying to protect yourself. The best thing a person can do is be cooperative and be honest. You gain nothing by giving the police a hard time when they put the cuffs on or changing facts to try and make yourself look better. As the old saying goes, the truth will set you free. You may face some time in jail until the investigation is over.

Let’s move on to an even larger issue. What goes on with the psychological aspect of taking a human life? Again, you did the right thing. You protected you and yours from danger. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t just a talking point for a politician that night. Your reward is seeing a loved one smile again. But, is that enough to sooth you? A lot of us have had that “What if…” discussion if a person, meaning to do harm, targeted us. You will get the usual consensus of “I’d shoot them dead!”  Believe it or not, it may not be that easy to deal with.

A great friend of mine and psychologist, Dr. R. Paul Thomlinson, and I were talking about the mental aspects of killing in defense. “Everyone is different, of course. There are a person’s personal beliefs, morals, ect. But it’s common to see people struggle with it. Whether it be in war time or defending your own life, taking a human life is a deep cut in person psyche.“ He also taught me something I didn’t know about humans in general. We’re biophilic. This means, as humans, we want other life to grow and continue. At least, that’s what a normal person wants.

“A person can also develop PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from the incident. “ Think about that. I never thought I could be susceptible to that form of mental state. While I know PTSD isn’t limited to our great Vets, I never thought it was a possibility when defending my own life. How would I be after taking someone’s life to save my own?  The honest answer is I simply don’t know. I *think* I would okay with it. But, well, I’m also person who loves helping people. I’d probably call a shrink after I called my lawyer. What about other family members? What if your child saw you take down the intruder? I don’t have children, but I certainly wouldn’t want them to be witness to such a horrible situation if I did. It would be essential to talk with them about what happened.

We can talk about tactics, calibers, and what type of firearm to use all day long. Those will be sources of (what seem like) endless debate. What goes on after the shooting should be thought about just as much as deciding what caliber to use for your conceal carry. So, when deciding to defend yourself with a firearm, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have both lawyer and a psychologist ready to help not just to you, but your family as well.

53 Responses to FNS-9 Contest Entry: What Happens After the Shot

  1. Great write up. Think about it now and just as you train, be ready for the aftermath of your action. Think straight, shoot straight, be straight with the law and walk straight even though you carry the weight of taking a life.

    Hope I never have to.

  2. The lawyer yes, psyco-babler not so much. We have gotten far to dependant upon running to a psycho-babbler. Does someone that doesn’t know you, really better qualified to help you? I don’t believe so. There are things that you can do for yourself that are just as productive. The first is to thank God that YOU are still able to be with your family. The second is to STFU until you have talked to your attorney.

    Don’t play the self blame game. Don’t go into the “…What if …” scenario. The dirt bag came to do you harm. The dirt bag wanted what you have, The dirt bag was there to steal, rape, and murder. I’m not saying it won’t be tramatic. It will be. Your mouth is going to go dry, your hands will shake, you might even collapse from it.
    BUT, you are alive. Your family is safe, your wife is still your wife, and not a rape-murder victim, and your children will grow up knowing that dad or mom did what was needed to protect them. Take solice in the knowledge that YOU are still here. Your family is secure, and no matter what the anti’s say, you have proved them wrong.

    • How would the cops know you’d sought psychological assistance? Certainly the professional with whom you consulted would be bound by client-therapist privilege and could not, ethically, inform anyone that you’d been in contact with him/her, unless, of course, you presented as being imminently dangerous to self/others, a circumstance that, in most if not all states, nullfies the client-therapist privilege. So don’t be afraid to seek help if you think you need it.

  3. First call medical response for bad guy and YOU! Tell police you shot someone, what you are wearing so they don’t take you as a threat when they arrive. Step down when they take control of bad guy. Give them you weapon, ask for an evidence receipt and ask for a lawyer. The only other info that a smart ofc will now ask for is your ID. Give them it. Enjoy boredom over the next few hours.

  4. I’ve always wondered when people refer to “my lawyer” … do most people have a lawyer? I always figured you hire a lawyer when you need one, and have no idea how to choose one in advance. Lawyers seem to specialize in different areas of the law, right? So how do you choose one if you don’t know what sort of case you will be facing? Also, is there a fee you have to pay in order to refer to your lawyer as “yours”? Or do you only pay them when you actually use them?

    • Any self defense class instructor will tell you to lawyer up, today. Find an attorney in your area that has dealt with self defense cases before. Usually you meet with him once for a small informational fee maybe $300, and after that keep his card handy.

      One more point I have living in small towns, said dirt bags tend to come from dirt bag families. Make sure your loved ones have a backup firearm while your in the pokey and expect dirtbag brother,mother, father, cousin etc. to want revenge.

      • If that happens, then your loved one ends up in the pokey or dead and any kids go into child services, what a nice system.

  5. After the shoot

    1) Dial Lawyer, tell him the minimum and tell him the PD is on their way
    2) Cops show up, STFU until lawyer is available

    • Read up on the new Supreme Court ruling. You have to invoke your right to stay silent. If you stay silent without invoking your right to do so, you’re refusal to answer questions can be used against you.

      • Ask for your doctor (or go to the hospital), all the better if you already have a medical condition. This will give you some time to calm yourself before being questioned.

  6. A counselor or clinical therapist is probably a better choice than a psychologist. They can help you help yourself w/o the psycho-babble.

    • This is one of the biggest problems with this country, the overall population has been so wussified! F*ck the Dr. Phils and Lauras, they do little or nothing that family members and you yourself can’t do. When you shoot an individual in self defense, you need to be strong enough in your mind to accept that that individual was a scumbag and you have just rid society of a disease, especially when justification is verified by law enforcement. We have a population of people in this country that cry over everything that happens, whether it is their parakeet dying, or they got caught cheating on their spouse. These are people that would starve to death in a room full of chickens! You need to be getting your mind right NOW, not after you have to kill, Cowboy Up!

      • Is this what you tell a Vet when they get home after a traumatic experience? Cowboy up?

        No, sir, it THAT kind of mentality that is the problem. I have no problem with defending myself or family. But I’m sure as hell not going to celebrate the fact of taking a life, either.

  7. You do what have to do and move on. Those who would try to paint you as a vigilante, or bad guy, because you refuse to be a victim will try to make you second guess your actions thus enfocing doubt, regret, guilt which they will use against you. Stand by your convictions that what you did was justified, and leave it at that.

  8. Why is it that the wife is crying and hysterical? The hidden and overt sexism is shameful in the gun community. That grandma who defended her WWII disabled hubby didnt sound hysterical to me on the 911 call. She sounded like one tough dame that the BG probably regrets running into.

    • I was thinking this too. My wife would want to make sure I got the bastard and chew me out if I missed a few times.

    • Great! But that’s her. can you speak for the millions of other woman? As I said. It was ONE aspect. I’m sure there are plenty of woman who would go kick the guy after he’s down as well.

  9. I would add, if bad guy not dead but no longer a threat it might help your case if you did provide a little first aid. If bad guy dead stuff gets easier because only one side of the story is left to tell.
    Always be the first to call 911. You don’t want anyone beating you to the dial. It really helps if 911 is already on phone because they will record the call, so use statements like “Oh my God, he’s coming right for us”

  10. Be careful with the shrink. If one labels you as unstable, you may lose your gun rights for life. Also, the federal government will have full access to your phone and medical records, thanks to the NSA and Obamacare.

  11. Good stuff. As far as seeing some kind of counselor, there is a reason that organizations like the CIA, FBI, and major police departments mandate such visits after a shooting. You probably will not be less affected by the experience than those professionals.

    I have one suggestion to add to the list. As quickly as possible, following the shooting, write out exactly what happened. Otherwise you will very rapidly forget some details. The information can be shared with your attorney, who will advise you whether some or all of the information can be shared with police.

    I got into a very nasty confrontation with a boss many years ago, narrowly avoiding a fist fight. The altercation left me stunned. When I told a co-worker what had happened, he told me to get it in writing as fast as I could. I was very glad for his advice the next day when the other party escalated the whole thing to the HR department. I really think my detailed written statement protected me from a blemish on my employment record, and possibly even kept me from being fired.

  12. It can’t be emphasized enough: Positive reinforcement — even from yourself — about having done the right thing is crucial. Best if it comes from a respected person or, better still, a respected authority figure.

    Which is one reason cuffing a victim of unlawful violence and having them sit in jail for any time whatsoever is totally objectionable.

    It may be necessary, but I’m not so sure. That it is SOP reflects poorly on the state of Administration of Justice.

    • I don’t agree with cuffing a victim like this. But I guess in a case like this you are a suspect until they decide if you are innocent. It’s a murder scene until they decide otherwise and you are a murder suspect in their eyes until proven otherwise. However being handcuffed and placed in jail is going to put more doubt and trauma into your mind, and even just reading about this will cause some to hesitate if you are faced having to pull the trigger. You start thinking what if they decide it wasn’t lawful and throw the book at me? You delay just enough for the bad guy to gain the upper hand. Sad thing is the LE and courts probably prefer the victim dies instead of the perp since it makes their job easier and the case more clear cut. So the laws and procedures are set up favoring that outcome.

  13. Do we have anyone here that has been thru this type of event?
    Writing about their experience would be a good entry for the FNS.

    • Thankfully no, both times I had home invaders my 125lb newfies scared them off before I needed to… Just another link in the chain.

  14. Note to fellow reader: this article may or may not apply to your area,as different areas of the country have different policies regarding justified homicide.Some places won’t even take your gun after the incident-and some (read:Democratic Party governed areas)will take you and your entire gun collection downtown for an extended stay .

  15. Some good info, but I’d like to add that the purpose of the immediacy for attorney representation is to ensure you have a proper amount of time to allow for stress bleed off and allow the memory of the occurrence to not be influenced by the scene processing events. Your attorney should make it clear from the start that you will consent to an interview, it will only be after you’ve undergone a physical exam, blood test, and any other medical care you and your attorney deem necessary. Your attorney should also consider insisting the interview be done in a neutral location, not at a police station or any other setting that will imply you’ve done something wrong. I also take exception with the statement of you being handcuffed and transported to a police station. Most police agencies have little experience in self defense shootings, so they handle them the same as a criminal assault. Take time to investigate your own police departments officer involved shooting protocols and insist that you be treated in the same manner.

  16. I’ll just add a couple of points.

    Ask the cops to call an ambulance for YOU. You’re all jacked up on adrenalin and might be hurt without knowing it. Your heartbeat and respiration are running wild. You may feel like you’re having a heart attack, and you might be right.

    If the cops refuse you an ambulance, it will not look good for them in the unlikely case that there is a trial. Had George Zimmerman requested an ambulance and gone to the hospital after his unfortunate incident, it would have been stronger evidence validating his self-defense claim.

    All you need to say is that the BG tried to kill you and that you fought back. If the cops continue to question you, tell them that you don’t want to be questioned without your counsel present. Look at it this way. If the cops know that you’re an innocent guy — which they certainly may, based upon the scene (starting with the fact that the BG is in your home) or their knowledge of the BG (felony arrests, convictions, suspect in break-ins) or their knowledge of you (working guy, salt of the Earth, licensed and background checked, no record) — you don’t need to help yourself by spilling your guts. If you are suspected of something, you can’t help yourself by spilling your guts.

    That’s my advice for men. Women should also cry. In a physical altercation with a man, most women will be assumed to be at risk of loss of life or limb. So, do not dispel this illusion.

    • If the police decide to take you in, nothing you say will prevent it. If it happens STHU and request your lawyer.

      • Correct. In fact, the cops may take you even even if they know damn well that you did nothing wrong. It’s their due diligence.

    • It think that is pretty good tactic

      If you have dependents and don’t have a will and powers of attorney you are an idiot . This week Interview some local pitbull shysters and hire one (and spend the $300) to prep will and POA. His office, cell, home # should be on you cell and that of wife. Keep it current. If substitute this with a “make your own will on your PC” still an idiot.

      If ANY possibility the POS is still alive why are you not still firing? Reload. Carefully get his weapon out of range of his corpse (as on TV probably don’t touch it). Where are his buddies (they seldom fly solo). Clear the house/property. Situationally dependent – who is he, does he have ID, other weapons, why is he in your home?

      Ensure gun safe/room has all other firearms secured in it (except possibly wife/family defense/carry), that is locked and in locked room and no one recalls where keys are.

      When cops arrive specify they do NOT have permission to search the house/property and need to get a warrant if they want to seach. May do you no good but I suggest make the point. Invoke the 5th.

    • That’s interesting. Mostly STHU, but they provide specific advice about exactly how to STHU when you dial 911.

      Also “don’t disturb physical evidence.” If there is a reconstruction of the situation anything you have done to alter the scene will make you look like you are hiding something.

  17. Officer, i am too shocked to talk. Please understand that.

    This is everything you should tell the Police.

    Everything more can and WILL be used against you.

  18. Interesting responses about what I’ve said. Some I want to touch on.

    1. The first part, I did say get a lawyer. Honestly, you should have one already if you’re defending your home with a firearm.

    2. If I have to shoot a guy in my house, I’m not helping him. I’ll let the cops call that one in.

    3. Let me clear up the 2nd half for some who may misunderstand. I get the whole “Yeah, I shot that dirtbag and don’t feel bad about it.” aspect. If that’s how YOU handle the situation, that’s great. The thing is , not everyone is like that. I’m not saying a person needs mental help right away, if at all. If I wanted to to talk to someone, yes, it would be AFTER all the legal stuff is done. Maybe I should have made it more clear, but, I was thinking more in the long term. I also understand some feel the need to have the “macho” aspect of it. If that’s what make them feel better, so be it.

  19. In regards to the whole STFU until your lawyer gets there; make sure you take the time to read up on the Supreme Court’s decision in regard to Salinas v. Texas. You have to invoke your right to stay silent; otherwise anything you don’t say can be used against you. Big fail by the Supreme Court on this one.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/06/salinas_v_texas_right_to_remain_silent_supreme_court_right_to_remain_silent.html

  20. After the shock of a DGU, the idea of calling a shrink sounds dubious at best. Yes on the doctor if you have heart or other significant medical concerns. YOU may need medical observation until your own doc is thoroughly satisfied you are ok. If you are evangelical and have a pastor you know well and trust, many of them are quietly pro 2A, and would be able to provide family support, also most pastors either are trained in counselling or have ready access to a really good counsellor and other resources. It really says something about the state of our country that this has not already been mentioned.

  21. It would NEVER hurt, to have a trusted defense lawyer (or two) in mind, should the need arise. My problem is, I don’t know any.

    It also won’t cost you anything to have the name of a recommended therapist handy. Here again, I simply don’t know of any.

    YOU will be responsible for any ambulance/medical costs, if you decide to have the police call one for you.

    I am the founder of the Church of Devout Cowardice but otherwise agnostic. I recommend people utilize whatever they need to get over a DGU – religion included!

    • I suppose this is some sort of question to bait me.

      That’s nice.

      1. I never proclaimed to be an expert. You should have known this when I quoted those who ARE qualified. See how that works? This is mix of my opinion and a discussion with the doctor mentioned.

      2. What qualifications do any of us have giving tips or advice on guns if we’re actually qualified instructors? Meanwhile, advise (opinion based) is given all the time.

  22. I’ve been looking at taking a class on this very issue. The class is held at our local Cabela’s. I spoke with the person who puts on the class and it covers all that you would expect. But the one thing that caught my eye was in the class list “The aftermath: When the police arrive”.
    Maybe this is topic is just a gentle reminder that I need to get off my a$$ and take this class. For those who live in western Washington I’ll leave you a link to the schedule.
    http://accuracynorthwest.com/Classes.html

  23. Thanks. Great article.

    Before I bought my handgun a few years back, I thought long and hard about why I really needed it for home defense, and did a lot of reading, on what caliber, and what platform, and why- and along the way, I found Massad Ayoob’s book “The Gun Digest for Concealed Carry”.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0896896110

    Its a bit dated, but the thought-process about considering how to avoid a problem- states of situational awareness, avoiding the 3 S’s, and in extremis- how do boil it down fast- what makes a use of lethal force defendable- the bad-guys capability, opportunity, intent- to hurt or kill, and how you will respond- run to the sound of gunfire, or get your kids out of the line of fire, first-
    is as relevant and even more important now, with gun grabbers and lawyers looking for more ways to separate you from your personal property.

    So, what to do afterwards, before you actually decide to carry concealed, or otherwise, IMHO, ought to be as carefully considered and trained as dry-fire drills, and practical range exercises that simulate things like effective draws, mid-range to point-shooting, getting off the x, shooting from cover, malfunction drills, etc, because its a key part of the chronological process for a real-world event.

    Considering how much money it takes to buy the gear, and the ammo and coaching to get to some nominal proficiency, the time to research a good local gun lawyer, and money $200-500 as a retainer for fast reply to your phone call,
    is a very small but smart insurance policy that could make the difference in how things work out for you.

    The fact that one can see more gun training classes and other preparedness courses beginning to cover the same is a sign of the smart thinking based on lessons learned that you’d be foolish not to consider, right up there, if not before debating whats the coolest tac-laser combo thinga-ma-bob you can get for your go-fast hip accessory.

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