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.