No one wants to have to defend themselves or their family with a gun. At the same time, as gun owners, we’re prepared to do that if circumstances demand it. For many of us, it’s the reason we own a gun in the first place.
But you don’t want to survive a deadly confrontation with a criminal only to get shot by a responding police officer. If you’re involved in a defensive gun use (DGU), you need to call the police as soon as possible.
Aside from that, there are a number of things a good guy with a gun can do in the immediate aftermath of a defensive gun use to minimize the risk of getting shot by mistake.
You have to put yourself in the position of the responding cop, rolling up on a scene, possibly with one person down, and another with a firearm. Police officers aren’t super-human warriors with ultra-keen senses and infallible judgement. More likely, that guy or gal you saw gnawing on those doughnuts at the convenience store will be the person(s) responding to your emergency call.
And just like the people on scene, they will be dealing with a surge of adrenaline when they respond to your call.
Even in force-on-force training, where the pucker factor is elevated, but still far below a real-life call, mistakes happen when people are on edge. “Blue-on-blue” shootings happen as adrenaline-charged role-players get startled by others and fire before they can process what they see.
And accidental shootings happen in real life too. Like the homeowner in Denver who just survived a deadly confrontation with an intruder only to be killed by responding police.
Or the SWATting victim in Wichita.
How do you increase your chances of surviving after a defensive gun use? Follow these steps to help maximize your survivability when other adrenaline-charged, armed good guys show up on scene.
Holster your gun as soon as possible
Standing around holding a gun makes you a prime suspect in the eyes of police responding to a shots fired call. Or to bystanders. Once the scene stabilizes and the threat ends, holster your gun. If that’s difficult, put it on the ground. Not only do you have to worry about responding police officers, but in public settings, fellow concealed carry license holders as well.
Heaven forbid you should find yourself in an active shooter incident. While you may have stopped tomorrow’s Aurora (Illinois or Colorado) spree killer, every cop from every jurisdiction aside from Broward County will attempt to bend the laws of physics to respond and engage faster than humanly possible.
Their mission: to “put down” the bad person killing innocents. If you just shot troubled loser (or your return fire caused him or her to retreat and self-terminate), you don’t want to have a gun in hand when hyper-excited law enforcement officers arrive ready to put down ‘the person with the gun’.
Do exactly what the officers tell you to do
Do as ordered. When responding officers are trying to secure and stabilize the scene, that’s not the time for debate or negotiation. Especially as it could delay medical teams from treating injured innocents.
If the officers tell you to lay face down in the dirt, snow or in a puddle, do it. You can clean up later. Non-compliance with police directions raises tension and stress levels. It’s in your best interest to avoid that wherever possible.
Do not reach for anything
Keep your hands where the officer(s) can see them. Nothing in your pocket is worth your life at that moment. If they ask for an ID, tell them it’s in your pocket and ask for permission to — slowly — retrieve it.
Don’t move until you’re told to move
Even if one or more officers are shouting commands at you, do not begin to follow those commands until you’re told to move. Basically any movement could endanger you from officers who might not, in a moment of great tension, be exhibiting good trigger finger discipline. If you startle them, they may flinch and that may cause a round to discharge. Into you.
Yes, while they should have good training and discipline, you have to plan for the worst case scenario. Paul Blart, the former mall cop, may have his fat little finger on his GLOCK’s bang switch. Don’t give him a reason to twitch.
Keep your hands in the air
Remind yourself, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” It’s not just a silly slogan. It can save your life. Everyone will feel better if you have your hands in the air, palms open for all to see.
Move very slowly
Once you have clear instructions on how to comply, move slowly and deliberately. Do not make any sudden moves, even if your pants fall down.
Don’t try to catch them or you could end up like the man trying to comply with conflicting police commands in Mesa, Arizona. One excitable cop thought he might be reaching for a weapon. That cop fired repeatedly with an AR-15, killing the man DRT.
In short, holster your gun, do as they ask, move slowly and don’t surprise responding officers.
Follow these basic steps and you will minimize the risk of unintended gunshot wounds from the good guys in the aftermath of a DGU. Because you want to get home to your loved ones at the end of the day too.