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Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. That’s the more family-friendly version of the old saw. First you have to survive the encounter, and then the aftermath.  Yes, the wise and prudent man knows that protecting one’s self from bad guys involves a whole lot more than stuffing a firearm into one’s pocket or purse.

Have you given consideration to what you would do if a violent criminal predator picks you as their victim… and you respectfully decline with some ballistic deterrence?

Alas, you’ve wrecked your attacker’s magnificent tattoos with a pair of slugs. And the cops are on the way, most rapido.

Did your concealed carry course cover how to interact with other witnesses before the cops get there? What will you say to the cops when they arrive on the scene? Have you signed up for some sort of concealed carry insurance? Also, do you have an attorney?

You can bet your butt that your local cops and prudent concealed carry holders have answers to all of the above. Do you?

Yeah, you survived. That’s number one. But a lot can go wrong after the fact. If you fail this real-life quiz, you risk your life, livelihood, indeed your liberty.

Thankfully, court precedent says your actions only have to be reasonable, not perfect. Still, you remain at risk.  Sadly, even if you did everything virtually perfectly, things don’t always conclude with “happily ever after.”

Doubt that? Just ask George Zimmerman (of Trayvon Martin fame). While a jury came back with an acquittal, Victoria Rickman’s case didn’t work out as well for her. She’s now serving life without parole in Georgia after shooting a man who attacked her in her own residence.

In both cases, better prior planning would have made both of these individuals’ lives a whole lot easier in the aftermath of their respective defensive gun uses. Frankly, I suspect a top flight attorney and better expert witnesses probably would have kept Ms. Rickman (pictured below) out of the slammer. Sadly, she didn’t have legal defense insurance.

Surviving the Post-Incident Aftermath

So do you want things to go fairly smoothly in the aftermath of using deadly force, or are you OK with the Zimmerman/Rickman model? It’s your circus, not mine.

Better concealed carry courses will cover interacting with witnesses as well as the right way to respond to investigating officers. If you missed it, it’s not too late to find a course to get you up to speed.

Do you have an attorney? Now’s a fine time to find one, not when you’re trembling, and holding a cell phone as you attacker lies bleeding in front of you. Retired judges and state’s attorneys oftentimes make good criminal defense attorneys. Ask your cop friends who they would want to represent their spouse if the worst happens.

Did you call Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network or US Concealed Carry Association and get signed up for CCW “insurance”? Do it. Right now. Tell ACLDN that John Boch or Guns Save Life sent you, if you want, and you’ll save $25 on your first year’s coverage. Or not. I don’t get paid either way and neither does GSL.

The aftermath

Okay, you’ve survived the attack by defending yourself with a firearm. The police have released you, with or without a discrete pat on the back for taking out the trash. You’ve gone home. What now?

First, expect to have difficulty sleeping. That’s called nightmares for those of you living in Rio Linda. Shooting and/or killing someone is traumatic for most decent people.

Then don’t be surprised when you hear mainstream media reports of how you shot that poor young man who didn’t even have a gun. All he had was a knife!

Yes, the media will interview his mom or his auntie (see pic below). As the cameras roll, she will wipe a tear from her eye and tell the reporter how Junior aspired to be a veterinarian to help animals. Or cure cancer. Or something like that.

She’ll cry and ask rhetorically, “Why did he shoot him five times?” The answer, of course, is that Junior needed shooting that many times before he stopped his violent, criminal attack. But the reporter will leave the question unanswered while the camera lingers on auntie for the 6pm news viewers.

And the producer will put up your jail mugshot photo (if you have one) next to Junior’s 8th grade altar boy pic.

Surviving the Post-Incident Aftermath

Some in the community will say you carried that gun because you were looking for trouble.

The next thing you know, you and your whole family are suffering from the Mark of Cain. People will look at you differently now that you’ve taken a life. Some people who you thought were your friends will shun you. Neighbors may view you with suspicion. Your kids may suffer harassment in school and your spouse may experience it at his or her workplace.

Worse, you’re always looking over your shoulder as the dead thug’s family and gangster friends run their mouths pledging retribution.

There are more worries as the local state’s attorney wants to take the case to a grand jury to pander for votes before the next election. That kind of stress will wear down even the strongest among us.

How to deal with it

In order to handle the pressures of your new circumstances, you could turn to prescription or recreational pharmaceuticals, or alcohol. Or food. None are good coping mechanisms and will usually lead to bigger problems long-term. What’s a better strategy?

Seek professional help. Nobody’s going to take your guns or your gun license for seeing a shrink in the aftermath of a deadly force incident. Ask police for the name of their department mental health professional. This person will have experience helping other good people who put down bad ones.

Turn to your friends and family.  A support structure of dependable family members and rock-solid friends will prove invaluable. People who have earned your trust and who will support you through adversity, including a post-defensive gun use.

Your church can help, too. Your church family stands as another resource – both in the pastor/priest as well as fellow church members.

A word of caution: If your church is one that frowns on any use of violence, no matter how justified, find a new church. Now. The last thing you need in the aftermath of a righteous incident is to be shunned by people you thought were your friends.

If your church has “NO GUNS” stickers on the doors, take that as a sign from the Lord. Find a new church. Take your time, talents, tithing and life’s energy to a better house of worship that not only respects your attitudes on self-defense, but welcomes them.

Don’t be like one of our Guns Save Life families who contested the “No Guns” signs on his (now former) church’s doors. The member and his wife both lost a bunch of so-called friends in a matter of days. Better to cast aside fake friends in good times than to have them show their true colors in bad times, when you really need support. Life’s too short for lousy triggers and crappy friends.

Turn to fellow gun owners. You will find sympathetic folks at Guns Save Life meetings – or similar grassroots gun group meetings in your area. People who understand and support the concept of armed self-defense. People who won’t look down on you for using force to defend innocent life. You may even find a few people who have first-hand experience doing just that.

Prepare now.

Begin to make healthy changes in your life where needed. Today.  Distance fair-weather “friends” who don’t respect you and your beliefs. Surround yourself with good people now. Let good friends and family serve as your safety net in a time of need, just as you would selflessly do for them if the roles were reversed.

Just as prudent folks have insurance to back up fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, the same applies to self-defense. Have insurance and a lawyer to back up a gun and solid training. CCW insurance will take a load of worries away if the worst happens.

In short, a little proper prior planning will prevent poor performance in all aspects of life.  Especially in areas like this where you have so much to lose from failing to prepare.

Surviving the Post-Incident Aftermath

What to say to someone you know who survived?

What do you say to someone you know who just survived a defensive gun use situation? Obviously, it’s a delicate topic.

The first thing: “I’m glad you’re still here with us.” Let them know you support what they did and are happy they survived.

Tell them you’re there for them. Ask them if they need someone to watch the kids or their pets? Do they need someone to house-sit while you get away for a weekend? Pick up the kids from school or take them to baseball practice?

Offer to talk if you’ve experienced a similar situation.

Do you have a weekend house they could use for a while? Maybe send them a bouquet of flowers to brighten their day. Or invite them over to a home-cooked dinner. Little things can mean a lot. Let them know they don’t have to do this alone.

A few things not to do: Don’t ask for details or a narration of what happened. Anything they tell you is discoverable in court in the immediate aftermath. If they want to tell you at some point down the road, they’ll bring it up when they’re ready. Don’t push. Just let them know you’re there to support them during a difficult time.

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  1. Is that Trayvon’s corpse?

    Damn shame what happened to that Rickman woman. Makes me feel good about spending that $110 on the Armed Citizens Legal people last year.

    • What about when insurance is not enough?

      Airlines are self-insured, because the premiums are equal to paying any fines and restitutions / lawsuits. And they kill way more people than you.

      • The fact pattern of that Rickman case doesn’t exactly sound like a DGU. Shot ten times in the back? Seriously?!

  2. Eliminate the threat, then take alternate cover and eliminate all second comers as 2ndary attack.

    Don’t let the “Not There” MFs F with the “There” people.

    Response to anyone should be “where the F were you?” and “I’ll let you know when you’re allowed to stop Fing off.”

    • Typical post that doesn’t have much research behind it.

      She is clearly guilty. If it were 10 times in the back but the shooter was a police officer, no doubt the author would have said unjustified homicide before the trial completed.

      The one thing this quarterly repeated article is missing is say nothing to the police other than I was afraid for my life.

      • I doubt it. You have obviously have never met John, he tends to really do the whole “cops are the good guys” bit

    • Hmph. Yeah.
      I just skimmed that article too and I’m not sure she’s the best example for us… Seems there was a lot going wrong in her life before that happened.

      • Harold Fish is a much better example.

        He killed a man in self defense and got ten years in prison for it. The AZ legislature had to pass two laws to get his conviction overturned.

    • Problems with her case:

      The deceased was a witness against her in an assault case, where she was alleged to have assaulted him and the police agreed with him. That doesn’t happen often with the female as the accused.

      She did not, or could not, rebut the accusation that she shot him in the back 10 times. That brings her out of the immediate self defense realm and into the Francine Hughes Burning Bed realm. You better have national support and a dream team of attorneys if you want to play in that field of criminal defense. And did I mention, he wasn’t accused of beating her, she was accused of beating him?

      She says he raped her, the prosecution says she lured him to her home to have sex with him, kill him, and falsely accuse his corpse of rape. The jury believed the prosecution.

    • RF sold out 3 weeks ago, and the stupidity is multiplying quickly. There are at least daily posts that are at least 80% full of crap, if not more.

  3. The 5P phrase is “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” By definition, all planning is prior so that word is redundant and unnecessary.

    Also, bad example. That lady was convicted in 2 hours after a 2 week trial. That doesn’t happen unless her story was total BS. Read more on the case and she deserves to be in jail.

  4. Insurance or not – it also depends on the local DA or whether the state DA makes it a political issue.

    I can see where an ass-hat DA could turn insurance into “He was planning to take someone out”.

    The other stuff is great advice. Being able to talk about the event or what you are thinking is great catharsis.

    You will find out who your friends really are….and hopefully make some new ones.

    • I thought the idea about seeking the police department’s shrink was savvy advice.

      Related: some also recommend finding out what sidearm ammo your local cops use to fight accusations that your hollow points were designed for extra cruelty or whatever.

  5. Ermmm… Proper “prior” planning? Like you went out the door with a plan to shoot someone? To most prosecutors and the jurors they hypnotize, this sounds very much like planned murder. The original 6P phrase is far more useful. If you shy away from a simple reference to micturation, you lack the intestinal fortitude to deal with any of the consequences attendant upon being involved in a deadly force encounter. Is this the new low for TTAG, censorship of all articles making them incapable of communicating robust thoughts? Tell me it ain’t so!

  6. Taught many CCW classes, and yes, I tried to cover the aftermath and what to do. If you’re now safe, holster your weapon before L.E. arrives. If you’re standing over a body with a weapon in your hand when they arrive he’s doing a pretty good imitation of a victim and you look a lot like a suspect. Next, don’t let his weapon disappear, or be moved if you can safely do so. Stand on it if you have to. Another thing, when L.E. arrive say something along the lines of (while pointing at the suspect); “Officer! He tried to rob, rape, (verb that fits) and I want to press charges!” Now he’s the suspect and you’re the victim. Last when L.E. begin to question you, your response is, ” Officer, I want to cooperate with your investigation. However, I decline to answer any questions, or make any statements until I’ve spoken with an attorney.” Then shut up. You’re going to want to explain yourself on the scene. Don’t do it! The actual lecture in my class is a little more detailed, but you get the idea.

  7. If you’re in a DGU you’re screwed no matter what. Even if you are cleared you will be seen by people as in the wrong. The dead guys family or friends are going to burn you out, the media will play you as a vigilante, and that’s if a DA doesn’t charge you.

    But you’re alive.

  8. I have no fear of ending up like Victoria Rickman.

    I can’t say I have no fear of ending up like Husaun Stinnie. “Your Honor, the defendant admits he picked up a gun and approached the victim when he heard his sister screaming as the victim attacked her. The act of picking up a gun and confronting the victim shows the killing is a premeditated murder”

  9. What do you say to someone who survived? That is a tricky question. Realistically and without compassion,,” Better you then me.” However that is not a civil response in a civilized society.

  10. As a retired lawyer, I believe that John’s article was spot-on in most respects and you can disregard his advice at your peril.

  11. Another path not explored in this post is flee. You obviously cannot do this at home but . . . if you get in a violent encounter away from home. Running is an option. Maybe not the best one. If you are identified you are screwed. If not . . . how many “murders” go unsolved every year?

    It’s not the whitest thing to do but it has worked 🙂

  12. In the eyes of L.E., courts and juries; flight equals guilt. If you’re caught, you’re fucked.

  13. “Ask police for the name of their department mental health professional. ” Wow that sounds like a terrible idea. The only thing worse would be actually undergoing counseling by the PD psych! All that will be used against you in both criminal and civil proceedings!

    The Rickman case cited in the article is a very poor example of a legit DGU. However it still has useful lessons for conscientious gun owners: stay out of dysfunctional relationships, avoid toxic people. If you are living with or dating an abuser or wacko, don’t (just) get a gun; get out of the relationship immediately. Love stinks, life goes on.

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