Previous Post
Next Post

TTAG’s Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day (IGOTD) series highlights bad ballistic behavior amongst firearm owners. Oft times it’s not pretty. Gun owners screw up and people die. I created the category for three main reasons. First, to warn the ever-increasing legions of newbies about the dangers of irresponsible gun storage and handling. Second, to remind experienced gun owners that complacency kills. And third, to show the gun grabbers and firearms fence straddlers that the gun rights community has a realistic sense of personal and communal responsibility. That we are not afraid to face the truth about guns. All that said, if you have a negligent discharge, STFU.

The moment a negligent discharge comes to the police’s attention, you’re facing criminal charges. And the possibility of civil liability. It doesn’t matter if the gun’s muzzle was pointed in a safe direction and the bullet ended its inadvertent journey without incident. It doesn’t matter if the police say you’re not in trouble (in an attempt to elicit information). You are.

We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. The police are not your friend. The DA is not your friend. When the cops come a knocking, you have one friend and one friend alone: your lawyer. He or she is the only person who can and will protect you from powerful people who don’t give a rat’s ass about your rights or happiness. People who are ready, willing and able sacrifice your family’s future to advance their career.

Say nothing to the police. Call your lawyer. If you must, go with “I am exercising my right to remain silent. I will make an official statement after I’ve spoken with my lawyer.”

By the same token, after an ND, don’t let the police into your house or property (even “for a quick chat”). Not without a warrant. They will be searching your premises for evidence to use against you: improperly stored guns, “excessive ammo,” alcohol, etc. If the cops threaten you with arrest, let them arrest you. Call your lawyer. STFU.

Don’t get me wrong: you need to take responsibility for the actions or inactions that led to the ND. But HOW and WHEN you do that could mean the difference between keeping your gun rights (to protect yourself and your family) and losing your gun rights forever. The difference between having enough money to send your kids to college and losing everything in a civil lawsuit.

Spilling your guts to all and sundry after a negligent discharge is a supremely selfish act stemming from a desire to shed the [perfectly understandable] burden of guilt and remorse. Remember: there’s a time and a place for everything. Your lawyer will let you know how to make amends. Meanwhile, again, STFU.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Good advice. Have you seen the (fairly well-known) videos about not talking (EVER) to the police? It’s a series of 2 videos – the first by an attorney and the second by a police officer. Very, very interesting stuff that should be watched by EVERYONE, not just gun owners. ALL citizens should be aware of and exercise their rights. As soon as you start blabbing (to the police), you’ve given up a number of rights.

    Part 1

    Part 2

  2. Submitted for your consideration:

    1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.(© Jeff Cooper)

    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.) (© Jeff Cooper)

    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to fire. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges. (© Jeff Cooper)

    4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified. (© Jeff Cooper)

    5. You and you alone are personally and ultimately responsible for every round you fire.

    6. There is no such thing as a accidental discharge.

    7. Every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.

    8. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

    9. YOU are the first responder. “If you find yourself in a situation where you need a gun and don’t have one of your own, you may be waiting the rest of your life for the police to bring their’s.” (Tamara Keel, © 2011 or thereabouts)

    10. In any adverse interaction with the police or other authority that has the power to make your life a living and ruinous hell, to the greatest extent possible keep your mouth shut and never voluntarily submit to a search until you have your lawyer present to guide you. Make darn sure you have a VERY good lawyer and keep them on speed dial.

  3. Wondering if STFU can later be interpreted as the action of a guilty person and used against you in court?


    Hypothetical (the example below is a DGU, but we are advised to STFU for a DGU as well):

    Someone breaks into your house and you shoot him/her. The cops show up and you STFU and demand a lawyer. To compound the confusion, the well-dressed perp is talking away. Further, you just had a glass of wine (thus finishing the bottle) with dinner so there’s alcohol on your breath and an empty bottle on the table.

    The media reports the story and the internet commentators have their field day. Then a few LONG days later, your lawyer comes forward with your “alleged” version of the story.

    Even though your version is true, it can be made to look quite questionable.


    How does this play out in court? Does the fact that you refused to talk until you had an attorney count against you?

    • “Never mind” <said with a Gilda Radner/Emily Litella voice> – the videos above and Ralph’s comment explained everything I need to know about S’ing TFU.

      • “Someone breaks into your house and you shoot him/her.”
        This is the only relevant fact that matters. Anything else is a result of what you do or say afterwards.

    • ” To compound the confusion, the well-dressed perp is talking away”

      Bad shot for a Texan, now, aren’t we? LOL

  4. If everybody learned to STFU, America’s jails would be empty. Most people run their mouths after something goes wrong because they don’t want to appear guilty. They are encouraged by the police to believe that they can talk themselves out of trouble. Typically, an officer will tell them, “if you don’t talk to me, I can’t help you. You need to tell your side of the story.” If you ever hear that, start making plans for a lengthy stay at the Graybar Hotel.

    The problem is that the cops’ statements are not true. The facts usually speak for themselves, and no further explanation is necessary or helpful. How do you explain away an ND? As responsible gun owners, we take the position that there’s no such thing as an accidental discharge, and that all unintentional discharges are caused by negligence. “The law” does not necessarily adopt our position. Negligence must be proven, albeit by a low standard of proof. Thus, offering an explanation usually makes things worse.

    In an SD situation, most people who shoot a burglar or mugger will not be prosecuted or even suspected of doing something wrong. The case is clear, the bad guy has a record, the good guy is a good guy and the cops can tell the difference. Believe me, they can always tell the difference. Secretly, or maybe not so secretly, the officers are pleased that the defender put a bad guy where he belongs — in the hospital or the morgue.

    The cops may be on your side emotionally, but don’t take any chances. Never ever talk to cops without your lawyer present after any kind of shooting incident. Even in a self-defense case, STFU. No lawyer, no talk. Period. That’s the Golden Rule.

  5. “People who are ready, willing and able sacrifice your family’s future to advance their career.”

    I recommend welcoming them with this door mat.
    It has excellent reviews such as:
    “August 2, 2008 By Michael Hampton
    This review is from: Come Back With Warrant Doormat
    I bought this doormat about nine months ago after some law enforcement officers actually decided they wanted to search my house without a warrant (nobody consented to a search).

    It’s never failed to amaze and amuse visitors, and my doormat actually appeared in a short documentary film about Free State Project members living here in New Hampshire.”

    • The funniest doormat sign I ever saw was in San Francisco’s crowded Marina District (yuppie land). With cables coming out from underneath the doormat it said that if you pee back here you will be electrocuted.

  6. The link below describes an investigation of an “officer involved shooting.” Note that an officer involved is advised to give very little information to the investigators, is never denied food, water, toilet facilities or rest, and is NOT required to give a detailed report to the investigators for 24-48 hours after the incident. And never without his union rep present, of course.

    • I find it ironic that a police magazine has to advise officers how to behave when they are being investigated by fellow officers.

  7. Counseling criminals again, which only proves that you and your friends are closer to the bad guys you continually disparage than you like to admit.

    It may be good advice to not talk to the police without a lawyer, but let’s get honest about the reason why. It’s not so you can avoid being wrongly arrested, as you like to pretend, it’s so you can get away with something criminal.

    That’s shabby and it belies the claim that you guys are so responsible and law-abiding that you do more good than harm.

    • Who cares if it is criminal? I personally am for having convicted violent felons possess firearms. Mike, dont ya know that everyone over here in America is a criminal?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here