Shooting at the range and training can be fun, but consider the aftermath of a lethal encounter -- that takes planning.
Much of the training, writing, internet videos explore gear and applications of force. It's necessary of course, but it seems that the least addressed aspect of deadly force is every bit as critical to success: what happens after the shots are fired and your ears are ringing?
This is not a simple, one-dimensional thing: how do you not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by an improper post-shooting procedure, how do you ensure that you're not destroyed by the offender's confederates, responding police, other armed persons nearby – or if you are bleeding out from gunshot wounds? After all that, we consider the legal reality.
is known for saying that you must an active participant in your own rescue. That's relevant in the fight – and all that precedes it – and it's relevant in the aftermath. It's all
on you and you can't rely on others to prepare for the ugly eventualities on your behalf.
I'm aware of the bleating in big media about the horrors of the stupidly named "stand your ground" laws. Ask them, they'd likely tell you the Castle Doctrine upon which the "no need to prove inability to retreat" laws are based is just as bad. There are states' attorneys who have no love of self defense law and likely believe that you have no right to defend yourself from an attack – particularly if you're forced to use the ultimate force option to save yourself or others you have a duty to protect.
And it doesn't stop there. Anyone who believes you can only be tried once for a single event has real issues. I'm no lawyer and I know about 'double jeopardy,' but the armed citizen can face criminal and civil liability. The police officer can – and does – face criminal and civil liability at both
state and federal levels. That's four potential trials before we examine the potential employment liability in internal agency investigations.
Any idea why someone wouldn't choose a career in law enforcement?
Some light reading and the ID card from the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network.
I attended Deadly Force Instructor in 1998, taught by friend and mentor Massad Ayoob
. I annually took – and taught – instructor level training in uses of force by police. Let's say I became a little acquainted with the law.
I'm no lawyer though, nor is Mas. His second great book on the topic of understanding the rules of the road in terms of deadly force, Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense
, is as important a work as you can find on the topic. There's another text on the topic, a complementary work – not a replacement, and that's attorney Andrew Branca's The Law of Self Defense
The Foreword of the text is written by the aforementioned Ayoob and sets the context of the two books – and the two instructors, as Branca teaches a well-attended course based on his book.
He goes beyond Mas's book in the sense that he breaks down various legal elements on a state-by-state basis – yes, there are differences and you better know the rules where you live – and the rules of locations to which you travel.
The context of the legal battle is set in terms of competing narratives, the state advancing a theory of criminal behavior behind your use of deadly force and your defense creating the image of defendant as a crime victim in perilous straits. Branca sets the five links, essential components of a successful self-defense claim, as innocence, imminence, proportionality, avoidance and reasonableness.
This sounds remarkably like the 'circumstance that justifies homicide,' as put forth by Ayoob: "immediate, otherwise unavoidable danger of death or great bodily harm to the innocent."
Branca examines these in turn, then explores issues like 'defense of property.' Instead of quickly dismissing the concept, he explores it with a keen analysis – showing you "his work" and how he arrived at the conclusion most of us in the field share. He advances a legally sound defense strategy – minimizing your exposure to liability entanglements completely. His state specific information – which, as Ayoob points out is alone worth the price of the book – covers provocation/aggressor laws, 'regaining innocence' laws, justified deadly force, the duty to retreat in deadly force cases, legal presumption of reasonableness, justifiable use of force in defense of others
, use of non-deadly force in defense of property – and use of deadly force in defense of property.
Taking the class to get your permit doesn't make you ready to roam about armed in public no more than simple citizenship allows a blanket pass to armed self defense on your own property. As a Natural Right, self defense requires some thought, soul-searching and consideration.
Understanding this, you need to study both texts. Add to that some active and ongoing protection, like membership in the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network
Failure to do so can move you down the road to negative outcomes in the form of civil and criminal penalties.
Get both books, read them. Be an active participant in your own legal rescue.
-- Rich Grassi