I recently did a radio-type "podcast" interview with Ryan Rocquin, who runs a firearms-oriented podcast website. This interview will be put out on Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). If you feel like hearing me bloviate for an hour, you can catch it any time after Monday at the following website:
This material is likely Old Hat to most of the members here at TacAnat.com. But over the past year or so I’ve noticed an encroaching mentality on numerous internet forums which I can only describe as willful stupidity about the realities of the use of deadly force. People are using terms like "castle doctrine" and other blather as if these are magic words that will somehow preserve them from unpleasantness if they should find themselves forced to use deadly force against another person.
I realize that most people making these statements have no training in the law, in police policy and procedure, and certainly no training in the use of force of any kind, let alone the use of deadly force. But they persist in spouting their nonsense to all and sundry from some misguided sense of righteousness, and so many of them are saying it so often that more and more people are starting to believe it. I think it’s time those of us who have experience or even expertise in the use of deadly force need to speak up and slap these idiots and their foolishness down. Good people’s lives are at risk as long as this nonsense is allowed to be promulgated without challenge.
If you agree with what I’ve written here, I encourage you to copy and paste it into an email and send it to the people you think need to read it.
I’ve been dealing with the realities of the use of force and the use of deadly force for close to 20 years now. In that time I’ve seen the consequences of it up close and personal… fortunately, not in a way that has destroyed my life. But I’ve seen a lot of people’s lives destroyed by their ignorance of the realities of use of deadly force.
If you don’t believe me, dig out the last 5 years of American Handgunner and read The Ayoob Files in each issue. Ayoob doesn’t dwell on it, but the life-destruction suffered by the people he writes about is horrific.
So here’s the short version of what I know to be true about the use of a handgun (or any firearm, for that matter) in an act of self-defense:
1. If you carry or even own a firearm for purposes of self-defense, you are an idiot if you don’t spend the money and time to get training. I’m not talking basic handgun training. I’m talking about training in the use of deadly force.
2. There are 3 people in America who conduct this training at the highest level. Their names are Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, and Clint Smith. Massad Ayoob’s class is probably the most accessible. After I took his LFI-I class in 1998, I went home and registered my entire family for the class. I have since come to realize that John and Clint teach much the same material. And I state without equivocation that if you don’t take one of these guys’ classes but you still intend to use your firearm for self-defense, you’re just asking to have your life destroyed.
3. You can get these Ayoob’s and Farnam’s training for about the price of a good handgun and a holster and a year’s supply of ammunition (if you ever bother to practice with that fancy gun, which most handgun owners don’t, of course). Smith will run you a bit more, but what he teaches is worth the extra dough. If you have a safe full of guns and you haven’t taken training in the use of deadly force, you’re lying about being serious about armed self-defense.
4. If you shoot somebody, even if you did so in what you think was self-defense, have realistic expectations about what is likely to happen.
a. EXPECT to be arrested and charged.
b. Expect to be handcuffed and taken to jail.
c. Expect a very nasty series of interrogations.
d. Expect to have to hire a good lawyer, and expect to spend the next 1-2 years defending yourself.
e. Expect to have to mortgage your house and liquidate all your assets to pay your legal costs.
f. Expect to lose your guns.
Start with these expectations, because they are far more likely than the chances you are going to be allowed to go home and sleep in your own bed for a while. (But if you’ve taken appropriate deadly force training, your chances of making it through this horror relatively unscathed is much better than if you follow all the advice you’ve been reading on the internet.)
5. If you live in a place like rural Texas or Montana, most of what I’ve described in #4 probably won’t happen. If you live in a major city or in a Blue state, most of #4 is likely. But much of it will happen, even if you did everything right.
6. Life isn’t fair. Deal with it.
7. The police are not going to be your friends if you shoot somebody. It’s their job to arrest and charge people who shoot other people, and then let the legal system sort it out. They don’t care if you think you’re a good guy.
8. The prosecutors are not going to be your friends if you shoot somebody. It’s their job to put you in prison for the rest of your life, whether you deserve to be there or not. They don’t care if you think you’re a good guy.
9. Your friends and family–most of them–are not going to be friendly to you if you shoot somebody. People regard killers of other people as pariahs. They don’t care that you think you’re a good guy, and that you did everything right.
10. If you haven’t realized by now that you need some training in the use of deadly force and how to deal with the aftermath, I don’t think there’s any hope for you.
We will be holding a Shooting with Xray Vision for Civilians class (SXRV-C) at the Sand Burr Gun Ranch outside of Rochester, Indiana, on September 9, 2012. Our host and old friend, Denny Reichard, has a great shooting venue at the Gun Ranch. In addition to being one of the best Smith & Wesson revolversmiths in the world, he’s also a man with a great sense of humor and has his priorities in order.
As usual, our SXRV class will cover the fundamentals you NEED to know in order to maximize your ability to neutralize a deadly threat. The course covers in detail: terminal ballistics, gunshot wounding and incapacitation, human physiology, and critical 3-dimensional human anatomy. Course tuition is $150.00.
You can register for the class by calling the Sand Burr Gun Ranch (574.223.3316) and ask for Ashley, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On August 1, 2012,Reagan County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Mitchell died under my care.
He had been shot with a rifle by a chronic meth-head here in my little West Texas town about 90 minutes before I finally gave him up to the Lord and admitted there was nothing more I can do. I, and my entire trauma team, worked our ass off trying to save Josh’s life. I spent 20+ hours from the time Josh got shot to the time the perp tried to eat his gun (typically for him, a botched job) trying to marshal our small hospital’s resources to be as prepared as we could be to meet the needs of whatever might have come down the pike. I was deathly afraid that I was goiing to have two or three wounded cops in my ER in the next few hours. I can’t begin to describe what I, and key hospital staff, had to do in the hours after Josh’s death to be prepared for the deaths and injuries we were obligated to be prepared for.
I am a damned good trauma doc. I have saved lives more than a few times, but I’ve lost a lot more than I’ve saved. I have enormous resources at my command in virtually any ER I work here in America, but resources and skill can’t save the life of someone whose injuries are beyond repair.
Josh’s GSW was not survivable. If he’d been shot in the lobby of Odessa General, our closest Level I trauma center, he’d have died. But knowing that doesn’t kill the sadness I feel for not being able to save him.
I feel surrounded by loss and doubt at this time. We have had our debriefings, our group counselling session that did an enormous amount of good for the folk who do what they do in our little rural county. These folk have been overwhelmed by this situation, and I think we’ve accomplished the first steps in the healing for them.
But for me, there’s no one. I’m not saying this as an expectation of a pity party. But really, there’s no one who can feel what I feel, other than a handful of smalltown ER docs scattered around the country. I only know a few, and tomorrow (today, really, as I type this…. it’s 4 am) I will be calling the 3 or 4 guys who, like me, are small town ER docs with Big City ER experience and attitudes to bounce this stuff off of.
As my good friend Gail Pepin, an ER nurse, says: "If they die, they die."
But here in Small Town America, it hurts to know she’s right.