Most of us who own a gun and opted to list our reasons for having one would rate “self-defense” as being right at the top. I’m definitely in that camp. Personal defense is on my list right after, “Freedom, MoFos.” It’s important.
Many of us have taken the stance that anyone who is in our house without permission is dead meat. This is, of course, for those of us who live in states with Castle Doctrine laws that permit the use of force during such occasions.
Again, I’ve been in that camp.
However, Greg Ellifritz has some things for people to think about before just deciding that pulling the trigger is the right move for all seasons.
I hear it all the time from shooters I train…
“If someone is in my house at night, they are getting shot.”
My new students justify their actions by telling me how they “know their house” and are keenly aware of the difference between the sounds of a family member and the sounds of an intruder. They also tell me how they are justified under state law, especially in states that have “Castle Doctrine.”
Here’s the problem…
Being legally justified doesn’t mean being right. If you can avoid shooting someone (even where it is legal to do so), you should.
There are tremendous complications that could arise once you pull that trigger. You will face legal scrutiny, you will likely be sued, your gun will be taken for evidence, and many of your neighbors and friends will stop talking to you because they don’t know how to act around a “killer”.
Have you ever thought how much the crime scene cleanup will cost you? Even if you do everything right and win in court both civilly and criminally, you are likely to have to spend a whole lot of money on your defense.
Is it worth it? Set your ego aside for a minute and think about whether you would be willing to pay $50,000 in legal fees to win your trials if you shot someone in your home. I know I don’t have a spare fifty grand laying around that I want to donate to an attorney’s BMW fund. I have a defense plan from the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, but I’d prefer not to have to use it.
Ellifritz brings up some good points, ones that all of us should take our time considering.
I’ll add that you need to think about them now. After all, when you’re looking at someone on the other side of your sights, it’s a bad time to start thinking about all the ramifications of pulling the trigger. Do it now while you can be rational.
But, and this is most important, be rational.
One thing I often do is wargame the hell out of things. I start looking at what I could do in a given situation. Can I get my family out of harm’s way? Do I have to engage to protect someone’s life?
For example, if someone tries to carjack me and I’m alone, I don’t need to shoot them. I can get a good description of them, notify the police, then call my insurance company. Put my kids in the car, though, and the math changes. Now I’m protecting them. There’s no reason to hesitate because I already know I have no choice here.
Same scenario, but one requires action while the other doesn’t.
There’s also psychological trauma from pulling a trigger that many don’t think about. Not everyone feels it or even feels it the same way. Yet it can exist and can create serious problems. There’s a reason police departments require officers who shoot someone in the line of duty to undergo a psychological evaluation.
None of that means you should be afraid to shoot when it’s necessary. When it’s your life or theirs, there’s no question about which is preferable. But on the same token, it might be a good idea what to consider when you find a situation where you might be legally justified in shooting, but it’s not truly your life or theirs.
For your own sake, even if you’re not legally culpable.