The day that you decided to carry a firearm was a day that your life changed forever. You are now in possession of a firearm, on your person at all times, capable of taking a life if a self-defense situation is ever justified. Many of us often think about different scenarios that could play out one day in an effort to prepare ourselves, if that unfortunate day should ever arrive.
What many don’t think about however, is the aftermath of using their firearm in self-defense. This article will discuss potential scenarios directly following the discharge of your firearm. Remember that a discharge of a firearm in self defense is an extremely rare occurrence, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared for it.
DISCLAIMER: Before we get into this, please research your local laws regarding the use of lethal self-defense. Discharging your firearm in a self-defense situation is an absolute last resort. Your life will immediately change forever. We are not lawyers, and cannot offer legal advice. We may cite NY State laws as a basis of justification to help the following example play out, however this is not legal advice either. We are also going to offer suggestions, but these are just our opinions. Use your own judgement and common sense when making any decisions.
As a basis for this example, we will pretend that this self-defense need arose inside the home. We will be using NY State laws to justify the actions of self-defense. Currently in NY State, there is a ‘duty to retreat’ outside of the home. If you are inside your home however, and you feel that your life is threatened, you are legally able to use lethal force if someone unknown to you enters your home.
You are in your home one night after dinner watching TV. All of a sudden, you hear your front door being kicked in. You jump up, firearm in hand, and are immediately confronted by an unknown person with a knife. You yell to the person ‘Stop, I have a gun’, but the person continues forward in your direction. All avenues have been exhausted to end the confrontation without having to use your firearm, and at that point you pull the trigger, fatally wounding the intruder.
Up until this point, you have probably never had to discharge your firearm in self-defense. The very first thing that should be done is to make certain that the threat has been eliminated. This should be done from a distance, as you do not want to touch or move anything; you are now in the middle of a crime scene.
At this point, calling 911 is very important for a number of reasons. You will want officers to respond as quickly as possible, and you may have a difficult time calling 911 if you wait. The reason for this is simple; during a high-stress situation like the one you were just in, chemicals are released in the brain to help you get through the initial situation, but may soon hinder some of your abilities. You will more than likely feel extremely sick to your stomach and may actually vomit. Worse yet, you might find yourself passed out on the floor. Use your quick thinking and call 911 as soon as you can following the discharge of your firearm.
Wait for the police
The police are on their way and you can hear their sirens. Remember this key fact: The responding officers are being called to a crime scene where a shooting has just taken place. They may not know that it was you (the homeowner) that shot an intruder. The best thing to do is to set your firearm in a visible location, pointed in a safe direction for officers to see when they arrive. Your hands should be up and away from your body, and you should be extremely cooperative with the officers. In all likelihood, you will be handcuffed immediately until they are able to verify you as the homeowner and the situation that they are in. Do not take any offense to this, as they are protecting themselves and everyone at the crime scene until they have a solid grasp on the situation.
The police will interview you and get a statement, probably at the police station. A good thing to have at this point would be your lawyer present. While you may be 100% justified in the actions that you took, having your lawyer present is always a good idea. They can help guide you through this stressful situation and ensure that everything is recorded properly.
Your home, your castle, has been violated to the extreme. Your feeling of personal safety inside your home has diminished greatly. Moreover, the intruder has died in your kitchen and will need to be removed. The area will need to be cleaned and sanitized, and during this time you will not be allowed inside your home. You will find yourself relying on a friend or family member for a place to stay while this is taking place. Until the crime scene is thoroughly processed, expect to be limited with access to your home.
Before the police leave the crime scene (your home), they will take your gun that was used in the shooting as evidence. We always recommend that you have more than one firearm because chances are, it’ll sit in evidence for months (if not years) until it is returned to you. Be prepared for this to happen.
After any shooting, one must prepare for the legal repercussions, probably initiated by the family of the deceased intruder. You’ll probably be sued, and you’ll probably be dealing with court for years to come. It is something that seems to come with the territory, even though you were completely justified in your actions. Regardless, a life was taken and you will more than likely be faced with this.
Who was this intruder? Were they a member of a gang? Do they have friends of the same character? You may find yourself the subject of retaliation. As always, your guard should be up wherever you are. This is simply a point that we want to stress because you just never know.
There are many scenarios that could play out following a self-defense shooting and it would be impossible to go through them all, as the number is infinite. These are just a few points to think about and remember just in case you are ever faced with these decisions. As always, be prepared ahead of time, train and practice, and always be aware of your surroundings.
Here is a great video posted by YouTube User weaponseducation on this very topic (Part 1 & 2):