By: Ricky Casner
Although American citizens have the right to use deadly force when defending themselves and others, it is extremely likely the choice to do so will bring negative legal consequences.2 Given this statistical likelihood, it is increasingly important that anyone choosing to carry a firearm for self-defense do so only after understanding the psychological effects self-defense situations have on the human mind.
A few years back, I switched to a different auto insurance company. As I was leafing through the documents the agent had given me I came across a small card that listed the actions that need to be taken following one’s involvement in an auto accident. I was grateful for that information, knowing that stress can make human beings do some very unwise things.4
As I have mentioned numerous times in my blogs, stress is an integral part of any self-defense situation and, therefore, must be understood and controlled. Learning to manage stress is a key component to avoiding a shooting, defending yourself during a self-defense situation, and defending yourself after the shooting stops.
During a fight, your body will aid you with a dose of adrenaline, however, that same aid can be a detriment to you after the shooting stops. During the fight, you will likely experience “time distortion, tunnel vision, hearing loss, and emotional detachment.”2 After the fight, you may experience “nausea and vomiting, exhaustion, and the urge to pace, yell, or babble rapidly.”2
Those after-effects can last for hours or even days following your self-defense experience. So, following situations like these it is best to regard your body and mind as your “enemy.” That “enemy” will work against you unless you learn how to control it. You may forget important details and do and say unwise things. Unfortunately, this will likely happen at the very moment you speak with law enforcement officers about the situation.
Given the fact that the police investigation begins when you or another person places a call to 911, it is important that you control your thoughts, words, emotions, and actions. Only after you have done this, should you place a call to 911.2 Give the pertinent information for your’s and others’ safety and medical attention, but choose wisely the extraneous information you release.
The following list is helpful when choosing the information you should offer the 911 operator:
- Your name2
- Street address2
- What happened2
- Request for ambulance and police2
- Your location at the address2
- Description of yourself2
Information for law enforcement officers, when they arrive:
- Officer, this person attacked me.2
- I will sign the complaint.2
- Here is the evidence (whatever tool the assailant used to attack you).2
- These are the witnesses (if there are any).2
- You will have my full cooperation within 24 hours after I meet with my attorney. Until then, I wish to assert my 5th Amendment right and remain silent.2
Even with these tools, you should prepare yourself mentally for the likelihood of being arrested and taken to jail. If this happens, do not argue with the law enforcement officers. Submit, keep your composure, and stay silent.2
Law Enforcement Officers Get it, Why Can’t You?
The negative impact that stress has on the human mind is well understood. That understanding has led many law enforcement agencies to adopt policies prohibiting others from immediately interviewing officers following their use of deadly force. That “grace period” “enhances a … [person’s] ability to more accurately and completely respond to questions.”1 If this respect is routinely extended to law enforcement officers, it is a right average citizens can claim as well.
The reason for a grace period is straight forward. It takes time for the human mind to re-configure the proper sequence of scenarios. Experts in the field recommend two to three sleep cycles between incident and interview.1
Please watch the following informative video.
- Force Science News. (n.d.). Force Science Institute details reasons for delaying interviews with OIS survivors. Retrieved 2017, from Force Science Institute: http://www.forcescience.org/fsnews/254.html
- Maloney, S. (2013, June 18). What to do after a self defense shooting. Retrieved 2017, from Second Call Defense: http://www.secondcalldefense.org/after-shooting-steps
- Personal Defense Network. (2014, November 4). What to do after a shooting: The first five minutes . Retrieved 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ORBe-2qkJM
- Stoll, S. (2017). Stress and its effect on decision making. (R. Casner, Interviewer)
About Ricky Casner
In 2008, following a two year ecclesiastical mission, Ricky chose to focus his professional endeavors on firearms and firearms education. In 2010, Ricky graduated from the Colorado School of Trades with an associate degree in Gunsmithing. Since that time, Ricky has practiced as a gunsmith, built machine guns for foreign and domestic militaries, and owned and operated a Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) business in Colorado. Currently, Ricky is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Idaho in Recreation, Tourism, and Sports Management and is the Marketing Director for Forward Movement Training Center in Meridian, Idaho.