It is called the “post incident” and I have interviewed many individuals — some lawfully carrying and some not — who could have used the time immediately after (and frequently before) an incident to sit down and think. Not to invent an excuse or a lie; not to rearrange the evidence, dispute the facts or call momma; but just to take a deep breath and compose themselves.
By joining the USCCA, you become eligible for a range of benefits, from legal assistance to training opportunities to — perhaps the most important benefit — affiliation with a community that cares and thinks as you do. A community that, I deeply believe, shares your essential values.
And so I recall, when my annual membership came up for renewal, one of the most valuable items I received from the USCCA was a very small card, the kind that fits into your wallet. It details “Post-Incident Instructions.” This simple card recommends that, following a self-defense situation, you should first call 911 and when the police arrive — response times to a shooting are routinely faster than for other types of crime — you are only obligated to say and do the following:
- Explain: “This man tried to kill me.”
- Complaint: “I’m willing to sign a complaint.”
- Evidence: “There is his weapon.”
- Witnesses: “Those people saw the attack.”
- Silence: “Officer, I will cooperate 100%, but first I need to speak with my attorney.”
An understanding of your state laws regarding self-defense situations is certainly primary, but the back of the USCCA card offers “Defensive Shooting Guidelines for the Responsibly Armed Citizen.” Without copying it or suggesting that the careful wording is mine, I want to reiterate that, from the card’s instructions, you are not obligated to give police any statements or detailed explanation. Given the inevitable stress of the moment, it will be difficult to remain silent — especially if your family is hurt or police point a gun at you or seize your weapon or make you lie down or stand with your hands in the air or wear handcuffs … all of which are possibilities.
If you can cope with the stress of the self-defense situation and the stress of dealing with law enforcement, you can remain cooperative, but silent. This is a situational ethic, and response that can be problematic: Be accommodating, recognizing that police have a difficult job and don’t know you, and yet refrain from exercising your mouth (blabbing). Remember that you have a fundamental right to this apparently simple concept — that in the face of questioning by a governmental official, you are not legally obliged to offer any information beyond the basics: name, address, your statement that you believed your life (or someone else’s life) was threatened and the above — consulting with your attorney.
Review the five salient points often so that they will come to mind when needed. It is certainly okay to pull out the card — let the officer know what you are doing because your hand disappearing into a pocket could be interpreted as reaching for a weapon — and to read from it, although that seems absurd. Commit the five points to memory. Heavens, you know the words to the Star-Spangled Banner and the anthem is much more complex than “Explain — Complaint — Evidence — Witnesses — Silence.” Pulling out a card and reading from it seems somehow contrived. The police may find it suspicious and the liberal media will have a field day.
Your card also has a telephone number — the USCCA Critical Response Team, 877-677-1919 — for members to access 24/7. Remembering that number and the number of your attorney and your wife’s cell number while under stress might be next to impossible, but do your best. In the final analysis, it may be better to look like a North bound donkey’s South end and consult the card than to give confused statements — and that’s easy to do under the pressure of a rapidly evolving incident.
So for Christmas, consider giving a gift membership to the USCCA. If you or your loved ones ever need it, you’ll be damn glad you did.