The reason that law-abiding citizens obtain a concealed carry permit is to prevent or avoid a life-altering event of the severest kind from befalling them, a member of their family, or their friends. That is the same reason that I have carried a concealed firearm as a cop, off-duty for the past 33 years.
The last thing a law enforcement officer wants to do is to take human life. This is true due to many reasons in addition to the natural aversion that exists in people of good will. One such reason is the legal aftermath that follows the event. Most of the time, the law-abiding citizen or cop will encounter no major problems from the legal system. But in rare circumstances you can be right and still have the “system” find you wrong, with dire consequences. A recent incident that illustrates this involves the victim of an armed carjacking. The victim gave up his wallet and vehicle to the carjacker—the victim was free and safe. As the carjacker started to drive away with the victim’s car, the victim drew his concealed pistol and fired at the carjacker, killing him. While many folks applaud the outcome, the citizen has come under fire for his actions, and appears to be facing above-average scrutiny by a potentially hostile prosecutor and court system.
I am asking you to reevaluate some of your own self-defense concepts by considering some of the basic rules we follow as cops. If you can avoid a life-changing event in the court system, isn’t that part of the ultimate goal?
First, defend yourself with deadly force only when the threat is imminent. “Stand Your Ground” laws notwithstanding, if you can move yourself to safety and avoid the situation altogether, make that your first choice.
Second, the 1985 U.S. Supreme Court Decision “Garner vs. Tennessee” prevents cops from shooting at all fleeing felons. Shooting at DANGEROUS felons is ONLY permitted if the officers’ failure to stop or apprehend them would result in extreme danger to the community. For civilians, driving the danger away from you should be your primary goal. Once that happens you have “won.”
Third, never shoot at a moving vehicle unless the most extreme circumstances exist. Even when permissible, shooting a suspect in a vehicle brings more grief upon cops than any other shooting situation. The only way I would shoot at a moving vehicle is if someone was fleeing in a car with one of my loved ones.
Fourth, don’t shoot to defend property. The police can only use deadly force in property situations if conditions escalate and they shoot to defend themselves. Follow the same guidelines.
Fifth, just like plainclothes cops, be extremely careful if you must draw or use a firearm in public. It is way too easy to have your intent and identification mistaken. When challenged by arriving officers do exactly what they tell you to do. Keep the palms of your hands open and in plain sight.
Six, never give a statement to the police immediately after a shooting. Wait until you have an attorney present versed in the use of force. Period.
While you, as a civilian permit holder or home defender, do not have to follow our rules as required by court decision or law yet, I would advise that you give them some thought. You may avert a life-changing event.