Tuesday, April 27, 2021

"What should I do...?"

"What should I do if I catch an intruder in my house and am holding him at gunpoint?"

This is a question every gun owner should think about and plan ahead of time. Because if you don't, you will be so amped on adrenaline you will likely make a mistake.

If you are alone you will have your hands full, but the best advice is to have the perpetrator face away from you (on his face hands behind his back) while you make the 911 call on speakerphone. Tell the operator your location, what is happening, and what you’re wearing (“I’m a male, 45, 6′, average build, wearing a blue bathrobe. I have a shotgun pointed at the intruder’s head — he’s laying on the floor in front of me.”) This will help responding officers.

Unfortunately, 911 operators are trained to extract as much information from you as possible during the call. However, your first priority is keeping the intruder covered! DO NOT be distracted by this call!

Once you provide the basic information, put down the phone (still on speaker), and remind the perp that you have a shotgun pointed directly at the back of his head. Remind him that any moves will be taken as aggression and that you fear for your life. Tell him you will shoot him if he moves (It’s fine to say this several times).

Do not debate, argue, negotiate, talk with the intruder. You aren’t a psychologist, priest, lawyer, or buddy. Ignore the crying, pleas of innocence, promises to never be bad again — the rest of the schtick. Too late.

Think like a soldier: you are holding a prisoner until relieved.

The responding officers will know that you are holding the perp at gunpoint. Once you see flashing lights stay on task. Wait until you are instructed by the responding officers before setting the shotgun on safe and relinquishing control (keep in mind they may approach from behind or through a window — don’t turn to face them — keep your focus where it needs to be — on the perpetrator.)

Once you are relieved, do NOT engage with lengthy descriptions with the responding officers. Immediately point out any evidence (such as broken glass where the perp broke in, a dropped tire iron or knife, whatever) and witnesses. Then say “I plan to be as helpful as possible but any further conversations will be in the presence of my attorney.”

Now it’s time to ignore the “You have nothing to worry about…” talk from the cops. You have no idea who the perp is or who his attorney might be, so don’t gamble your freedom and finances on the word of a cop who just wants to write up a report and end his shift. Any further discussion needs to be met with a firm but polite, “I’m happy to help in any way, but I will not talk about this except in the presence of my attorney.”

Is this a lot to think about and remember? Yes, yes it is. This is why you need to think very carefully about what you will do if you ever find yourself in this situation. If you don’t, it’s likely you’ll make a mistake that can cost you your freedom, your fortune, or your life.

Postscript: For those that think (or were taught) "Just shoot him":

Today's crime scene forensics are very sophisticated, so don’t think that you’ll be absolved in the subsequent investigation (and yes, even a "good" shoot will be investigated. While you may plead self-defense, you are still facing possible charges ranging from negligence to homicide, and the self-defense plea is the justification for what you admitted).

In all fifty states, deadly force is only justified when you or an innocent are threatened with proximate and immediate deadly force (some states require you to exhaust all avenues of escape). As soon as a perp drops the knife or gun in most cases he is no longer a threat in the cold, 20–20 hindsight of the law.

”Just shoot him” is simple upfront, yet very complicated and expensive in the aftermath. It's no longer a viable option and should be reserved for that awful moment when it's your life or his.

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Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! I appreciate your comments and will review and post if appropriate.

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