Note: None of the following is legal advice. Consult with your lawyer to clarify any details. I am not a lawyer. I write a blog.
At the Hebrew Hogger training event, Dana McLendon (career defense attorney and star of the Hot/Crazy Matrix viral video), described a hypothetical story about a defensive shooting and how that might play out from the time the police arrive, all the way through your court date. It was a great lecture.
My favorite part of the lecture, which reinforced my beliefs, were his recommendations about how to preemptively take ammunition away from the prosecutor by controlling your personal iconography (self-identity images you feel represent your beliefs) and social media footprint. He detailed how a prosecutor might leverage these things against you if the circumstances of the defensive shooting were slightly murky (or even not). We want to control what we can control ahead of time.
As Dana mentioned, we have no control over the time and place of the defensive shooting, but we DO have some control over details that may be used against us by the prosecution TODAY.
Since the tips are so easy to implement, and so important, I’m going to list them here:
- Update your privacy settings on Social Media. Make your posts visible to your friends only (or friends of friends). Here’s the instructions for Facebook. There’s no need to allow the whole internet to see your private stuff.
- Delete any aggressive/gun related profile pictures. These are available for the whole internet. Also, realize that the photo of you with a controversial firearms trainer might tie you to their public opinions, whether you share them or not.
- Don’t be a racist/bigoted asshole on social media or in emails and texts. That’s public and/or permanent, and it CAN be used against you in court. Also, no one likes assholes. Here’s an article about it.
- Consider removing the gun-related bumper stickers from your vehicle/home. When the crime scene photographer takes pictures at the gas station at the scene of the shooting, and your car is plastered with MOLON LABE, NRA stickers, and ‘Kill Em All, Let God Sort Em Out’ decals, it’s very possibly this could become an issue during your legal battle. Also, the bad guys know you’re a gun guy and might rob you. Hunters aren’t immune either.
- Consider removing customized gun parts with aggressive verbiage on them. Take the Punisher back plate off of your glock, and the ‘You’re Fucked’ dust cover off of your rifle. Here’s a real world case.
- As much fun as the gun-guy shirts are, consider how your mugshot will look when you’re wearing your ‘death merchant’ shirt after your shooting. As trainer John Hearne recommends, “Always wear a collared shirt when you carry your gun.” That’s prudent advice.
Those are the low hanging fruit. Control what you can control. You CAN control these things. Weigh these recommendations against how you want to express yourself.
We identify as gun guys/gals, and ‘a good shoot is a good shoot regardless of what gun was used’. I understand, but if it’s not immediately clear that it was a ‘good shoot’, then it makes sense to ME to limit things that could paint me in a certain light. I’m not 100% compliant on all of these myself, but I have changed some things after Dana’s lecture. I also understand that outward gun-centric swag is HUGE money. People (myself included) like to show we indentify as gun people. It’s our tribe.
I also couldn’t find real-world examples for all of the recommendations, but a reasonable person could extrapolate that they could be an issue. I only wanted to get you thinking. Your mileage may vary.
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8 thoughts on “Preemptive Legal Damage Control for a Defensive Shooting”
Wow, Dana did all the work, and I end up with the book plug. 🙂 Thanks, Mark! (And Dana did give a great talk!)
–Andrew, Law of Self Defense
Andrew, I could have pimped his comedy dates! But I’m not sure it would be have been relevant. 😉 your book is a must own. Thanks for putting it out and keeping the revisions coming!
I agree fully with the article and I’m grateful for the book plug, I’ll order one today.
Years ago, I thought the NRA sticker on my car was a good way to prevent people from targeting me for carjacking or whatever, but a Sporting Clays tournament in Houston, where theives targeted vehicles to go rob the owners of their firearms, convinced me that it’s better to stay low profile. I’m not an open carry person for the same reason.
Thanks for summarizing this. I also enjoyed the lecture, and I learned a great deal.
I found the part about jury selection to be enlightening (and horrifying). I think that’s the worst part, and *why* doing all the things you mentioned are important.
People will not be tried by a jury of their peers. They will be tried by a jury that was selected by two sides hoping to “win.”
We can’t depend on the jury to understand what the things you summarized mean (or don’t mean). We can’t depend on them to empathize, and we can’t depend on them to be rational instead of emotional.
Thanks again for the summary.
That’s a HUGE point! Thanks for reminding me about it.