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What to Do After You Pull the Trigger...

August 03, 20217 min read

What's Up Sheepdogs? Ryan here with Tampa Carry.

I've been in the firearm industry for a long time, and I've noticed that most gun owners spend a lot of time thinking about when they are going to use a firearm in self-defense. However, they spend very little time thinking about what they are going to do after they pull the trigger. 

However, what you do after a self-defense shooting is equally important. One small mistake could lead you to financial bankruptcy or even prison. 

In this article, we're going to discuss exactly what you should do after pressing the trigger.

What to Do after You Pull the Trigger

The first thing you need to consider as you develop your strategy is knowing when to stop. 

Recently I had a student named Roberto who completed my online concealed carry course and shared a very interesting story with me. 

Roberto said that he and his family were arriving home after a weeklong vacation. When he opened the door, he was shocked to find a burglar standing in his living room. The burglar immediately took off running out the back door.

Without even thinking, Roberto took off after him, chasing the burglar all the way down the street. I asked Roberto what he would have done if he had had a gun that day. “I would have shot him,” he replied boldly.

This is not the correct response because once the burglar left the home, he was no longer a threat and Roberto should not have chased him. 

Have you ever heard the age-old question, “Should you shoot to wound or shoot to kill?” The answer is it depends. 

The 3 Step Process

In my Advanced Concealed Carry Course - Level 1, I discuss the three-step process for engaging a threat.

Step 1. Shoot until the threat is no longer a threat.
Shooting until the threat is no longer a threat means once the attacker has dropped their weapon and is no longer physically or mentally capable of posing any danger to you, you must stop. 

Step 2. Follow the threat to the ground
Just because the attacker has been shot multiple times does not mean that the moment is over. You must follow the attacker to the ground, ready to fire if the attacker decides that he isn't finished yet. 

Step 3. Assess the area for additional threats. 

Once you have visually confirmed that the attacker is no longer moving, kick the attacker's weapon out of reach, and then you must assess the area for any other potential threats. 

Tyrone Made A Huge Mistake...

Sometimes people can get a little carried away when it comes to using a firearm in self-defense. Recently I heard a story of a man named Tyrone, who was spending time with his girlfriend when all of sudden there was a knock at the door. It was a man who was trying to spit some game at the same young lady.

The woman was eventually able to get this man to leave, and she continued her evening with her boyfriend. As Tyrone was leaving her home a few hours later, he was confronted in the parking lot by this other man, who pulled out a knife and was very upset that he was dating this woman.

Tyrone pulled out his gun and fired one shot into the aggressor's chest. This should have been where Tyrone stopped, but Tyrone decided to stand over the body and fire nine more shots. 

My personal opinion is that the first shot was justified based on the information that I currently have. However, the additional shots were unjustified because the threat had already been neutralized and they were not necessary. 

This is a perfect example of someone who knew when to start shooting but didn't understand when to stop.

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over 

Another important topic that is rarely discussed is that the fight is not over until the police arrive. 

I want you to imagine that you're sleeping in your bed when you hear someone moving around your home. This alarms you because you are the only person home that night. You grab your home defense pistol and open your bedroom door.

To your surprise, a burglar is standing right in front of you. Bang, and the burglar falls to the ground. In a scenario like this, many gun owners immediately go into panic mode. They drop their gun. They run around their house screaming and crying. Unfortunately, this is how most gun owners react after a violent encounter. 

You must understand that where there is one, there is usually another. This means we are going to add another step to our process for exactly what to do after a shooting.

Step 1. Shoot until the threat is no longer a threat.
Step 2. Follow the threat to the ground.
Step 3. Assess the area for additional threats.
Step 4. Get yourself to a secured location.

Immediately after a violent attack, the first thing you should do after confirming that the threat is no longer a threat is assess the area for additional threats.

Then you need to get yourself to a secured area while waiting for the police to arrive. In a home defense scenario, a secured area could be a bathroom or bedroom with the door shut, locked, and the gun pointed at the door. 

Do Not Tamper with Evidence 

Now here's a really big one that affects me personally. Do not tamper with the evidence. Tiffany, my wife, is a very neat freak type of person, and I can see it right now. 

It's 2 am and a meth head kicks in my front door, so I jump out of bed, fully nude of course, and grab my home defense pistol. I open my bedroom door, identify the intruder, scream “America,” and open fire. 

Is Tiffany concerned about the fact that we were just the victims of a violent home invasion? Of course not! Her only concern is that soon our home will be filled with people who want to take pictures. I can see Tiffany now, running around the house cleaning, vacuuming, and probably trying to get the blood out of the scumbag’s clothes before it leaves a stain. 

You must understand that everything in the area after a self-defense shooting is now evidence. Anything that you touch, anything that you're manipulating, you are now tampering with evidence.

It is absolutely critical not to touch the body unless of course you're trying to perform CPR on the bad guy. What you should not be doing is attempting to change the crime scene, hide things, or place weapons in the bad guy’s hands. The police are very smart, and they are going to figure out what you did. It is not worth it. 

Before Calling 911 

Before calling 911, it is absolutely critical that you do these three things. 

First, you need to calm down. Why would I say calm down? You’ve just been involved in a shooting. There’s probably a body lying on the ground, and I’m sure you will be extremely stressed. You must get away from the body and take some deep breaths. Everything you say on the 911 call will be used against you. 

Next, you need to focus on what you are going to say, and more importantly, what you are not going to say. Every year, thousands of people dial 911 and just start talking. When you make that 911 phone call, every second of that phone call is going to be recorded.

Every word you say or don't say is going to be used against you in court. And if you say something silly, there's no taking it back later. You need to stay calm and focus on exactly what you need to say as well as the things that you should not say. 

Finally, you need to rehearse what you are going to say to the 911 operator. I would provide the following information and nothing more:

“I need police and EMS at this address ________. There has been a self-defense shooting.” 

911 operators are trained to keep you on the phone by asking you questions. Your natural reaction after a self-defense shooting will be to justify what you did. You must fight the impulse to spill your guts by keeping it short, sweet, and to the point. 

That's all I have for today. So until next time keep training and stay safe...

Ryan G. Thomas

P.S. You’re one step away from getting your Florida concealed carry permit….FAST & EASY…

And for a limited time you can watch the concealed carry course online for free... Click here to get started...

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Ryan G. Thomas

Ryan believes a trained and aware citizen is the best way to minimize crime, victims and senseless acts of violence. Ryan is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a father of three beautiful children. Ryan and his wife Tiffany met while doing inner city ministry for Operation Explosion in Tampa 12 years ago. He is passionate about God, his family, and his community. Ryan has a passion for the 2nd amendment and believes all Americans should have the right and ability to protect themselves and their families.

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