We know there was a fight. The news story isn’t clear if you were attacked by your boyfriend, by a visitor, or by a male roommate who lives in the same apartment. The attacker hits you several times. It is about 2 am when you flee your apartment and run to the parking lot of the grocery store across the street. Your attacker chases you into the parking lot. You shout for him to stop. He continues to move closer. You present your firearm and shoot him. Now he stops advancing.
You back away. You call 911 and ask for help. You stay nearby. You wait for the police and then put your gun away when the police arrive. You give them a brief statement. EMS takes your attacker to the hospital in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the leg. Police also noticed the bruising on your face, arms and upper body.
You are not charged with a crime.
I like that our defender was armed. I love that the victim had her firearm on her body and that she tried to leave the original scene of the attack. Her attacker followed her, and then she stopped him when he closed the distance to her again. That is important and gives clear evidence of who was the attacker and who was the defender.
The defender stayed in the parking lot and called for help. It was smart that she brought her phone with her when she fled her apartment. She was in contact with the 911 dispatcher and put her gun away when the police arrived. She also gave the police a statement when officers arrived.
There is more we’d like to know about the incident. It could have been that the roommate came home intoxicated, and this was the first time the victim had been attacked. In contrast, this could have been another in a series of escalating attacks by an abusive domestic partner. Perhaps the attacker was someone who once lived in the apartment. Two-thirds of sexual assaults started with a home invasion/robbery. The news article doesn’t mention the attacker’s motive, but I’m glad the defender protected herself.
That is where we have to back up a second. Most of the time, we can’t choose the time and place of a conflict. We also say to do some critical things when we hear someone break into our home and before we open our bedroom door. So which is it? Do we have time to prepare, or do we have to fight with what we have right now?
Reality is somewhere between the two extremes. Sometimes we have seconds, and sometimes we have minutes to prepare. In both cases, having a plan lets us use the time we have to our best effect. Even if we have a plan, a walk-through will probably teach us a lot. Reality has a way of upsetting our plans. If the plan is to run away, then how are we going to get down the gravel driveway in bare feet in the middle of the night? As obvious as it sounds, I hope the victim was wearing shoes when she ran.
Now I want to jump from pre-attack planning to the parking lot after the victim defended herself. There we are, standing near a guy who was shot, and we have a gun in our hands. That is not the time to admire our marksmanship. Instead, consider if there is something we can do to improve our situation. The bad guy is on the ground, but he might get back up again. It would be great to run so that a parked car is between the bad guy and us.
Also, we just shot someone in public. There were probably more ear-witnesses than eye-witnesses, particularly at two in the morning. I’d shout for help and then call 911 myself. I hope I yelled “Stop!” before I pressed the trigger. That is a matter of training, but having a witness hear it and report it to the police is also a matter of luck.
I want you to have your carry permit. A carry permit was not necessary in this case since Georgia is a Constitutional Carry state. In addition, a victim has extenuating circumstances as she flees into a public space with her firearm in order to escape from an attack. The advantage of a carry permit is that it identifies you to the police. Many of the suspects that an officer meets each day are criminals and drug users. Your carry permit shows that you are an honest citizen with a clean criminal record. That helps move you to the “victim” category rather than being considered as a possible “perpetrator”.
If you’ve been in a fight then I want you to get your injuries documented. They will strip you down and take pictures of all the cuts, bruises and scrapes at the hospital. The EMT won’t do that and the police can’t do that. You might want to see your own doctor and get your own pictures tomorrow. That way you have your own documentation if your attacker decides to sue you.
All that is a lot to think about at 2 in the morning. We have millions of new gun owners who are still learning about armed defense and the lethal use of lethal force. I encourage you to take a basic firearms class and to keep learning a little more each month. Several of self-defense legal insurance companies have a plan of ongoing education. You do have a lawyer to call, don’t you?
There are particular legal elements that have to be present for us to justify the use of lethal force in self-defense. Your lawyer will write your police report with you so that those points are clear and that each one meets the required legal standard. We don’t do that for a living, and this report is a legal document in our defense. It is easy for us to say the wrong thing or to leave something out of the report.
One obvious point is that you didn’t endanger other people as you shot at your attacker. Would you think to include that in your report? I doubt that I would.
-Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, at Second Call Defense, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.