May 04, 2012
At the request of my online editor, I am very hesitantly going to discuss the Trayvon Martin case, only because it has huge teachable potential to anyone thinking about carrying a gun for self defense.
The Trayvon Martin case is just about the ultimate Worst Case Scenario, a "Perfect Storm" if you will when it comes to a concealed carry confrontation (one where the shooter survives). I am not talking about the actual physical confrontation, but rather the aftermath.
I don't know what happened that night in Florida, and neither does anyone else. The only person who knows exactly what happened is George Zimmerman, and even he might be fuzzy on a few things from the photos I've seen of his bloody head. That fact, however, has apparently been lost on everyone who is screaming about race or gun control or Castle Doctrine. It's not that I don't have strong opinions on what I think is going on with this case, it's that I recognize that's what they are—opinions. Let's look at some facts.
If you carry a gun for self-defense, and get involved in a shooting, odds are you will be sued, either by the person you've shot, or their surviving family members. You should also assume that, no matter how clear cut a case of self-defense it was, that you will be put in handcuffs at the scene, arrested, and treated by the authorities like a criminal.
I am not mentioning these items to dissuade anyone from carrying a gun for self-defense—it's far better to be on trial for shooting someone than to be dead—but rather to make sure nobody has any false illusions about how the justice system in our country can and often does work.
VOTE: Does the Trayvon Martin case demonstrate a flaw with Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground laws?
Once done defending yourself in court (post bail costs and attorney fees), if you find yourself a free man or woman, there is a good chance you will be sued in civil court. Even if you win, you will have more attorney fees. No matter what the verdict in George Zimmerman's criminal trial, I would not be surprised if he gets sued by family members of Trayvon Martin. I predicted to friends that Zimmerman would be charged with civil rights violations by Eric Holder's Justice Department if he wasn't charged by local authorities, and that still may happen. Again, Zimmerman is living through the Worst Case Scenario of a shooting aftermath, and while it is unlikely that most people who get involved in a self-defense shooting will suffer the same kind of attention, everyone who carries a gun needs to know that it is possible.
It may turn out that a number of people who have leaked information about this case to the press have straight-out lied. People lie in court all the time. You cannot control what other people do, only what you do. Get some documented training, call 9-1-1 either during or as soon as practical after a confrontation, and when the authorities show up, just remember that anything you say can and most likely will be used against you in a court of law.
Protect yourself, protect your loved ones, and if you ever find yourself facing a media lynching or being accused in the press of all sorts of things that just aren't true, maybe your only recourse will be knowing you did the right thing when the time came.