A Support Group for Individuals who have Used a Gun in Self Defense

Published by the LearnAboutGuns.com Author on June 8, 2010 at 12:01 am
LearnAboutGuns.com > Gun Related News > A Support Group for Individuals who have Used a Gun in Self Defense

Recently, a reader emailed me to ask about the possibility of creating a support group for those who have fired a gun in self defense.  The reader, who himself had to use a gun in self defense, knew that he was morally and legally right but found the experience to be emotionally burdensome and wanted to connect with other people who had gone through the same thing.  So, I’ve created the following group where those who used a gun in self defense are welcome to join and discuss their situation:


Note: Those who have fired a gun in self defense should seek legal counsel, and be sure not to say or write anything that could inadvertently expose them to civil or criminal liability.

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  • http://jewishmarksman.blogspot.com Jewish Marksman

    Your heart is in the right place, but this is a very BAD idea from a legal standpoint. Those folks should absolutely not be posting anything whatsoever on the Internet about the incident or anything gun-related until their lawyer gives the OK.

    In most states there is a psychotherapist privilege and that is the ONLY environment, outside of their lawyer's office, where they should talk about the incident to get help.

    Even beyond criminal implications, the civil implications for the attacker's family to use this as a way to build a dossier on the shooter, or even elicit statements from them is bad.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • http://www.learnaboutguns.com The LearnAboutGuns.c

      As an attorney myself, I think you're overstating the potential legal ramifications. If those who use a gun in self defense wish to discuss the impact that doing so has had on their lives, and wish to seek support from others, then I don't see much potential for liability, since such a discussion need not go into the specific facts of the incident.

      Obviously, as I noted at the end of the article, one should be sure to seek the advice of their attorney after using a gun in self defense.

      • http://jewishmarksman.blogspot.com Jewish Marksman

        Ah, young Skywalker. Consider a few things:

        1. Emotional state is a key element of the affirmative defense of self-defense, i.e. fear of imminent bodily harm to one's self or another. A poorly worded statement in therapy could be seized upon, twisted and distorted.

        "I wasn't really afraid because I had a gun and he only had a knife, I did what I had to do."

        2. Remorse or lack thereof plays a role in sentencing or civil award, should things go wrong for the person that acted in self-defense. "He was a scum bag and I'd do it again if faced with the same situation…"

        3. Also memories change over time. What if something written on the forum contradicts a statement given to police or under oath in court or a depo? Not good.

        The list goes on. You're talking about the extreme situation where a person took the life of another. Rule #1 is keep your mouth shut, speak only when your lawyer tells you to, reveal no more than what your lawyer tells you to. Get through it, get off the radar, take the rest to your grave.

        Read up on some of Mas Ayoob's writings on the post-shooting legal messes that get created even after the most righteous shootings.

        Again, your idea is kind-hearted, but I stand by my view that it is not worth the exposure (risk), especially when there is the perfectly fine alternative of private professional psychotherapy, which in most states is privileged. In fact, I am guessing most medical insurance will pay for it.

        • http://www.learnaboutguns.com The LearnAboutGuns.c

          You're certainly entitled to your opinion (although the condescending "Young Skywalker" part is a bit over the top, no?)

          If, in your example, someone were to be so unwise as to directly state that they weren't in fear of their life, then yes, they could generate some legal problems. If, however, they simply discussed the fact that they had used a gun in self defense, and sought comfort from the fact that others were doing the same, then in my opinion as an attorney at law, they would likely not incur liability.

          • http://jewishmarksman.blogspot.com Jewish Marksman

            No condescension was intended, my apologies if it was taken as such.

            "If, in your example, someone were to be so unwise…"

            That is my point. Clients say and do unwise things. The consequence of saying something unwise (or something that could be construed before a jury in a gun-unfriendly state as unwise) is prison and/or financial ruin. And keep in mind financial ruin results not necessarily from an unfavorable adjudication, but from legal bills resulting from a successful defense! If something unwise is said in a privileged context, such as the psychotherapist's office, there is no consequence.

            Consider a statement made in the therapeutic session like "now I am afraid to go out in public, and any time someone makes a sudden move around me I feel threatened." Ok, that same person gets involved in a *second* self defense shooting. Uh oh.

            I don't disagree with your legal conclusions, but I disagree with your factual assumptions about the ability of average people to make wise decisions about what they should or should not post in a public forum after they have shot someone.

            If it were my client, I would recommend they see a professional where privilege applies, and say nothing to anyone else. The risk outweighs the reward, when other therapeutic outlets are available risk free, which the lawyer would not have to monitor or be concerned about.

            I understand you intend to disclaim any liability with your forum, that's fine. But to the extent you generally care about good outcomes for people that use deadly force in lawful self-defense, I disagree that this forum is a good idea.

            Mas Ayoob and some criminal defense attorneys hang out on the firingline.com forums. I know he has done some research on things people have said and done that get them into trouble after self-defense shootings, and might be able to give you some anecdotal cases to consider. If you head over to their legal forums, tell them what you're up to and see if they will chime in with an opinion.