Including... • Massad Ayoob on Interacting with Law Enforcement • Network President Introduces Booklet "What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law • Network Affiliated Attorneys Explain Criminal Justice System Details and Timelines
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Interacting with Law Enforcement
Interview by Gila Hayes
Going to extremes often causes trouble! Either a blindly positive attitude toward police or acute suspicion or even hostility toward law enforcement can really cause problems when citizens have to interact with police. Never are the stakes higher than after a shooting – even a completely justifiable shooting in defense of self or family.
The optimist who views the arrival of law enforcement on the scene as the appearance of friendly forces is not likely to exercise sufficient restraint and may introduce inaccurate and confusing statements into reports given to the first officers on the scene. Many a factual mistake has been recorded during excited, relieved and fearful babbling of survivors at a crime scene. On the other hand, much woe has befallen many a poor man or woman who, after a completely justifiable use of their gun, went mute and refused to cooperate with police at all.
Does a safe middle way exist? We interviewed Advisory Board member Massad Ayoob on this and related topics, recognizing not only his 30 years working in the criminal justice system as an expert witness in use of force cases, but also over three and a half decades during which he worked as a part-time police officer, primarily for New Hampshire communities.
We switch now to the familiar question and answer format we commonly use in this journal’s interviews.
eJournal: Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this subject with us, Massad! In many ways, you are uniquely qualified, because you not only bring decades of experience assisting with courtroom defenses, but also can give us the perspective of a working police officer. I hope you can help us chart the middle path between hostility toward law enforcement and an unrealistically optimistic expectation about interacting with police officers.
First, how do you answer criticisms about police incompetency or worse?
Ayoob: Nothing is 100%. In the United States today, depending on whom you listen to, there are 600,000 or 800,000 or a million cops, which sounds like a stretch right now. So let’s use an example of 800,000. In any community that size, there are going to be some who are not as bright as others and there are going to be some who are going to go bad. But the overwhelming majority of police, and I say this having spent 36 years carrying a badge, are decent, honest people who want to do the right thing.
But cops are also human beings. Basically, [as cops] what we see is what we get. We are not issued a crystal ball that allows you to sit there and clam up when we find you standing with a smoking gun over the fresh corpse of a citizen. Remember, this is America, this is not a Charles Bronson movie with roles cast for hero and scumbag. Here, both are citizens, and like it or not, the fundamental rule of American law is that the evil man has the same rights as the good man. And until we’ve sorted it out, what we see here is the death of a citizen.
We have to presume a worst case scenario if the primary person of interest standing there holding the smoking gun, when asked, “Sir, what happened?” says to us, “I ain’t tellin’ ya nuthin’ ‘til my mouthpiece gets here.” Those may not be the exact words you use, but that most certainly iswhat we hear. So we’re going to put you on ice until it’s been sorted out. Expect to be arrested; expect bond to be argued against; expect yourself to be making some new friends or at least acquaintances in a very hostile environment for an unpredictable period of time. I’ve seen cases where the attorney didn’t show up literally for days.
The system is still, I think, the best there is, but it is still not yet perfect.
eJournal: I want to point out that when you use the pronoun “we” it indicates all the years you’ve worked as a police officer, right?
Ayoob: I should clarify that is 36 years part time as a police officer.
eJournal: But in addition to your police experience, could we also draw on your nearly 50 years of experience as an armed citizen? When we are advising private citizens, I think we have to acknowledge that innate fear of a force that wields great authority over us because the human reaction to authority is often imprudent.
As a private citizen, how do you behave when interacting with the various individuals performing the job of policing?
Ayoob: First, understand that the cop does not know that you are one of the good guys. He cannot see that halo that you feel over your head!
eJournal: Not even Massad Ayoob’s halo?
Ayoob: Absolutely, not for any of us. Particularly now for me, it has been over a year and a half since I have done anything in uniform for the department, so I am sitting here with a salt-and-pepper beard, and a polo shirt and getting a little bit long in the tooth for the job, so basically, I am an old guy with grey whiskers.
If people see a young crew cut fellow who looks all buffed out like he just left the gym, they might think, well, yeah, he looks like he might be an off duty cop. I really don’t look that way. And this is the same dynamic that has gotten so many cops shot in the blue-on-blue mistaken identity shooting. The guy who was unidentifiable to the uniformed officer, feels the subconscious outrage, “How dare my authority be questioned?” He turns toward the officer without realizing he is turning with a gun in his hand and doing a perfect imitation of a man attempting to shoot an officer. And he gets shot down. What makes a private citizen feel somehow they are immune to that if it gets cops shot?
eJournal: What should folks who feel they are treated like criminals by law enforcement understand about the job of policing?
Ayoob: Basically, the officer is responsible for his own safety and for the safety of everyone else. If the situation has put you in the position where you are unwittingly mimicking a violent suspect, the officer has no choice but to deal with you as a violent suspect.
eJournal: Are you recommending 100% compliance with officers on a scene?
Ayoob: Absolutely! That’s the rule that we have in law enforcement, that the unidentifiable party automatically defers to the identifiable party, which 99+ times out of 100 means that the one in plain clothes defers to the authority of the one in uniform.
eJournal: In your experience, what do citizens unintentionally do that comes across as obstructive and uncooperative?
Ayoob: The key danger as the Network has pointed out, and the same as the one that I’ve been pointing out for 30-some years, is this: certainly, you do have the right to remain silent, but if you do, your story does not get told until later, and later may be too late.
A whole lot of people who debate this in the vacuum of theory do not realize that the shooting may well go down in front of people who may be companions of the person they had to shoot, or who identify with the person they had to shoot or may be totally neutral, but were in condition white, heard a shot, turned around and saw you with that smoking gun standing over that dead body, and everything in their nice, quiet, placid lives has conditioned them to believe you must be the evil killer and the guy laying on the ground must be the helpless victim, and that is the story that gets told. If you do not balance it with truth, your story doesn’t get told until later and you look like somebody who is going with whatever alibi has occurred to you.
The other thing, and I’ve pointed this out so many times: evidence is perishable. If you don’t point it out, it may disappear. It may never again be there to support your side of the story. Witnesses don’t want to get involved. If you don’t point them out to the officers now, the officers can’t go to them and say, “Excuse me, I need to see some ID, and I need to talk to you…” Otherwise, they are going to disappear, they are going to walk away and they will never be there when you need them in court to testify that they saw you do exactly what you said you did in self defense.
eJournal: What about situations that are not so extreme as a shooting? I’d like to hear your thoughts on requests for warrantless searches of cars or homes? How would you handle it?
Ayoob: For me, having been on both sides, it is just going to depend. If I have a pressing engagement, I’ll probably say, “No, officer, I don’t [give permission for the search] but I appreciate your concern, and I assure you, you are not missing anything.”
It is going to depend on the circumstances. Today, we had a relatively quiet day. On a day like this, if I had been driving my personal car and I hit a checkpoint and a police officer asked, “Sir, do you have guns or drugs in the vehicle?” (Understand that he does have the right for his personal safety to ask those questions.) Well, first, I’d tell him, “Yes, we have some antihistamine, and a .45 on my hip…” that would get his attention [laughs, then grows serious]. If he said, “Sir, would you consent to a search of your vehicle?” If it is a slow day, I’d probably say, “Yeah, what the heck, I’d like to watch.” If not, I might say, “Officer, I really don’t have time and I think just for my amusement, watching you search a car and find nothing would be unfair to you and the citizens that you serve because you could be out looking for real criminals, and I have to respectfully tell you, no, I’d rather you didn’t.”
That said, I don’t make a big issue out of it. I know perfectly well that for the officer, my saying no is seen as an indication that there may be something here and the officer will be within his rights to say, “Certainly, sir, please stay in the car for just a moment.” They will request the drug-sniffing canine that will walk around the car and might go, “Woof!” or might not go, “Woof!” But either way, it is within the officer’s power to make the next hour much less pleasant than it might have been.
eJournal: In your work as an expert witness for defense attorneys, have you ever had to help explain evidence gathered during a warrantless search that you really wished had not been allowed in to muddy the truth?
Ayoob: No, I really cannot say that I have. Things I’ve seen come in to a case that muddied things, already happened to be at the crime scene. Now, you have to remember that as a private citizen, the single most likely place you are going to be in a shooting is in the home, against a home invasion. Here, the whole home will become a crime scene. If gunshots have been fired inside, we have to check the house to make sure a bullet hasn’t gone through a wall or a floor and that there is not another body in there bleeding out.
Anything that we observe that arouses our suspicions, we can call in and get the judge to issue a warrant, and that is why I tell people, even in the privacy of their own home, not to have weirdo hate literature like The Turner Diaries or stuff like that. You’re going to have the gun collection and stuff, and that is fine. I don’t mind that. In my home, they will find a significant number of firearms, and they’ll find a whole room that is basically a weapons and law enforcement library. If they say, “Are you obsessed with this?” I will say, “No, sir, it is what I do for a living. If I was a doctor, you would probably find a lot of medical texts in there.” As an average person, you can say, “Sir, shooting is my hobby. If it was watch collecting, you would find a lot of watches and a lot of watch books.”
eJournal: Sure! It helps to hear how to explain what could be so easily misconstrued. But what about incidents that are less serious than a shooting in the home? How best to handle an ongoing conflict between neighbors that has escalated into calling the police and they come to interview you?
Ayoob: In that situation, I would say, “Officer, please come in. I would like you to sit down in the living room, and I want to call my attorney real quickly to see if I can get him over here. What is your name, sir? And I’ll need your supervisor’s name, too. I think my attorney may also want to talk with him.”
Basically, the false complaint is something you DO have to consider. This is one reason that for decades, I’ve been telling people, don’t put the NRA bumper stickers and the “They’ll Get The Gun From My Cold, Dead Hands” stickers on the car. That tells anybody who looks at the car that you’re into guns, which means you obviously own a lot of guns, which means if I follow this vehicle home to where it lives, I will find the Mother lode of stealable guns. It also allows the guy in a road rage situation that he has triggered, but now he sees you call police on your phone and realizes he might be in trouble, to think, “Hmmmm… NRA? There is a real good chance that guy has a gun in the car. I’m going to call and say, ‘Hey, this guy in a Ford Explorer just pointed a gun at me. If you search that car, you will find it!’”
There are related concerns I feel about the whole open carry debate and I’m the only one who seems to have brought it up. It accommodates these kinds of whackos who will make false complaints. We’ve all at one time or another had that kind of nutso neighbor whose hobby is neighborhood feuds. It allows people like that to fabricate a complaint. “Officer, she pulled a gun on me!”
“What kind of a gun?”
“It was a two tone colored semi automatic pistol with brown handles and a laser. And she pointed it right at me.”
And he can say that because he has seen that gun on you. Now the cop gets there, and you say, “Hell, I have never pulled a gun on anybody.”
And the cop says, “Do you have a gun on right now?”
And you say, “Yes.” And he says, “Well, what kind?”
And you say, “It’s a two tone, 9mm semi-automatic. Why do you ask?” [laughing] And he answers, “Well, ma’am, we’ll discuss that later. Please put your hands behind your back…”
And, I really don’t like to give people that opening. The only times I ever open carry are on my own property, and I will occasionally do so in the open carry states. For example, last week I carried openly simply because it is one of the things I talk about and write about, and it gives me the opportunity to gauge reaction. I’ve found that 90-some percent of people won’t even notice you’ve got it because that is how few people are observant, and X number will be alarmed and because I don’t want to alarm people unnecessarily, the great majority of the time I keep my weapon discreetly concealed.
eJournal: Good points about not giving someone who would make a false accusation more to work with. That can get real unpleasant, because once law enforcement gets involved in what might before have been merely an argument, YOU become the subject of an investigation.
Ayoob: Welcome to Planet Earth! If you are the person who is complained about by another complainant, you have just become the suspect, like it or not.
eJournal: Can you get out from underneath that?
Ayoob: The key thing is to be courteous. Do not stamp your feet, do not become outraged, do not raise your voice, do not tell the officer, “I know more about your job than you do,” that doesn’t make friends with your doctor, it doesn’t make friends with your accountant, it most certainly is not going to make friends with your local police officer.
eJournal: These are such important strategies for gun owners to think through in advance! And for all levels of problems, not necessarily shooting. For example presenting the gun and having the bad guy leave is what we might consider the most successful use of the gun since we didn’t have to shoot an assailant…
Ayoob: And it is certainly the most common.
eJournal: But still, the police are going to come in the aftermath, if not at our own call, then at the behest of someone else...
Ayoob: [With big grin] …which means it is best if they come at your behest!
eJournal: Isn’t it just?! But seriously, pointing the gun at the other person may constitute the crime of assault if not other offenses. Thanks to your instruction, we understand that we want to limit what we say, but we also want to give an accurate explanation of why we did what we did. How does the detailed discussion with a police investigator a few days afterwards compare to what we should tell responding officers?
Ayoob: A few days after an incident, my attorney and I will probably be sitting down together to speak with the investigator. That will have given me time to put my thoughts together and get everything in sequence. I much prefer that it begin with a statement, delivered by me at the start, and then when they ask questions, I will amplify.
The reason is, the officer will ask questions and just like tonight in this interview, unless you had lots of time, you probably just wrote them down as they occurred to you. Particularly at the scene, the officer will have far less time and as the questions occur to him, he will ask them. Those will be the sequence in which they appear in the notes and it creates the illusion a week later when an overworked cop has time to type it up or six months later when the officer is on the witness stand refreshing his memory, that was the sequence in which you said things occurred. That is why, if we are going to tell the whole story, I want the story to get out once in sequence, on the record, then offer, “Sir, do you have any questions?”
eJournal: Do you think most investigators will go along with how you want the interview to proceed?
Ayoob: My experience is if they will, if your attorney is smart enough to say, “Detective, what I’d like to do is have my client sit down and tell you from beginning to end what happened and he is available for any questions after that. It is just real important to us that the whole sequence is told before any of us start going down any rabbit trails looking for details.”
eJournal: Now, what about the responding officer who arrives on the scene. How much are you going to say to him or her?
Ayoob: I want the bare bones, “Officer, this man attacked me. I’ll sign the complaint. The knife that he dropped is there, by the grate. Please, I’ve been keeping an eye on it myself before someone kicks it down the grate and it disappears. The gentleman in the blue sweater and the lady in the red coat across the street, I had observed them there before the incident occurred, so I’m sure they saw it. Officer, you know how serious this is. You’ll have my full cooperation after I’ve spoken with counsel.”
eJournal: Is this a script we should rehearse and get firmly in mind in case we ever need it?
Ayoob: It is not a script. For decades people were taught to say, “I was in fear for my life,” and that has become so common now, that when cops hear it, they kind of roll their eyes and think, “Oh, crap, someone told him what to say,” because it doesn’t sound like a sincere, spontaneous statement. What I would do would be kind of a preflight checklist, but not the exact words.
Point number one is what I call the active dynamic. What led to the shooting? “This man attacked me, this man attacked my child, this man had the guy down next to the wheelchair and was beating him.”
“I will sign the complaint.” I do use that terminology, because something like, “I’ll press charges,” in one jurisdiction makes you sound like the outraged crime victim, but in some other jurisdiction where the terminology might be such that only the prosecutor can press charges, it sounds like you have delusions of being Chief Prosecutor and your credibility starts going down the chute. So, “I will sign the complaint” is universal.
Point out the evidence; point out the witnesses, and tell the officer, “You’ll have my full cooperation as soon as I’ve spoken with counsel.”
eJournal: And there we have Ayoob’s fivepoint pre-flight checklist. Would it work for lower intensity problems, too?
Ayoob: Exactly. Remember, once the bad guy has run away, you still need to win the race to the telephone and become the victim/complainant. Who ever calls in first gets to be the victim/complainant by default. Who ever calls in second or doesn’t call in, is seen as the suspect.
eJournal: Anymore, it is not like you have to GO to find a phone. Now somebody may have called even while the incident was underway. How does that color police response?
Ayoob: The first one to call still “wins.” Another thing I would suggest: today most of us have phones that can take at least snapshots and video. I would not want to be the one taking the snapshots and the video. It would look like I was a wacko carrying out my own sick homicide production and snuff film. But I would tell anyone with me things like, “Get a picture where he is, pan around here, get everybody who is watching. Get [a picture of] the knife that is lying by the sewer grate. I see there is a spent casing over there from when I fired my pistol. Get a shot of that.”
eJournal: What about chain of evidence? Can you get those pictures and videos into court later?
Ayoob: Did you see the Mehserle trial? [San Francisco transit officer found guilty on July 8, 2010 of involuntary manslaughter for the accidental shooting in an Oakland, CA subway.] To my knowledge, every single person who was taping that encounter on a cell phone, that tape was seen by the jury.
eJournal: How things have changed!
Ayoob: Back in 1996, after the Rodney King thing, we told people, “Live your life as if you are being recorded.” And today, that is more true than ever.
eJournal: I’m not sure the armed citizen can afford to indulge in behavior that arouses suspicion or mistrust.
Ayoob: In many ways we are a closeted minority who are feared and hated by those who do not understand us. That said, we are winning on many fronts. We are seeing improvements: the so-called Castle Doctrine laws, which in most jurisdictions are better seen as Stand Your Ground laws. We have three precedent cases now against the long-standing rule of Federal evidence 404(b) that kept out prior bad acts of your opponent if they weren’t known to you at the time you shot him, so there are some great strides being made.
At the same time, its like two steps forward one step back when you go on the Internet or YouTube and you see these people saying, “Don’t say nuthin’ to the cops,” and stuff like that. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but sometimes I want to yell at the screen, “Then who the hell else is going to tell your side of the story, you dimwit!”
That advice comes from the attorneys who represent people who are guilty criminals and anything they say will either be inculpatory or will be perjury that puts the attorney in a trick bag for suborning perjury by putting them on the stand. If you take the advice of a guilty man’s lawyer who uses a guilty man’s strategy, don’t be surprised if you get a guilty man’s verdict.
eJournal: These are such critical building blocks for the armed citizens’ preparation against the event they hope never happens – using their gun in self defense. Massad, we really appreciate the contributions you have made to this art and science, and for your service to the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. Thank you!
Ayoob: Well, thank you. The Network is going to reach far more people with this necessary message than I ever could, so God bless you for doing it.
Our new 16-page booklet, What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law appears to be a hit. It is still too early to get a firm understanding of the effect this recent publication is going to have on membership levels, but if early trends continue, we should be able to dramatically increase our membership by just giving away this booklet. And, that is vitally important for the success of the Network, since the larger the Network becomes, the more money there is in the Legal Defense Fund to help its members.
If you haven’t yet read the booklet, click here and give it a read – It should only take half an hour or so. The PDF is printable, so I would highly recommend that you print it out and note what date you read it, then put the copy away, along with your other gun-related materials, so in the event you have to ever prove in a court of law that you understood a particular issue which is contained in the booklet, you would have a fighting chance in court to do just that.
The Booklet As a Promotional Tool
The reason I wrote the booklet is two fold. One, of course, is to reach out to people all across the country, so they understand the parameters under which they may legally use deadly force for defense of self or others. Over the last month, the Network has sent over 9,000 booklets out in the mail. These primarily went to our Network Affiliated Instructors, who see the efficacy of including the literature in their class handouts. I sincerely thank you, instructors, for doing this, because I know that your students will read the material, and a certain number of them will understand the value of joining the Network and sign up.
We have also started to send booklets to gun shops across the country, and one of our new promotional activities is to start a new section of the Network website, called Network Affiliated Gun Shops. These are gun shops that have recently affiliated with the Network after receiving copies of the brochures we mailed out “cold” to names off a mailing list of federal firearms licensees.
While that may not be the most efficient way to promote the Network and the booklet project, it appears from initial returns, it will be worthwhile. Still, there is a much better and easier way to get these booklets into the gun shops all across America, and that is with the help of current Network members. You see, if each one of you would print off a couple of copies of the booklet, and introduce it to your favorite gun shop, and ask them to contact us by email to request inclusion in the program, we could instantly get a couple of thousand gun shops involved. That is the power of the type of marketing we are trying to achieve. The very best sales agent for any company is a sattisfied customer, and the men and women who make up the membership of the Network can be that sales agent. Allow me to dream a little here. If we affiliate with 1,000 gun shops over the next year, and each of those gun shops hands out a booklet to each person to whom they sell a handgun (let’s estimate an average of 50 handguns a month) we would be getting the Network message out to 50,000 gun owners each month. Over the course of a year, that is a half a million gun owners who now know about the Network, and what we do.
Do you think that might have a positive effect on membership growth? Now, I know that the majority of gun owners have not really researched and understand the real threat they face from an unmeritorous prosecution or civil suit, but if enough of those people will “get it,” they will join the Network. Even if 2% of 500,000 gun owners receiving the booklet join the Network, we would have over 10,000 members, instead of the 2000+ members we have now. With 10,000 members all contributing to the Legal Defense Fund, the resource from which we could be defending your shooting will swell from its current level of $65,000, to over $250,000. In another year, factoring in renewals and more new members, that fund would swell to over $500,000.
With a half a million dollars in the Legal Defense Fund, the Foundation can fund ANY level of criminal or civil defense you need. We can hire as many experts as we need, hire the best lawyers, jury consultants, investigators and otherwise put on a “Class A” legal defense.
Now, do you know the scary part? Your opposition can already do that! That’s right. Most prosecutors’ offices, if they want to go after you, can spend whatever amount of money and human resources they want to railroad you into jail.
I only want to even the playing field. I don’t want any of our members deciding whether or not they should use deadly force because they are worried about the legal cost afterwards. I want them making that decision based on the elements of Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy, and the Reasonable Man Doctrine. Please join me in helping build the Network so that is a reality. Please download the booklet’s PDF at this link, print out the booklet, take it to your local gun shops, and do a sales job on the owner or manager.
Be sure to tell them that there is NO COST to them if they agree to distribute the booklet. The Network will pick up the entire cost. Then, have them send an e-mail to the address on the brochure requesting inclusion in the list of Network Affiliated Gun shops. Let’s reach our goal. Let’s be free from worry. Thank-you.
Vice President’s Message
Last month I participated in a Glock Armorer’s Course presented by Dennis Tueller. The eight-hour course prepares participants who complete the course and successfully pass the qualification examination to serve as an armorer for Glock pistols.
First, a comment to those who know and see me as a 1911 fan and wonder what the heck I was doing in a Glock course. Yes, I often carry a 1911-style pistol and often use them in classes. However, I started my tactical/selfdefense course training using a Glock 23. I still have it and use it on occasion and have added other Glocks to my gun safe collection and carry gear. When I first started using my Glock, I added the armorer’s course attendance to my personal to-do list, but it was not until just recently that I had the chance to check off this bucket list item.
One reason it took me so long to attend a course is because it’s not easy to qualify as a participant. Many courses are restricted to law enforcement personnel, which I guess is understandable inasmuch as Glock’s primary business is directed to this segment. In fact, Glock claims to have about 65% of the U.S. law enforcement market. Glock dealers are eligible as well as representatives of Glock’s range program or training facilities. A recent addition to the qualifying list is being a member of the Glock Shooting Sports Foundation (www.GSSFonline.com).
Now, a little about the instructor, Dennis Tueller. Yes, it’s THAT Dennis Tueller of the Tueller drill fame. I suspect most of us have completed the “Tueller Drill” in one or more of our classes. He developed the idea of measuring the reaction time required by an individual to draw and respond to the threat from an individual with a contact or edged weapon. As we know from the exercise, the approximate 1.5 seconds of reaction and draw time equals about the time someone can cover 21 feet. Dennis is a very good instructor and certainly knows his Glock stuff, which is why we participate in this course. He has a knack for presenting fairly boring stuff in a way that makes it stick in our memory. He can stimulate a presentation periodically with some humor and knows how, in a polite way, to address-down a student engaged in a disruptive side discussion in a manner that fixes the problem without leaving any scars on the student. Dennis is a polite man and many of us who teach shooting skills, or aspire to do so, would benefit from attending a Dennis Tueller class. It was an added benefit to me to see Dennis in action since he serves on the Advisory Board of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Foundation.
The course began with the obligatory safety lecture and included a restriction that no live ammunition or personal handguns could be in the room. Now, with most of the class being law enforcement officers plus a few civilian concealed carry individuals, I suspect the room was full of personal handguns, maybe averaging 1.5 each. Dennis pointed out that we would be handling working firearms, provided by Glock, with numerous pulls of the trigger, so he could not afford any missteps with live ammunition or other non-distributed firearms. At the first break, most of us returned to our hotel room or automobile to store our personal firearms. There was no need to have your own Glock anyway since Glock provided a firearm (a Glock 22) for use during the course as well as a manual, pin punch and inspection cover to use and to keep after the course. We were reminded that this was a gun class, not a shooting class, thus Dennis had no intention of hearing any loud noises during the day. After returning from each of the breaks we were reminded about the importance of the gun safety elements.
Instruction included a review of the basic pistol operations, correct nomenclature, the safe action system, field stripping, detail disassembly and reassembly, cleaning and maintenance, service procedures, connector and trigger spring options, and troubleshooting. We learned that 78% of the parts of the same caliber pistols are interchangeable, how to conduct various function and safety checks, and a number of the “tricks of the trade,” like using a coffee stirrer straw to insert the slide lock spring.
In summary, the Glock Armorer’s Course was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone seeking added experience with and knowledge about the Glock. The course helps explain and gives attendees a greater appreciation of Gaston Glock’s ingenuity. The training schedule and additional information about the course can be found at www.glocktraining.com.
Affiliated Attorney Question of the Month
We are delighted that, with the support of our affiliated attorney members, we can continue this column designed to introduce our members to our affiliated attorneys. Our goal with this column is to demystify aspects of the legal system for our readers.
This month we started a new series of questions for this column, asking our affiliates the following–
The unknown inspires more terror than even bad outcomes with which we are familiar! Since Network members rarely if ever have contact with the criminal justice system, let’s do what we can to clarify what might happen when a defendant is charged with a crime and has to defend in court a decision to shoot in self defense. For the next few months, we hope to dedicate this column to some of the questions ordinary citizens ask about the process. Here is the first question in this series:
In your experience, after a shooting, how long does the prosecutor or district attorney have before deciding whether to charge a suspect with a crime? In other words, after a shooting how long is the citizen left in limbo before they know if they will be charged with a crime?
The question of being charged with a crime after a shooting raises one of the most intimidating aspects of the post-shooting ordeal. In your jurisdiction, following a serious incident like a shooting, does a grand jury ordinarily evaluate evidence and decide whether or not to indict the suspect? As an advocate for the self-defense shooter, would you prefer that a grand jury make that decision, or in your experience, is justice better served when a prosecutor or DA decides about criminal charges and takes that information to a judge? Why?
Ste. 403, Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030
In Northern Virginia, the initial decision is made by the police, who usually will arrest the person on the spot and take him/her in front of a magistrate who will issue a warrant.
At the preliminary hearing (assuming that the person has been charged with a felony), the prosecutor (Commonwealth Attorney, in Virginia) will then decide whether to go forward with the charge brought by the police, or to amend it, or dismiss it. If it is not dismissed, there is no plea agreement, and the court finds probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the charged offense, the matter will be referred to the grand jury, which will consider the charge within a month or two. If the person is indicted, the trial date will be set within a month or two after the indictment.
I think the matter should be considered by a grand jury. That way, there is some citizen involvement in the charging decision. Also, if the prosecutor does not really want to pursue the case, but fears the political response, he can present the evidence to the grand jury in such a way as to telegraph to the grand jury that they should not indict, and then the prosecutor can divert the political blame to an anonymous grand jury.
We appreciate the contributions our affiliated attorneys make to the Network, including their interesting responses to questions posed in this column. Contact information for our Network affiliated attorneys is linked at the Members page at www.armedcitizensnetwork.org.
Affiliated Instructor Question of the Month
One of the Network’s great strengths is its affiliation with firearms instructors and attorneys. With the goal of introducing more of these professionals to Network members, in this edition, we are delighted to continue the Question of the Month feature with this question:
When your students ask you what to expect after a self-defense shooting, what are the top concerns most commonly expressed?
P. O. Box 385, Camden, TN 38320 1-877-7LETHAL
There are three battles that must be won and they are first the gun battle, second the court battle (criminal and civil) and thirdly the emotional battle (divorce, PTSD, financial burdens, etc.). It should go without saying that the rest won’t matter if you don’t get number one right. As we transition from the gun battle to the court battle we need to understand that the transition is immediate. The legal battle begins as soon as the gun stops recoiling (arguably long before).
You or someone else will call 911. You must understand because of the physical and mental effects of adrenaline that you are under the influence of an intoxicant. Babbling on the phone is not a good idea. Get on the phone and clearly give the location and ask for an ambulance, tell them there has been a shooting and confirm they have the address, and then hang up. They will try to keep you on the phone, hang up. Make a mental note of where “everything” is, meaning weapons and other items that should be collected as evidence. Do not touch anything if you can help it.
At some point the police will arrive on the scene. It is imperative that your gun is virtually anywhere but in your hands; your holster is the best solution. When the police get there face toward them with your palms extended and say “Thank God you are here; I am the one that called.” Having your palms out lets the police see your hands and saying you are the one that called marks you as the victim (or good guy) at least for the moment.
Listen to what the police tell you very carefully and do exactly as they tell you, as soon as they tell you.
At some point an officer will ask you the most dangerous question in your life, “OK, sir, what happened?” Many people think that if the can just convince this cop that they were in the right that they will get a pat on the back and a “Good Samaritan Marksmanship Badge.” That is far from reality. The decision if you will be charged with a criminal act is 15 echelons above this officer’s head. He is merely a reporter taking a report and that is it.
So what should you say to this officer? As little as possible, in my opinion. Having your identification out and ready to hand over will curb the administrative questioning for now. What to say, and what not to say, has been a huge matter of debate for a very long time. It is important for me to reiterate that you are “under the influence” and it is never a good idea to talk to the police when you are intoxicated. It is important to be polite to the officer, though. He is just trying to do a thankless job that has to be done.
The 5th Amendment says that we do not have to incriminate ourselves. It is important you understand how important and how fragile your “right to remain silent” can be. Everything you say before and after you are read your rights will be recorded in some way. My advice to you is to hand the officer your identification, point out any necessary evidence that isn’t in plain sight, and then ask to speak to an attorney. Be clear about it saying something like, “Officer, I will answer all of your questions as soon as my attorney is present.” Again, be polite and courteous. After you invoke your rights, SHUT UP. No talking to anyone or to yourself (recording devices are everywhere).
You will very likely be handcuffed and taken to jail. You may or may not be able to bond out. You can be held for 72 hours without bond for investigative purposes. You should have already chosen a lawyer and your spouse should know how to contact them. You will also most likely have a list of people you would want notified like previous firearms instructors. Your spouse should have all that information and it should be in a place easy for them to find.
There are three battles in front of you. Are you prepared for all three?
Mad Duck, TTC
John D. Farquhar
P O Box 119, West Elkton, OH
9327-787-4414 – http://www.madduckttc.net/
In truth, over 90% seem to think they will be asked a few questions, and that’s about it. They have not put much thought into anything much past getting their license, or getting better with their gun. While we do not give legal advice, we do include in our courses what to say (LFI), and what to expect both from law enforcement and the courts, as well as the possible emotional effects. We also provide them with information about the ACLDN, and stress the point that they need to make preparations for the defense, as well as go to the range.
In the presentation we show them this excerpt, from the article Armed & Alive by Massad Ayoob: “Such responsibility demands a clear and complete understanding of the law, both criminal and civil. It mandates a high level of judgment, and the ability to activate it swiftly. It demands technical skills involving marksmanship and an understanding of firearms and combat ballistics and tactics.”
As I point out to them, the battle they hope they never have will last seconds, but the legal, and emotional aftermath could last for years, and cost a whole lot more than they imagined.
Gun For Hire, LLC
Anthony P. Colandro
75 Rutgers St., 2nd Fl., Belleville, NJ
888-486-3674 – http://www.gunforhire.com
As an instructor with a school in the New York metropolitan area the top concern of my students is always, “Will I be arrested?”
I advise all of my students that yes, you probably will be treated like a criminal and yes, you will be arrested. The students are usually frightened by my answer and that is when we need to delve further into the subject of self-defense law and the castle doctrine or lack of it in our geographic area. It is at this point that I stress to my students that it is better to be alive and fight the slanted criminal justice system then to be dead. I stress to them that that is why we train and educate ourselves and try to prepare so we do not have to use deadly force. I also stress organizations such as the ACLDN to further protect their rights. The majority of students are just plain dumbfounded when they realize the ramifications of exercising such a basic right as self defense.
Larry R. Smith
Foothills Firearms Training Center
P. O . Box 34, Liberty, SC 29657
(864) 630-1883 www.cwpclass.com
Without question the number one concern is their legal status: will they go to jail? In SC the “castle doctrine law” gives citizens some protection against prosecution and civil suit if the use of deadly force is lawful. Events surrounding the use of deadly force may require investigation after the event, which may require arrest of the citizen who used deadly force. After the event is when they start to second guess their actions and want to appear helpful to law enforcement by giving information that could be harmful to their case.
The Gun Guy®
Top concern? “Will I be arrested?”
Owing to the volume of responses, this topic will continue in next month’s journal. We appreciate the contributions of our affiliated instructors of which this shared wisdom is only one part. We hope our members will contact these professionals when they need training, and refer friends and family members to them, as well.
Guns Save Lives
ISBN 1-55950-226-6 168 pages, softbound, $15.95
Network bookstore price to members $12.76
Reviewed by Gila Hayes
Few communication methods teach so well as stories! An audio book I was listening to got me thinking about how gun owners can reach their friends, neighbors and co-workers who have been brainwashed to fear guns and loath those who use them.
It explained how even seriously phobic people can be cured of their irrational fears through exposure to that which they fear, first by true stories or first-person anecdotes illustrating successful interaction with the thing the phobic feared. That description of the power of stories made me realize the value of some of the books in my own collection, including those by Robert A. Waters, who was one of the first to compile in book form stories of crime survivors who may have suffered a very different outcome had they not had a gun.
In 1997, Waters authored the first such compilation under the title The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearms (ISBN 1-888952-97-0). I admired the work then and I still do today. A few years later, in 2002 Waters revisited this genre with a whole new set of stories in Guns Safe Lives. In his introduction, Waters explains, “While researching this book, it struck me that armed citizens have changed history time and time again. How many of us are walking around unharmed because someone with a firearm intervened to spare us the trauma of being robbed, assaulted, raped or even murdered? In many cases, we weren’t aware that we were saved.”
In the first chapter, a violent teenaged intruder shoots an older man and his wife. Both get to their guns and shoot back. The story of their survival, for their determination and will to live saw them through is very instructive.
The famous story of the Mississippi high school principle who used his gun to apprehend a youth with a rifle shooting students in his school is told. In another chapter, a 60-year old university professor uses her .357 Ruger SP101 when intruders break down her door. The story details her reactions—the mixture of determination and nearly incapacitating fear she describes as she defends against an experienced home invasion team.
In the next chapter a pharmacy owner confronts a drug addict/robber. It is followed by a chilling chapter on home invasions, in which many of the subjects are senior citizens who used guns to save their lives inside their own homes, but closes with the story of a wife and mother who was beaten by a would-be rapist until she was able to reach her husband’s gun and fire it.
Waters’ interview with a gun store owner who a robber tried to shoot with his own gun explains the importance of accuracy skills, because after shooting one assailant at close range, he engages a second robber at 25 yards. The story has other twists that make for interesting reading.
Additional stories include that of a man dining with his wife when the restaurant they were patronizing was held up, the story of a woman in a Wal-Mart who draws her Glock and shoots when a robber begins slashing store personnel, and victims of attempted muggings, car jackings, and robberies at convenience stores.
The stories tell the gritty truth about self defense shootings, and the various aspects of an armed defense incident. In the final chapter, a woman shoots one home intruder only to find him still standing, and now with two accomplices. “When I shot him, I thought I missed…It wasn’t like you see on television where they slam backwards and fall. He just stood there.”
Even if Guns Save Lives is eight years old, the lessons its stories emphasize are timeless, those of intended victims going against their very nature to use violence to prevent the atrocities their attackers intended to carry out. Even the author’s afterword consists of vignettes of successful armed self defense, as he argues that much violent crime would be prevented if more Americans possessed the guns, knowledge and skill to defend themselves.
Last month, several prominent firearms publications included articles or columns in which the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network was mentioned as did some online resources. The Network really appreciates the exposure, because it stimulates a lot of discussion with interested gun owners who realize that they may not have what it takes to survive the aftermath of a shooting. These potential members have a lot of questions, and all the lively telephone conversations of the past few weeks compelled me to sit down and outline exactly what the Network does for its members, something we publish in the journal about once a year in hopes of providing a concise and current resource for folks seeking information about Network membership benefits.
The Top Ten Questions
Why isn’t the Network larger?
The Network has been in operation for 2 1/2 years.
In January of 2008 the Network was started from nothing but Network President Marty Hayes’ vision of an organization that would mitigate the hardship faced by survivors who had been forced to shoot in self defense, only to find the power of the criminal justice system arrayed against them. Two additional partners invested in the start up, then all three set about introducing the Network to armed citizens, drawing on existing relationships with gun publications, firearms instructors and manufacturers of firearms and accessories. Though the hours of work invested in the Network have been extensive, the fledgling organization has flourished without incurring any debt, operating on a lean budget while increasing membership benefits.
The Network has deliberately chosen to grow conservatively, at a rate that is sustainable without incurring debt or cutting in to the monies set aside and untouched against the day that a member needs financial help paying legal fees. This means running lean staffing, working long hours, and planning wisely for the long haul. Those strategies, frankly, may not concur with the glut of “get rich fast” advice to which we are all exposed, and I expect some of the criticism that 30 months into its history the Network should be larger stems from the idea that big is the same as successful. The Network is a long-term commitment; we are in it for the long haul. That requires fiscal conservatism and managing a smart, sustainable growth.
Why haven’t I heard about the Network before?
Much of the Network’s growth is directly attributable to the best kind of publicity – word of mouth. Firearms instructors all across the nation have affiliated with the Network, giving our brochure to their students, and explaining what can happen after a self-defense shooting.
The Network now also provides a new 16-page, informational booklet outlining the parameters under which use of deadly force is legally justifiable. See the President’s Column in this journal for more information. In addition to distribution by our affiliated instructors, in July we mailed copies of the booklet to gun shops across the U.S. with the offer to provide copies gun sellers can give to their customers at no cost. As a satisfying side-benefit, the booklets do good work, helping those who receive them avoid legal problems and understand more about when using deadly force is justifiable and what to expect from the criminal justice system afterwards.
Finally, we augment these outreach efforts by using the gun media to spread the word. Exploiting Hayes’ standing in the gun industry, our first publicity came from articles published in targeted firearms magazines and these have informed gun owners about the Network, recruiting new members with a minimum of cash outlay during the Network’s start-up period. Now, selective advertising reaches out to targeted markets, using the Internet and magazines.
Will the Network assign me an attorney?
No! About the same time that the Network was getting started, a spate of pre-paid legal plans sprang up owing to the flurry of new state concealed carry laws. Not surprisingly, a lot of folks thought the Network was just another pre-paid legal plan, despite our protests that nothing could be further from the truth! We seem to be succeeding in getting the word out, because that question hasn’t come up in a long time.
There still remains, however, considerable confusion about Network affiliated attorneys. Some think if they join the Network an affiliated attorney will be assigned to them; that is not the case. Others think they can go to an affiliated attorney for free advice; this is not true, either.
So what is the case? Network affiliated attorneys are lawyers with whom Network President Marty Hayes has personally corresponded or spoken, who he is assured understand the kind of legal representation the armed citizen needs as soon as possible after a shooting, and who agree to be listed in the directory of Network affiliated attorneys. Many of these affiliates also contribute to the education of Network members by sharing their knowledge through the popular Attorney Question of the Month column that is a regular feature in the Network’s monthly membership journal.
The listing of Network Affiliated Attorneys is an exclusive resource for Network members, who are seeking a gun-friendly attorney in their state, or in a state in which they are traveling. Members access it by logging in to the Network website using the account established for them when they joined. Network President Marty Hayes continues to add affiliates to that list and presently, there are 48 affiliated attorneys in 27 states. That leaves about half of the States currently without affiliates and the difficulty in filling these gaps concerns us.
To address that need (as well as anticipating other needs a member may have after being in a shooting) the Network extends the parallel benefit of its “Boots on the Ground” program through which a member or their representative can request on-scene assistance from a Network official. Network members are given a private cell phone number that reaches Hayes directly, with explicit instructions for use only when requesting post-shooting assistance. That number is announced in the member’s only portion of the website at http://www.armedcitizensnetwork.org/boots-on-the-ground along with instructions about what information to give in that phone call. If the member does not have Internet access, they should telephone the Network offices during business hours at 360- 978-5200 and request a copy of this information in the mail.
“I want an attorney to respond to the scene of a shooting to talk with the police for me.”
Finally, on the topic of attorneys, many non-member callers indicate that they would like to join an organization that could provide an attorney who could be at the scene of the shooting during initial contact with law enforcement. This simply is not realistic. It would require an attorney who lives nearby, who never leaves town and does not have the glut of work common to successful law firms! Realistically, some hours may pass before you can discuss your situation with a lawyer. It’s an intimidating thought, so knowing that, the Network provides education for our members to prepare in advance to best get through this difficult time.
Network members receive a number of educational materials teaching how to deal with law enforcement at the scene of a shooting and during the process that follows. First-year members receive three educational DVDs, the second of which is entirely dedicated to this topic. Network members need to review those foundational programs periodically to keep the principles clearly in mind. Then, when you are able to explain events to an attorney – be that from the jail or by going to their office if you are not being held – the attorney will have fewer problem areas to mitigate because the member handled the situation as well as possible.
Are Network affiliated attorneys criminal defense experts?
Some of the Network affiliated attorneys work in areas of law that are not tightly focused on criminal defense, while for other affiliates, their practice is entirely the defense of people who are charged with crimes. This factor has worried some members. What you need to understand is that the attorney who is present during the initial police interviews that follow a shooting and who may assist your family in posting bail if required, arrange for a private investigator to do an independent investigation into the circumstances of your shooting and other early-days tasks may well not be the advocate best suited to argue your case should the State file charges against you after a shooting.
Obviously, it is in everyone’s best interests that the Network learn of the member’s situation as soon as possible after a shooting. That may happen when an attorney calls to request the $5,000 deposit against fees that is a benefit of Network membership. Alternatively, the member or someone they appoint may call following a self-defense shooting to request that a Network official respond to the member’s location. In either case, the Network’s leaders and experts will work with the attorney, to the extent that the attorney allows, providing expertise and guidance drawn on long years of experience. Ultimately, though, while the Network will offer resources and expertise to your defense team, the decisions about how a case is conducted will rest with the member, as is only right.
Why would I need the Network’s assistance if I have insurance?
As mentioned above, one Network membership benefit is a deposit against attorney’s fees of $5,000 immediately advanced to fund critical tasks as soon as possible after a shooting. The initial funding may be followed by grants of financial assistance if needed to defend against prosecution later on.
As we understand it, insurance to cover the legal costs of defending a shooting only pays out after a verdict is returned in favor of the insured. The Network comes at the problem from the opposite direction, participating in the member’s defense as quickly as possible, intending first to prevent prosecution altogether, and when that is not avoidable, bringing the strength of the Network to the member’s defense, to balance the fight as much as is possible.
Do I need the Network’s assistance if I have a pre-paid legal plan?
This is a decision the individual will need to make, and factors that should be considered in that decision include the expertise of the attorney your pre-paid legal plan assigns to your case, and access to assistance if you are involved in a shooting while traveling since some prepaid legal plans are not entirely national, restricted by their ability to function only in states in which they are licensed to do so.
In choosing between prepaid legal plans or joining a mutual-aid group like the Network, the individual needs to weigh the benefits of the Network’s philosophy of an immediate and vigorous campaign after the shooting to show that what the member did was lawful and necessary. These initial efforts are funded by the $5,000 deposit against attorneys’ fees. If, despite these early efforts, charges are brought, the member can apply for a grant of financial assistance to help defray additional legal fees, though we cannot guarantee that there will be enough in the grant fund to fully pay all attorney’s costs, especially while the Network is still relatively young.
Non-member requests for assistance
One of the most heart-rending aspects of answering the Network phones is talking with men and women who desperately want the Network’s assistance, but are not members. Many believe the Network is a charitable organization that will just send them a contribution, and others ask how much financial assistance they can expect if they join now. However, since the Network’s resources are the direct result of membership dues and membership participation, we feel a serious responsibility to preserve and grow those funds for the protection of Network members and are unable to offer help to non-members.
Gently rebuffing such requests is rather grim, and sometimes we try to explain the situation using the analogy of someone calling the AAA driving club for roadside assistance before they have joined.
Concerns about the Advisory Board’s decision-making role in granting financial assistance.
As you know, 25% of membership dues and 100% of corporate contributions are banked by the Foundation and untouched until a Network member needs financial assistance to pay the costs of a legal defense. Requests for such assistance are decided by the Foundation’s advisory board, and that group determines the level of financial assistance, as well as the suitability of participating financially in defending the incident in question, in case there is doubt about the legality of the actions taken.
Investing the Advisory Board with the responsibility to conscientiously manage the monies held by the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Foundation for the legal defense of Network members was one of the first organizational decisions the Network undertook. Critical decisions about when to grant financial assistance, as well as how much money can be offered to the member, are among the most serious responsibilities we owe Network members.
In assigning this decision-making authority to the Advisory Board, the Network enlisted the expertise, knowledge and understanding of Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, Tom Givens and Dennis Tueller, to which is added input from Network officers Marty Hayes and Vincent Shuck who serve on the Advisory Board in an ex officio capacity.
One advantage of bringing leaders in the self-defense field into the decision-making process is that it provides a way to assure members that their dues won’t be used to fund the defense of a criminal who committed murder or manslaughter. Early in the Network’s history, that was a question that arose over and over again. The answer is that Foundation resources are granted only after leading experts in the field of use of force in self defense have studied the facts of the case and recommend that granting assistance is appropriate in light of all the facts.
How much can I get from the Foundation after a shooting?
Many callers want the Network to behave like an insurance company, which is patently impossible, since the Network’s services are not insurance! They ask, “What are the payouts, loss limits, co-payments?” Until people understand that the Network does not provide insurance nor does its benefits have anything in common with insurance, they remain frustrated because we cannot quote exact amounts for monetary payouts.
While it is thoroughly understandable that in striving to find ways to control what they fear may be a terrible time in which they have little control over their future, members and potential members need to understand that the Network will provide as much assistance as is possible at the time of the incident. Balancing the responsibility to one member in immediate need against the possibility that a second member could need help a day later, the Network can currently offer grants up to half of the balance of the legal defense fund. As that fund grows, the amount of assistance available expands and will continue to do so.
The Network is grateful that so far none of our members have needed help – financial or otherwise – in a court case following a self-defense shooting. That has allowed the legal defense fund to grow to $65,000 at the time of this writing. We think that speaks highly for the discretion and care practiced by Network members, who have taken the educational side of their preparation seriously, and thus managed to avoid becoming entangled in a conflict that escalated until they had no choice but to use a gun to survive.
To rewrite the old Avis advertising slogan, “We Try Harder,” the Network leadership knows that a young, fiscally lean organization has to work harder, not just to build up the organization, but also when the mission of defending its members arises, to commit our own personal time and individual hard work along with the level of financial assistance that is available at that time, to achieve the best results for our member.
I’ve never been comfortable with the word “try.” It doesn’t really suggest success or achievement, so for the Network, our slogan is, “We work harder.”