Solid advice from a career cop who respects the 2A on how to prepare and what to do when Cops armed with a ERPO (Emergency Risk Protection Order) come knocking at your door.
I am a big believer in knowing the Self-Defense Laws of your specific state and locality.
After you read this article, do a search for your specific state and read up on the Self-Defense Laws pertaining to the Defense of Property. All states vary in how a citizen can respond.
For example in Texas, according to TX Penal Code 9.42, I can use Deadly Force to prevent arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft DURING THE NIGHTTIME and criminal mischief DURING THE NIGHTTIME.
Know the Law! because I guarantee you when something like this occurs, the only person you will be able to rely on is YOU.
Here is a good basic primer on what to do AFTER a self-defense shooting, although I highly recommend you don’t stop there.
The legal fight AFTER the shooting is one of the areas most all armed citizens fail to read up on. Be on the lookout for book and article recommendations.
Stay Alert, Stay Armed, Stay Informed and Stay Dangerous!
One of the most neglected and under-stated subjects regarding Civilian Operator training is the legal aspect of self-defense. It not only behooves the CO to be well versed in their particular states Self-Defense laws and statutes, but also to be aware of HOW Self-Defense trials are conducted, and often how POLITICS and other un-related social issues, can impact the verdict. Most people think that the fight for one’s life is over once the threat has been neutralized, but in most cases, and as this story shows, the fight for your life is only just beginning.
I will not waste your time re-hashing the details of the Wafer case, but instead I wanted to go over four primary things the CO can learn as cautionary lessons from this case so they do not make the same mistakes. Now I know hindsight is always 20/20 in cases like these, and experience has taught me that no matter the degree of training or coaching a person goes through, when people are under severe stress, mistakes can and will happen, All we can do as RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS is to hope for the best, prepare for the worst and try to stack the odds for success in our favor.
Some of you who have been following this case, like myself, may have noticed that in Michigan, where this case occurred, as we do here in Texas, they have the Castle Doctrine as law. Why then did it not work as a defense then? After all a man’s home is his castle right? Doesn’t a person have the right to defend themselves in their home and on their own property? Yes, according to the law, all this is true, but that fact alone is NEVER justification for the use of lethal force. Several other very important factors must corroborate together to form justification to use lethal force to protect oneself.
Nothing can go further in a self-defense case in proving your innocence that PROMPTLY calling 911 either before, during or after the incident. First, it shows law enforcement that you are truly frightened, need help and are not trying to conceal your actions. Second, it acts as evidence. Many times, as in the Zimmerman/Martin case, if the call is placed before or during the event, the audio of the episode can corroborate the testimony of the complaintant. Third, (and this is a stretch), there is the possibility that law enforcement are close by to physically assist. In this instance, Wafer testified the reason he did not call was that he looked for his cell phone, but could not find it in the darkness. Not calling 911 immediately never bodes well for the complainant (the CO). Consider the recent Smith Case in Minnesota where the police were not called until the NEXT DAY by a friend of Smith.
All of us were taught when we started shooting to ALWAYS IDENTIFY OUR TARGET AND THE BACKGROUND before we pull the trigger. Wafer claimed he thought more than one person was banging on the outside of his house, when in fact it turned out to be an unarmed woman. Not that this fact makes it any less of a threat, because at that moment, to Mr. Wafer he was in fear for his life. But always consider HOW SOMETHING WILL APPEAR to a DA or a jury. What they see in this instance is a scared man irresponsibly shooting through a door with a shotgun in a residential neighborhood, not knowing who or what is on the other side. Add to this that firing through any medium, be it a wall or door, especially with a shotgun loaded with buckshot, is inherently dangerous for both the shooter and any bystanders due to penetration and ricochet issues.
One of the crucial pieces of evidence the prosecution used against Wafer was that he gave two conflicting reasons for the shooting. When police arrived, Wafer told them it had been an “accident” and he did not intend to shoot Mcbride. But in court, Wafer testified he shot Mcbride in “Self-Defense”. Below Massad Ayoob gives some decent pointers on what to do when Police arrive after a Self-Defense shooting. Although I don’t always agree with Ayoob in his techniques, in this instance, since he is Law Enforcement, he can give you the best advice for this kind of scenario.
In the end, Mr. Wafer was convicted of 2nd Degree Murder, Involuntary Manslaughter and committing a felony with a Firearm. At sentencing, Wafer faces Up to Life in prison for the 2nd Degree Murder charge, A maximum penalty of 15 years for the Involuntary Manslaughter charge and a Mandatory 2 Years for the Felony with a Firearm charge. It in imperative for the CO, if he or she is going to be well versed in their state’s particular legal system, to understand WHY Wafer was convicted of 2nd Degree Murder versus say 1st or 3rd Degree Murder and WHY a Self-Defense Defense did not work.
CULPABILITY is the differing “mental states” of the accused during a crime. In a 2nd Degree Felony Offense, Mr. Wafer (the accused) is said to have acted “knowingly”; meaning he acted with awareness to his conduct is reasonably certain to cause the death of the victim (McBride). This is to say the Prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Wafer that night did not act with INTENT TO KILL (that is 1st Degree Murder), but rather KNOWINGLY proceeded with his actions knowing it would kill.
Now for a Self-Defense Defense to this charge to be valid, the following must apply:
In addition to the other mistakes we discussed above,the last 2 bullet points are what sunk Mr. Wafer according to a jury of his peers. They believed that Mcbride beating on Mr. Wafer’s door at 4:30 in the morning did not create “a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm” to Mr. Wafer. They also believed that a highly intoxicated person beating on your door DOES NOT require “immediate action” in order to prevent bodily harm or loss of life. Taking everything into consideration in this authors opinion, and despite all of Mr. Wafers mistakes, Mr. Wafer got a bad verdict. I can see the Involuntary Manslaughter charge, but nothing else.
In closing guys, a self-defense shooting is never going to be pretty and unless we make it a priority NOW to prepare ourselves for these unfortunate events, our freedom, like Mr, Wafers, could be taken from us and the rest of our lives flushed down the toilet.
Stay Real, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!
It came to my attention during a recent series of drills that there are certain things MOST gun schools teach people that are regarded as necessary and prudent, but in reality are just uneccessary movement. We should always seek in our training to do MORE with LESS, to trim off any movement or action that is not efficient. One of these is SCANNING after THE FIGHT IS OVER.
You watch any person that has received any type of modern firearms training, and you will see this maneuver: They engage the target, then with a turn of their head, look left, then right, then they may check their six. Ask youself this question: You have just been in a violent encounter..you have had to shoot a person to stop them from killing you or a loved one, you now want to look around (scan) to ensure he has no buddies lurking to back him up, do you think it is prudent to just simply LOOK with your eyeballs or SCAN with that THIRD EYE, your weapon and be ready to shoot again quickly?
You have to use probability here, wolves run in packs, you have just took down one; the chances that you will have to fire again are pretty high, so we need to be ready to do just that. If we follow the protocol taught by 95% of the “gun school” dogma, we will not be ready to break that shot..we will have our feet planted like a statue, the gun at the low ready (or SUL) with the safety engaged (if applicable to that model) and only our head turned in the direction of the threat. This is Bad and will get you killed. Press rewind and then pause.
You just killed a BG. Keeping the weapon at the (up) ready position and the safety still off, your finger inside the trigger guard and on the trigger with no pressure,with the weapon lowered just enough where your field of vision is not impaired (to gain a sight picture all that is required is 1/2″ of upward movement with the weapon) you swing around 360 degrees slowly, your feet are in a power stance, ready to move, you scan the entire area. You now have three “eyes” scanning…two eyeballs and the barrel of your weapon. If no threat is found, and when you feel the situation is secure, safe the weapon and go to low ready.
You will find when you apply this technique, your speed (time on target) will dramatically increase, only becasue you are “pre-setting” every thing that is required to get those hits. You body is already squared off to target, your vision is focused to the threat, sights and muzzle are already in the general direction of the threat, all that is required is a “Type 2” or “Flash Sight Picture” to get the hits. Depending on distance and proximity of target, you may just have to super impose the front sight aperture on the target or you may need a traditional sight picture..whatever the case, you are ready to break the shot.
I need to interject something here that alot of people seem to glaze over. The issue of COVER. If you have just been on the winning end of a violent encounter, there is a good chance you will be behind some type of cover, because gunfights do not happen in a static vacuum and people do not stand still when shot at! If you are behind cover, STAY THERE! You can repeat the above scanning process right where you are at.
In closing, we need to apply this formula to all areas of our training. Wasted movement for the sake of just going through the “motions” is stupid. Examine this next time you train and when you find wasted movement, flush it and examine how you can make it more efficient. It could save your bacon some day!