By Sheriff Jim Wilson
One of the many killings that I investigated while serving as a Texas peace officer involved two men who were related by marriage. Both were armed with handguns. The soon-to-be-deceased was trespassing on the other man’s home property and was the first to start shooting. It was such an open & shut case that we didn’t even arrest the survivor, merely took his statement and filed our report with the district attorney.
In Texas any unattended death, especially a violent one, must go before the grand jury to determine if a crime has been committed. The citizen did everything he could to hang himself. Against my advice, the district attorney’s advice, and his own lawyer’s advice, this fellow was talking like a tough guy, a modern-day gunfighter. The 12-person grand jury was so appalled that they seriously considered indicting him and forcing him to stand trial. The simple truth is that your mouth can get you in trouble.
Here’s an example from this case: District Attorney: “At what point did you become afraid that your life was in danger?” Citizen: “I never was afraid of that SOB! He never could outshoot me! I told him to come on and try if he felt lucky.”
In the aftermath of a violent encounter, it is human nature that we feel angry and scared. And, under those conditions we are likely to say things that we probably shouldn’t. That is the reason that armed citizens are advised to have an attorney present during questioning.
However, it is just as important to be careful of what we say in the normal course of our everyday lives. Under certain circumstances these comments can be brought into court as evidence. And I cringe to see some of the comments that people make on social media as to what they would do to anyone who placed their lives in danger.
Even something intended as a joke might be taken out of context and also might not sound so funny when related to a jury. Bragging about how dangerous you are is really not a good idea; it may come back to bite you.
Deciding to carry a defensive handgun is really all about changing one’s lifestyle. We should, at the same time, be making a concerted effort to act like civilized human beings. It should be crystal clear that the violent attack that was visited upon us was not encouraged by us, nor was it something that we looked forward to in any form or fashion. We should appear to be reluctant participants, and we should actually be reluctant participants.
Thanks to Shooting Illustrated for this post.