Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today was a good day for learning. I’m writing this about a week before it posts, but I just returned from a safety training day to obtain my Concealed Handgun Permit. They used to be called “Concealed Carry”, but some moron apparently assumed their license applied to concealing a machete through the streets so now they’re being a little more obvious in the name. Anyway, I learned several things in the class, the first of which being that I have a crush on the instructor. Not that I’ll do anything about it. After all, I know that she carries.
I’ve written on gun safety in the past, and although I should soon have the license, I have no intention of carrying my gun in public. But the permit does cover me if I’m carrying a gun to or from a gun range (of which I’m now a member because of that aforementioned crush) and makes (in my state anyway) purchasing additional handguns far easier. But I actually did learn a lot. In fact, I would go so far as to highly recommend taking courses such as this whether or not they are required just to keep yourself fresh on the laws and current theory.
One of the things that I did not think about is the concept of the “code word”. The instructors pointed out that if you do use your weapon, even in self-defense, you will be arrested. There is no “if” or “but”, whether or not your attacker survives or escapes. Don’t take it personally; the police are going into a blind situation where they know guns are present. Regardless of what you said to dispatch or shout, they have no way of knowing if you’re being honest, so yes, you will be arrested, and the gun will be taken. Yes, you will the thrown to the ground. Yes, you will be handcuffed. Try very hard not to think of it as kinky.
The “codeword” comes into play so you can communicate quickly and safely with your loved ones. It can be anything but tell your partner you will say one word and one word only, and that word is…well, whatever you decide upon. You want to be careful NOT to explain what happened. Everybody and their cat has a mobile device, the police have body cams and open microphones, ANYTHING you say can be used against you, and a recording will just make matters worse. If you’re upset and sound angry, that will be used to show a negative state of mind. So, lay out a plan.
If I call and say “Smitty”, I will say nothing else. I’ll say it once and quickly hang up. Understand that this means a few things; first, I’ve been or will be arrested. Second, assume that since I could call and had the state of mind to use the code word, I AM FINE. Don’t ask me to explain, don’t ask. I’m fine. Third, DON’T TALK TO ANYBODY.
Yes, if you’re involved in a shooting, there will be press, there will be friends even with the best of intentions asking after you…just don’t talk to anyone. Have some kind of standard answer. “We cannot discuss it now but will make a statement through the lawyer.” Yes, even to your own mother.
There is this “good guy” instinct that kicks in. “If I have nothing to hide, why shouldn’t I be talking?” Remember that attorneys, both criminal and personal injury, will be involved. I’ve worked with attorneys long enough to know that their mindset, if they’re not working for you, is to find anything that they can to make you look bad and make you the bad guy. If you say that you shot somebody, they’ll spin that in court. “You didn’t say you were defending yourself. If it was self-defense, why didn’t you tell dispatch that?” In a situation where you have to use your gun, you’re not thinking right. Adrenaline is high, your heart is racing, you may not even remember what you said later on and that could be used against you as well.
On that list with the code word, include a list of other people that should be contacted and instructed not to talk, even without news (parents, children, loved ones). Include in the list of people to contact the personal attorney. If I’m being processed, I may be losing precious time in contacting my attorney, and believe me, the police are finely polished in their skills to get you to talk. And, in that list with the code word, include care for children and pets.
And believe me, this little post barely scratches the surface. Take a course. Be informed.