The Real Cost of Self Defense

This is a discussion on The Real Cost of Self Defense within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Reading through many of these threads, I see over and over again posters talking about shooting to protect the store clerk, another 3rd party or ...

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Thread: The Real Cost of Self Defense

  1. #1
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    The Real Cost of Self Defense

    Reading through many of these threads, I see over and over again posters talking about shooting to protect the store clerk, another 3rd party or personal property. Even though it may be legally justified, are you aware of what it could cost you to defend yourself in the aftermath of a shooting. I know we would not have a 2nd thought about shooting, to protect ourselves or a loved one, that's why we carry. I'm talking about 3rd parties and/or personal property, whichever your state would allow.

    Texas is one of the most gun friendly states around and allows the use of deadly force to protect property and 3rd parties in certain situations, more freely than most other states. Texas has a castle doctrine law and no duty to retreat. Texas even has a no civil liability law, if you are justified in shooting. Still, all shootings in Texas are referred to a County Grand Jury, to see if the shooter is to be charged or "no-billed" (means justified shooting, no charges). Costs for legal representation to get you through the grand jury stage will probably run $5,000-$15,000 depending on the shooting circumstances. No matter what state you live in, if you shoot someone you are going to incur substantial legal costs to have counsel, to the point of having it declared a justifiable shooting. I doubt you can get by for any less, wherever you are. I don't know about you, but finding that kind of money laying around, would be real hard for me to come by these days.

    Now let's factor in the intangibles, the things we don't think about. We live in a sheepish society and the media is typically not or friend, so there will be repercussions. How are your spouse and kids going to deal with the aftermath? How are you going to deal with the media hanging around your house? How will your spouse feel about, you or them, having to take that second job to pay off the 2nd mortgage, you had to take out to pay the attorney? How are you going to react when your spouse, whose is not real keen on CCW starts with, "We wouldn't be in this mess, if you didn't go around carrying that stupid gun, playing Superman", or "You didn't even know that clerk and now we're going to lose everything". Many marriages break up over less stressful and traumatic circumstances, especially if you don't share the same views about CCW. How are you going to deal with it, when your kid comes home crying because everyone's calling Daddy a killer? What if you have to sell your home and move? How will your spouse and kids feel when they have to leave their school and friends behind? What about your job? How's your boss going to feel when the media keeps showing up at your job wanting to interview you? You may very well become the victim of a "sudden reduction in work" and get laid-off. These are very real possibilities. I have seen some of these things happen in real life, to good people. Joe Horn sold his home and moved after he was cleared. Remember, every bullet has a lawyer and a price tag attached to it and neither is cheap.

    So considering everything I've brought up, do you still think you would still react to the "shooting to protect the 3rd party/personal property" scenario by pulling the trigger? Or have I given you something to think about?
    "Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States can't make it without Texas!".... Sam Houston

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    Distinguished Member Array SpringerXD's Avatar
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    I'm in Tennessee and the laws here are very similar. You bring up some excellent points.

    There might be family and/or friends who want to confront you for "closure." As in, they want to question you and have you explain yourself and possibly do so with a very accusatory tone. Who needs that?

    There might be an actual lawsuit for wrongful death or whatever. Who needs that?

    Most people who have had to shoot someone have talked about nightmares. Who needs that, either?

    As far as I'm concerned, my CCW is for self-defense, which of course also applies to those near me. I would only get involved in a 3rd-party situation if it was extremely clear, like someone mowing down kids on a playground or the like.

    I would also think long and hard about shooting to protect property. There's a difference between someone running away with my belongings and someone bursting through my front door. Even if the former is technically and legally justified, I would have to ask myself if I'm willing to deal with the aftermath.
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    Distinguished Member Array jumpwing's Avatar
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    This is the one that hit home for me:

    How are you going to react when your spouse, who is not real keen on CCW starts with, "We wouldn't be in this mess, if you didn't go around carrying that stupid gun, playing Superman", or "You didn't even know that clerk and now we're going to lose everything".
    But the questions you pose are some of the many questions I've taken the time to ponder. Whatever decision you make must be the right decision for you, because you may end up living with the results of it for the rest of your life.

    Good post!
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    First, I have a very close personal friend who was involved in a "3rd person" shooting in a Las Vegas restaurant about 5 years ago. A drug-addled man was going to cut the throat of waitress (ex-girlfriend) and he shot the man in the back.

    None of what you mentioned above happened to him. My friend spent the rest of the night in jail while the police sorted out the details. The district attorney decided the shooting was justified and decided not to file charges. The media ignored the shooting, noone tried to interview him at home or at work.

    I'm sure that those things can and do happen on occasion but it's certainly not every time.

    Finally, one can make whatever decisions one wishes. My moral compass will not allow me watch a definitively innocent person because of my own inaction. I won't shoot over property, and I won't intervene in a mutual fist-fight or an obvious gang fight. I'm also going to refrain in a stop-n-rob robbery unless I'm sure someone is going to die. With my personal belief structure however, I know I wouldn't be able to live with myself if my direct inaction lead to the death of an innocent person, regardless of the monetary cost. My wife and I have discussed this and she agrees. Additionally, while I couldn't fault someone for not taking the inherent risk involved in intervening, I would hope that if it were my wife, mother, or loved one in trouble I would hope someone else would intervene.
    "Life exists at a level of complexity almost beyond our ability to comprehend. It's a well known fact that if you try to take apart a cat to see how it works one of the first things you have on your hands is a non-working cat" - Douglas Adams

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    If you think it's cheaper to leave your gun at home and die,
    when trouble sprouts up before you,
    go right ahead.

    Did somebody force you to buy a gun, get a carry license, and get further training?

    I'm a big fan of not buying somebody else's trouble. I just don't fool myself that Armed robbers' only agenda is just some quick money, and I don't delude myself that I can make myself invisible.

    When you are IN the suck, saving your life will cost what it will cost. It may be your assets, it may be your marriage.

    Do you want to be alive to second guess your decision, or do you want to prone out and kiss the dirty floor before your brain explodes?

    If you really WOULD rather be dead than face the POSSIBLE trouble which may ensue, then DIE. But quit pretending if every imaginable scenario is answered with, "but I might trigger a shootout, I might be WRONG, I might go to prison for a million years, I might get sued, my mommy won't like me!"

    The more you indulge defeatism, the more you hesitate, the less likely you are to survive a real situation.

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    I have survived the real situation as an LEO, both on duty and off. Their are no winners in a gunfight, only survivors. My intent has not been to offend or enrage anyone. If I have I am sorry. I only brought these points up so some of the members here who may not have been exposed, to what can happen in the aftermath of a shooting, have an idea of what they might face.

    Each one of us, must make or own choices about how we will act in any given situation. I don't believe in looking for trouble or being the hero. I have retired and don't carry a badge anymore. I carry to protect me and mine. My only intent is to get home alive at the end of the day.

    I wouldn't let the BG shoot the clerk, but I would wait to the last possible second, when I think things have turned sour, before shooting. No warning, no commands, just action.
    "Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States can't make it without Texas!".... Sam Houston

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    Distinguished Member Array jumpwing's Avatar
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    Even if the things you outlined are no more than unusual "worst case" scenarios, they're still worth pondering. After all, one of my motivations for becoming a gun owner (and carrier) is because I accept the possibility of ending up in a worst case scenario. I think most people on this board have this as one of their motivators, too.
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    The more you indulge defeatism, the more you hesitate, the less likely you are to survive a real situation.
    I will take exception to this statement.

    My wife and I were talking about possible "Shoot/No Shoot" situations when I am off duty. I described one scenario and how I would respond to it. She told me, "That is one of the very few times I have ever heard say you will shoot."

    You see, for some of us it's not defeatism, or hesitation. It's about making sure that we are not only 100% correct in our actions, but that it is an absolute last resort.

    TX-JB has started a very thought provoking post, for some. For others of us, we have already arrived at our conclusions, and can be content that our choices are the proper ones for us.

    It's easy to sit at a keyboard and say what one will do. The proof is in the puddin' as they say. The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. The more I see and expirience, the greater my pool of knowledge.

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    Last edited by BikerRN; October 5th, 2009 at 12:54 PM. Reason: typo

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    I have survived the real situation as an LEO, both on duty and off.
    You as a LEO, are held to a different standard when intervening in 3rd party shooting scenarios. The common CCW is not. They are carrying their gun for self defense only. As in ONLY. Yes, there are laws in some states that justify 3rd party shootings but in general the average CCW is not. Since you are a LEO and it is your job to protect the innocent you would be looked at differently in court if said shooting took place. I dont envy you for this one bit.

    This is full of excellent points on the way things are as opposed to how they should be. Unfortunately the lawyers have got everyone by the cojones and have made this world into a CYA nation. (lawyers do good stuff too I hear)

    With all that goes on these days I sometimes wonder why I conceal carry to begin with. If I ever end up in a shooting my donkey is going to be on the line for a good while. I will have to turn over my gun, maybe spend a while in jail, all because everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

    I recognize that all CCWs are not an organized army against evil. I recognize that society's social contract to wrongdoing has been bulldozed by the legal system. I also recognize that if average Joe CCW has to defend his life by using his weapon his life is going change in more ways than just financially. I have noticed in these days of new age legalities that you are better off killing someone than wounding them but we shoot to stop, right?

    It would make sense to me that not defending that store clerks life for him just because it could save you 5000 dollars and that clerk ends up getting killed because of your inaction, it could be related to killing someone for 5000 dollars. Whats worse, defending others or being a contract killer. (yes I understand, very extreme)

    It is the times that our laws of society and our own moral code bring out the best in some, the worst in others, and the media telling lies about it all the next day.

    The OP has a valid point. It rings more true today than it ever has. There is nothing to be gained by helping others anymore. Good intentions are the foundation of your next defense in court because you are getting sued by Joe Somebody because you helped him change his tire and a lug nut wasnt tight enough and the wheel fell off the car and Joe Somebody bruised his noggin.

    Liabilities are another good general point. Liability is the foundation of the tort law system. It is the reason you should not ask your neighbors to help roof your house and it is the reason you should just let yourself be killed instead of killing that knife wielding tough coming your way. It is the reason you really shoud not even have children since everyone else can raise your kids for you and if you dont do it this way, then it is the wrong way and your going to lose your kids.

    There are scarcely ever any great stories written about the brave men who have died for the hope that one day good will overcome evil. The fear of death has beat us all into submission over doing what is actually right. The legal system has supported us in this role more than ever and government policies have changed to reflect this as well. Any story written about a person who, instead of submitting decided to actually fight back. Ill tell you what. I do know of a story where brave people were killed because they fought back.

    It worked for Flight 93. I wonder if it could have worked for 11, 77, and 175 as well.
    Last edited by earlthegoat2; October 5th, 2009 at 10:41 AM.

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    Excellent points to ponder, and having to make a decision to defend yourself is something that may require a 2 second thought process...am I going to be judged by 12 or carried by six?
    For the very points you bring up, many here advise being a 'good witness', and those who think being a good witness is the same as being a 'weenie'...well, please reread post #1.
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    To the OP, Then the title should read,, "The Cost of A Third Person Shooting" Not the Cost of Self Defense.. Self Defense your person, Your wife, Your Family, To the third person shooting, Be a good witness, If you really don't think someone will die, But if they do can you live with yourself? Knowing you could have sent them home to their family alive and well? With your training and your weapon, You hear alot about sheepdogs,, I am here to protect, my self, my family, won't shoot over property, But if someone would certinly die,, I would have to shoot. just my .02 cents thanks

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    Where do you get your figures from, that is the $5,000 to $15,000 for taking it to the Grand Jury?

    I see a lot of figures floating around on the forums, and some of those state that pulling the trigger will cost you between $50,000 and $100,000. Ok fine if any of these are correct then there should be some information out there as to what folks who actually pulled the trigger in a self defense or a 3rd party defensive shooting actually cost.

    I know there will be some posts about what the hourly rate for an attorney is, or what some attorney will charge just to take on the case. Well unless that attorney is from small town East Texas, I don't care what their rates are cause they won't get the call if I ever have to defend myself.

    The couple attorneys that I have talked to that live in my town basically said, don't worry about it cause around here if your involved in a self defense shooting ain't nothing much going to happen anyway. Heck they will probably call you in a couple of days to come pick your gun back up.

    I am still looking for factual numbers not hypothetical figures. And no it won't matter if I, or someone else is about to die what the price will be.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Distinguished Member Array tiwee's Avatar
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    Good thread. All posters have made good points. Our legal system is a good one. However, in any system there are aberrations and distortions. I think a person should be cautious with intervention lest we become victims of those that are not 'official' criminals.

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    Ex Member Array BuckeyeEric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX-JB View Post
    I wouldn't let the BG shoot the clerk, but I would wait to the last possible second, when I think things have turned sour, before shooting. No warning, no commands, just action.
    Exactly. I guess i didn't make that thought process clear in my "other" post.

    I think your OP is very realistic that everyone needs to ponder prior to ever "clearing leather".
    Eric

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    Thumbs up

    Several of these points are clearly discussed in M. Ayoob's excellent book, In The Gravest Extreme. Many people grossly underestimate the total costs of carrying a firearm, yes. I am in no way suggesting one shouldn't carry, but one should absolutely appreciate the totality of what that could mean and then take appropriate steps to mitigate the very real threats that go beyond a given criminal action against us.
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