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Old March 14, 2006, 11:30 AM   #1
Glenn E. Meyer
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After the gun fight - your psyche

So many threads focus on ammo, guns, and when to draw. However, some folks think beyond the mechanics of the gun fight to the legal consequences.

I wonder how many folks have bothered to think about the psychological /social consequences also. What will happen to affect your psychological well being and that of your family? What will change in your social relationships?

Sometimes, I think in our naive world view, some of us think we will be praised as heroes. Our family will look at us as gods and our neighbors and co-workers will praise us. Are we not the mighty sheepdog!

Anyway, through various professional threads and tactical training, the psychological consequences have been of interest to me.

Various classes have stressed that after a shooting and taking a life you could have serious psychological problems. The military and police are aware of this to some degree. Stress disorders occur and substance abuse occurs. You have problems at work and coworkers may not think you are a hero. If one thinks this is wussy, the trainers such as the Insights crowd, certainly are not.

Can you deal with it? Is being able to dance around a shoot a tight group sufficient?

Anyway, stop preaching - Dr. Meyer.

I found that reading some books accessible to the layperson to be very useful.

Deadly Force Encounters : What Cops Need To Know To Mentally And Physically Prepare For And Survive A Gunfight -- by Loren W. Christensen;

Copshock, Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Ptsd) (Paperback)
by Allen R. Kates

Into the Kill Zone - David Klinger

These are written towards police, as to my knowledge and that of stress expert friends, a specific book for civilian aftershoot consequences has not been done. But the info is very relevant.

Just a thought, when I read all the righteous sheepdog posting. There's more to it and knowledge is power.
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Old March 14, 2006, 11:41 AM   #2
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As they say in Texas "It is better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6!"
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Old March 14, 2006, 11:53 AM   #3
Glenn E. Meyer
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I live in Texas and the point was not that one shouldn't defend oneself but that one should be aware of what to do after.

Being nuts in Texas may not be as easy as being nuts in California.
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Old March 14, 2006, 11:54 AM   #4
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Glenn, The only thought I have given it is to understand that I could have problems and being willing to seek help if problems arise. I won't try to be a tough guy on brain ailments. I got a mild understanding of brain problems when my with got postpartum depression.....look out lord that was terrible. I won't hesitate to get help.

Can you give an example of how the books helped before the episode? How does it prepare you for trouble in advance? Thanks nice post.
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Old March 14, 2006, 12:01 PM   #5
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For the sake of discussion, what happens when you are being tried by twelve, and you are suffering from ptsd and can't recall the events that took place before your shot and you have no witnesses to back you up. Or you just become "crazy" due to the knowledge that you just took a human life and you are deemed incompetent and they just throw you in the loonie bin. I think Meyer was refering more toward the psychological after-effects than the legal ramifications.

I too have thought about how I would handle taking a life. I believe that the "hard a$$" in all of us think it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I mean come on, it was self preservation. But if you really do some soul searching, I think that when you realize that you just watched a person die, sputtering, maybe coughing up blood, screaming do to pain, all because of your actions, you may not take it as well as you think. I hope I never have to go through that situation of taking another life.
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Old March 14, 2006, 12:03 PM   #6
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I mentioned it a few times when the subject of taking a life comes up. It will change you mentally, and perhaps like you mentioned even socially. I had a good friend that was a LEO who was involved in a shooting of a gang member. This guy he shot was a very bad guy and he was justified in the shooting, he seen the guy dealing crack in a fast food parking lot and when he approached he pointed a gun at him so he had to shoot him. He was a mess for about a week. He got death threat from other gang members. He is still on anti-depressants. He felt his family, friends, co-workers all treated him different post shooting. He basically ran away, one day he quit the force and moved his family 3 states over and started a new life in the civilian sector. And with all that, he still, to this day, feels SORRY for the guy he shot.

Granted you got to defend yourself and you may need to take a life, but to think your going to be like Rambo and assuming your going to shrug it off taking a life your in for a rude awakening. Most LEO and Military go thru counseling post shooting. I think if a civilian is involved in a shooting they should consider sitting down and talking to a doctor about it.

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Old March 14, 2006, 12:21 PM   #7
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In support of Mikeyboy's post look at some of the guys comming home from Iraq. My best friend from high school is serving as a Marine and once he came home from his second tour I noticed he had changed. Also, look the some of the Vietnam Vets. My uncle fought in vietnam and he will NOT talk about it. I made a refence to the movie Full Metal Jacket while sitting around a 4th of July family reunion camp fire and he turned pale as a ghost. It really does change you.
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Old March 14, 2006, 12:25 PM   #8
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My mindset right now pre shooting is that if I have to shoot somebody, they forced me to do it. I believe them to be scumbags not only for their actions but for forcing me to shoot them as well. Not careing about me having to deal with it. If they make me do it, then I hate them. I don't feel emotion towards a scumbag that A. I hate. B. tried to kill me C. forced me to become a killer of man D. gave no thought to my well being. If this changes after a shooting, then I have to deal with it. I'm not going to stop carrying so all I can do is be prepared to seek help if my shields don't hold.
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Old March 14, 2006, 12:32 PM   #9
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Talk to a friend or someone else you respect. Men are notorious for not discussing emotional stuff even with themselves. If that doesn't work for you? Go to a professional. The longer you wait the worse it gets. Sometimes it's years or decades before negative symptoms emerge.

There are PTSD forums all over the internet. Sometimes it's easier to post your feelings than talk about them.

Everyone is different but I don't think anybody can kill a fellow human and not be affected psychologicaly. A lot of people don't even noticed they've changed. So listen to those who know and love you.
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Old March 14, 2006, 12:42 PM   #10
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Everyone reacts to this differently. I still attend a group every month or so that is comprised of those who have taken a life to save their own. It's kind of like AA, but worse. We have members who are civilians who refused to be victims, and peace officers doing their jobs. We have a member who killed his daughter shooting through a door at noise in the night. We just accepted our first member back from Iraq.

Every experience is different. Every person is unique and finds their own way of coping and accepting the reality of what they had to do. There is one common denominator however. Nobody can understand what the path is like until they have walked it. Nobody knows how they will react afterwards, or even the next time, if they should ever need to save their lives again.

Saying how you will react before the fact is like saying how you will swim before you ever jump in the water. Having a psychologist trying to analyze a person who has saved their own life by taking another's life is like having a person who walks analyze a quadriplegic, or a virgin analyzing a prostitute. They do not even have a clue, much less a base for analysis. That is why the group I belong to was formed.
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Old March 14, 2006, 12:45 PM   #11
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I agree with you threegun. Their actions did preciptate yours and you acted in accordance with what you've trained for. No matter how confident you are that you will take appropriate action, there WILL always be that x on the other side of the equal sign.
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Old March 14, 2006, 12:58 PM   #12
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XB, Makes sense on paper.
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Old March 14, 2006, 01:27 PM   #13
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I won't loose any sleep over it. I'll wait to the absolute possible second trying to get them to back off before I launch an all out assualt on a person/s. I give them the chance to leave by telling them that if they don't I will kill them if they proceed to attack me. A person only commits suicide by assualting me.
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Old March 14, 2006, 01:52 PM   #14
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If you own a big sidearm with hollowpoints then you've already made your decision that you're willing to kill if necessary. The only trauma would be from seeing real life blood and corpse on your living room floor and if that were to ever happen to me, I would relocate about 50 miles away.
That would be reason #1,... #2, I'd move for fear of retaliation from the @sshole's buddies, homeboys, connections, ****** off brother, etc.
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Old March 14, 2006, 02:08 PM   #15
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I'm pretty concerned about how my family would view me after the incident. Especially if they were there to witness said incident. It probably wouldn't be as bad as how I'd view myself if I hesitated and one of my loved ones died because of it. Either way, life as I know it would be over so I'll continue to strive to not ever shoot anyone. I just hope n pray that I'm never forced to do it.
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Old March 14, 2006, 02:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
If you own a big sidearm with hollowpoints then you've already made your decision that you're willing to kill if necessary. The only trauma would be from seeing real life blood and corpse on your living room floor and if that were to ever happen to me, I would relocate about 50 miles away.
That would be reason #1,... #2, I'd move for fear of retaliation from the @sshole's buddies, homeboys, connections, ****** off brother, etc.
I had made my mind up to jump out of an airplane with a parachute. Afterwards, I was scared sh*tless and it changed my whole perspective. Somethings you can't just move awayfrom. But I do agree that you are willing to *risk* having to shoot someone when you buy the gun and get a carry permit so you would *hope* that you can handle the psycological effects. Like Xavier said, we won't know until it happens.
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Old March 14, 2006, 03:05 PM   #17
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the last 7 or 8 gunfights I was in left me feeling just fine, but thanks.
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Old March 14, 2006, 03:10 PM   #18
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I have drilled my kids and wife on what to do if the poop hits the fan. Stay low, find cover, get the heck out if possible. I have also told them that daddy would never hurt anyone unless they made me. "If anyone every tried to hurt you" I told them, I would stop them. Daddy might have to get real nasty and ugly and mean but I won't let anyone hurt you guys. They understand (for the most part) that I might have to shoot a badguy to protect our family. I am the nicest guy in the world until someone trys to hurt my family. Under that circumstance I will hold nothing back. I'de kill myself to save my boys so shooting a badguy to save them would be...........easier.
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Old March 14, 2006, 03:38 PM   #19
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Well put.
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Old March 14, 2006, 03:53 PM   #20
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I agree with threegun in his post #8.

It's true that one never knows beforehand how he will react in the actual event.


That said, I hope I'd be able to take the attitude described in Post #8.


I'm not looking to hurt anyone. But the world can be a dangerous place. If someone threatened me or my family -- they have placed themselves beyond the pale. Any negative consequences they suffer they have brought upon themselves.


I think part of this problem is the moral confusion we suffer with the decline of religious values. Shrinks have replaced clergy.


I spent a few years in private practise before I grew tired of and disillusioned with the field and moved on to something with less BS. Whether "true" or not, Judaism and Christianity teach morals that work, without which it is impossible to have a decent society.


Mental health "science" isn't. The theories and techniques I learned in school are now mostly and deservedly outmoded. Many were complete nonsense. Many were destructive. And current practises depend largely on current fad.


Religious values codify rules for living that have worked for thousands of years. We are not speaking of perfection or utopia but of what is workable for the kind of irascible beings we are.



I had to work my way through from a left-wing, liberal, very much anti-gun position. I think that gives me an advantage in dealing with such issues. I've struggled with this, thought through various positions, literally imagined myself in the scenarios until I got where I am.


My family and I (and my country) have the right to live free of threat. I threaten no one. Threaten us with death or great bodily harm and if I can, I will stop you. If you die in the process, a rational and moral society would call that justice.


It's a good idea to think this through at length, in depth and very seriously. The better job you do at that, the less likely you are to experience post traumatic stress syndrome.

I like G. Gordon Liddy's answer when asked, "But wouldn't you feel terrible if you had to kill someone?"

"Yes", he'd reply, "I would -- the paper work is unending."


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Old March 14, 2006, 03:59 PM   #21
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Here's my guess as to why I won't have that much trouble (other than with the way others might change their treatment of me post-event).

I have watched somebody die painfully right in front of my eyes. At point-blank range, so to speak. Not of a gunshot, but in a fairly grisly fashion. So I have some vague concept about managing around that sort of event.

There is a difference. I did nothing to cause the event.

On the other hand, I'm never ever going to shoot somebody for dealing drugs. Or for prostitution. Or for gambling. I'll never have to sit and ponder the idea that the real seed of why I killed somebody was something as victimless as one of those "crimes".

I'm only going to shoot somebody if I have to in order to defend myself from death or serious bodily injury or a credible threat thereof. Frankly, though I'd think twice because of the law, I do not think I'd have a lot of remorse for shooting somebody who slapped me and showed signs they were going to keep coming. I am NOT YOURS TO TOUCH.

If I'm sadly mistaken, I'll go visit my psychiatrist and get adequate pillage to manage the problem.
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Old March 14, 2006, 04:20 PM   #22
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Being nuts in Texas may not be as easy as being nuts in California.
People in CA have had more practice at it; with the help of Teahcer Feinstein and Assistant Principle Boxer (I can say that, I live here, atleast for now )
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Old March 14, 2006, 05:22 PM   #23
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We normal law abiding people have problems with the idea of hurting another much less killing them. That said it is my duty as a father and husband to protect my young and spouse. A mother bear doesn't actively look to kill you however threaten her cubs and you will get hurt. Once I realized my place my role in our family, as the provider and protector, I must do what is necessary. If that means letting the lion eat me to allow them to get away safely so be it. If that means shooting a 10year old who is killing people and about to kill us it really doesn't matter as I have a job to do. Failure is the same as suicide as I wouldn't want to live knowing that I failed and Chuckie or Ryan died. Like others have said, I will do everything possible to avoid trouble. When it can't be avoided, its time to get ugly.
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Old March 14, 2006, 06:23 PM   #24
Glenn E. Meyer
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Not be too critical but it is as I expected from some. No offense but we know that there are large effects for some. It is also the case that you saying (with bravado) that you will do XYZ and not be affected has little predictive validity.

My point is that the prudent student of the art might be well served to know something about the issue before the fact beyond internet opinions. I write on this forum for those with common sense. My tactical instructors stressed this and I know professionals well trained in therapy. They see strong folks who have problems. The books recommended are written after seeing 'tough' guys have difficulties and by folks familar with police work. You might also want to know the effects on your family and social network. Saying you've told them XYZ is nice but may not be sufficient.

Take it or leave it. When you teach, you usually only reach 20% anyway.
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Old March 14, 2006, 06:34 PM   #25
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I just don't agree that preparing in advance for the possible mental side effects is even possible much less necessary beyond understanding that side effects are possible and being willing to seek professional help in time. I understand that I could have problems even though I feel prepared. I also understand that my family might have problems. I read about those long ago and vowed to never put machismo over asking for help. My question for you (being trained and having read the books) is how does one prepare for the mental side effects in advanced? How do the books prepare me? I am eager to learn Glenn so please don't take this as being argumentative or lacking common sense.
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