Greg Ellifritz posted an article, “Lessons Learned From My Good Samaritan Attempt“. The article is written by a man who witnessed a woman being beaten on the side of the road. He chose to intervene in the situation. While things generally worked out ok (the attacker was arrested and convicted), the whole situation didn’t turn out like so many people’s heroic fantasies.
All my previous firearms training revolved around identifying an imminent threat, shooting to stop the threat if necessary, and then hopefully moving on with my life. It was all a pretty simple equation in my mind. However, the reality of my incident that day after Christmas was far different. It was not a simple equation. It was quite complex and has taken over two years to resolve.
That’s the first thing to note: it’s taken over two years to resolve.
But that’s just the beginning.
He notes the media coverage, and because “The Internet is Forever”, how his story basically has never and likely will never go away. It will always affect his life.
He notes the disruption to his sleep and health. In doing so, one particular comment stood out to me:
Ripple effects of the incident are everywhere, and I never considered that aspect of it in my prior training, because everything focused on surviving the encounter, not the aftermath. Keep in mind, I didn’t even have to fire a shot! I can’t imagine how these problems would manifest themselves if I had been forced to take a human life.
Everyone likes to focus on the pew-pew-pew. It’s easy to focus on, it’s something that people can easily understand a need or desire for, and it’s fun. To focus on things like dealing with the aftermath of a self-defense incident is not fun. It’s uncomfortable to face, to think about, to plan for. Often people don’t want to plan for it because denial is easier. Consider: if you’re getting/carrying a gun because you think you might need it, then realize there may come a day when in fact you will. The incident itself will last seconds, but the aftermath will last the rest of your life. Are you set up to deal with that?
Being set up to deal with that can be the legal aspects. One reason I’m thankful I’m a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network – they were there for me when I needed them. If I didn’t have them, I don’t know how things would have gone but I suspect not as well.
Being set up to deal with the aftermath also involves the mental and emotional realities. Being able to live with yourself, being able to live with how people will perceive you for the rest of your life. How your family will be perceived and how people may interact with them. A book like Alexis Artwohl and Loren Christensen’s Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need To Know To Mentally And Physically Prepare For And Survive A Gunfight,while oriented towards law-enforcement, contains an immense amount of useful information for anyone that may find themselves in such a situation. And yes, ideally it’s a book to read before you need it.
And being set up to deal with the aftermath means being honest with yourself and the harsh realities that may come from self-defense. Have you determined where your line is? In reading this article, I was left with the impression the author didn’t have a well-defined line, but does now. Where we draw our lines will differ from person to person, and likely you will and should revise where and how you draw your line over the course of your life (e.g. you may draw it differently when you’re single vs. when you’re married with children). The important part is to figure this out well in advance of having to put it into play.
There’s much to learn from Aaron’s story. Be wise and learn from his experience.