As the George Zimmerman case fades away, there is a lesson that everyone who carries a firearm should not forget. The decision to pull the trigger will change your life forever. It is your responsibility as a gun owner to ensure that the decision to take someone’s life is the absolute last resort.
We will never know with certainty all the events that happened that night with Zimmerman and Martin. What is certain is that two lives were drastically altered. However, if Zimmerman doesn’t shoot, or was unable to, the outcome could have been completely opposite.
The key thing to understand is that any situation that demands the use deadly force is a loose – loose scenario. This isn’t a game either. Simply “not participating” when a person decides to act violently against you doesn’t work. Contrary to what some believe, it’s not possible to talk your way out of being shot, stabbed, or raped. A friend of mine always says, “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.” So how do you win a loose – loose scenario?
The first key factor to remember is always be aware of your surroundings and avoid situations that force you to confront a person. You don’t want to set the stage for bad things to happen. You need to have the foresight to realize when the chips are stacked against you, and remove yourself from the situation. While this won’t stop all attacks, there are thousands of shootings, assaults, and murders that happen every year where you can say, “If they would have…”. Would we even know George Zimmerman’s name if he would have stayed in his truck? Just because you have a pistol on your hip, that doesn’t make you superman.
So, what happens when you’re minding your own business and trouble finds you anyway? Retreat if you can. While some hard heads hate this idea, it’s actually required in many states. Disengaging from a deadly situation is the smartest thing you can do. Just remember, if you are willing to use deadly force to defend yourself, the other person will do likewise.
However, those of us that do carry weapons carry them for worst case scenarios. If escape is impossible, it is imperative that you do three things. First, you have to understand everything that is going on around you. Where are the bad guys – the targets? Where are the good guys – bystanders? How many targets do you have? What are their capabilities? What are your capabilities? You must understand the tactical situation. You must understand this so you can effectively neutralize the threat and explain the justification of your actions afterwards.
Second, make noise. Yell repeatedly at the attackers to stop. Yell that you will shoot. Yell for help. The more you yell before you fire, the more attention you will draw. As a victim, you want as many witnesses as possible to back your story, and it gives the attacker one last time to stop his attack.
Last, WIN. There is no other way to say this. You carry a firearm for a reason, to protect yourself and those around you. It is your responsibility to train to use that firearm to do just that. I’m reminded of a scene in “Saving Private Ryan” where an American Soldier and a Nazi Soldier are fighting on the ground with a knife. The Nazi ends up on top of the American and gains control of the knife. The American pleads for his life as the knife is slid into his chest. Just like in that scene, there is no talking down a person who is about to kill you.
Avoid, Retreat, WIN. When it’s all over, everything you saw, thought, and did will be scrutinized. The legal process will take over and you will have to deal with possible criminal and civil action, but if you are prepared and train, you will be alive. If you used a justifiable amount of force, you will be free. That is why it is a good idea to get together with others and train. Work on your marksmanship and identifying targets. Work on reloads, weapon malfunctions, and drawing your weapon. Have discussions and debates on certain situations and how you would deal with them, and learn that laws in your state.
Remember, even if you do everything right, the moment will be with you for the rest of your life.