Book Review: After You Shoot

The Knox Report

From the Firearms Coalition

Book Review:  After You Shoot:  Your gun’s hot. The perp’s not, Now What?

By Chris Knox

During a typical state-mandated defensive firearms class there comes an hour – usually during that sleepy time after lunch – where the instructor gives some obligatory advice on what to do should you ever be forced to use the skills you’re learning.  Generally the advice comes down to two points: 

·         Call 911.

·         Don’t say anything.

The reason you call 911 is to demonstrate your human concern and compassion for the dirtbag whose chest you just ventilated as he threatened you or your family with death or grievous injury, and so that you can get police officers on-site to investigate a homicide or physical assault – an act that you just carried out.  So as a potential felony defendant, you are now expected (if not strictly legally required) to call the police and speak into the police recorder, ever keeping in your adrenalin-charged mind that “anything you say will be used against you.

Alan Korwin, principle author of the indispensable Gun Owner’s Guide series, has earned a reputation as a guy who thinks creatively and speaks his mind.  In his latest project, After You Shoot, he tackles the issue of how, after defending yourself with lethal force against a criminal attack, you need to be prepared to defend yourself against the criminal justice system, starting with how you notify the authorities.  According to Korwin’s sources, about half of the convictions arising out of self-defense incidents stem from unwise statements made in a frantic 911 call.  With sometimes startling insight, and a sharp sense of the ironic, Korwin explores different paths through the treacherous legal terrain that can face anyone who uses deadly force in self-defense.

Just as there is no single, universally correct combination of the “right” gun, caliber, and carry rig to guarantee a successful defensive outcome, neither is there a single set of “right” after-action procedures or magic words to say that guarantee you won’t be arrested and face a trial.  After You Shoot explores possible options, some of them controversial.  Korwin is not shy of controversy, and proves it in his book by airing a broad variety of knowledgeable viewpoints, a few of which hold that some of Korwin’s approaches are all wet.  As with other “holy wars” in the field – 9mm vs. .45 ACP, revolver vs. automatic, shoulder holster vs. belt holster – this debate is unlikely to ever be completely wrapped up.  But there are important points to be raised, points that a defensive shooter needs to keep in mind.  The book is, in many ways the overdue opening round of what could be a long conversation. 

The conversation starts with fundamental rights, focusing on what Korwin calls the Adnarim Statement.  Word-game buffs will notice that Adnarim is Miranda spelled backwards.  The crux of the Miranda warning is that “anything you say will be used against you” (Korwin always italicizes that last, very important bit). The Adnarim statement literally turns the Miranda warning around.  It is an assertion of Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights saying, in effect, “I have a right to remain silent and not to be searched, and I choose to exercise those rights.”  The mindset of the Adnarim statement is in sharp contrast to the Miranda warning, which amounts to permission from the investigators to be silent.  Korwin cites lawyers who have printed the warning on the back of their business card for their clients to use if arrested.  The idea is to cause police to back off and not try to lead the defensive shooter to say something incriminating. 

But the Adnarim statement isn’t unanimously accepted by experienced firearms lawyers as a good idea.  A defensive shooter who presents the card to an investigating officer and clams up, says the contrary view, is likely to antagonize on-scene cops, and a possible red flag for a prosecutor who would rather see a civilian dead than using deadly force in self-defense. 

Korwin’s out-of-the-box thinking only begins with the Adnarim statement.  Needing an example of how to professionally handle the aftermath of a shooting, he looks no farther than the police who have developed a very straightforward process that protects the shooting officer from the press and open microphones and his own very human urge to talk that may come from the traumatic event .  He offers a solution that, combined with the Adnarim statement, could be practical, but, like a home defense plan, it needs to be put in place well in advance of a defensive encounter.

As a defensive planning guide, After You Shoot fills an important gap in any gun owner’s  library.  Korwin flags specific risks that face the defensive shooter, and suggests strategies to mitigate or avoid those risks.  Just as there is no single ideal gun for every situation, neither is there a single legal approach that is is right for every person or situation. The book’s ultimate solution is a law to protect people who call 911, drafted in the book, and set to be introduced this year in the Arizona legislature. Like any good defensive book, After You Shoot lays out the problems to be solved in clear, common-sense language.  If you keep or carry a gun for self-defense, you need this book. 

After You Shoot: Your gun’s hot. The perp’s not, Now What?

Publisher: Bloomfield Press
ISBN: 978-1-889632-26-1
List Price: $14.95
Format: 160 pages, trade paperback