Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: "After You Shoot" - Alan Korwin

Last summer I struck up a friendship with New York Times best-selling author Dan Baum, who traveled to Detroit to interview me as a subject to be included in his next book. Since he's not yet into social media (i.e. Facebook), we've managed to stay in touch with each other via the exchange of emails. Our favorite topics are self-defense and gun rights.

It was during a few of those last email transaction swaps, where our discussion focused primarily on the topic of how a victim should handle himself during the aftermath of a violent encounter. As a Personal Protection/Firearms Safety Instructor, I actually provide a class that teaches law-abiding citizens everything that the state of Michigan requires its Concealed Pistol License (CPL) applicants to know.

I explained to Dan that I am one of a distinct few instructors - here locally - who actually contracts out the teaching of the legal section to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Others elect to teach it themselves, to save on operating expenses and to pad their bottom lines on the balance sheet. Most of these persons, who operate this way, are affiliated with local law enforcement agencies and feel comfortable delivering "their version" of the law to citizens.

I have a huge problem with law enforcement officers teaching Michigan Concealed Pistol License Classes. The law that they teach to their students do not protect their Constitutional rights. These instructors tell their students to "be cooperative and tell the police everything" about the encounter.

The people who take these police-led classes are just one small step away from being "rail-roaded" into a stiff prison sentence for having the gall to conduct a justified self-defense of their person or their family members. What sense does it make for victims to learn the self-defense and lethal force laws from the very persons whose job it is investigate the legality of their actions? Sounds like a huge conflict of interest to me.

My philosophy has always been to provide information that maximizes the protection of a person's Constitutional rights directly after he was forced to defend himself from an unprovoked attack by a predator. Thus, it should not be a surprise that students in my class are given very short and concise instructions to be followed when doing two critical events: making a 9-1-1 phone call and greeting police officers at the scene of the shooting.

The advice given to students in my class is to simply call 9-1-1 and to state that "someone has been shot." The address should be given and then the student should immediately end the phone call. The dispatch operators are trained to extract information from callers. The longer a victim is on the phone, there is a greater chance that something incriminating may be said. He should simply hang up the phone.

The last thing that a person, who had just survived a life-or-death encounter, should say is that he/she just shot somebody - however true it may be. This moment in time is not the opportune time to be making statements of any kind to anyone. A crime victim has the right to remain silent; it should be exercised. For it is wholly possible that the victim might be victimized a second time by the state, which could decide to prosecute him and use his 9-1-1 call as evidence against him in court.

In a similar vein, when approached by law enforcement officers at the scene of the shooting, a crime victim should not make any statements. At best, the victim should politely and calmly inform the officers that he wishes to have counsel with an attorney before he says anything.

You never get a second chance at making a first statement to the police. A crime victim usually is suffering from a litany of after-shocks due to physiological and mental stresses that do not present an optimum moment to provide evidence to the police. Not making a statement, as explained by my attorney, does not hurt the victim legally. Besides, the victim's "honest" attempt at being truthful may not even be consistent with the physical evidence at the scene.

Furthermore, certain elements of the event may not be emphasized and presented in a manner which would exonerate the usage of lethal force by the victim. Thus, if the victim later modifies his story after consulting with a lawyer, the latter version may be dismissed and discounted by the local Prosecutor and criminal charges could result which can manifest itself into a criminal court case with the victim's original statement being used against him.

After hearing my position on the subject of suggested victim actions during the aftermath of a shooting, Dan then asked me if I was familiar with a book written by Alan Korwin, the man behind the web site, which is entitled, "After You Shoot: Your Gun's Hot. The Perp's Not. Now What?"

I told him that I hadn't heard of it. Dan then promised to send me his copy in the mail. I received it a few days ago and began to read it to better under the positions that Dan takes when discussing the actions that a crime victim should undertake after a violent encounter.

Korwin, a noted and respected person in the gun community, openly admonishes his readers that he isn't an attorney and that the info in his book isn't legal advice. Readers are strongly urged to consult with an attorney after reading his book and to make up their own minds about what they should do when their life and freedom hang in the balance.

In fact, Korwin consulted with many of the "big guns" in the pro-gun community for their feedback on this book. Surprisingly enough, there is no consistent answer to the "What should you do?" after a shooting question. Many of the names listed on the acknowledgements page reads like a "Who's Who" of American gun rights advocates: Alan Gottlieb, Bob Levy, Charles Heller, Dave Kopel, Eugene Volkh, Massad Ayoob, and countless other names you should/would recognize.

However, his legal disclaimer does not stop him from suggesting a controversial course of action for crime victims to take in the wake of a violent encounter - The Adnarim Statement. It is Miranda spelled backwards. Most persons recognize 'Miranda' as the statement that informs suspects of their rights when they are arrested.

The Adnarim Statement
I'm interested in cooperating and will exercise my right to remain silent after reading this statement. Please do not attempt to violate my rights in this regard. I want to speak with my attorney. I respectfully ask you to honor this without any purpose of evasion and insist my lawyer be present prior to and during and questioning without exception.

I refuse consent to any search of my person, papers, premises, vehicle, immediate location or effects. I invoke my rights under the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and any applicable state or federal laws. If you Mirandize me and ask if I'll speak without my attorney present the answer is no. Thank you for your cooperation, and may I have a glass of water please.

My short response to this course of action is that it uses way too many words than is necessary to invoke your Constitutional rights. Simply say that you want a lawyer and that you want to invoke your right to be silent. Then simply shut up. It's that easy.

Many members of the gun rights community also chime in throughout the 156 pages of the book with their thoughts about this Adnarim Statement - some positive and some negative. I won't ruin the fun for you. It's a quick read; you should be able to finish it in an hour or two. The cover price is $15 and won't hurt the wallet. If you are curious, pick up the book for a through analysis of a subject that shouldn't be that complicated - my opinion.

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