by Gila Hayes
Isn’t it ironic that in my lifetime, most Americans have endured fewer hardships and benefited from having more extensive safety nets than ever before, yet fewer people today have the survival resources to carry them through four to six months of trouble, a precaution that our parents and grandparents considered just part of responsibly providing for their families. Supplies of water and food, savings, and fall-back provisions for emergency housing, are all topics on which much authoritative instruction is readily available, so today I’m going to ask you to think of a related but different set of concerns.
Armed citizens invest considerable time and discretionary income on guns, ammunition, training, shooting sports and practice in the name of preparing to defend against violent crime. That’s good! It gets us started thinking right and if you haven’t already addressed other vulnerabilities, what better time than now to make sure you and your loved ones have a full range of plans to get through hard times?
An important aspect of responsible citizenry is making sure our families can thrive if we are aren’t available to assure their well-being. Have you spoken seriously with those in your home about the circumstances that could lead you to use your gun to defend yourself or them? About their role in surviving an attack in the home or in seeing to the family’s security in the aftermath of use of force which you may be involved in away from home? What better time than now to have that discussion?
If you live alone and have no family nearby, have you approached a friend or associate with the offer of standing ready to help him or her if trouble strikes them and ask if they can take on the same responsibility for you?
Reality dictates that not everyone in our close circle will be receptive to discussing post-self-defense concerns, preferring as many in the public do, to cling to the hope that nothing bad will happen. Others may be so interested in self defense that keeping a conversation focused on what to do in the aftermath gets derailed. If you have a receptive audience, the member education video Handling the Immediate Aftermath of a Self-Defense Shooting at https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/immediate-aftermath is a great start.
In my opinion, also essential to having this conversation is creating a reference document, an “In Case of Emergency” file, that you share with your spouse, your responsible adult offspring, or a close friend with whom you’ve agreed to a mutual-assistance plan to make sure that, even though you live alone, neither of you metaphorically drops off the face of the earth if you are unexpectedly hauled off to the emergency room or taken into police custody.
Here’s an easy little assignment you can do now to help others help you. Get a file folder or 9x12 envelope and secure it where your family or trusted associate can find and use it if you call and tell them to read it and act on the steps it outlines. Mark the front in big, bold lettering:
In Case of Self-Defense Emergency
The first page should be a brief, serious personal note that, without any social commentary or any opinion that could be misinterpreted, states:
I have asked you to obtain legal assistance for me after use of force in self defense. Please do the following on my behalf as quickly as possible:
My attorney’s name is ______ and his/her phone numbers are ______ and ______. Please contact him/her and explain where I am and that I need legal representation. Please also telephone the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network of which I am member # ______ and give them my name and the name of my attorney and a brief explanation of my situation.
As about half of our 29 member-involved self-defense incidents have shown, not everyone pre-selects an attorney. Sometimes members need the Network to help them find an attorney after a self-defense incident and we are happy to do that. If you have not selected an attorney, an alternative paragraph might read:
I do not have an attorney selected. Please refer to the details on the following page and telephone the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network of which I am member # ___ and give them my name, location and information about whether I am in police custody or am available for contact and if I can be contacted, what is the best phone number on which to reach me since my cell phone may be taken as part of the police investigation. The Network may ask for your contact information and for permission to stay in touch with you as my representative in the short term.
Please alert the Network that I need help hiring an attorney. So long as my use of force was self defense, the Network will help connect me with an attorney and pay for the attorney to represent me. Please contact the Network without delay.
Next, members, please log in to the Network website and print https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/boots-on-the-ground . Call us if you need help with log in so you can access those details. It is a concise but important document. If you have not already printed and put it where those who may assist you after a critical incident can find it, please do that now. Attach a cover page that reads:
Please read the attached directions and phone numbers through which you can contact the Network during business hours or outside of business hours. This contains confidential information provided to me as a trusted Network member. I ask that you respect that trust and not share it with anyone else.
Additional emergency provisions you may wish to consider include whether you should give a family member or trusted associate your power of attorney, provide details about bank accounts, life and health insurance and other financial resources, and perhaps even a short list of essential responsibilities you have shouldered like an elderly relative you check in on each evening, or others to whom you may owe care you will not be able to fulfill while the present circumstances take you out of circulation.
For families, many other issues arise when one member loses the ability to cover their usual duties. A few years ago, a family of attorneys and instructors from Indiana contributed an interview on family concerns after use of force in self defense at https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/family-concerns-during-and-after-self-defense that is packed with great ideas to help families work together on safety and survival. I hope you will start now on that In Case of Self Defense Emergency file then refer to that link and consider others details you need to add to your preparations so no one suffers unnecessarily.
Please take a few minutes to compile an emergency file folder or envelope. It is a kindness you can easily do for the people who care about you – including us at the Network.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.