Letter Re: You Have to Shoot in TEOTWAWKI–Then What?

Mr. Rawles,
I recently saw another preparedness site pose a question: “what happens after the crisis is over…???” The question was this: Once the SHTF and the world “resets itself” and the rule of law is re-established, certainly some form of government will start asking  who shot who, what crimes were committed, and generally start prosecuting the bad guys. I feel very certain that I can now keep my family and I safe and sound through your educational efforts. But I am not clear how I will defend my efforts weeks, months, or years after the fact.

If possible, could you discuss what your thoughts are, not so much in the surviving, but “cleaning up the mess” after things most certainly will return to normal? I know this is a broad topic, but I cannot see where it has been talked about very much. I don’t intend to loot, steal, or rob anybody… but I am prepared to defend what is mine. Thanks, – Scott P.

JWR Replies: While there are bound to be some inquiries, the chances of them focusing on you are slim. But just in case it does happen, my recommendations for my readers in The United States are as follows:

1.) If you live in a “Castle Doctrine” state, then post lethal force warning signs in both English and Spanish, immediately after the onset of a crisis.

2.) If there is a shooting incident, then do you best to end it forcefully and decisively, but show restraint. Don’t continue to shoot once a group of attackers begins to retreat. Entry wounds in the back are hard to explain.

3.) If you take a life in self defense, make every effort to report it and get a law enforcement officer to come and take a report. If the police, sheriff, or coroner can’t come (for any reason), then work your way down the list of civil servants until you get down to National Guardsmen, fish and game officers, and the local dog catcher. Some sort of official report is better than no report. (The lack of a report might later cause suspicion of foul play.) Be sure to ask whoever takes the report to also draw a diagram of the scene, and to take digital pictures. They might someday prove crucial to avoiding an exhumation.

4.) If, because of the disaster situation you can’t get any official to come and take a report, then ask you neighbors to come and assist you. You and your neighbors should draw a diagram of the scene, and take digital pictures. Take pictures from all angles, and roll the body (or bodies) over and photograph the exit wounds. Avoid taking any grinning “gory glory” shot, or making any demonstration of glee or “good riddance”. Look appropriately somber and be respectful of the dead.) Write a detailed account of the incident, and have your neighbors sign and date it. Do this as soon as possible. If there were any witnesses, have them also write an after-action report and sign and date it. Once any semblance of law and order is restored, have all of the statements notarized, and file them with your local police or sheriff’s department office. At the same time, turn in any captured weapons, identification, personal effects, or vehicles as evidence. (You do not want any appearance of having profited in any way from the incident.)

5.) If circumstances dictate it, the burial of any bodies of deceased looters should be done with as many witnesses as possible, in full daylight. Be sure to photograph the event. Give them a proper Christian burial, and mark the grave site. Record the GPS coordinates in your report.

If and when there is any subsequent finger pointing, I suspect that it will be the ambiguous incidents that will warrant investigation. Those that properly document self-defense shooting events will face little scrutiny. The foregoing may sound a bit extreme, but never forget that we live is a very litigious society. Even if you a cleared of any criminal wrong-doing, there is always the threat of a civil suit, by relatives of the deceased hombres malos. If in doubt, over-document what happened.

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