I just finished with my NRA Instructor’s classes and one of the things covered was the need to have talk with counselor/chaplain/shrink after a self-defensive shooting. I have to admit that the one thing I never thought about but makes to have an understanding person so you can open up and share the events with confidence.
I understand that we civilian shooters tend to be independent and that we firmly believe on depending on the fewest amount of people possible (and zero from the government) but the aftermath of a defensive shooting is something not to take lightly or be unnecessary proud to ask for help. Let’s imagine (God forbid) that you have just shot a Bad Guy that attacked you or your loved ones, there are plenty of witnesses that will corroborate the righteousness of your actions and even plenty of video cameras that recorded the whole thing. The police arrives and if they are any good, they will initially treat you and anybody still standing as suspect. It makes sense, they were not there where it happened and they must perform an investigation. You are still draining adrenalin and this guy in blue will listen with detachment, keep you at arms’ length and you will feel bothered at best, insulted at most. You know you did the right thing. All the training paid off, you saved a life and yet it is not recognized by the responding officer and later by the investigators. That will shake anybody at anytime and you are not the exception.
Later, and depending where you live, you may have to go through the hands of the local district attorney and even a grand jury. You will be put under the microscope, examined up and down, questioned, challenged and doubted. Even though if the D.A. decides to call the shooting self-defense and announce it to the world, even if the Grand Jury returns with a No Bill, the experience will affect you. And let us not forget our dear Media people, desperate for news and your comment more likely to portray you as a rabid vigilante while showing the crying mother of the critter saying that her little angle was not a criminal and spewing venom against you. This will enrage you.
And last, your friends and neighbors. You will have those that will see you with new eyes and not the best. You have broken the ultimate societal taboo: You killed a human being: The Mark of Cain. Whispers will be exchanged as you walk by. Some parents will tell their kids no to walk by your house or play with your kids. Some will openly question your actions and offer alternative solutions on how you should have faced the situation. Each and every comment, gesture, look will lay heavily on your mind and may change you for the worst. At the end, you will find yourself wallowing in self doubt, self recrimination and an assorted menu of feelings that will make you miserable.
Police and Military are smart. They have established support systems to deal with this kind of stuff. First the individual belongs to a fraternity that will immediately support his fellow officer or serviceman. Then they have counselors standing by and even make it mandatory for the individual to attend. Even if the person involved in the shooting gets unloaded upon by civilians and the press, he has a group of supporters backing him up. We civilians do not have that. It is up to us to prepare for it.
At the class I mentioned earlier, I was lucky to meet a counselor for a local police department. He is a Rabbi and a shooter plus his experience with officer involved shootings give him a special outlook on what happens to an individual after a self defense situation. I spoke some with him and he struck me as a very well prepared and empathic person who knows when to listen, when to comfort and when to counsel. He even offered one other advantage about talking to a counselor/chaplain/shrink: Confidentiality. What you say to a counselor/chaplain/shrink, stays private and privileged under the eyes of the law.
Right now his card is in my wallet, a part of my urban survival kit. I hope I never have to call him other than saying hello and invite him over to shoot with our club.
PS: I forgot to mention something. I am catholic (way lapsed) and have a rabbi on standby. You don’t have to be choosy about what type of counselor you need, just find somebody who will help.