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Self-Defense Protip

The first presentation today is by self-defense attorney George Parnham. Behind every bit of advice is a great story. At the end of his presentation slides, he outlines some “Practical Difficulties that Can Negate Self-Defense:”

  • Never, ever carve initials of the deceased into shell casings.
  • Never, ever reload.
  • When desperation arises, “I thought he was coming at me with a knife.”

I’m waiting for him to get to the point in the slides when he explains the first point. That has to be a good story. I’ll update if he elaborates.

UPDATE: Yep, it’s a good story. Apparently a shrimp boat captain thought his first mate was having an affair with his wife, went over to the house, caught the two, ended up taking a ¬†shot that ricocheted off his glasses. He returned fire. Good case for self-defense, until he realized they discovered he had first carved the initials of the deceased into his shell casings before heading over there.

17 Responses to “Self-Defense Protip”

  1. MattW says:

    I’m more interested in bullet point 2 – never ever reload? Meaning don’t reload after the current threat is eliminated? Don’t even carry a spare mag?

    • ctd says:

      All the more reason for a “high capacity” magazine.
      Yeah I’m wondering what the particular story behind that one is too.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think he meant not to carry reloaded ammunition. It’s pretty common advice from lawyers.

      • MattW says:

        Ah, that would make sense. I’ve heard the same thing before. Makes some people on juries all nervous when they here you loaded your own ammo.

      • Chris says:

        Yeah to me it seems that what they mean is that reloading can indicate more intent than just “self defense.”

        • lucusloc says:

          I’m still looking for a case where reloading was a deciding or contributing factor in dismissing claims of self defense (by either jury or judge). So far I have not been able to find one, despite this advice popping up all over. Sometimes the bullet I want to use is not available in a factory load, or the load I use is more accurate than factory. Both of those could stem from safety concerns, rather than the oft cited reason of “I wanted to make it more lethal.”

          Until someone can show me hard proof that this is the case, I will assume that #2 is just lawyer ass covering, and not something based in reality.

        • Zermoid says:

          My “intent” of reloading is to stretch what little expendable income I have into as much ammo to practice with as possible!

          I carry a 45, ANY bullet that comes out of it will ruin the day for whoever it hits.

  2. Erin Palette says:

    Perhaps the lesson is “Once the target is down, don’t reload and continue shooting” ?

  3. Publicola says:

    I’ve heard the “don’t use handloads for self defense” stuff for ages. I think it was Ayoob that started it – or that I first recall hearing it from. The idea is that a prosecutor would be able to make you look particularly blood thirsty because you made your ammo extra special mo’ better deadly.

    I have yet to see one court case where anyone caught flack for using handloads in a defensive shooting. If there was such a case I’m pretty sure news would spread like wildfire.

    I’d disregard that advice, & eye suspiciously anything other counsel this fellow gives. (though I’d agree it’s not a good idea to carve initials into brass – not for the reason this guy gives, but because it’s so damn pricey now you might not get another reload out of it :D )

    • Richard says:

      I think the more deadly advise is stupid but one issue where a case was actually cited in NJ deals with the ability to replicate the load for forensic testing.

      If I remember the case correctly the defendant owned a handgun and had a wife that was suicidal. The man comes home to find his wife with the gun and threatening to kill herself. According to him a struggle for the gun ensued and she eventually shot herself. However the forensic testing didn’t find powder residue that you would expect to find for a close quarter gun shot wound and the man was eventually convicted. While its entirely possible that the man was lying (if you knew your wife was suicidal why would you leave her home alone with a handgun) but the general take away is there is no baseline for handloads and how they perform when being fired. That and the fact that you can’t replicate a handload for testing could ham string you if it doesn’t perform similar to commercial loads.

    • Arizona Rifleman says:

      I’m skeptical of the advice as well, and it seems like something that any competent defense attorney would be able to easily explain by demonstrating that the reloaded ammo used the same bullets and was loaded to similar velocities to factory-loaded ammo.

      Is there really a difference between hand-loading Gold Dots and getting factory-loaded Gold Dots? Not really.

      That said, it’s not something I’d be willing to risk, so I’ll stick to factory loads, but it just seems like something that would be easily explained.

  4. John says:

    Actually, Ayoob’s point is mainly that it’s easier for your defense to keep the prosecution honest about ballistic evidence if you use commercial ammo, so that tests can be replicated.

  5. Arnie says:

    YIKES! I guess I’d better file BO off all my “Back Ordered” casings! ;-)

  6. Geoff says:

    So if I reload 500 rounds and keep a record of the powder charge primer and bullets used it cannot be replicated???? Even if I still have some of the reloads! A good reloader can make his ammo more consistent than factory stuff.

    How did they do forensics in the days of muzzle loaders? OK they probably did not have that science in those days.

    • WallPhone says:

      You may trust your reloads are more consistent than factory, but any jury would be right to trust a defendant’s reloads with the same suspicion you would cast a Ziploc bag of cartridges on a random gun show table.

  7. Alex says:

    I like how one of the related stories is about your love of seafood.

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