By now, you've heard about the shooting in Florida that ended with one person dead and another having to live in the shadows while the press, the anti-gun rights crowd, and the usual gang of race baiters scream for his blood and the authorities decide whether or not to prosecute him.
I'm not going to speculate as to whether or not the shooter was justified. I don't know enough about the circumstances or the self-defense laws in Florida to do that.
To hear one side tell it, the shooter in this case was a self-appointed vigilante who went out looking for trouble and the shootee was a choir boy who got in his way and was targeted because of the color of his skin.
To hear the other side of it, well, we don't hear much from the other side. Pretty much all we hear that's not being trumpeted by those on the dead man's side is from the police, who are doing their best Joe Friday, "Just the facts, ma'am", closed-lipped routine, which they should be doing. It's not their job to defend the shooter, and they shouldn't be making any comments while they're engaged in an investigation. What has been said, including releases of police reports, leads me to lean towards the "he wasn't right, but he might not have been criminally wrong" side of the argument. But like I said, I don't know enough to make a true judgement of the shooter's actions.
In the court of public opinion, which will be contaminating any prospective jury pool in the event that this blooms into criminal charges and a trial, the shooter is being crucified. For the most part he, his family, and his attorney are keeping quiet, possibly waiting for all the facts to come out from the investigation before defending themselves in the press.
When I took my concealed carry class, and in discussions with self-defense instructors, I've been told that after a shooting shut the heck up. Cooperate with police through an attorney, stay out of the press, and let the process take care of itself.
This case makes me wonder if that's the best thing we can do in the unfortunate event that we have to use force to defend ourselves. Yes, anything you say will be used against you, either by the authorities, civil litigants, or reporters who just don't like your looks. But leaving that particular battlefield undefended means that even when the actual facts are reported and you are legally exhonerated, most people, including lawyers, demagogues, and reporters, will have made up their minds and the shooter is hosed. Maybe the shooter will win, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory if they have to bankrupt themselves to repair the damage done when talking heads, race baiting politicians, and anti-rights extremists trash you on cable news.
No-one wants to speak ill of the dead, but if you're being painted as a cold blooded thug of a killer when the facts of the matter are quite different, do you owe it to yourself to point out the reasons you felt it necessary to use deadly force, including truthfully claiming that the person you shot did things that made you fear for your life and listing them in detail? Is it right to refute claims by the other side that the person you shot was an innocent lamb who was gunned down in cold blood? Would you be justified in having your attorney go to the press with any statements you made to the police if they contradict what is being said about you in the press?
What do you all think? Would a shooter be better served by having someone stand up in the public glare and openly refute attacks against them? Or is it better to just let the garbage flow around you while you patiently wait for the process to work itself out?