Thee…”Sam Elliot Decision”

Years ago, I saw a western with Sam Elliot. I can’t remember the name. Two guys came to kill him at a cabin. He shot them. One survived and Sam immediately hauled him in the cabin and started treating him for his gut-shot wound. A shooting aftermath element all gun people need to consider more and more these days…

Former Dallas PD officer Amber Guyger, came home late at night from a 12 hour shift, drove into and walked through her dark apartment building, a place where some 15% of residents have reported going to the wrong apartment. She entered an unlocked door, saw a guy in “her” living room and shot him dead. Its a big deal in Dallas. A big deal because the the poor victim watching TV on his couch was by all accounts, a terrific young black guy. And we are smothered with Black Lives Matter agitators here. So, its a terrible mistake, and she will pay.  She was eventually found guilty of murder. But, this case is not my message today though.

She testified! Under prosecution questioning – and her testimony was the fact that she did not apply any tactical medicine methods to the guy. She had some very handy too. She did call 911, etc but didn’t do much for him right away. This received many grimaces in court. It suggests a negativity. An uncaring intent. A racism. It fortifies a guilty verdict. Trouble for an on-duty and off-duty police officer. At very least, it is, unprofessional.  How cane that be? And what about for a citizen?

Aside from Amber, it is becoming more and more apparent through the years that if you shoot someone in self defense, the “law” – civil or criminal, is going to wonder and ask you why you did or did not, or even expect you to jump in and save their life, right away after you shot them. Police or otherwise. Even military.

Think about the Navy SEAL recently accused of all those war crimes and killing a wounded  teenager-combatant for one. One of the contentions was he did not treat the wounded teen properly.

Nowadays we spend a lot time on tactical medicine, but for whom exactly? Back in the 90s one of my gun levels was tact medicine, taught by an tactical ambulance EMT. Years before the trend developed in what? 2010-ish?  Med-Tech improved so much we had to drop the old 1990’s film. But think about it for a moment. The general thrust has been to heal yourself and family and co-workers. Not the criminal. Training was, that the bad guy had to be handcuffed, dead or not. His weapons collected. An ambulance was called. Not much, if any, attention given to the grounded criminal. In a way, in a biological, psychological way, I think we can understand how people shooting a robber- attacker, are reluctant to help them. The SOB might get kicked rather than get a tourniquet! 

The first I heard of this concern, this “decision” was during the infamous Los Angeles bank robbery decades ago, in the 90s, by the two guys tacted-out, vested and with machine guns. When the second robber was shot, there was news footage of the aftermath.  The cops stood around. The family of the robber sued LAPD for ignoring their son’s treatment after being shot. Due to the carnage they wrought, there wasn’t much sympathy. But, of course, LAPD settled.

Years ago, I saw a western with Sam Elliot. I can’t remember the name. Two guys came to kill him at a cabin. He shot them. One survived and Sam immediately hauled him in the cabin and started treating him for his gut-shot wound. And I thought – you know – that’s what a really cool, good, “put-together” person does. It was a role-model message to me back then. It started me to thinking about this. Is it safe to move in, kick the bad guy’s gun away (or pick it up) look the bad guy over, and maybe…do something? Do nothing? Too scared to? Don’t care to? Too scared to look? Don’t care to look? Scared or cared?  Think about it.

Anyway, my message is even if you shoot anyone, least of all kill Hannibal Lector himself, someone, somewhere will be looming around – prosecution, defense, lawyers, families, political groups – torturing you for not immediately performing a heart transplant to save him. I don’t think this reality has fully hit total ground zero with all the gun people in USA. Just calling 911 may not be enough. It’s situational.

Some of my gun trainer friends say they teach rescue care . They say, treat yourself first. Then friends-comrades-family. Then third, take a look at the shot bad guy. You have to monitor him anyway. Again, that’s situational. I am not laying out a list. I am just making a point to think about. Be able to articulate why you did or did not choose to treat the shot person.  Don’t just say, “Well he was trying to rob me, so F____ him.” That works at the bar, or the buddy BS session.  And I do really appreciate gallows humor, but It might not hang well in at the Grand Jury, the criminal court, or the civil court. 

Each case, each shooting is different. What I am saying is, is this one…your first one? Your next one? What of a “Sam Elliot Decision?” You will have to articulate at some point, with understandable, common sense, why you did or did not do something.  There will be situational reasons for or against. But, better think about it, this… “Sam Elliot Decision.” That’s why we call it…a decision.

(Oh, Amber?  She got ten years in the pen. I’m sure her lack of immediate treatment came into play, as the prosecution made a big deal about it.)

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