Self Defense And That 911 Call

call 911 for emergenciesIf you think protecting yourself ends when you strike an assailant in self-defense, think again. That’s just the beginning of your 48-hour self defense protocol. It begins the moment 911 is called.

Whether you’ve struck to disarm or kill the perpetrator, your adrenaline’s rushing. Processing what just happened is overwhelming as you relive the incident in slow-motion and then again at break-neck speed.  Pull yourself together. This isn’t a phone call you want to be ill prepared to handle.

911 – What’s Your Emergency

If there are witnesses who can make the call, let them call 911. It will allow you time to collect yourself. If not, take a deep breath. Let your exhale last longer than your inhale. This reduces anxiety and will help you to focus. Speak clearly, stating your name, location and reason for the call. Say only what needs to be said to answer the dispatcher’s questions. Remain on the line until law enforcement arrives on the scene.

Even though you’re the victim in this situation, you need to act and think like you’re the suspect. That means knowing what to say and when to say it – even how to say it. Unfortunately, how you handle yourself in the immediate aftermath of a self defense situation will likely be scrutinized by law enforcement officials, the media and the general public.

In light of some high-profile self defense cases across the country, the discussion surrounding these types of situations can be emotional. Rise above the rhetoric by sticking to the facts as you know them.

What to say

As a responsible gun owner, you know aiming your weapon at someone could result in their death. You know your rights, too. If you don’t, get on it. That’s also part of being an accountable gun owner.

There’s no magic solution for how to treat the outcome of a self-defense situation. All incidents are different. As soon as 911 dispatchers answer the phone, the details are recorded. Every word of what is said and how it’s said will be studied.

Here are a few reminders to keep in your hip pocket:

  1. Be aware – This might be the most difficult thing you do, but it’s important. Ask for a drink of water or coffee to give yourself time to calm down. It’s OK to assert your right to speak with an attorney.
  2.  Be brief – This is vital for your protection as your actions are under scrutiny. Even if every detail feels burned into your brain forever, you haven’t had time to appropriately process what occurred.
  3. Be consistent – Keep repeating the facts as you remember them. This is easier if your answers are brief.
  4. Be honest- It’s acceptable to answer “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Especially, if your recollection is hazy. Don’t paint yourself into a corner.


Law enforcement officers are not the bad guys in this situation. They’re charged with investigating. Until their investigation is concluded, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
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About Bret Smith

I am a long-time lover of all things outdoors. Whether hunting, shooting, fishing or just hiking and camping, I take every opportunity to enjoy nature and share it with others.

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