Lawyer Up And Shut Up

We recently reported on a story that we feel needs some extra commentary because of how bizarre it is. An 81 year old Florida man defended himself against a burglar at about 9:15 in the morning with his .22 pistol. To give some backstory, the old timer doesn't know if he landed any shots, and what happened afterward deserves to be talked about in further detail.

If you'd like to read more about the story before proceeding, you may do so, here.

Back? Okay, so the burglar rang the doorbell and when there was no answer he went to get some gloves and break into the house and climb in through the window, only to be met with several rounds of .22 (lr? WMR? TCM? Unclear at this point.) zipping by him.

Before I proceed, let me say that I used to work for a company called US Law Shield. Maybe you've heard of them, maybe not. But essentially what they do is sort of like USCCA in that they cover you with attorneys if you ever use your firearm in self-defense. They put on gun-law seminars, and that's where I worked. One thing I remember the lawyer saying, that really struck home to me, is that every shot that leaves the barrel of your gun is owned by you.

He would then tell us what he meant, and it actually has something to do with the basic gun safety rule that says this: Know your target and what's around it. In other words, you shouldn't be firing your gun blindly, especially once the threat is over.

Why? Well, once that bullet leaves your gun, you've got no control over where it goes. Even a .22lr round can travel a long distance before it stops.

This old timer actually said in the 911 recording that he fired many shots (he doesn't know how many) and that he even fired at the burglar's truck as he fled. I hope it's obvious as to why that is bad, but we are a teaching blog, so I'll lay it out: He had tunnel vision and had no idea who was around his target as it sped away.

In fact, if you listen to the recording, provided below, you'll hear that the old man is not in the right frame of mind and can barely hold a conversation or describe what the burglar looked like.

Anyway, back to the bullets … were there innocent bystanders hanging out on the street? Kids riding their bikes? Moms walking their baby in the stroller? Catch my drift? Don't forget that it was 9:15 am. There are a lot of people around at that point of the day.

Keep this in mind going forward, because it's important. Even if you're justified in self-defense, every bullet has your name on it once it leaves the barrel. If it strikes someone else, that's on you.

That's not the only mistake the old-timer made, however. In his 911 call he said something else that could seriously jam him up in court.

Remember a minute ago I said I used to work for US Law Shield? Something that one of the lawyers, Mike Giaramita always said, was to lawyer up and shut up. In fact, he stated that, if you remember nothing else, this is the most important takeaway from the seminar … Why? Because talking to anyone can bite you in the rear.

This old man is on a 911 recording saying things like: I should have killed that sumb!tch. That could be used against him in a court–even in a future case, if the man ever does kill someone in self-defense. He's also on record stating that he shot at the vehicle as it was moving away from him. Again, not a good scenario.

So, like my good friend, Mike, I'll say this: If you take away nothing else from this, lawyer up and shut up! It could save your arse one day. You know what, scratch that, you also need to remember that you own every shot that leaves your barrel and to not fire blindly at things, hoping to kill that person, while you may accidentally hurt someone else.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off base on this? Let me know, in the comments below.

Oh, and while I've got you here and mentioned USCCA and US Law Shield …

… make sure you check out our in depth comparison chart. 

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Darkwing on October 19, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Massad Ayoob: LFI: call 911, say there was an attempted break in and that I fired shots. NOT ANOTHER WORD, cops come, say nothing, tell them you want to talk to a lawyer. This will piss the Gestapo off

  2. Albert on October 20, 2017 at 7:47 am

    1. ‘The cops are not your friends’; 2. ‘it would be most helpful if we are talking about only ONE version of the incident’; 3. ‘every round that goes down range has a lawyer attached to it’; ALL are comments made by attorneys in seminars I have attended. It’s best to avoid the situation if you can, but if not, rule 2 should come to mind.

  3. djb on October 22, 2017 at 7:53 am

    From the seminar I attended:

    1. Call 911, tell them there has been a shooting, provide the location of the incident, and – if there are injuries – request an ambulance. Then hang up. You do not have to stay on the line just because 911 tells you to, and they are recording from the time you dial. So telling a nearby person “man, I must have fired 10 rounds at him” WILL be picked up and used against you.

    Call 911, provide minimum information, and hang up. Call your lawyer, and wait for the police.

    2. Also, if you pull your weapon on somebody and don’t fire, you should report it anyway. The advantage goes to whoever calls 911 first, and you don’t want to be second! If you wind up in court, it could be the difference between self-defense and assault with a deadly weapon.

  4. Steve on November 16, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Only things I would add is when you call 911 you should mention what your are wearing. When the police show up they do not know who is the good or bad guy.

    If you have a ccw license mention that too.

    Finally tell the dispatch if an ambulance is needed.

    Then hang up and shut up until your lawyer shows up. I am a member of Texas Shield and a lawyer told me however long it takes for a lawyer to show up so not say a word. They will offer you water or something to soften you.


    • Matthew Maruster on November 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Steve, if you are on the line with dispatch giving them your description is a great thing to do. I also agree with advising if you are a CCW license holder if you wish (with open carry being legal in some states it may not be a necessary piece of information.)

      As far as requesting an ambulance if needed, I would put a caveat on that and say focus on your own disposition and that of innocent people, ie. if you or a random citizen was injured. I would caution about speculation on what the person you shot needs as far as medical assistance. This can lead to further questions about the persons state like is he conscious, breathing where was he shot, how many times. These questions are ones that require you to go over facts of the shooting that you may want to wait to answer, or why you didn’t render aid. (Remember it’s not always the criminal aspect of the shooting but the civil side that can bite you in the butt.)

      Additionally, I would advise against hanging up on dispatch if you have an open line with them and you’re not actively shooting. Being able to relay accurate, real-time information to dispatch is probably one of the best things you can do to help the responding officers not mistake you as a threat. If the situation has gotten to the point where you are secure enough to get on the phone with dispatch stay on the line. If something changes in the situation after you hang up, like the bad guy attacks again, begins to flee the area in a certain direction or a second attacker appears, responding officers need to know this.

      Stay on the line. You can tell dispatch you don’t feel safe holstering your firearm and to advise you when the officers are arriving on the scene. Tell dispatch when officers arrive you will follow their directions (which may be to holster your firearm or they may hot stop you.)

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