I have on several occasions ended up in long discussions with other professionals and law enforcement officers about the concept of CCWers getting OR NOT getting shot by responding officers after a shooting incident.
It isn't just a theory, it does happen. I have a number of recorded incidents of it happening, though I have a nearly endless number of incidents in which responding officers did NOT engage the good guy so we can safely consider the idea of cops shooting the good guy as an exception to the rule.
Regardless of how often it happens, it isn't a good thing. Nobody on either side of the situation goes home happy when the cop shoots the good guy so my intention today is to suggest a number of tangible ideas and tactics that can reduce your risk of being shot by the cops after or during your gunfight.
Doing all of these is unrealistic but considering each as a potential tool to reduce risk is the idea here.
Guns Don't Go Away Until The Threat is Over
The most common advice I hear is something to the effect of holstering or putting away your firearm while waiting for law enforcement to arrive. That has merit since law enforcement is far less likely to misinterpret you as the bad guy if you aren't holding a firearm.
However, we must emphasize that firearms shouldn't be put away or reholstered if you still face an active threat.
While it certainly is important to mitigate the risk of being shot at by police; it is a moot point if you lose the fight with your attacker so only put the firearm away if the threat is truly over.
In the case that your firearm needs to stay on target as law enforcement is responding consider utilizing a ready position. In other words, instead of pointing the gun directly at your attacker you might direct the firearm slightly off target toward the ground or utilize any other commonly used ready position.
This article isn't meant to discuss ready positions at length but suffice to say they put you in a position in which you can get the gun onto target extremely quickly without actively pointing the gun at the target.
Furthermore, ready positions are good guy body language and actively communicate to any trained responder like a cop that you are unlikely the bad guy. Stay tuned for more “good guy body language.”
Create Distance and Retreat
As an innocent party, you are under no obligation to remain in a dangerous situation. If leaving the area or retreating from the fight or engagement can be done safely you are welcome to do so.
Disengaging from the fight can put you in a safer situation in which you can holster your firearm and contact authorities. Of course, this may not always be a viable option or may not be in line with your personal mission for whatever reason but if you have just put some holes in the bad guy and you aren't sure if the threat is over you might be able to safely retreat and create distance.
This is good for your objective of survival and good for minimizing the risk of being shot by cops.
Give Good Guy Commands
Officers are listening and looking as they respond and your use of strong verbal commands, consistent with good guy behavior, will communicate to responding officers that you are the good guy.
My friend Bryan who spent over 20 years in law enforcement tells of an instance in which he was responding to a call and the first person he saw on scene was an older gentleman in plain clothes pointing a gun at another man. While the initial response might have been to assume the armed man was the bad actor, officer Bryan heard the older gentleman shouting at the other man to show him his hands. Officer Bryan says in that moment he had a strong sense that the armed man was a good guy and it turned out he was right.
Telling the bad guy to stop, show you their hands, get on the ground, drop the gun, back off, or go away are all commands consistent with good guy behavior. I'm not endorsing any of those commands specifically or universally just pointing out that being loud and giving commands is a good practice for reducing the risk of being shot by responding officers as well as likely to be helpful in winning the fight and reducing legal liability.
Be The One Who Calls 9-1-1
A fairly effective way to prevent cops from shooting you is ensuring they find out in advance of arriving on the scene that you are there. If they know they are responding to a situation with an armed good guy, and potentially have your description that is going to go a long way.
Of course, I wouldn't call 9-1-1 myself if I'm busy trying to win a gunfight but perhaps instructing someone else to do so; or if the fight is effectively over you could call yourself if safely able.
Try To Be Watching For Responding LE
Again, depending on the situation you may be able to open your awareness and be watching for responding police. If you see the blue lights or uniforms rushing toward you that may help you determine if the situation no longer requires you to be armed or if you can disengage from your attacker to a position of cover etc.
Like these other tips, there is no guarantee you will see the responding cops, or that you will find yourself able to be aware enough to see them but certainly if able it would be helpful.
Drop The Gun and Follow Other LE Commands
We know that often in gunfights your senses isolate themselves in extreme focus on the threat and you are less likely to hear and see the responding cops. However, if you are able to muster the awareness and you hear law enforcement officers giving you commands, best to follow those commands.
Taking cover if at all possible is a good way to reduce the risk of getting hurt by your attacker and also reduces the risk of getting shot by responding cops.
Using cover is good guy behavior and also puts a physical barrier between you and the potentially responding officers.
Safe Muzzle Directions
Good guys don't muzzle innocent people with their guns. Maintaining a safe muzzle direction by using ready positions and generally being considerate of the environment is good guy behavior.
Minimize the Risk of Being Shot By Cops
When you carry a gun you run the risk, no matter how small, of being mistaken as a bad guy with a gun. You can minimize that risk by following the above tips when and where possible.
Effectively it comes down to behaving like a well-trained good guy, distancing yourself from the threat, and forcing yourself to be aware of the environment beyond the immediate threat.
I look forward to any comments below!