The following is a video transcript.
Hi, I’m Mike Giaramita, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of Pennsylvania. Today, we’re going to talk about the top three mistakes I see gun owners make in Pennsylvania.
Talking to the Police
Number one: talking to the police right after a critical incident. Never, ever, make a statement to the police immediately following a critical incident of any kind. No matter how much you think you were in the right, and no matter how much you think the police know that you’re the good guy, don’t do it. It’s not because the police are bad people. It’s because of the context in which you’re having this interaction. I’m not telling you not to talk to the police at a fundraiser, or at a softball game. I’m telling you do not talk to the police in the context of any questioning, or if they’re holding you for any reason, or in the aftermath of any kind of critical incident.
We always hear those words, “anything you say, can and will be used against you.” They don’t say, “might be used against you.” They don’t say, “might be used to help you.” In Pennsylvania, when a state trooper is personally involved in a critical incident, they get 72 hours before they have to make a statement. It’s important for everybody. So remember, lawyer up and shut up.
Firearm as Your Only Defense
Number two: having no options for self-defense other than a firearm. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many cases where a gun owner draws a firearm when deadly force would be inappropriate. In the words of the great Jose Morales, “Not every problem is a nail that requires a hammer.” Perhaps the use of force would be justified, such as defensive spray, but deadly force would not be justified. And whatever you do, don’t fire a warning shot. You’re putting people other than the aggressor in danger. If deadly force is not justified, do not pull that trigger. So, don’t rely on your firearm to be the cure-all for every single situation. Sometimes, it’s best left holstered.
“It will never happen to me!”
Number three: thinking it could never happen to you. A lot of gun owners make the mistake of thinking that just because they don’t intend to harm anybody, or don’t intend to break the law, that they can never end up in trouble. Especially with today’s climate being so hostile toward gun owners, it’s important that we stay vigilant and take nothing for granted. Make sure you know the laws about where you can and can’t legally carry. Know the laws of force and deadly force inside and out. Make sure you know about the laws of interstate travel, because crossing the wrong border with the wrong thing in your car could lead to you serving a mandatory, minimum prison sentence. Follow every single safety rule, every single time; never get complacent while handling your firearm.
If you have any questions about these, or other common mistakes in Pennsylvania, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.