“The Dead Man’s Minute”- what to do after you pull the trigger.

“The Dead man’s minute” is a term used by many in the Law Enforcement and the Military, simply put it is the minute that elapses between the time that a person sustains a lethal injury and the time that they actually die. Many people have lost their life because they dropped their guard during that minute. Today we are going to discuss this and other things that are not usually discussed during gun safety and training courses. This information could save your life if you know what to do AFTER you pull the trigger.

As some of you know, I spent some time working as a Deputy Sheriff in my younger days, after I left the Military. With only about 4 of us on the road at any one time, we covered the entire St. Mary Parish in South Louisiana, which is a very large area. We traveled alone and as a result, our training was intense to say the least. We were taught by some of the best and I will never forget what I learned there. One of the courses was on what to do after you pull the trigger and what not to do as well. This is something that you just don’t hear much about today, mainly because no one wants to think about having to pull that trigger, or what to do afterwards. Here are a few things you should know.

As I mentioned above, “The Dead Man’s Minute” is the minute directly after you fatally shoot your assailant and is one of the most dangerous points during the confrontation. In those 60 to 120 seconds you can lose your life if you drop your guard for even a few seconds. While you may not think it, they can still shoot you if they have a gun in their hands. If you are forced to pull the trigger, then don’t stop shooting until you are certain that they are dead. Even after you stop pulling the trigger, keep your gun pointed at them and be ready to defend yourself if need be. Those few seconds will seem like an eternity so be prepared. Your adrenalin will be coursing through you veins and your hands will start to shake. Everything will feel like it is happening in slow motion, that’s normal. Your vision will narrow and everything around you will fade out. When this happens, you must fight it and stay aware of your surroundings as well as the person that you just shot. There will be plenty of time to rethink what has just happened later. Once you are 100% sure he is dead and there is no weapon nearby or on the body, you can move on to the next step.

The next step is to secure the area around you. Were there others with him? Did he have someone in a car or hiding nearby? If they are, then you may be forced to engage them as well. Don’t allow yourself to think that just because the main shooter is down, that there are not anymore threats close by. If you just killed someone’s close friend or relative, then they may want revenge so be ready for it. If you are alone and have a way to call others for support, then do it. Fight the adrenalin fog and stay sharp until help arrives. Be wary of anyone that tries to approach you, but do not act aggressive unless you know for sure it is warranted. They may just want to help. Try to calm your breathing and regain control of the situation. A clear mind will serve you better than a panicked one.

Once help has arrived, remove yourself from the scene if at all possible. Give your mind a chance to digest what has just happened. Now is the time to walk through what happened step by step. Think of what you did right and what you could have done better for the next time. Do this analytically and use only the facts of what actually happened and not what you wish would have happened. This will help keep your memory from becoming distorted over time. It can be very hard to do, but you will be glad that you did.

We have all seen the movies where someone kills another person and then just casually walks away. Unless you are in a war situation and are detached from the person you shot, this simply will not happen. ( I have my doubts about it happening even then.)  The part about throwing up afterwards does sometimes happen though. Have you ever wondered why? I will give you a hint; it’s not because of the blood. The truth is that it is the remorse that makes you sick and it will not go away quickly regardless of the situation or the facts that forced you to take another man’s life. From the moment you pull that trigger, you will regret having to. It’s part of being human. Society has taught that is wrong to take another’s life and whether you are religious or not you will instantly feel guilt and that you have somehow become dirty in a way that you can never remove. This is why it is so important to walk through exactly what actually happened. Do not second guess yourself because that will just make it worse. Keep the facts clear in your mind and know that you did what you had to do to save your own or someone else’s life. Accept it and move on, because if you don’t, you may hesitate to pull that trigger next time and you or others could wind up dead because of it.

I know that many TV shows glorify the bang, bang, shoot ’em up gun fight and make them seem like it would be such a noble thing to do. The truth however is that there is nothing noble about taking another humans life. It is a terrifying and sickening act and not something anyone should ever want to have to do. I know that there are times that it has to be done, but one should not look forward to it but should rather prepare for it as best as possible. If you are forced to pull that trigger and take the life of another, then by all means do it, but be prepared for what will follow. Hopefully by telling you this, you can begin to prepare yourself mentally for what may lie ahead. As I said in the beginning, this is the part of shooting that no one ever talks about, but it is just as important as knowing how to aim a gun and knowing when to pull the trigger. If you know now what to expect after you pull that trigger and how to deal with it then you are way ahead of the game compared to most people.

Well, I know that today’s subject was a little dark, but was something that I felt needed to be discussed before the time comes for you to need it. Hopefully today’s post has given you something to think about and maybe a new perspective on a few things. Let me say clearly that I in no way support gun control unless you are referring to using two hands to hold the gun, and I am a NRA member as well as a supporter of both open and concealed carry. Like they say, and armed society is a polite society! Until next time, keep on prepping!

-The Sargent-

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