The following rules generally apply after a shooting incident (accidental
or self-defense), whether you are the Vice President of the United States
or not. Thanks to my friend Dr. Bruce Eimer, Ph.D., a clinical and forensic
psychologist, for reminding me of these important basics, and providing
facts. For some mysterious reason, little of this has come out in news
1. All shooting incidents are traumatic for the good guys, especially
when innocent people have been hurt.
2. Post-shooting trauma is REAL and every good person involved in a shooting
incident gets it. Sleeplessness, flashbacks, disorientation, remorse,
malaise and other post-trauma symptoms are routine, expected and must
be dealt with.
3. You have no legal obligation to contact or talk to the press, and defense
attorneys advise against doing so.
4. A person is least capable of making a coherent and consistent statement,
with good word choices and chronological accuracy, immediately after a
shooting incident, even though the urge to talk is typically great, and
everyone around you will encourage it.
5. Knowing this, the police have adopted good standard procedures you
can use as a guide. Remove yourself from all public contact, and go on
"administrative leave" (with pay), until an official statement
can be released in writing, in cooperation with a team of lawyers, within
6. No statement of any kind should be made until conferring with attorneys.
7. You are advised against talking with police unless your lawyer is present.
8. The first concern must be for an injured party. Timely reporting to
law enforcement authorities is also essential, and it would be improper
for police to leak this to the press (both rules were observed in the
9. Allow yourself time to appropriately psychologically process your post-shooting
psychological trauma, and debrief this critical incident for 24 to 48
hours. Only then should you consider making a statement to the press,
the authorities, or anyone. Expressing sadness, contrition and assuming
FULL responsibility for the accident (as Cheney did in this case) is appropriate.
10. Do everything you can to avoid such situations.
Alan (with a lot of help from Bruce).
"We publish the gun laws."
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