The Law of Self Defense

If you’re strapped, this is the best knowledge you can have to avoid “being remanded to the custody of the State” (i.e. prison).

This is a fantastic and enlightening book. The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide for the Armed Citizen is a must read for every citizen, armed or not. I never thought I’d use these words about a lawyer. Mr. Branca was clear and concise in this book. There is zero doubt as to what he is saying and meaning. Normally the job of a lawyer is to obfuscate and confuse, and this guy did the exact opposite.

Massad Ayoob, a man whose literary works I greatly admire and have done so for decades, wrote not only the forward for this book, but the seminal work on the subject in 1980. I read the forward, (something I almost never do) and read it in Massad’s gravelly voice. Massad has multiple videos on YouTube, so you can’t miss him.

Mr. Branca lays out in individual chapters the five elements that will give you the best chance to stay out of prison after having to defend yourself with deadly force. In my other articles on this website I touch on many things in this book, however I possess only a layman’s knowledge of the points he goes into professionally.

The points are:

  • Innocence
  • Imminence
  • Proportionally
  • Avoidance
  • Reasonableness

He also details the ins and outs of defense of others and defense of property.

Under Imminence, he tells you about the AOJ triad, which is Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy and concerns the actions of the attacker.

The price of the book alone is worth learning about the Tueller Rule, usually called “the 21-foot rule.” Except it’s not “21 feet,” it’s “the distance an attacker can travel in the time between your recognition that they are a threat and you can draw and shoot them to stop the threat.” If you use “Tueller” instead of “21 feet,” you can up that distance if necessary. A police officer can generally draw from open carry to first shot in about 1.5 seconds, which is how fast a man can travel 21 feet from a standing stop to contact in the same amount of time. Me, I’m old, slow and I draw from concealment, so my “Tueller time” is about 2.3 seconds, which makes my “Tueller distance” more like 35 feet. If I/my defense team were to use the “21 foot rule,” the jury would be stuck on 21 feet, so when I (hypothetically) drew and shot my attacker at 35 feet, the attacker was not a threat because it was more than 21 feet and off to prison I go, because the Jeopardy leg fell off my AOJ triangle.

I have the trade paperback edition of this book, and the first 168 pages of the book are his words and legal examples to drive home his points. The remaining 123 pages of this book is the law for each element, state-by-state. My only complaint is he grouped them by element, then state. This way you have to find your states laws in each element. I would have preferred that each state had its’ own section with each element all together. Then again, that’s how my mind works and is not necessarily how anyone else’s brain operates and organizes.

The most critical bit of wisdom he conveys is, in the justice system, there are no “good guys” or “bad guys.” There is only the accused and the convicted. You, as a “good guy” will get zero benefit of the doubt by the justice system. You are there because someone thinks they can convict you of a crime. You are nothing more than grist for the mill. Disabuse yourself of thinking you’re going to get cut any slack, especially if the DA is allergic to the idea of armed citizens.

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