Book Review: “The Law of Self Defense”, by Andrew F. Branca

bookindexIf you’ve been in the gun community long, you’ve probably heard the Internet lawyers. They’re the guys who say, “if it’s a righteous shoot, you have nothing to worry about” and “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” They tell you, “shut up and don’t say a darned word to the cops” and, sometimes, even things like “drag his body inside and put a knife in his hand.”

Unfortunately for you, the Internet lawyers are not going to be there to pay your legal bills if you’re involved in a deadly force encounter, and they’re not going to be sitting in the jail cell next to you if you follow their dubious advice. It is absolutely true that surviving the encounter is the first problem you have to solve, but if you make it through alive, it isn’t the only problem. And, if I may say so myself, surviving a deadly force encounter only to lose my freedom and bankrupt my family is a decidedly hollow victory.

For that reason, if you’re a law abiding armed citizen,The Law of Self Defense, by Massachusetts lawyer Andrew F. Branca, might just be the most important book you can read this year.

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IANAL: Burglars, Cops, and Questionable Decisions

A 41-year-old Texas criminal found himself on the wrong end of a defensive gun use incident recently, and actually called 9-1-1 to ask the cops to rescue him from the gun-toting homeowners. The Dallas Morning News reports:

The incident happened around 12:30 a.m. when the homeowner and his wife woke up to find an intruder in the bedroom of their home in the 100 block of Lelon Lane.

The suspect, identified as 41-year-old Christopher Lance Moore of Bedford, left the home and sat in his GMC pickup, parked in the family’s driveway. The homeowner followed him with a pistol, took the suspect’s keys and blocked his getaway with his own vehicle, while his stepson trained a shotgun on Moore, Fox 4 News reports.

“If he gets out of the truck, shoot him in the legs,” James Gerow told his son. “You ain’t gotta kill him; just shoot him in the legs. … If he’d got out, I’d have expected him to shoot him.”

When deputies arrived, both men were on the phone with 911. Deputies asked Moore why he had broken into the home, to which he merely said he had “bad intentions.”

Fortunately, this defensive gun use incident resolved without shots being fired. The would-be burglar, who has a criminal record including theft and drug charges, was arrested and is being held on $35,000 bond. This is, by all accounts, a good outcome, but I wanted to discuss the incident to talk about a few practical and legal realities for armed citizens in similar situations.

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IANAL: Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy, and “Good Shoots”

First of all, let me clear something up: The acronym in the title of this post stands for “I Am Not a Lawyer”, which is true. Please don’t construe anything I write here as legal advice. Although I am trained as a paralegal, that isn’t the same thing as being a lawyer, and since the laws of every jurisdiction vary, it’s up to you to check what I have to say with a lawyer who’s licensed to practice law in your state.

With that said, this is the first of what I hope will be an occasional series about aspects of the law as it relates to self-defense. I know, I know, “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” and all that, you may be saying. But really, if you survive your tangle with violence but end up incarcerated and/or in bankruptcy court to satisfy a civil judgment, it’s a bit of a hollow victory, no? Saving your life is good, but so is not bringing financial ruin down upon your family.

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