Andrew F. Branca has served the gun community in the same way that Rand McNally has served the traveling community. He has written the best roadmap, allowing you to navigate the judicial waters of a self-defense claim should you ever need to make one. And make no mistake, those waters are full of sharks, just looking for a victim.
The Law of Self Defense, The Indispensable Guide for the Armed Citizen is the best book available on the subject today. Until now, I’ve read and re-read the book by Massad Ayoob, In the Gravest Extreme, The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection. The Ayoob book makes a solid case that using your firearm in self defense will solve one problem and create two more – the defense of your freedom from criminal charges, and the defense of your estate from civil lawsuits. That book will make you think twice about arming yourself for self defense.
Mr. Branca’s book, however, will not only make you think THREE times before you use a firearm in self defense, but it provides a legal education in self defense law, written in layman’s terms. Each chapter builds on the previous one, first defining legal terms and expectations, then leading up through all of the hurdles to a successful self defense claim in a court of law.
In Chapter 6, Mr. Branca introduces us to Reasonable Ralph. I will quote only a little:
“Reasonable Ralph is also cautious. He looks both ways when he crosses the street, obeys the speed limit, cuts away from himself when using a knife, and adheres strictly to the four rules of gun safety. Ralph is also responsible. He doesn’t leave his car running while he runs into the store for a loaf of bread, he doesn’t leave small children unattended for a ‘couple of minutes’, and when he borrows a tool, he returns it promptly and in as good or better condition then when he received it.”
His point in the chapter is to introduce the legal concept of the “reasonable man”, against whom your actions will be measured in court. His analogy is funny while being deadly serious.
The book is crammed full of spreadsheets, showing up to date case law from each state as it relates to the topic at hand. And further case law in full is available on his website http://www.lawofselfdefense.com
Finally, Mr. Branca makes the unmistakable point that every thing you do today, and tomorrow, and the next day will either strengthen your self defense case or weaken it. Having a bad day? Fine, we all do. But the fact that you gave the finger to someone at a four-way stop who “took your turn” is not what you would like witnesses to say on the stand as they relate the incidents which led up to your use of your firearm. Your habit of always being confrontational in public, when revealed in court, will not make it look to a jury that you avoided the fight to the best of your ability.
He elaborates on the patience which you will have to exercise when you arm yourself for defense. He says that armed citizens often feel that now they don’t have to take any “guff” from anybody, when in fact, you now have to take it from EVERYBODY. That is if you want to avoid trouble, and strengthen your self defense claim should you need to make one.
Your social media presence will bite you in the butt as well. Words which sound “cool” or “tough” on a tweet or social media posting, will be used against you in a court of law. Count on it. In fact, the books you have in your bookcase, the videos which you rent or download, even the sign in your window which seemed cool at the time, will be used to show that you really wanted to shoot and kill someone, and you finally got your chance.
The bottom line is this: without a gun, you are open to a violent attack from some thug or criminal. However, if you carry, and God Forbid, use a gun to defend yourself, your only real friend at that time will be your lawyer – and he will probably know less about the laws relating to self defense than you will after you finish the book. Everyone else will be either trying to distance themselves from you or trying to bury you in a state penitentiary.
There are several legal defense organizations whom you can contact NOW to start acquiring a good defense team. Second Call Defense is one. http://www.secondcalldefense.org There are others. Find one and pony up. If you ever need them, you won’t regret it. Mr. Branca says in his book that you may have cause to regret the enormous amount of money you spent on a good lawyer after he successfully defends your freedom. But he says that that regret will pale in comparison to the regret you’ll feel if you get a cheap one, and lose.
What can you do today to strengthen your self-defense claim? Today, buy Andrew Branca’s book and read it. Today, begin building a public (and private) reputation as Reasonable Ralph. Today, start looking at your lifestyle as if you were a prosecutor, hunting for a reason to put you away. Today is the day of salvation. (And in case I need it later – today, I’m claiming that I know the Tueller Drill)