After-Class Report: The Law Of Self Defense With Andrew Branca

I’ve read his book (twice), and I’ve watched all the DVD’s on self-defense law I received with my ACLDN membership at least two times each.

So why would I want to spend the money and time to also go to Andrew Branca’s Law Of Self-Defense Seminar?

Because going to the seminar means you’ll learn what Andrew Branca thinks is important about self-defense law, not what I think is important about self-defense law as I went along in his book. One of the biggest takeaways for me from the seminar (not necessarily the book) is that a legal strategy of self-defense only applies after you admit to the fact that you used deadly force against someone to defend your life. Your defense, essentially is “Yes, I shot him/her, BUT it was justified because I did it in self-defense.”

See the problem there? You’re admitting that you shot someone, and you’re betting on the fact you did it legally because it was in self-defense. If that self-defense justification goes away, you’ve just admitted you used deadly force.

The book and seminar are both built around five principals of legal self-defense (I won’t say what they are here: Spend the money for the book, it’s worth it. However, all five elements he speaks about are CUMULATIVE: All of them must be present in some form or another for a self-defense claim to be valid. If one or more of those elements aren’t present, everything we talked about in the “but” part of your previous statement (“Yes, I shot him/her, but it was justified”) vanishes, and the “Yes, I shot him/her.” is all that remains.

See why this is so important now?

It’s important because law cares about the law, not your intentions. Just as it is up to us to know the rules of the road before we drive a car, it is up to us to learn the rules of self-defense as well. If we blow through a red light, the law doesn’t care if we did it because we meant to do it or because we didn’t see the signal light change, the law says we’re getting a ticket.

By looking around and watching other drivers, we can learn that running through red lights is a bad idea (although the drivers here in Florida do give me pause about this fact…). Yes, we can learn a little bit about the rules of the road by observing the environment and we can learn a bit of the rules of self-defense from the environment of gun forums and magazines around us, but if I learned to drive from watching the antics of my fellow drivers here in Florida, I’d be dead by now.

And yet so, so many gun owners think they know about the legalities of self-defense because of what other gun owners tell them.

Whoops.

A few more thoughts…

The class had a professional environment and was blissfully free of the usual “Can I shoot him now? Ok, what about now? Ok, now?” kind of questions that are so typical to concealed carry courses and other legal seminars. Also, the seminar really brought home the need to have at least one option for non-deadly force handy at all times. We are 5x more likely to be faced with a non-deadly force than deadly force, but are we 5x more likely to get training in the use of non-deadly force like OC spray or combatives than we are to get pistol training?

If not, why not?

When if comes to how and when you can use deadly force, what you learn about this class about the legal complexities of using deadly force in defense of your property and others should swiftly disabuse you of any “sheepdog” notion. The law gets really, really tricky when you start to talk about the use of force to help a third-party, and the law is even less on your side when it comes to using deadly force to defend your personal property.

You are not Batman. You are not charged with wiping out the criminal element in your town, so don’t do that.

Serious drivers are not content to mimic the bad habits of their fellow drivers, they take the time to learn the rules of the road from serious people. If you are serious about self-defense, you should take the law of self-defense seriously as well.

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