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Author: Andrew Branca

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Andrew Branca

Andrew F. Branca is in his third decade of practicing law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He wrote the first edition of the "Law of Self Defense" in 1997, and is currently in the process of completing the fully revised and updated second edition, which you can preorder now at He began his competitive shooting activities as a youth in smallbore rifle, and today is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a Life Member and Master-class competitor in multiple classifications in the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA). Andrew has for many years been an NRA-certified firearms instructor in pistol, rifle, and personal protection, and has previously served as an Adjunct Instructor on the Law of Self Defense at the SigSauer Academy in Epping, NH. He holds or has held concealed carry permits for Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, Virginia, and other states.

There's a video making the internet rounds of an apparent security guard outside a McDonald's being attacked by two young black men, and I'm being asked if the guard pointing his gun at the two was a lawful threat of deadly defensive force, on the one hand, or a crime, on the other.

Here’s a pro-tip for all of you who will be seeing headlines in coming days from “news” articles writing about a recent “scientific” study on gun violence: Any time you see such a study purport to examine “gun violence” but actually examine “homicide” and “suicide,” you can be pretty sure it’s a hack job.

There is yet another outburst of outrage propagandized into being by the racial grievance industrial complex, this time over the acquittal this past Friday of East Pittsburgh (now former) police officer Michael Rosfeld for the shooting death of Antwon Rose (in feature image, above). But for the fact that Officer Rosfeld is white and Rose is black this shooting would never have made national headlines.

This Case of the Week is on an interesting defense of dwelling situation out of Louisiana that illustrates both that the legal risks for use of force are never zero, no matter how favorable the law appears to be to the defender, and also why a defender with the law on their side might nevertheless agree to plea to a felony conviction with a multi-year sentence.

Ever wonder how to get yourself shot and killed by police? It’s not as difficult as you might think.

Step 1: Present yourself as a reasonably perceived imminent deadly force threat. Step 2: Wait for loud noises, flashes.

And let’s not forget the postmortem:

Step 3: Family files multi-million dollar §1983 Federal civil suit against the police department, hoping that political pressure from the usual racial grievance industrial complex will induce the local pols to give away large sums of other people’s (taxpayers’) money.

It’s become a standard propaganda technique of the modern racial grievance industrial complex to target self-defense law for particularly intense hate-based attacks. This is most notable in their attacks on “Stand-Your-Ground,” a term that they've sought to make, and with some success, synonymous with "RACIST!!!” These efforts are not limited to “Stand-Your-Ground,” however, but rather are broadly applied to generally constrain the scope of conduct that qualifies as lawful self-defense, and thus deemed free of criminal liability.

An acquittal in a murder case out of Louisiana provides a real-time illustration of the difference between the application of what I refer to as “hard” Stand-Your-Ground provisions versus “soft” Stand-Your-Ground provisions. (Details here are as reported by The Advocate and other news sources.) The facts of the case involve a bare-handed attack by a large aggressor against a smaller defender, one Jacob Westbrook, who was armed with a knife. Westbrook, who testified at trial that he had never been in a fight before, stabbed the aggressor once in the chest after, he says, the larger and stronger aggressor punched him in the head. It is noteworthy that the aggressor was a guest, perhaps little wanted, in Westbrook's home at the time of the conflict.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona has released, under court order, the body camera footage of Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Wells, who stopped accused ISIS knife attacker Ismail Hamed the old-fashioned way—by demonstrating once again why it’s not a good idea to bring a knife to a gunfight. Hamed now stands charged by Arizona authorities with aggravated assault and terrorism. (As reported by AZ Central.) The events took place on January 7, but the body cam video and 911 recordings were only recently released under court order, in response to motions filed by media outlets for disclosure. (The body cam video footage is embedded below.)

Facts of the Case

The apparent facts of the case are that Hamed called 911 himself, stating:
My name is Ismail Hamed. I live in Fountain Hills, and I'm owing my allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. I just want a cop to come real quick and I want to deal with them.

This Case of the Week focuses on a real-world example of the application of the self-defense law doctrine of “regaining innocence.” One of the five elements of a claim of self-defense justification for a use-of-force against another person is the element of innocence, which denies the justification of self-defense to a person who was the initial aggressor in a fight. “Initial aggressor” generally means the person who was the first to threaten or use unlawful physical force against another. So that’s that, right? The initial aggressor loses the legal justification of self-defense? Not so fast! As the late-night TV infomercials say, “Wait! There’s more!”

This Case of the Week involves an Indianapolis man who successfully ambushed three home burglars, killing one and driving off the others, who were ultimately arrested. (Click here for a link to the news report by the IndyStar.) Local prosecutors have announced that they do not intend to bring charges against the defender. Based on the reported facts this appears to be a perfectly sound call by prosecutors. So, a big win for the good guy, right?

This week's Case of the Week involves a video that has been making the rounds on the internet showing a large white man apparently knocking out a smaller young black woman with a single punch. I've seen reports that the man has been arrested and presume that he will attempt to justify his punch as a lawful use of defensive force.