Book Review: The Law of Self Defense, Branca

20131113-115316.jpgWe often talk about the differences in laws of concealed carry from one state to the next but it’s easy to forget the other legal aspects that apply to self defense. After the Zimmerman trial everyone was discussing the “Stand your ground” law, and that got me thinking, what sort of legal stuff should I know before defending myself?

That was right about the time I recieved an email from author, Andrew F. Branca. He asked if I would review the second edition of his book The Law of Self Defense – The Indispensable Guide for the Armed Citizen. The book is offered in paperback as well as digital versions and even though it’s packed with information, it isn’t too big to through in a carry on bag for a weekend away. Then again, I would’t call it beach reading, but I wouldn’t catorgize this book as a pure-fact dry read, or simply a reference book either.

If you’ve ever searched the internet for the same information, you probably found that the number of sites that interpret the law rather than offer you the text, are extensive. But we must be causious of who’s interpretation we accept as fact and when they were last updated. If one can find a site with the actual text of the law, there are usually pages of definitions to get through and the titles of laws are not always as self explanatary as we would like. Even as a student of law, I often have trouble wading through the jargon to understand the issues at hand. However, even if you make it through all this and you think you understand what the authors intended, our American legal system throughs us another curve. Our laws are writen to be interpreted. So no matter what the authors meant when they created the law, it can also be important to find out how judges have upheald the law since it was enacted.

Truely, Branca’s book would be useful to a citizen who was armed with a baseball bat, not just one with a firearm. It begins with the basics of criminal law and puts the main ideas into terms anyone can understand. Then he delves into the heart of a what it means to be an “innocent victim.” Not all defensive acts are defendable in a court of law and anyone who simply believes that they can state, “I was in fear for my life,” and not be arrested, should read this book. Further, The Law of Self Defense helps the reader understand the defense of others and defense of property, and does so while considering he different laws in each of the 50 states.

20131113-115307.jpgThe main issue I found with this book was the formatting. I agree that the table format is the best way to show the data for all 50 states and alphabetical is also ideal! but these broken charts just weren’t working for me. Also an issue with the tables, was that if a state did not have a certain law on the books and it was being discussed in a table in the book, the state was simple, left out of the chart. A few times his omission had me flipping pages wondering if I was missing one or if two had gotten stuck together. Also, sometimes state names were placed along the top of the chart, other times they were along the side. These were not major issues, but they took some getting used to.

In summary, I found The Law of Self Defense a interesting book and useful tool. The real-life stories brought the information to life, and the tables of laws, broken down by state, ensured accuracy in my knowledge. I would recommend checking out Andrew Branca’s book, or at least getting to know your state’s self defense laws, before you NEED them.


  1. Hey, Gabby, thanks for the review, both the kinds words and the constructive criticism–we really struggled with the tables! So much information covering 50 states. Maybe we’ll try a different approach for the next edition (someday). 🙂

    One return comment that the book sometimes leaves unclear–every statute, jury instruction, and court case mentioned in the book is available (for free, of course) in full-length at the Law of Self Defense web site, so readers can get the full context of the law from the original source (if they want). Just use the search function in the footer of the web page.

    In appreciation for the review, I’ve set up a discount code for the folks who frequent Gun Nuts Media blog. Use the coupon code “gunnuts” at checkout, and save $10 (so, from $39 to $29) and get free shipping. The coupon is good for 20 uses, so if anyone is particularly interested I urge promptness. 🙂 Also, the coupon works only at the Law of Self Defense web site (–Amazon, B&N, etc., won’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

    In addition, if anyone has any questions about the book, our LOSD seminars etc., there’s lots of reviews and info on the web site, and they should feel free to contact me directly if they like.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

  2. Great book. His class was also very good (Milton, FL). I recommend both to anyone who owns a firearm intended for self defense. I have the book on my iPad. I gave my print version to my son-in-law. Get the electronic version and read it before the class. You will get more out of the class. Then you can give your “free” book to someone else as I did. These would make great gifts (no, I’m not getting paid for this comment-this is just good stuff).

  3. It’s a great book, with possibly the best part being the last section, “Facilitating Acceptance of Events.” It’s three pages discussing the need to get clear in one’s mind just what situations would be worth pressing a trigger for in self defense. In other words, would you be at peace spending the rest your life in prison or losing all your wealth for this particular reaction? In his words, “Each of us will scratch that line–‘Was it still worth it?’ in a slightly different place.” If you haven’t thought that all the way through, or if you don’t have a full grasp of potential consequences, you’re still not fully prepared to deal with a self defense situation.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Caleb. I, too, think that is the most important part of the book–in a sense the first 293 pages is just setting the foundation on which to build that ultimate notion. Too many people, unfamiliar with the inner workings of the criminal justice system, especially in the context of self-defense law, are often too glib in their answer to the question of where to draw the line.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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