Attorney discusses self-defense, ‘Stand Your Ground’ lawsWritten by Jay Hathaway | | email@example.com
A nationally-recognized attorney and author recently spoke in Perrysburg at a seminar to inform citizens of current self-defense and concealed carry laws.
Andrew Branca is a Massachusetts-based attorney who specializes in self-defense laws, as well as an avid shooter and gun enthusiast. He is currently on a seminar tour, giving talks around the country, especially in pivotal states where new legislation is being considered or debated.
The seminar took place Sept. 14 at the RE/MAX Masters real estate office, 810 W. South Boundary St., in Perrysburg. Seating was limited to 30. The host of the event was Jon Modene of Toledo Area Real Estate.
Branca’s book, “The Law of Self Defense,” was written in 1998, after he began to realize how ill-informed many people are about their rights to self-defense.
“I’ve been considered a shooter for most of my life, and I’ve spent a lot of time at gun ranges, gun stores and gun shows,” Branca said. “I’ve had the opportunity to hear people give each other advice on the law of self-defense, and it was terrible advice. It would advocate things like, ‘If you shoot somebody outside of your house, make sure you drag them in.’ [That] kind of advice…would warrant somebody getting a very, very long sentence in jail.”
He began to engage in conversations when he overheard that kind of flawed advice being given, and was often met with questions about how one becomes better educated in the laws of self-defense.
“At the time, there really wasn’t anything that you could send a layman to,” Branca said. “Of course, there were books for lawyers, but that’s not very helpful to someone who’s not a lawyer.”
The first edition of “The Law of Self Defense” used real-life situations and scenarios to help explain when a person is within his or her right to use lethal self-defense. Branca said writing the book was mostly just a hobby at the time, but in recent years, readers began contacting him asking for an update, since many laws have changed.
In response, Branca released a second edition of the book in July with updated information. He is now also offering state-specific supplements for Ohio, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Virginia.
Ohio is one of the states currently seeing a wave of proposed legislation that would expand the rights of gun owners, including House Bill 203, which aims to loosen some restrictions on criminal checks and applications for conceal carry permits. The legislation also proposes broadening the situations in which one is allowed to use deadly self-defense measures, sometimes referred to as “Stand Your Ground” provisions.
“Stand Your Ground” laws have been a hot topic of debate since the George Zimmerman case in Florida, in which Zimmerman was acquitted of murder for the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. Though “Stand Your Ground” was initially called upon in Zimmerman’s defense, it was bypassed by his defense team.
“There [are] a lot of misunderstandings with ‘Stand Your Ground,’ especially now that it’s become sort of a political football,” Branca said. “Thirty-three states have ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws. They may not call it ‘Stand Your Ground,’ but they don’t have a duty to retreat before you can act in self-defense, which is really the practical definition of ‘Stand Your Ground.’”
Branca added that a person who is under attack or is defending someone who is under potentially lethal attack would not normally consider avenues of retreat, or if retreat is a legal obligation or option.
“They are literally fighting for their lives. A lot of people have been told through the media is that ‘Stand Your Ground’ is really just a way to shoot someone and not be held legally accountable. That’s simply not the case. You can’t shoot someone unless they represent the threat of death or grave bodily harm. Until that circumstance arises, there’s no issue of self-defense. If that doesn’t exist, you’ve simply shot someone, which obviously is a crime.”
Branca also commented on how, in recent years, more states have adopted concealed carry firearm laws.
“Twenty or so years ago, concealed carry of firearms was permitted in only a handful of states,” Branca said. “Today, [it] is permitted in every state, if we include Illinois, who is in the process of getting concealed carry together. That’s led to many thousands of law-abiding citizens carrying a weapon they can legally use in self-defense. Now that they have the right to defend themselves, a lot more of these cases are going to inevitably find themselves in the courts.”
For more information, visit lawofselfdefense.com.