Armed Citizens and Andrew Branca on The Law of Self-Defense

The June 27th issue of The New Yorker magazine includes a story by Evan Osnos called “Making a Killing: The Business and Politics of Selling Guns.”  Although it is framed by the usual anti-gun biases, it also includes some material of interest to Gun Culture 2.0.

Photograph by Dan Winters for the New Yorker
Photograph by Dan Winters for the New Yorker

Notably, it tells the stories of Gerald Ung and David Jackson, both of whom were legally permitted to carry firearms and used them in acts of justifiable self-defense.

Ung shot one of a group of men who were threatening him on the streets of the Old City neighborhood in Philadelphia in January 2010, and Jackson shot one of two men who were perpetrating an armed robbery of the Columbia, South Carolina barber shop he was getting his hair cut in January 2016. Ung was acquitted by a jury of attempted murder in February 2011, and Jackson was not charged with any crime after police reviewed videotaped evidence of the event.

Among the realities overlooked by Osnos in his article is that concealed carry license holders are very law-abiding in comparison to the general public. The Michael Dunn’s of the concealed carry world are the exception, not the rule, and Dunn is spending the rest of his life in prison for the felonious killing of Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida.

As sociologist Jennifer Carlson has written in her book Citizen-Protectors, gun carriers “are not more likely to commit crime than the general population. As a general rule, a gun carrier is much less likely to be arrested than the general population” (p. 142).

Much of the explanation for this is that people with concealed carry permits are not a representative sample of the broader population. It is a “selection effect” of the type of people who are able to get permits.

But some part of it, I believe, is also a “treatment effect” as people recognize the awesome responsibility of carrying a firearm and take steps to do so safely and legally.

Case in point: At the United States Concealed Carry Association’s Concealed Carry Expo in Atlanta, attorney Andrew Branca gave a seminar on the law of self-defense. There was such interest in the topic that audience for the seminar literally spilled out into the hallway of the Georgia International Convention Center.

Branca Overflow

After the seminar, Branca signed dozens of copies of the third edition of his book, The Law of Self-Defense, which the USCCA licensed and gave away free to Expo attendees.


I have previously sung the praises of Branca’s law of self-defense seminar, for which I paid 2x tuition (for my wife and me). The fact that he travels the country giving these seminars and has published a third edition of his book suggests that there is a demand for what he is selling.

If I didn’t get a free copy at the concealed carry expo I would have bought the third edition of his book, even though I already bought the second. The third edition includes new cases and other changes in response to questions received by Branca over the years. But most importantly, because the law is constantly changing, I want to know the current state of not just the “black letter law” (statutes) but also jury instructions and case law.


My only quibbles with the book are that its layout can be a bit complex, with various case studies and multi-page tables intermingling with the text. And its lack of an index. I have indexed several books myself, and it is a time-consuming and mind-numbing task, but in the era of electronic publishing it is much easier than it used to be. I would like to be able to flip to the back of the book and find, for example, all the places I can read about “North Carolina” in particular.

Evan Osnos mentions many luminaries of Gun Culture 2.0 in his New Yorker article – Cooper, Ayoob, Schmidt, Lamb, Grossman – but Andrew Branca is not among those mentioned. Which is too bad because for many armed citizens, buying an understanding of the law of self-defense is as much a part of the “business of guns” today as buying the gun itself. I know I happily paid for Branca’s knowledge before I got to know him personally, and heartily recommend others do so as well.

Branca and Me
Meeting up with Andrew Branca in the NRA Annual Meeting media room


  1. Thanks for the kind review, David! Your complaint about the lack of an index is one we’ve heard before. We’d planned to include an index in this most recent 3rd Edition, but for reasons to complex to get into here we were rather rushed in getting the 3rd Edition to publication, so the index didn’t make it. Next edition for sure–probably 3-4 years down the road, however. In the meantime, we’re likely to put out a series of state-specific supplements, that are a deep-dive into each state’s self-defense statutes, jury instructions, and court decisions, much like we cover these in our state-specific live classes. So, much new stuff on the horizon. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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