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The Law of Self Defense
An Interview with Andrew Branca, Part II
by Gila Hayes
At the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting, we were fortunate to spend several hours with attorney and author Andrew Branca (shown to the right, lecturing at the 2015 RangeMaster Tactical Conference), while he was in the Network’s booth in the exhibit hall. We shared many of his thoughts and explanations about the law of self defense in the May edition of this online journal, but owing to the length of our conversation with him, broke the interview into two segments, the second of which we continue this month.
In the May edition, Branca defined uniformity and variations in self-defense laws from one state to another, and in the course of that discussion explained how statutory law (sometimes called blackletter law) is put into application on real situations by court decisions, which then becomes case law. He cited another influence that is less accessible to ordinary citizens than statutory or case law and that is the instructions that a judge gives a jury before their deliberations. We return now to our Q & A format to continue learning from Andrew Branca, starting with the subject of jury instructions.
eJournal: In our interview last month, you mentioned jury instructions that are not readily available and not well understood, unlike the statutory law you talked about earlier, which we may not always understand correctly but can easily access. Who develops jury instructions and what influence do they have on the outcome of a jury trial?
Branca: Most states these days have standardized jury instructions. Usually the highest court in the state has put together a commission of judges and lawyers and they spend years developing standardized jury instructions that are the starting point for jury instructions in every criminal court in that state.
by Marty Hayes, J.D.
In my column last month I asked members if the Network should offer a bail assistance program of some type. The question came about because we reached a goal of $500,000 in the Legal Defense Fund, so in my May column, I asked members if helping pay bail was a reasonable use of the Legal Defense Fund or if the Fund should be reserved exclusively for legal defense and thus allowed to grow larger and larger with new and renewing membership. I appreciate the time 62 Network members took to respond to my question. Many people just voted yes or no, while many others took the time to write out their thoughts.
The result of my non-scientific poll is that a majority of the members would like the Legal Defense Fund used to create a bail assistance program in one form or another. In fact, 88% of the responding members wanted the addition of bail assistance, with only 12% stating a clear preference to simply keep growing the fund. So, with this in mind, I will be looking at all the options available through which the Network could help with bail, and Vincent, Gila and I will start putting together a plan to add bail assistance. Let me explain the issues and why I am not sure at this time what would be the best form of that assistance.
Attorney Question of the Month
Network Affiliated Attorney Steven Harris, while watching Henderson v. United States, which he discusses at length in his column at Modern Service Weapons with the Court decision detailed in a later MSW column, asked our Network Affiliated Attorneys the following question:
What are your recommendations or protocols for a person who may be or is charged with a crime in a situation alleged to be justified use of force in preparation for the possibility that either to be granted bail pending trial, or in the event of conviction, he/she will no longer be permitted to “possess” firearms under state and/or federal law?
C. Dennis Brislawn, Jr., J.D.
Oseran Hahn, P.S.–Private Client Law Group
1430 Skyline Tower, 10900 NE 4th, Bellevue, WA 98004
Under the facts presented, where justifiable use of force is involved whether charges have been brought or not, an estate planning solution appears to be attractive. Best of all it will provide protective benefits for any gun owner’s collection and will help preserve firearms rights whether a criminal issue ever arises or not.
Preserving personal firearms and ammunition is first and foremost an estate issue at all times, and a criminal one perhaps rarely. A gun owner concerned with preservation of firearms should at least consider creation of a revocable or even an irrevocable gun trust as part of his or her estate plan.
Secrets of the Snubby
Lecture on DVD by Claude Werner
Produced by Armed Response © 2014
1 hour 4 minutes, $19.95
The snub-nosed revolver is the most popular and best selling handgun in the country and shooting it better is the topic of a concise and instructive one hour lecture by Claude Werner. Werner is The Tactical Professor, blogging at http://www.Tacticalprofessor.com. A retired Army Captain with 10 years of service in Special Operations, he has six IDPA Championships with snubby revolvers to his credit. He was formerly the Chief Instructor at the elite Rogers Shooting School in GA. In other words, when Werner discusses improving your shooting skills, it is a good idea to listen.
News from Our Affiliates
Compiled by Gila Hayes
May was a busy month at the Network, with thousands of copies of our educational foundation’s complimentary booklet What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law sent out to Network Affiliated Instructors. Some recipients were familiar: instructors with whom we have been working for years while others were brand new friends of the Network.
We are happy to welcome new Network affiliated instructors who’ve recently joined the Network as members themselves then can’t wait to tell their students how the Network can provide essential support after a self-defense incident. Our booklet is an integral part of these instructors’ effort to educate firearms students about aftermath issues.
by Gila Hayes
bur·gla·ry ˈbərɡlərē/, noun
Entry into a building illegally with intent to commit a crime, especially theft.
The taking of money or goods in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, by force or intimidation.
Two simple dictionary definitions for massively different crimes, different targets and different responses if you use force to prevent the completion of the crimes identified above. Burglary? A property crime. Robbery? A violent crime against a human being. Allowable defenses against either–massively different.