LI: New "Scientific" Stand-Your-Ground Study Is Ignorant of the Law

So this happened: A group of five self-described scientists representing prestigious institutions of higher learning, including the Harvard School of Public Health, Washington University School of Medicine, and the Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, decided to look for racism in Florida’s “Stand-Your-Ground” laws (hereafter, “SYG”).

It will come to the surprise of no one , of course, that the team behind “Race, law, and health: Examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ and defendant convictions in Florida” found what they were looking for. From their abstract (full abstract at bottom of post):

Our results depict a disturbing message: SYG legislation in Florida has a quantifiable racial bias that reveals a leniency in convictions if the victim is non-White, which provides evidence towards unequal treatment under the law.

Surprise, surprise. Well, maybe not so much of a surprise when you read how they describe their methodology for the paper — critical race theory (emphasis added):

We frame our study using Public Health Critical Race Theory (PHCRT) Methodology. PHCRT is a conceptual framework that builds upon critical race theory and public health theories and methods to articulate how best to understand and address social and health issues to achieve social justice for marginalized groups.

Like a child who puts on red-tinted glasses and is shocked to discover the whole world is imbued with that color, these “scientists” donned their racist-tinted lab goggles and found the whole world imbued with racism.

To read the whole post, head over to Legal Insurrection.

LI: Two Independent Reviews: Shooting of Tamir Rice "Reasonable"

Two independent reviews of the 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice have concluded that the officers responsible acted appropriately under the circumstances–a conclusion we shared with Legal Insurrection readers four months ago.

The Narrative:

Back in November 2014 Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann (who is white) shot and killed Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old, in a city park.

Tamir Rice: 12 years old, 5′ 7″ tall, 195 lbs

Sounds pretty bad, right?

The Reality:

Loehmann confronted Rice–who stood 5′ 7″ tall and whose 195 pounds is the weight of an average adult male–because of 911 calls reporting that Rice was walking around the park pointing a gun at pedestrians. When police pulled up to Rice in their patrol vehicle, Rice reached for the gun–later determined to be a non-deadly pellet gun with its orange “non-gun” markings removed–in his waistband.

To read the whole post, head over to Legal Insurrection.

LI: Sam DuBose Shooting: Let’s Go to the Video Tape

On July 19, just 10 days ago, UC police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed motorist Sam DuBose in the course of a traffic stop, according to reports by CNN and others. Today, prosecutor Joe Deters announced that Officer Tensing had been indicted for murder in the killing.

The silver lining for bloggers everywhere is that much of the event was captured by Officer Tensing’s body-cam. You can watch the full video here, but I have relevant portions reproduced in slow-motion and relevant screen captures below, as well.

Officer Tensing claims that he shot DuBose because the driver began dragging the officer with his car. Certainly, dragging someone with your car is conduct likely to cause death or grave bodily harm, and thus warrants the use of deadly force in self-defense.

For the rest of the post, head over to Legal Insurrection.

Unexpected thanks to Legal Insurrection on 2nd Anniversary of Zimmerman Acquittal



No one was more surprised than me when two days ago, on the second anniversary of the George Zimmerman acquittal, I was contacted out of the blue by Zimmerman’s co-counsel, Don West.

Don had contacted me because he was primarily interested in some of the initiatives we have in the works here at Law of Self Defense, particularly our LOSD Certified Instructor and LOSD Lawyer Referral programs, and I was more than happy to discuss those with him.

He prefaced our 45-minute discussion, however, with very complementary remarks on my coverage of the George Zimmerman trial itself, of which coverage he had only recently become aware.

It was, of course, gratifying to hear such praise from a man who co-led perhaps the most perfect self-defense trial I’ve observed in my career.

When I mentioned my conversation with Don to Professor Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection, where I blogged the bulk of my coverage of the Zimmerman trial, the Professor brilliantly suggested we follow-up with Don and ask if he’d record a brief testimonial about our coverage, such that we could use the recording in a blog post on the anniversary of the acquittal.

Within seconds Don had been kind enough to do so:

Professor Jacobson promptly incorporated that audio in a larger post over at Legal Insurrection:

Unexpected thanks to Legal Insurrection on 2nd Anniversary of Zimmerman Acquittal

For a comprehensive list of my coverage of the Zimmerman trial, both here at Law of Self Defense as well as over at Legal Insurrection, click here:

The Zimmerman Files: Aggregated day-by-day live coverage & analysis

It seems there may be some prospect of Don and I doing some modest work together in the future, which is naturally of great interest to me personally.  Assuming it’s not a matter constrained by confidentiality obligations, should that come to pass you’ll hear about it here first.

That’s it for now, folks. Stay safe!



Smart versus Dumb Open-Carry Advocacy

Some 18 months ago I reached out to a fellow called Dan Griffin of a group called Michigan Open Carry. As I do with many gun groups, I offered them a discount coupon good for 20% off the cost of my book, “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” and thanked them for their ongoing Second Amendment advocacy.

Dan followed up that same day, thanking me for the coupon and kindly inviting me to contribute an article related to the Zimmerman trial to their group’s newsletter. I thanked him for the opportunity, but was neck-deep in preparing for the Michael Dunn trial at the time, and I believe things never much advanced beyond that point. In any case, that was my last communication with Dan Griffin.

Fast-forward to today, a year and a half later, and what do I see in my email this morning but a message from Mr. Griffin:

Hey Andrew, just going through my old emails and I ran across this. Normally this wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow, but just last week I read where you castigated the open carry of holstered pistols by normal Americans going about their everyday business.

I was saddened to read that.

Naturally, a response was in order:

Hey Dan,

I’m a strong supporter of open-carry as sound public policy.

There exists, however, a creepy group of faux gun rights advocates who apparently didn’t get enough attention from mommy and daddy growing up, and now act out their attention whoring appetites by terrorizing women and children while falsely cloaked as open carry advocates.

These creeps are pretty easy to identify. They are NOT merely “going about their everyday business”, they are deliberately showing up at pre-planned venues en masse and taking giggling pictures of each other as they knowingly and deliberately strike fear in those around them.

Indeed, they themselves conceded that’s the whole point of their gathering, to shock the populace.

These dumb asses do profound harm, not good, to our efforts to support and secure our Second Amendment rights in general and open carry in particular, and I despise them accordingly.

In case I’ve left you with any doubt on where I stand:

There’s smart open carry advocacy and there’s stupid open carry advocacy. I have criticized the stupid open carry crowd loudly in the past, and I will continue to do so in the future.

Have a nice day.

That was my position 18 months ago, it’s my position today, and I expect it will be my position for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a couple of the giggling picture takers I mentioned in my email, but of course the internet is rife with similar photos:


I would note also that my criticism of these dopes has been largely focused on the open carry of long-arms, and not the open carry of holstered pistols.  Presumably the effectiveness of this distinction is why some have sought to gloss it over, as does Mr. Griffin in his email to me.

Bottom line: Act like a self-interested asshat who endangers effective Second Amendment advocacy and I will call you out on it no matter how much you whine that you’re doing it for “the gun rights!”

Every. Single. Damn. Time.  Just as I have here:

Op-Ed: “Open Carry” Activists Score Yet Another Own Goal (May 21, 2014)

and here:

NRA: “small number… crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness” (June 2, 2014)

and likely elsewhere.

Questions? No? Good.

LOSD Begins Sponsoring Gun Forums

Hey folks,

It’s been our experience that internet gun forums smell bad.

Well, at least they used to smell bad.  Traditionally we’ve found that most internet gun forums had a noise-to-signal ratio akin to a thousand Quint’s dragging five thousand fingernails across a thousand chalkboards.


So, we stayed away.

Recently, however, we’ve been told that some of the internet gun forums had professionalized, including much consolidation, and had become places were reasonable people could actually talk guns and training and (gasp!) even law and politics without going at each other’s throats.

We started looking around just this past weekend to see if there was any truth to that, and it appears there might be.

So, we’re putting our toe back in the water and checking out “Internet Gun Forums 2.0,” with sponsorship of selected top-tier forums.

The first we’ve sponsored is Carolina Shooting Club, which covers both North and South Carolina, and which I understand is a recent consolidation of several previously independent forums.

Being unfamiliar with forum rules in general, and those of CSC in particular, we’re taking baby steps to make sure we don’t inadvertently violate any codes, but we expect we’ll start posting there on NC- and SC-specific self-defense law with some frequency, as well as announcing upcoming Law of Self Defense Seminars.

In fact, here’s our first substantive post there: Law of Self Defense Seminar, Sun. August 9

And here’s our first try at a banner ad for CSC:


We’ll be sponsoring other top-tier gun forums around the country, as well, so if you have any to recommend we’d be glad to take a look.

Blast from the Past: My Class Certificate from LFI-I

So, this week I moved into new (and very nice, corner office) office space, in historic Concord MA.

In that process I ended up going through some old, poorly labelled boxes of “stuff.” Most of the contents were readily discardable, but I did come across a few pieces of gold.

One of these was this: My class certificate from Mas Ayoob’s Lethal Force Institute class (LFI-I). From May 19, 1996. That’s right: ’96. Oofah.

At this point I’d already been practicing law for 5 years, and been carrying a concealed firearm (yes, lawfully under Massachusetts law) for about the same period of time.  I was also an active competitive shooter (although I hadn’t yet learned how to properly shoot a handgun), and a member of the gun community, and increasingly frustrated at the lack of good information available on self-defense law.

625x475 2 Mas Ayoob certificate May 19, 1996

In three years of law school we hadn’t covered so much as three minutes of self-defense law, and there were no particularly good reference books on the subject even for attorneys.

Mas’ LFI-I class was a mind-exploder, on a great many levels.  Of course anybody’s who has heard Mas knows what an engaging and compelling speaker he is.  Plus, he provided an intellectual framework around what had been a foggy morass of legal concepts that collectively made up self-defense law.

Of course, much of LFI-I wasn’t the law, per se, but also other aspects of using force in self-defense.  A good part of that class was shooting instruction, for example, as well as defensive tactics, exposure to images of wounds caused by various types of weapons, the moral and ethical dynamics of using force in self-defense, and lots more.  In all, the class was something in excess of 40 hours in length over several days.  Yeah, we were pretty tired there at the end.

In addition, Mas naturally brought his own perspective to his class, meaning a career in law enforcement and as a use-of-force expert witness in trials.  He also gave his courses all over the country, and of course in each jurisdiction the laws varied–not tremendously, but enough that one had to either choose to really dig into the differences to achieve the fullest understanding of each state’s laws or stick to general principles that would reasonably apply across many jurisdictions.

Mas, given his background, training, and experience, prudently adopted the latter, more general, approach, and it’s stood him in good stead through a career still going strong.  Today he lives in Florida, not New Hampshire, and he teaches as the Massad Ayoob Group, not Lethal Force Institute.  It’s still great stuff, of course, and I urge everyone reading this to take advantage of a MAG course before Mas does something silly like retire. And don’t forget his many great books, particularly the still timely “In the Gravest Extreme” and his just published “Deadly Force.”

As useful as the general legal principles were, however, as a lawyer I hungered for the nitty-gritty detail.  I wanted to know exactly what the statutes, court cases, and jury instructions were that governed the use of force in self-defense in every state.  And I figured other people might like to know, as well Nobody, to my knowledge, had yet undertaken that task, and so inspired by LFI-I I set out to do exactly that.

The result was “The Law of Self Defense,” my first book on the subject, published in 1997, the year after I attended LFI-I, followed shortly thereafter by an invitation to start teaching at the (then-called) Sig Arms Academy (now the Sig Sauer Academy, where I’m currently a guest instructor), and things have just kept progressing since then.

In 2013 I published an entirely written, and vastly superior, “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” and for the first time began to make use of the capabilities of the internet to more efficiently get this desperately needed information out to armed citizens.

And not only the internet had changed, of course.  Concealed carry laws had been adopted across the nation, and tens of millions of Americans with relatively sparse, if any, training were suddenly walking around in public armed.  Demand for the expertise we could provide was strong, especially exploding after the Zimmerman trial (see “The Zimmerman Files: Aggregated day-by-day live coverage & analysis”).

Today we offer not only the book, but also live state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars held all over the country, CLE instruction to teach other lawyer self-defense law, online/on-demand classes, legal consults, weekly law reports of interesting self-defense cases, and more.

Without a doubt, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Massad Ayoob, and Lethal Force Institute-I, in May 1996.  Indeed, I stand upon the shoulders of giants.

Thanks, Mas! (And, yes, I still have my class notes sealed up in a self-addressed-stamped-envelope, postmarked September 20, 1996.  Heck, I can prove it:

650x475 3 LFI-1 notes sealed 1996

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offencess

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.