Episode 221 with Ben Branam

Rob- Introduction- Welcome to episode 221 of Self-Defense Gun Stories. We’re glad you found us if you’re well trained and also if you’re new to self defense. I’m Rob Morse and we’re joined this week by my friend and firearms instructor Ben Branam.

Ben- Hi, Rob.  I’ve been teaching and competing and…Working out and snapping in.

Rob- What is snapping in?
Ben- Dry fire.
Rob- People must have been busy with other things last week because we didn’t receive a single new rating or review. (207/123) Please go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and let new gun owners know why they should listen.

Ben- We’ll look at recent examples where gun owners were in a life threatening situation. Were they lucky, or did they have a plan? We give you links back to the original news article in our show notes. Our first story took place last week in Summerville, South Carolina

Rob- First story- Are you armed in the middle of the night?  

You hear someone knocking at your door. It is one in the morning and the voices say they are your neighbor and need your help right away. You tell your girlfriend that you’ll answer the door. You roll out of bed and slip your gun into the pocket of your PJs. You open the door and two strangers push their way into your home. One of them grabs you and throws you across the room. You roll on your side and get your gun out of your pocket. You shoot your attackers four times. Now, they run from your house. On the street, you see a woman sitting in a car with the engine running. You shout that you’ve called the police. She drives away and you lock the door.

Your girlfriend already called 911. The police arrested your attackers at the nearby hospital. When they get out, they will face additional charges of first-degree burglary and third-degree assault and battery. They were already wanted for outstanding warrants.

Ben- brought the gun with him.  A good reason to wear PJ so you can go armed in the middle of the night. 

Points to cover- His door was locked or he would have woken up with some guy beating him while he was still in his bed. He got his gun before he went to the door. Shot, didn’t chase, locked the door, Had backup from his girlfriend. Gave a statement. 

Rob- To you and me, this reads like a horror movie. We’re thinking “Don’t do it. Don’t open the door to strangers at 1 in the morning.” 

Ben- Talk through the doorm used force quickly and decisively and then let them escape 

Advanced topics- doorbell camera. Already be calling 911 on the way to door. Police are on the way. Have your girlfriend armed. Better yet, have a plan with your girlfriend.

Rob- Ben, why are plans so important?

Ben- I’ve had bad guys shoot at me and I hated it. You can get killed that way. Plans or tactics can put you in a “can’t lose” situation. You can be outnumbered and outgunned and still win.

For example. Call the cops. Don’t open the door, but do turn on the lights near the door. Now, you and your girlfriend can shoot lots of bad guys from across the room in positions of cover AFTER the intruders break down your door and come inside. Even grandma can win even though she can’t draw very fast or shoot small-fast groups at 25 yards, and she has the 911 recording as evidence that she screamed for them not to come inside.

Rob- The story says our defender “got” his gun. We have millions of new gun owners. How should I store my gun so I can have a loaded gun in seconds when I’m still foggy in the middle of the night? Better yet, how can my girlfriend and I get our guns?

Ben- Quick access safes. Best invention ever! 
Rob- Anything else?

Ben- move on

Our second story happened in Chicago, Illinois.

Rob- Second Story- Are you armed at work?   

The rush is over as people go home from work. Now, there is a slow but steady flow of customers into the cell phone store where you work. The next customer walks in. You let him look around for a minute. The store owner continues doing some paperwork so you ask the customer if you can help him. The customer turns away and then turns back with a gun in his hand. He tells you to give him the money and the new phones. Your boss looks up, and says he’ll handle that. You tell the robber that your boss will be back with the phones. 

You own a gun. You have your Illinois Firearms Owners Identification Card and your Concealed Carry License.  You’re armed tonight at work. You back up and move away from the cash register. The robber turns to look at the back room. That is when you draw your firearm. You aim for the center of his chest and shoot him twice. Now the robber drops his gun and turns. You stop shooting. You and your boss run into the back room and call 911.

The police disarm your attacker. EMTs take him to the hospital. The police take your gun as evidence, and you give them a brief statement. Your boss talks to the news media, but doesn’t tell them much. That is when you find out that your attacker died in the hospital.

Ben- Legally armed at work. He waited. Had some tactical patience so he didn’t get in a gunfight. He recognized and acted on the opportunity to defend himself when the robber was distracted. He shot his attacker in the chest and the upper abdomen, and the bad guy didn’t get a shot off. Our defender stayed at the scene and gave a statement to the police.

Rob- There are a lot of things that are unclear from this news story. What would you like your students to do if they were in a similar situation?

Ben- Profile people when they walk in and everywhere for that matter. Play the “Why are you here?” question game.  Plus explanation…

Used the right amount of you’ve got to be fast and sure. Once the deadly situation starts if you don’t use enough force you could end up in a gun fight. And I love our good guy waited and shot the bad guy when he wasn’t looking. Back or front it doesn’t matter here. 

Rob- I want to be sure I understand you. We wouldn’t shoot a robber who is running away from us, but we could shoot a robber in the back?

Ben- Yes it’s all about the immediate threat. Is the threat of lethal force eminent?
Rob- That takes a minute to get comfortable with shooting someone from behind.
Ben- Exactly. Think of the earlier story. Are you willing to shoot someone who broke in and is moving toward your girlfriend? How about in this story if they are moving toward your boss and have him at gunpoint. Your boss is one finger-flinch away from dying. Your body can’t go where your mind hasn’t been before.

Our third story happened in Galesburg, Illinois.

Rob- First this message from Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership

Rob- Third story- Are you armed when you spend the night at work?

You paid attention. It wasn’t much to look at, but someone moved one of the large rocks in the landscaping in front of your store. You’ve been working late anyway, and you decided to spend the night in your shop. You checked the doors, cameras, and security systems at Galesburg Guns Gear and Ammo. Now, you go to the back room to get some sleep.

The security alarm wakes you up. You look at the video monitors and see two men outside with the back of their car parked right in front of your front door. You hear them beat on the glass door with a large rock.

You call the police and grab your gun. It takes the intruders a second but eventually they smash a hole in your front door that is big enough for them to crawl through. You shoot the robber in front. Before you can shoot the next one, all three of your robbers have turned and are scrambling to get back out the door. You stop shooting.

Police arrive a few minutes later. They watch the video taken from inside your store and the video from the outside cameras. The police get the make and license number of the getaway car from your video system. They arrest the 18 year old driver and connect him with the dead 17 year old who was dumped at the local hospital.

The surviving robber remains in jail charged with felony murder and burglary.

Ben- Warned by the alarm. Called the police. Defended himself when the bad guys  arrived before the police. It looks like he shot them after they were inside but before they spread out across his store. He stayed at the scene and didn’t chase the bad guys. He showed the officers his security video and gave them a brief statement.

Rob- That’s good.

Ben- It is better than good. That is a fantastic job. He faced three robbers at the same time. It sounds like he shot them through a doorway from another room so they probably didn’t know he was there. He stopped them without getting shot at.

I told you that tactics work.

Rob- I guess they do.

Ben- The next thing he should do is call his lawyer and give his lawyer the original copy of the security video. 

Rob- That video is important.

Ben- The bad guys are facing murder charges because one of them died during the commission of a felony. They will claim that they surrendered and had their hands up in the air begging for you to call the police so they could turn themselves in and join the church choir, but you shot them anyway. The video shows what really happened, and it will also help the police catch the third robber.

Rob- What else can we learn from this?

Ben- Don’t pull a John Wayne. Don’t turn on the lights so they can see you. Don’t face your bad guys out in the open and give a speech. Instead, defend yourself from a lethal threat and let the police go get the bad guys.

Rob- You worked in a gun shop. You transported lots of guns at night.

Ben- Our forth story took place in Macon, Georgia.

Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed at work late at night?

You’re standing behind the counter at a Papa John’s Pizza shop. The store does more deliveries and pickups than it used to, and you have fewer people eat inside due to Covid restrictions. It is 11 at night. Things have slowed down and you’ll be closing soon. A customer walks up to the counter, but he doesn’t study the menu. You ask him if he called in his order? He pulls a gun from his pocket and points his gun at you. He tells you go give him the money.

You already dropped the money through the safe slot. The robber demands again, and you tell him he can look for himself. He grumbles and walks away. Then, he turns and goes into the bathroom.

That is a surprise. You and the other employees run to the back room. You shout for them to call 911 while you grab your gun. You inch your way back into the store and look at the bathroom. Your attacker walks out wiping his hands. You point your gun at him and tell him not to move. Police arrive a few minutes later.

Your attacker is charged with aggravated robbery.

No shots fired.

Ben- Good for him. No shots fired. (common outcome, but uncommon reporting) Saved the good guys. 

Rob- This is a strange story.

Ben- Probably intoxicated on drugs or alcohol or Have to keep an open mind you never know what your self defense gun story might look like. 

Rob- So we’re dealing with a crazy person. What else can we learn?

Ben- The story doesn’t say where the defender’s gun was stored, but it doesn’t sound like it was kept on-body in a holster. That means it wasn’t at hand when our defender needed it. I don’t know if it was in a car, a backpack, an employee locker, or in a drawer in the store office. 

Rob- When do you tell your students how to store a gun?

Ben- You can get your Weapons Carry License in Georgia from the local probate court. It costs $75 and takes about a month. 

Rob- Was this a gun problem? Should our good guy have simply retreated to the back room and defended his co-workers to keep the bad guy from attacking them again? 

Ben- Perhaps. Maybe the best way to defend the good guys was to keep the bad guy with his hands in the air while he is standing in a hallway with nowhere to run and you’re standing with your body behind a wall? I don’t know. This one is really unusual. Statistically you are in the most danger at the beginning and the end of confrontation. This hadn’t ended because the bad guy was still there and doing weird things. I’d be afraid too. 

Rob- So how do you hold someone with a gun?

Ben- You learn that from your instructor, but holding a gun on someone without training is really dangerous. For one thing, most professional criminals have more than one gun. Your hands get tired and adrenaline does crazy things to your body and your mind. You don’t want to be the guy with a gun in his hands when the police arrive, particularly if you don’t have a holster.  Don’t do it if you can avoid it. 

Rob- We’re back to plans again. What do you want your co-workers to do so they stay safe but help you with the police?
Ben- send all in a known location and call 911. Have one of them go out and meet the police to tell them what is going on before they come in. 

Exit-  Rob- That wraps up this episode. Ben, thank you for helping us again. Where can we learn more about you?

Ben- Contact for me at Modern Self Protection.com. I live in San Antonio, and most of my classes are in central Texas where I teach armed self-defense and church security. Listeners can see my class schedule at my website, and they can also listen to my weekly podcast Modern Self-Protection.

Rob- After you look at Ben’s website and subscribe to his podcast, then please leave us a message on the Self Defense Gun Stories facebook page.

Ben- We’re also on MeWe. We share this podcast with you for free.
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Rob- Like Ben’s podcast, this show is part of the Self-defense radio network. Find more pro-freedom podcasts at sdrn.us

I’m Rob Morse.  We’ll be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.

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