Episode 318 with Ben Branam

Rob- Introduction-

Welcome to episode 318 of Self-Defense Gun Stories. We’re glad you found us if you’re well trained.. and if you’re still learning about armed defense. I’m Rob Morse and we’re joined this week by firearms instructor Ben Branam. What has been keeping you so busy?

Firearms Instructor Ben Branam

Ben- Hi, Rob.  I’ve been back to podcasting and have been writing some blog posts too.  But really into riding my bike.  Had a great conversation with the new guy about how to carry a gun while riding.  Finding chances to teach everyday.

How about you?

Rob- I know that you teach church security, and I went to a three day class that qualified armed first responders at churches and schools. That was fascinating.

I signed up to retake my NRA instructors certification. I dry practiced and went to the range.

We received three ratings and two new comments on iTunes (is 351,191)

Tex Topcat said the stories and comments were valuable training. They want more stories delivered more often.

J Eastin said the podcast was brief yet impactful. They called us top notch.

Thank you both. I went to ListenNotes, and we’re still in the top 1-percent of podcasts. Ben’s podcast, Modern Self Protection, is in the top 1.5 percent. We get about 16 thousand downloads a month. I want to reach 20 thousand, but I need your help. Your comments let new listeners find us. 

Ben- Roger Temple helped us with out show notes again this week. We have more comments that you’ll find on our episode webpage.

Please go to the iTunes store and to Listen Notes and share why you listen.

Here in the US, we defend ourselves with a firearm several thousand times a day. We look at a few recent examples to see what we can learn. The links back to the original news articles are on our podcast webpage.

Our first story took place last week in Centerville, Ohio.

Rob- First story- Do you have a firearm nearby at night?

and here- https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/06/09/police-investigating-ohio-homeowners-fatal-shooting-of-intruder-n71344

It is five in the morning when you hear someone pounding on your front door. You are not expecting visitors. Your wife isn’t expecting anyone. Your kids shouldn’t have friends over at this hour. The pounding continues, so your wife grabs her phone and you grab your gun. Your wife is on her phone with the police dispatcher when the intruder breaks down your front door. You shoot your attacker until he stops. You stop shooting. Your wife says that police are on their way and she tells them that you need an ambulance too. You step back and wait for the police. Your wife checks on the kids.

You put your gun away and identify yourself to the police. The police find your attacker inside your house. You show them the broken door. Officials from the coroner’s office declare your attacker dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the head.

Police find a middle aged woman unresponsive on your front lawn and a strange car parked in front of your house. You don’t know either of them. Neighbors report that the strange car was there most of the morning with the lights on. EMTs take the woman to the hospital for treatment.

Your wife and two children are upset, but they are not hurt. You give the police a brief statement. You are not charged with a crime, but now you have to get a carpenter to put in a new front door.

What did our defender do to protect his family?

Ben- Our defender locked his doors and windows!  Didn’t open the door.  Worked as a team, he got the gun she called 911.  They had a plan.  He shot when someone entered the home and stopped when the person went down.  Was able to identify himself and point out evidence.  Both made a statement.


  • The homeowner recognized an immediate and unavoidable lethal threat.
  • Both of the adults worked together as a team which is much more effective. One called the police as the other prepared to defend the family with a gun.
  • Neither of the homeowners approached the wounded intruder after he was shot. Suspects will sometimes “play dead” in order to lure the gun owner in close to attack.
  • They checked on the kids and waited for the police to arrive and take over. 
  • The homeowner showed the police evidence that the suspect forced his way into the home by showing them the broken door.
  • The gun owner put his gun away and did not present himself as a threat to the police.
  • The gun owner was either a well-trained marksman or very lucky to shoot the intruder in the head while he was attacking. The primary target to aim for is the upper chest which is a larger target. A headshot should be used if your chest shots are not effective in stopping the threat such as when the suspect is using body armor.  

Rob- Are there other things you’d like us to do?

Ben- I want you and the children to all walk through your safety plan. Do they stay in their room? Do they go to your room? Does one of you go to one of their rooms and stay there?

That walk through helps protect the children physically, and psychologically. They are less shocked because they walked through the plan.

When you start walk throughs be flexible.  Make the plan as simple as possible with few moving parts.  Stay together.  Military tactics, don’t split your forces unless you really have to. You lose your advantage of working as a team when you can’t communicate directly.  


  • Install a number of small nightlights throughout your house. This gives the family a great advantage over the intruder. You will know how to get around the house, he won’t. 
  • Small, powerful flashlights are a critical part of your response kit. Learn how to use the flashlight and your gun in the dark- You need to turn the flashlight on and off not leave it on continuously. 
  • Turning on outside lights is better than using interior lights. This makes the suspect a silhouette. You can see them but they can’t see you. 
  • Did the homeowner try using verbal commands before the intruder broke down the door? 
  • Did the couple use cover or concealment while waiting for the intruder to enter?
  • Did the gun owner scan the area to make sure there was only one intruder?

Rob- What sort of things are we going to learn in a home defense class?

Ben- How to plan and see your home differently.  Lanes of fire, sight lines, and how to move from point to point or flow through.

Legal use of force in your home.

Review of scenarios. shoot/no-shoot

Statements to the police.

And my favorite, how to make your home a harder target than the homes around you.


  • You will learn how to make your home less attractive to potential intruders. Reinforce windows and doors, cut shrubbery away from the house, the use of motion detection lights and alarms. 
  • You will learn how to develop a family plan for fire and intruders. This includes the use of a distress word and how to make a 911 call to get help on the way. 
  • You will learn to use alternate methods of escape from your home in an emergency. 
  • You will learn how to use doors and stairs as “fatal funnels” to ambush intruders.. 
  • You will be taught to retreat to a defensive area with your family and how to defend it. You make the intruder(s) come looking for you while you wait to ambush them. 
  • You will learn that trying to “clear” your house by yourself is a bad idea. 
  • You will learn how many interior and exterior walls different types of bullets/shot will penetrate. Use frangible ammo in high density areas. 
  • Engage in home invasion scenarios using airsoft guns or simunition.
  • You will learn when to shoot and when not to shoot. 

Rob- Is there more you want us to do?

Ben- You can’t know everything, and you do the best with the information you have.  The neighbor saw the car there before the shooting and a women lying face down in your lawn… Even after the self defense shooting we don’t know everything that happened.  In self–defense you will have to make a decision, act, and live with that decision, when you don’t have all the information.

Rob- Anything else?

Ben- That is enough for now. Our second story happened in Duplessis, Louisiana.

Rob- Second Story- Do you have a firearm nearby at home?

It is Sunday morning at dawn when you hear your car alarm go off. You grab your gun and walk to the side door of your house. You see a stranger and you shout for him to go away. The stranger ignores you. He punches a hole in your back door. You shoot him. He falls down. The intruder then gets up and punches another hole in your door. You shoot him and he falls down again. You stop shooting each time. The attacker gets up a third time and throws himself at your door. He breaks down the door and enters your home. You shoot him several times until he stops. He does not get up again.

You step back and call 911. You put your gun away when the police arrive. You show them the security videos. The officers see the attacker break into your car. They see him chewing on your lawn and beating his chest. It is not clear from news reports who declared the attacker dead at the scene.

You give the detectives a brief statement. They say the attacker was probably on drugs. They order a toxicology report. You are not charged with a crime.

Ben- Look at all he did right before the shooting started: alarms, video cameras, locked doors, had gun on him.  He even used verbal commands before it started. 

Welcome to handguns don’t always work like in the movies.  The door gave him time and he used it wisely to use only that force which was necessary and reasonable.  


  • The defender did not leave the relative safety of his house in order to confront the suspect breaking into his car. You can’t legally use deadly force to defend property except in Texas. 
  • The defender tried using verbal commands first while being prepared to use his gun if necessary. 

Rob- That is a lot. Is there more you’d like to see us do?

Ben- Hurricane film on the glass near your door.

Get to know your neighbors. In the earlier story the neighbors saw something strange. Ask them to call you and to call the police.

Some fights are unavoidable. This druggie was determined to take over this house and would not stop until the homeowner stopped him. The story doesn’t talk about cover or concealment. Use them.

Don’t forget to call your lawyer.  You have one right?


  • Home defenders should always have extra ammo with them. This defender used a lot of ammo on a single intruder. What would have happened if he only had a five-shot revolver or single stack semi-automatic? What if there were multiple intruders? The alternative is to use head shots if chest shots are not effective but you need to be well trained and a good marksman. 
  • The home defender should have used cover and other objects between himself and the intruder. He also could have used the “shoot and retreat” technique. That means shoot, withdraw to cover or concealment and observe. Repeat as necessary. Tactics are more important than firepower. 

Rob- Why do I need a lawyer?

Ben- The situation will seem cut and dried to you when you are there, but to people that hear about it afterwards your actions might look suspect.  Even in the most legitimate of self-defense cases there will probably be follow up questions by a detective and maybe even the prosecutor.  You want a lawyer to help you navigate this process.  If you get confused or tripped up, or just say something by mistake it could cost you a lot to go to trial and now you have to prove your innocence. 

Our third story happened in Alton, Illinois.

Rob- First this message from SAF 


Rob- Third story- Are you armed at work?

You’re working in an equipment rental center. It is Tuesday and about 10AM. You look up when you hear shouts. A woman is attacking one of your female co-workers. The stranger has a gun in her hand. Your co-worker is trying to protect herself, but she is getting hit in the head with the attacker’s gun.

You’re armed. You present your firearm and shoot the attacker until she stops. She turns and runs out the door, so you stop shooting. You check on your co-worker and then put your gun away. It isn’t clear who called 911 and asked for help.

You stay at the scene. You give a brief statement to the police. EMTs take your co-worker to the hospital for stitches. Police find your attacker in her car a few streets away. She was taken to the hospital for treatment of three gunshot wounds.

Later, you find out that the attacker is a relative of your co-worker. Your co-worker took out a protective order to keep the relative away from her. You are not charged with a crime.


Victim- Let’s step back to the victim before we talk about the defender.

Restraining order

Tell everyone. That way your friends and co-workers can help you.  I know it is embarrassing and with family all you want is for it to stop.  But everyone needs help sometimes.  It is okay.


Did well.  She had her tools on her. She didn’t try something unreasonable like getting in the middle of the fight. A gun can be a lethal tool as a blunt object and as a firearm. She recognized that and then made good shots.  

Actually hitting the target and not the victim in a situation like this takes talent.  The victim and the aggressor are in close proximity and probably moving around a lot.  If you are in this situation you may have to close the distance to make the shot.

Afterwards she stayed with the victim and didn’t continue to go after the attacker.  Good move.

Rob- Guns at work have their own problems. Talk to me about that.

Ben- Keeping them hidden is a trick to start.  I work at a very small company and not everyone knows that I carry a gun and I don’t want everyone there to know I carry a gun.  Be discreet.  If you carry a gun at work, don’t talk about it at work, don’t show it off, tell as few people as possible.  If everyone knows it could become a problem.

It would be nice to make a plan with others at work, but you need to keep your plans to people that understand the legalities of self defense and think like you.  If you listen to this podcast, and to my podcast, I hope you are looking for avoidance and not a fight.  Lots of people only know what they see in the movies.

Speaking of movies, let’s talk about other means of force and shooting the gun out of someone’s hand or shooting them in the shoulder. 

In this situation it was lethal force.  

The longer you wait the more chance there is that the violence will escalate and someone is going to die.  You could try pepper spray or a taser, but you have to be closer to the fight.  And if that doesn’t work?  You put yourself in grave danger.  Because no matter what any of the companies say about their products they don’t work 100% of the time on 100% of the people, see story 2 this week.  The gun didn’t work as advertised.

Shooting the gun out of someone’ hand is impossible unless it is a perfect profile.  If someone has the gun pointed at you and you shoot the gun, that bullet goes somewhere.  It doesn’t magically disappear.  It may or may not be deflected by the firearm it hit and it may or may not get deflected enough to miss the person or an innocent person. You just can’t control where that bullet is going.

If you think you are going to shoot someone in the shoulder or leg, see story two this week again.


  • A restraining order is only a piece of paper but it’s an important part of creating a paper trail of evidence if a court case occurs. 
  • If the victim was legally allowed to own/carry a gun, they should have been armed and prepared to defend themselves. She had a restraining order against her attacker so she knew that she was potentially in danger already. Don’t depend on someone else to defend you. 
  • Did the victim know that her co-worker was armed? What would have happened to her if he wasn’t?
  • Could the attacker have been stopped with pepper spray or other non-lethal means? Since the attacker was already armed, should the defender have tried non-lethal means? Was a gun the only defensive tool he had? How you defend yourself or others in some jurisdictions is quite different from how you are allowed to defend yourself in other areas. 
  • Most employers do not allow employees to carry at work. The defender not only put his life at risk to help his co-worker but he probably lost his job too. Better to lose your job than lose your life- you can get another job.

Rob- I guess that is part carrying in public, but that isn’t covered in my concealed carry class.

Ben- You have to be a student of the gun, to steal a friend of ours tagline. You have to be continually ready, listen to podcasts like this one, and go to classes to learn all this stuff.  Some professionals, like the military and law enforcement,  study their entire careers and still don’t get it perfect or know everything. It takes work.

Rob- Where are we going for our last story?
Ben- Our fourth story took place in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

Rob- Fourth story- Are you armed as you drive?

You are sitting in your car with two friends while a  third friend gets something at a convenience store. Your friend runs out of the store and shouts for you to drive away. You start the car and hit the road. Your friend says a man in the store was acting crazy and pointed a gun at him. Now a strange car follows you and drives up alongside your car going the wrong way down the street. You accelerate to get away from him. You stop at an intersection and the strange car drives up next to you and the stranger points a gun at you.

You own a gun. You have your Massachusetts concealed carry license. You’re armed tonight. You shout for your passengers to get down. You shoot at your attacker until he drops his gun. You drive away at high speed. Both you and your attacker are involved in a crash, but it isn’t clear if the reports are talking about the same accident.

You call 911 and ask for help. The police find your attacker and take him to the hospital. The four of you give statements to the police. You show the police your ID, your carry permit, and your firearm. The news reports don’t mention video from the convenience store. The four of you go to the hospital to be evaluated after the accident.

Police recovered a 357 revolver and a black pellet gun from your attacker’s car. He is charged with four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and marked lanes violations. He is held in custody with a $20,000 bail. Your attacker drove his car into the ocean earlier in the day and then walked away when the police arrived. He was ordered to be held at a mental health institution and evaluated.

Ben- Run was a great plan here.  And it works a lot of the time.  This weird case is why we train to fight.  Sometimes you just can’t get away.

Once he saw they couldn’t get away and the threat escalated, our defender used his gun.  

I say use your vehicle to escape whenever possible, but in this situation they were not getting away.  This isn’t the movies.  Unless you have a substantially faster vehicle or are a substantially better driver you aren’t getting away.  I know most of you think you are a better driver, but if you haven’t been to a racing school where you learned to drive at high speeds, you probably aren’t as good as you think you are.


  • The defender tried to escape the situation rather than engage the suspect. Escape, evade, avoid are your first options whenever possible. 
  • In a life-and-death situation the response is not “fight or flight” but “fight, flight or freeze” and most people “freeze”. They fail to recognize a lethal situation and lose precious seconds convincing themselves that this is really happening to them. Stress inoculation training is a critical component of self-defense training.  
  • If someone points a gun at you with intent, you are legally allowed to assume that the gun is real and you should act accordingly. Maybe the gun is a fake but that doesn’t matter. Treat the gun as real until proven otherwise. 

Rob- Is there anything else you’d like us to do?

Ben- It would have been nice if someone called 911 right away.  It is okay to call 911 to report things.  You aren’t going to get into trouble and it will probably help you in situations like this.

It would also be nice if everyone was armed.  And while this person was following you if you made a quick plan with your friends on what you were going to do if you can’t just drive away.

The story did mention a car accident, or more than one.  Do you have 1st aid training?  Was someone hurt in the accident?


  • The defender tried to escape by driving at high speed which resulted in crashing his car. Could he have hit his brakes to get behind the attacker’s car while they were next to each other? Could he have turned off the road to avoid the attacker? Could he have driven to a fire station or police station? You don’t run away from danger… you run towards safety!
  • Everyone should get first aid and Stop the Bleed training and have trauma kits in their homes and cars. You are much more likely to need trauma equipment than you are to need your gun and you might need both. 
  • Every car should have a fire extinguisher too. Sometimes cars catch fire even if they don’t crash.

Rob- We’re seeing more attacks in public and road-rage attacks. Is there more we need to know about defending ourselves from our car?

Ben-  Get away if you can.  Learn how to draw your firearm from your car.  Learn how to shoot through glass and door panels and what those things will do to your bullets.  And use my quick rule for fighting around vehicles and penetration, if you want the bullet to go through it will probably stop.  If you want the bullet to stop, it is probably going through.

Around a vehicle, either stop and fight, or run.  No inbetween and no rolling shootouts.


  • If someone is following your car don’t stop! Try slowing down and driving on the shoulder to let them pass you. Don’t yell at them or gesture to them. Evade and avoid if possible. Drive to a safe location that has witnesses, lights and cameras. Call 911 while driving and give them your location and descriptions of both cars. Always leave room around your car to drive off. 
  • Drawing your gun and shooting from inside a car takes training. You have to learn to shoot through the glass windows and not through the metal doors, dash and seats which may stop your bullets.
  • You have to learn how the bullet’s trajectory is affected by angled glass and how to aim accordingly. 
  • Shooting through tempered side glass is different from shooting through angled, laminated glass windshields. Aim accordingly. 
  • A car’s wheels and engine compartment will provide cover. The rest of the car is only concealment.


Rob- We’ve rolled up to the end of our show. Where can we learn more about you?

Ben- I teach armed self-defense and church security. I live in San Antonio, and most of my classes are in central Texas. Sign up for my classes at Modern Self Protection.com, and subscribe to my weekly podcast called Modern Self-Protection.

Rob- After you look at Ben articles and his class schedule, then leave us a message on the podcast episode webpage.

Ben- We share this podcast with you for free.
Please share the podcast with a friend and give us a rating on I-Tunes and Stitcher.
We’re also available on
Amazon, Google Podcasts, Tunein, Spotify, Podbean and iHeart Radio.

Rob- 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.



Apple categories- news commentary, self-improvement



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