Episode 327 with Ben Branam


Rob- Welcome to episode 327 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?

Ben- Hi, Rob.  I’ve been busy trying to get back in shape.  It’s one of those things we let slide and isn’t as fun as some of the other things we do.  I’ve also been training with a church security team working on our medical and fire procedures.

Rob- Are you part of the team, or are you training them?

Ben- Both, I’m the primary firearms instructor and part of the team as just a window licker. 

Rob- I’ve been dry practicing and reshaping some of my holsters.

We didn’t hear from our listeners this week on iTunes. Thank you again to Roger Temple for his help this week.

Ben- Please go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and tell new gun owners why you listen.

Here in the US, we defend ourselves with a firearm thousands of 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  Maine, New York.

Rob- First story- Are you armed at home?

You’re at home when you hear someone banging on your front door. You’re armed. You go to the door and open it. Two masked strangers try to push their way inside. You present your firearm. They turn and run. The masked strangers shoot at you as they run, so you return fire. You call 911 and ask for help. It is 10 in the evening.

You put your gun away as the police arrive. You give a statement to the police. Detectives think your house was specifically targeted for a burglary. Officers find your intruders. One has a gunshot wound to the leg. He is taken to the hospital for treatment. Both are arrested and charged with attempted murder in the second degree, attempted burglary in the first degree, and criminal use of a firearm in the first degree. They had stolen firearms.

You are not charged with a crime.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender was armed when he went to answer the door. 
  • The defender did not freeze when the intruders attempted to push their way in.
  • The defender returned fire when he was shot at and hit one of the attackers in the leg.
  • The attackers fired at the defender while they turned and ran. The defender recognized that he was still under an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat so he returned fire. As long as he was under a threat, he has the right to fire back.
  • The defender did not pursue the attackers. Defenders never want to be perceived as the aggressor. 
  • The defender stayed in the house, called 911, put his gun away when the police arrived and he gave a brief statement to the police.  

 What would you tell your students to do (that the defender should have done)?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • Why did the defender open the door when someone was banging on it? It doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is, best practices says don’t open the door until you know and trust who is on the other side. 
  • You need to respond to a knock or a bang on your door so the intruders know that someone is at home but you don’t open the door and give them a chance to push their way in. Ask “who’s there” from a nearby window or from cover/ concealment near the door but not directly in front of it. The bad guys will assume that you are near the door and they might start shooting through the closed door. Typical residential doors don’t stop bullets. 
  • If the door has glass windows or there are glass sidelights, don’t let the people outside see where you are on the inside. Don’t make yourself a target.
  • Use the home’s exterior lights. Not only is this a possible deterrent, the light also helps you identify your attackers and get good hits if necessary. Turning on exterior lights while turning off the interior lights gives you a great, tactical advantage. 
  • The defender was armed when he opened the door. He was probably carrying his gun on him while in the house. The sooner you can get to your gun, the better your chances of survival. Did the defender always “home carry” or did he know that he was in danger?
  • Installing a doorbell video would have been a good idea. Also having motion-detecting floodlights would too. Anything you can do to harden the home’s perimeter reduces the odds that your home will be chosen for an invasion. 
  • The detectives stated they thought that your house was specifically targeted for a burglary. The defender should definitely ask the detectives why they thought that was the case and make adjustments.  
  • Did the defender have the equipment and the knowledge to treat a gunshot wound to himself? The attackers fired 8 rounds at him and fortunately they missed him. What if the defender had been shot? Would he know how to keep himself from bleeding out since he was home alone?  

Rob- Anything else?

Ben- That is enough for now. Our second story happened in Columbia, South Carolina.

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

You are at home in bed. The news reports say that a female lives there as well, but we don’t know if it is your wife, a girlfriend, or an unrelated female. You’re both woken up by the sound of someone banging on your door. It is almost 2am and now someone is kicking your front door. The female occupant of the home picks up her phone and calls 911. You grab your gun.

The intruder keeps trying to get in. Now he breaks the glass window in the door and he reaches through the broken door to turn the door knob. You shoot through the window and strike your intruder in the chest. He steps back and you stop shooting. The female occupant of the home tells the police that there were shots fired. She stays on the phone with the dispatcher.

You put your gun away when the police arrive. They find your intruder dead on the front porch. Both of you give statements to the police. You later find out that the intruder was a college student who tried to get into the wrong home even though he was two miles from campus. Police asked for toxicology reports to find out what the intruder was taking.

The district solicitor’s office said you would not be charged with a crime.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • Both of the defenders heard the intruder trying to enter the home and they reacted. They did not ignore the possible danger. 
  • The defenders worked as a team: the male defender grabbed his gun while the female defender immediately called 911 and kept talking to the dispatcher.
  • When the intruder broke the glass window and reached inside to open the lock, the male defender perceived there was a threat so he fired a shot at the intruder. South Carolina has “Castile Doctrine” so they did not have to retreat.
  • The female defender kept the 911 dispatcher on the phone and this provided an audio recording of what happened. Audio and video recordings provide critical evidence in self-defense cases.
  • The male defender stopped shooting when the intruder stepped back.
  • The defenders did not pursue the attacker. They stayed at the scene, put the gun away when police arrived and gave brief statements. 

 What would you tell your students to do (that the defender should have done)?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The intruder wasn’t able to kick the door down but he did break the glass window in the door and attempted to open the doorknob/lock by reaching inside. Glass is the weakest point in a home’s perimeter. Glass windows in doors, sidelights and any ground-floor glass can be inexpensively reinforced by applying an impact-resistant, hurricane film to the glass. The glass still shatters but it doesn’t fall out of the door/window. This is similar to how the windshield in a car works. 
  • The defenders went to investigate the noise. Since there was no one else in the house that they had to defend, best practices say that they should have moved together to a defensible room, barricaded the door, turned off the lights, called 911 and prepared to ambush the intruder if he came after them. 
  • Since the intruder did not appear to be armed, could the defenders have tried non-lethal force like verbal commands or pepper spray before using the gun? A firearm is a weapon of LAST resort. Not all threats are lethal threats. Even if the law allows the use of deadly force in a home invasion, that doesn’t mean that you have to. This sounds like a case of “awful but lawful” as Andrew Branka says. 
  • This may have been a case of the intruder mistakenly thinking (due to impairment of drugs or alcohol) that the defender’s house was his own. Unfortunately, the defenders had no way of knowing what the intruder’s intent was at the time. 

Ben- Our third story happened in Pensacola, Florida.

Rob- First this message from the Crime Prevention Research Center.



Rob- Third story- Are you armed in public?

You get a text from your sister. She says she needs you right now and that she is in trouble. You grab your gun and drive over to her home. The door to her trailer is broken in. You go inside and her ex boyfriend is standing in the middle of her trailer. She is bruised and she says he hit her..again.

You both tell him to leave. That is when the ex-boyfriend draws his gun. He points it at you. You present your firearm and shoot him until he drops his gun. News reports aren’t clear if you or your sister called 911 for help. You both stayed at the scene. You put your gun away when the police arrived. Both of you gave statements to the police. The police take your attacker’s gun and they see the door he kicked in. They see your sister’s injuries.

You are not charged with a crime.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender realized that he might need his gun so he took it with him when he went to his sister’s home. According to the news website, he also brought “others” with him. 
  • The defender noticed that the door to the trailer was broken in, saw the bruises and heard his sister say that the ex-boyfriend had hit her. The defender did not present his gun at this point since his sister was not in an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat to her life because the ex was not beating his sister at that moment.
  • The defender did try telling the ex-boyfriend to leave. This failed. 
  • The defender did shoot the ex-boyfriend twice when he pointed his gun at the defender. It’s very difficult to draw and fire your gun if the other guy’s gun is already drawn.
  • The defender stopped shooting when the ex dropped his gun.
  • The defender stayed at the scene, either he or his sister called 911, he put his gun away when the police arrived and they both gave statements to the police.  

 What would you tell your students to do (that the defender should have done)?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • Did the sister have a restraining order against the ex-boyfriend? Did she tell all of her family and friends that they were no longer together and that he might be violent? Restraining orders don’t stop attacks but they establish an important legal papertrail. Also, in many states a domestic violence restraining order cancels the abuser’s right to own a gun.  
  • The sister should have bought a gun and gotten the training so she could defend herself. Waiting for her brother or the police to arrive in time might have been a fatal mistake. 
  • Could the sister have called/texted the police before texting her brother? Did she use texting to keep her ex-boyfriend from knowing that she was reaching out for help? Texting 911 is not available in all areas and even if it is available, the dispatcher gets more critical information from a call than a text. Plus the call provides an audible recording of what’s going on at the time. 
  • Did the brother call 911 before getting his friends and going to help his sister? Maybe he was closer but was he as well-equipped to handle the situation?
  • Did the brother try to de-escalate the situation before the ex-boyfriend drew his gun? Separating the parties can sometimes reduce the tension and allow some cooling off. 
  • The brother brought “others” with him. Were they also armed? Did they have a plan?
  • Did anyone have non-lethal weapons and could they have tried to use them before the ex-boyfriend drew his gun? Once the ex drew his gun, the brother had no other options. 
  • Most trailers have small interiors with little room to move. Did the brother know how to draw and shoot while moving out of the line of fire? Did he know how to shoot from a retention position?
  • Did any or the parties have the equipment and training to provide trauma first aid?

Rob- Where are we going for our last story?

Ben- Our fourth story took place in Logan County, Kentucky.

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

You’re at home in bed. It is after two in the morning when you hear a crashing sound. You get up to see what is going on. Your ex-husband broke into your apartment. You tell him to leave and he attacks you. You run back to your bedroom and grab your gun. He moves toward you again, this time you shoot him. He stops advancing so you stop shooting. You step back and call the police.

You put your gun away before the police arrive. You give them a brief statement. They notice the broken door. The Coroner pronounces your attacker dead at the scene.

You are not charged.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • The defender paid attention when she heard noises when she was asleep. 
  • The defender told her ex-husband to leave but that failed.
  • The defender owned a gun and apparently knew how to use it. 
  • The defender retrieved her gun and recognized an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat to her life. Disparity of force was also involved. 
  • She shot her ex-husband when he advanced towards her.
  • The ex-husband stopped advancing so the defender stopped shooting. 
  • The defender retreated, called 911, put her gun away and gave a brief statement to the police. 

 What would you tell your students to do (that the defender should have done)?

(Bullet points by Roger T.)

  • Many times, breaking down a door can be prevented by replacing the original, short screws in the hinges and the lock’s striker plate with longer screws that penetrate the wood framing. This is inexpensive and effective. 
  • Was the ex-husband violent? Did the defender have a restraining order against her ex-husband? Did she tell all of her family, friends and her neighbors to be on the lookout for him and why?
  • The defender had a gun but she didn’t take it with her when she initially investigated the noise from the breaking door. Not a good idea. She didn’t know how many intruders there were, where they were nor if they were armed. Don’t walk into an unknown situation. A single person trying to “clear” a house by themselves is very dangerous. Too many unknown variables. 
  • The news website says that the defender and her ex-husband struggled over the gun after she retrieved it from the bedroom and the result was that he got shot. The defender should have tried to maintain some distance from her attacker. If she couldn’t increase the distance from him she should have used a retention shooting position.  
  • There was no one else in the home that she had to defend so she should have stayed in her bedroom, barricaded the door, called 911 and prepared to ambush the intruder(s) if they broke through the bedroom door. That would be using good tactics.
  • If you have others in the house that you have to defend, get the proper training and be sure to take your gun, extra ammo, a flashlight and a cell phone with you. Don’t count on having the time to go back and get them if needed. Keep a fanny pack “go bag” with these items in it next to your bed.
  • Learn how to “blip” a flashlight and how to shoot while holding one. 
  • Use multiple nightlights throughout the house. This gives you a great tactical advantage over intruders. 
  • Don’t shoot at shapes, shadows and sounds. Identify your target and get good hits.


Rob- That wraps up this episode. Ben, thank you for helping us again. 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 Listen Notes.
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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 in a few weeks with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.


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