Episode 331 with Ben Branam


Rob- Welcome to episode 331 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. We got together and recorded an episode of my podcast. I’ve also been teaching firearms classes for a church security team. How about you?

Rob- I’ve been exercising my new gun. I sent it out to get an aftermarket barrel and trigger.

We didn’t have any new comments this week, but I appreciate that someone shared our episode page on their website. I also want to thank Roger for his help this week.

We’re still looking for someone who wants to write or edit this podcast. Someday, all this can be yours.

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. Today we’ll look at a few 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  Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Rob- First story- Are you armed at home?

You’re at your girlfriend’s home on a Wednesday morning. You hear a crashing sound at the door. Your girlfriend and her three year old child run to see what is happening. So do you. You find a stranger with a sledgehammer in his hands. He drops the hammer and takes a gun out of his pants. He shoots at you, your girlfriend, and at her child. You run to your bedroom and grab your gun. You run back and shoot your attacker several times until he drops his gun.

The police report isn’t clear what happened next. We don’t know if the attacker ran or if the victims ran. You and your girlfriend check on her child and then call 911. The attacker was your girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

You put your gun away before the police arrive. You and your girlfriend make a statement to the police. The three of you are banged up, but not wounded. EMTs take your attacker to the hospital with non life threatening injuries. Your attacker is arrested and jailed for three counts of attempted murder, home invasion, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Your girlfriend filed a protective order against her ex, but the order hadn’t been served yet. You are not charged with a crime.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • The defender followed his girlfriend and her 3-year old to check out the noise. He didn’t let them go by themselves.
  • He realized that they were all in an immediate, lethal and unavoidable situation and that he needed his gun. Fortunately for all of them, his gun was nearby.
  • The defender shot the intruder several times but stopped when the threat ended when the intruder dropped his gun. 
  • The defender checked on the child and his girlfriend. Then he called 911.
  • The defender put his gun away when police arrived and he gave a statement to the police. 

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

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • The girlfriend had concerns about her ex-boyfriend which is why she took out a restraining order on him but did she tell her new boyfriend? Did she tell her co-workers, her relatives, her neighbors, etc? The restraining order doesn’t stop an attack but it can provide a legal paper trail and it can act as a warning to the ex.
  • POGO- Pants On Gun On!  The defender should have been carrying his gun on his body. When stuff hits the fan, there is no time to run to another room and get your defensive tool. Get a comfortable holster and carry at home.
  • It would have been a good idea for the girlfriend to have obtained a gun and some training as well. What would have happened to her and her child if her new boyfriend wasn’t home or had gotten shot when her ex broke in? Did she know where the gun was? Did she know how to use it? 
  • Was the handgun in a quick access safe? If the gun was a rifle or shotgun, was the trigger covered by a quick release lock? There was a three-year old child in the home. Leaving a loaded gun out or in a drawer is not an option. Neither is leaving an unloaded gun in the drawer and the ammo in the closet. Both cases can lead to disaster. 
  • Did either the defender or the girlfriend have trauma equipment or training? We are much more likely to need medical equipment than we are to need a gun. Both are important. 
  • The defender and his girlfriend needed a plan. They should have worked out: who would do what, who would take care of the child and where they would go in advance. When the unexpected happens and the adrenaline kicks in, the brain freezes. Creating a plan builds a “library of responses” so your brain doesn’t have to start from scratch. Having a plan and rehearsing it with everyone saves precious seconds that can save lives.

Ben-  Always glad to see our good guys are okay in this one.  Scarry thing, someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night (the breakin was at 9AM) and starts shooting at you and your kid.  

What they did right: 

  • Retreated
  • Had the gun ready to go
  • And then took the fight to the bad guy

Rob- The bad guy made three shots and missed. The good guy shot at least twice and both shots hit. That sounds like they were depending on luck?

Ben-  More people then you think miss at close ranges.  It’s been a challenge for decades. More realistic training is upping averages, but law enforcement hit ratio use to be 1 in 6.  So our defender did well and our attacker was average. 

Rob-  What about where his gun was stored.

Ben-  One major thing we can learn here, the best place for your gun is on you

Rob-  What about a plan? 

Ben-  I would also like to have not everyone go to see what happened.  Since they where all their they all where in danger.
Rob- Don’t go exploring who is there if you’re not prepared to deal with the answer. 

Is there more you’d like your students to do that wasn’t mentioned in this news story?

Rob- Is there more you want to say about this story, or should we move on?

Ben- Our second story happened in Tucson, Arizona.

Rob- Second Story- Are you armed in public?


You are talking to your friend. You’re both leaning on your cars in the apartment parking lot. It is late at night and two strangers approach you. You both see them. You notice that they have their faces covered. When they get close to you they have guns in their hands.

You and your friend are both armed. You shoot your attackers. They run and you stop shooting. You both call 911 and remain at the scene. You give a statement to the police.

EMS declares your attackers dead at the scene. News reports say that your attackers were armed, but don’t mention if the police recovered the attacker’s firearms.

Neither you nor your friend are charged with a crime.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • Both defenders were carrying when they were attacked.
  • They both recognized that they were in an immediate, lethal and unavoidable situation and acted accordingly.
  • They both used their situational awareness and noticed the face masks and guns as the robbers approached.
  • They both pulled their guns and shot the attackers until the threat was over. Neither one of the defenders chased after the fleeing attackers.
  • They both called 911, stayed at the scene and gave statements to the police. 

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

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • Arizona is one of 27 states that has permitless carry laws. As long as the defenders were over 21 and didn’t have a criminal record these defenders could legally be armed when they were attacked.
  • Transitional Spaces: Parking lots are transitional spaces where we are out in the open and vulnerable from 360 degrees. It was also at night. How much light was there in the parking lot? This wasn’t the best place to stand around to talk, especially late at night. Tactically, they made themselves easy targets. They would have been better off going inside to talk.
  • Did they have enough time to move behind a car or put another car between themselves and the attackers?
  • Did either of the defenders have a flashlight with them? Flashlights can not only help identify a threat but they can also be used to distract or even temporarily blind an attacker. 
  • Did both of them know how to engage multiple targets? Did they both shoot both attackers or did each one of them only shoot one attacker? What if both of the defenders had only shot the same attacker and neither of them shot the second one who was also armed? Two defenders can be much more effective but only if each one knows what the other one is going to do. What if one of the defenders moved in front of the other defender’s line of fire?
  • Did the defenders know how to prioritize which attacker to shoot first if there are multiple attackers? Who’s closer? Who’s got the rifle or shotgun? Who’s the bigger threat? Who’s in the open and who’s closer to cover? Do you shoot every attacker once or do you double-tap each one? Get the training and find out.

Ben- Nice to see both of our good guys armed and worked together to defeat two bad guys. 

Rob- What do you teach in your class for something like this?

Ben- With two armed people, you split.  One goes one way, and one goes the other.  You just have to move laterally so you don’t circle around and create a cross fire, or in other words, the two good guys end up with the bad guys in the middle and have the chance to shoot through the bad guys and hit the other good guys.

Rob- That also means that at least one of the bad guys has his back to one of the defenders. That is a plus, but it means we have to be able to shoot an attacker in the back. Most of us don’t train for that. In fact, we train not to shoot someone in the back. How should we train?

Ben- Last little point, it’s okay to challenge people early.  Talk to them, say Hi, what’s up?  And tell them to stop when they get close.

Rob- Where are we going for our next story?

Ben- Our third story happened in Manhattan Beach, California.

Rob- First this message from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership




Rob- Third story- Are you armed at work?

You work at a jewelry store. You’re serving a female customer when you notice a group of men enter your store. Five men wearing masks, hoodies, and gloves start smashing your display cases with hammers. You step away from your customer. You shoot at your attackers. They run from the store and dive into a car waiting outside. You need a second to put your gun away. You check on your customer and she isn’t injured. Your employees are shaken but not wounded. You call 911 and ask for help. The store is a mess.

You give a statement to the police. It takes you hours to determine that the thieves got some of your jewelry. You give a statement to the police along with in-store and storefront video. The police make one arrest. There was a similar robbery a few years ago at a nearby jewelry store. That is why you’re armed now.

You are not charged with a crime. 

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • The defender knew that the jewelry store was a prime target for robbery and he was armed. Hopefully he had his carry permit or he was allowed to carry by law as an owner or employee while in the store.
  • The defender moved away from the customer before engaging the robbers. 
  • The defender did not chase the robbers when they left the store.
  • The defender checked on the customers and employees.
  • The defender put his gun away, called 911 and gave a statement to the police. 

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

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • Was the defender facing an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat of major bodily harm or death to himself or other innocent parties? According to the news report and the summary story, this was a “smash and grab” robbery and the people were not threatened. If the video shows that the people were in danger, that’s a different story. We can only use deadly force to defend lives, not property. If the robbers only used the hammers to smash the glass cases then that was a property crime and shooting them would not be justified. If they threatened the people with the hammers then you have a deadly force threat and shooting them is justified. The elements of ability, opportunity and jeopardy come into play. Having the hammers gave the robbers the ability to cause significant injury or death. If the robbers were close enough to strike with the hammers or even to throw the hammers then opportunity is satisfied. The final element, jeopardy is present if the robbers threatened the people in the store by words or actions. If you have all three elements then defending yourself with deadly force is justified.
  • Texas is the only state where use of deadly force to protect property is legal but only under a few conditions. Know the laws for your state.
  • The store should have had a system to limit how many people can enter the store at one time. Many high risk locations have cameras and locks with remote switches to let customers in only one at a time. 
  • Could the defender have pulled the customer into the back room and prepared to ambush the intruders if they came after them?
  • Did the defender and the other employees have a plan in the event of a robbery? Did they have a code word that would put that plan into action?
  • The defender should have locked the doors when the robbers left to prevent them from returning.
  • The defender should have given the police copies of the video footage and not the original files. Video files get lost or damaged and you need to keep the originals as a back-up. Chain of custody must also be considered. Check with your lawyer.  
  • The defender should get some more firearm training. The news report doesn’t say if any of the five robbers were shot and the defender’s bullets had to go somewhere. Did he just “spray and pray”? If you’re going to use a gun for self-defense you need to be able to hit what you’re aiming at when you are under stress. You have to become unconsciously competent. 
  • Did the defender have a self-defense legal plan and lawyer? First you have to survive the physical fight and then you have to survive the legal fight. 

Ben-  Our defender was armed.  Our defender changed his angle by stepping away from his customer.  

Rob-  What do you mean by angle?

Ben-  It’s the hardest thing to teach on a range.  Movement changes everything.  A step left or right can give you clean fields of fire so you keep innocent bystanders from getting hurt. Movement can also put bad guys in line so they have to shoot through their friends to get to you, and it can get other things between you and the bad guy or make those things go away. 

Rob- Do you teach movement? 

Ben-  Movement is life.  Shoot, Move, Communicate is a mantra in special units for a reason.  If you can out maneuver your attacker then you can easily out do them and win.  Just like in this example and the one before this.

Rob- I think this is a tougher problem than it appears. It is clear that the attackers outnumbered the victim. The attackers’ hammers were a deadly blunt instrument that could kill the victim of other bystanders. How does the victim articulate that his life was in danger when he gives a report to the police?

Rob- Where are we going for our last story?

Ben- Our fourth story took place in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Forth Story- Do you have a firearm nearby at night?

You are at home in bed. It is 3AM when you hear someone moving furniture around in your home. You shout for your wife to call 911. You see a naked stranger in your kid’s empty room. You grab your gun and tell the intruder to stop. You hold the intruder at gunpoint. You put your gun away as the police arrive.

Police arrest your intruder. The intruder entered your home through an unlocked back door. He says he was looking for his clothes. Police can’t tell if he is high or drunk.

Neither you nor your wife have seen the man before this morning. 

You and your wife give a statement to the police. Your intruder is charged with felony burglary, misdemeanor criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. He is held on a $5,000 cash bond.

You’re not charged.

Tag- no shots fired.

What did our defender do correctly?

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • The defender didn’t ignore the noise and just go back to sleep. He went to investigate.
  • The defender yelled for his wife to call 911 while he obtained his gun and confronted the intruder.
  • The defender recognized that he was not in an immediate, lethal and unavoidable threat so he did not shoot the intruder.
  • The defender used verbal commands and held the intruder at gunpoint until the police arrived. 
  • The defender put his gun away when police arrived.
  • Both the defender and his wife made statements to the police. 

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

(Bullet points by Roger T. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THESE NOTES.)

  • The defender should have taken his gun and a flashlight with him when he investigated the noise. You can’t assume that you will have the time to go find/load your defensive weapon when the unexpected happens. 
  • The defender held the intruder at gunpoint until the police arrived. Did he know how to do that properly? Did he keep his distance and put cover or concealment between himself and the intruder? Did he know how to minimize the intruder’s ability to attack or run? Did he know how to hold his gun at low ready and not shoot the intruder by accident? Did he know when to shoot and when not to shoot if the intruder moved? 
  • Where were the defender’s wife and children while he was holding the intruder. Would they all have been safer if the defender had just let the intruder leave?
  • The defender and his family need to have a plan in case of a home invasion including making sure the home’s perimeter is reinforced and secure. 

Ben-  Our defenders worked together to take care of this situation.  This is one of those scary ones too.  For whatever reason, this couple’s kid wasn’t home on this night.  Sometimes dumb luck is in your favor, but don’t count on it.

I really liked that our defender didn’t shoot this guy when he didn’t have to.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Rob-  Don’t some TV shows and hero movies teach to shoot all the bad guys and that’s a good thing? 

Ben-  Every TV show and movie do, and we think that is a good idea, but it’s not.  First, we are the good guys and we don’t go around shooting people because we can, legally or not.  We don’t do it because it’s the right thing to do.

But more importantly, take it from someone who has beenthere and done that, if you shoot and kill someone, it will change you forever.  It’s something you have ot live with.  Your family, friends, and coworkers will see you and treat you differently.  It’s a horrible burden to live with that takes years to get right again.  You don’t deserve that.

So I really liked this one.  These are the best outcomes for self defense gun uses.  No one is hurt, the bad guy goes to jail.  You can’t ask for a better outcome.



Rob- That wraps up this episode. Ben Branam, 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 podcast called Modern Self-Protection.

Rob- After you look at Ben articles and his videos, 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.
We’re also available on
Amazon, Google Podcasts, Tunein, Spotify, Podbean and iHeart Radio.

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.


One Reply to “Episode 331 with Ben Branam”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.