VIDEO: Book review of "Law of Self Defense" by Peter Burlingame, SDI


Hey folks, Peter Burlingame, who runs Self Defense Initiative (SDI) out of the Virgin Islands recently did a very kind and comprehensive (and lengthy, ~17 minutes!) video book review of "The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition." The full-length review is available at Peter's YouTube channel here (to which I encourage you to subscribe), but I've included a shortened version (~5 minutes) of his review here, as well as a transcription of that shortened version for those unable to watch video at the the moment.

Thanks to Peter for the kind words! (And, hey, when am I getting a winter-time invite to the Virgin Islands to give a Law of Self Defense Seminar?) :-)


Knowing when to shoot is probably more important than knowing how to shoot. Unfortunately, most of us spend our time practicing how to shoot and we neglect the when to shoot part.

I'm Peter Burlingame of the Self Defense Initiative.

There's any number of good quality shooting schools out there, and hopefully you have availed yourself of a number of them to learn to use your gun properly, to know how to hit well and to keep it running, to use it in a fight.

But it's just as important, if not more important, that you understand when you can use your firearm, not just legally but morally and ethically.

Back in 1993 I was fortunate enough to take Massad Ayoob's Lethal Force Institute Level I class, and it was an amazing experience. The depth of knowledge that was imparted to us, not just the legal aspects, but the dynamics of the use of lethal force, and what to do in the aftermath of a shooting, and what to do beforehand to avoid a shooting. It was just an amazing class. And for decades Mas Ayoob's been the man when it's come to use of force.

About a year ago I became aware of another person, Andrew F. Branca, and he's written a book, which I have here, "The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide for the Armed Citizen."  I talked to Mr. Branca and he was gracious enough to send me a copy of his book.  And I've had a chance to read it, and I wanted to review it.

And the fact that you're seeing me do a review on this should tell you something, because if I didn't care about the book I would just say nothing.

But it is a treasure-trove of useful information on when to use lethal force. What Mr. Branca has done in this book is study the laws of all 50 states, and categorized them, and put charts in here so that you can look at what state you live in or what state you are going to visit and see what exactly the laws are pertaining to use of lethal force, pertaining to defense of others, pertaining to any number of factors in the realm of self-defense.

The book is incredibly well thought-out and put together.  It is in a very easy to understand format. You look at something like this, and, you know, it's not something you might think of as a fun read, as particularly sexy.  But Mr. Branca has done an amazing job of making this very, very readable. It is actually an enjoyable read, despite the fact that it's talking about some pretty heavy material.

[NOTE:  At this point Peter steps through the Table of Contents of the book in considerable detail, over 10 minutes worth.  To hear all that I refer you to the full-length of his review by clicking here.]

If you carry a gun for self-defense I strongly recommend you pick up this book.

I've been doing this for the better part of two-decades.  I teach nationally to law enforcement, I've been to any number of classes on use of force, and I still learned an incredible amount from this book.

It is easy to read, enjoyable to read, and incredibly valuable.

So, do yourself a favor, consider this an inexpensive and enjoyable insurance policy so that you make the proper decisions on when to use lethal force, and that almost as importantly that you are able to articulate to the responding officers [AFB: I would replace "responding officers" with "your attorney"] exactly why you did what you did in your use of lethal force in a manner that they can understand, and that will save you a lot of trouble down the road.

So, "The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen," by Attorney Andrew F. Branca, recommended, buy it.

I'm Peter Burlingame, Self Defense Initiative. Thanks for watching, be safe out there.

You heard him folks!

If you care for autographed print copies of the book, you can order them from my blog,, by clicking here (just indicate during the check-out process what you'd like written). The book is priced at $19.95 + S&H.

Also, if you're an instructor interested in bulk copies for your students, those can be ordered by clicking here--prices go as low as $10/copy.

Print copies can also be acquired from the NRA Store and from Amazon, (~$20 + S&H, both places) although those cannot be autographed.

And for those of you who prefer e-books, a Kindle version ($9.99) can also be ordered from Amazon.

NEW! Law of Self Defense Webinar online, on-demand training classes

Also, if you like the book, you'll LOVE our newly-launched state-specific on-demand Law of Self Defense Webinar online training courses.  These courses are super-charged versions of our 4-5 hour long live, in-person Law of Self Defense Seminar, except accessible from the convenience of your computer, tablet, or smartphone and including additional content that time constraints don't allow for in a live seminar.  Whereas the book covers all 50 states at a high level, the webinars/seminars are state-specific, diving deep into the self-defense statutes, jury instructions, and court decisions of each state covered.

Click here to learn more about the webinars.

OK, folks, that's it for today.

Be alert. Be prepared. Know the law.