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Posted on September 28, 2022 by in Uncategorized

CCW Safe Podcast – Episode 106: Andrew Branca

This week host Rob High is joined by Attorney Andrew Branca from to discuss road rage. They talk about how to avoid it and some points to consider if you fall victim to it.



Video version of the podcast:


Rob: Hello again, welcome to the CCW Safe Podcast. I’m Rob High and joined today by our very special guests. You guys all know him. Andrew Branca from the Law of Self Defense. How’re you doing today, Andrew?

Andrew: I am doing awesome. Thanks again for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Rob: Absolutely. Had the honor to spend a little time with Andrew this weekend at The Guardian Nation Training Conference in Oklahoma City at the Oklahoma City Gun Club. We were full up with really high-end instruction from shooting to less lethal munitions to legal things from Andrew and part of his five elements of the self-defense case. Great, great training with people from all over the country. It was an honor to be a part of that again. Today, we want to address something that is one of the things that comes around to us as frequently as anything else. Having the knowledge to mentally prepare yourself for this prior to being involved and you’ve probably already been involved to some degree, probably as the victim of it but it is road rage. It’s just one of those things that seems to become more and more frequent. They’re really becoming significantly serious encounters. Part of my thing, I’ve mentioned before is, I’m in a vehicle that is mobile and if I can avoid this thing and take the next exit or the next turn, or whatever and avoidance is still the very most important part of this whole thing. You can’t get emotions involved when guns are involved. If you’re carrying a gun, it doesn’t matter. Every confrontation you’re going to be involved in is an armed confrontation. What are your thoughts there, Andrew?

Andrew: Of course, you’re absolutely right. First of all, avoiding the fight is winning the fight for normal law-abiding people like us. The fights we don’t have to fight are fights we’ve already won. It doesn’t get any better than that. One without cost, without violence, without injury, without legal repercussions, criminal liability, the risk. People have to remember the moment you get engaged in that hands-on confrontation or guns on or whatever we’re talking about, you’ve incurred two risks you weren’t incurring a moment before. One is that you could die in that fight. We practice with guns. We take BJJ. We do all this stuff to reduce the risk of losing the physical fight to as close to zero as possible. It’s never a zero, folks. It could just not be your day. I don’t care how good you are at fighting, it could not be your day. Mike Tyson lost fights too. You’ve just incurred a greater than zero risk of dying in the fight. That’s not great. You’ve just incurred a greater than zero risk of spending the rest of your life in a cage because if you end up having to go to your gun, it could be as innocent and lawful a shooting as I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I tell every client, if I have to put you in front of a jury, there’s a 10% chance you get convicted no matter how innocent you are. That’s the noise in the system. That’s the risk of going to a trial. You don’t have much control over whether or not you go to trial once you’re in the fight. That’s not your decision anymore. It’s other people’s decision. They drag you into that trial, you could be 100% innocent, it doesn’t matter. You run that risk of getting convicted and if you get convicted, the system treats you no different than it treats the other convicted killer. You’re likely to spend the rest of your life in a cage without the possibility of early release. Those are the risks when you go to the gun, when you get in that fight, any kind of fight. There are situations that are worth those risks. Dying, I’d rather be alive in prison than dead outside of prison or having that happen to your wife or your kids. It’s a pretty short list of things that are worth that risk. Getting upset about somebody cutting you off in traffic or taking the parking space you were waiting for or any of these common scenarios involving motor vehicles that– Listen, they’re not pleasant. Nobody likes these things. Nobody likes to be disrespected. You need to be the adult in the room and make informed decisions and understand the risks that you’re incurring. I don’t know if you saw it, Rob High, but I just saw a video that was released recently. I think I saw it on Twitter or something but it was an intersection in Oakland, California, where someone’s driving down the road. He’s got the green light and he’s just about to enter the intersection and a big white pickup truck blows the red light and comes right in front of them in the intersection. The person whose dash cam is filming leans on his horn, which is not an unreasonable thing to do, except the response from the man in the pickup is to come out of the pickup with a gun in his hand and start shooting at the filmer. The filmer didn’t do anything to deserve to be shot at, but it happened anyway. He could well have found himself in a gunfight just because he leaned on his horn. He wasn’t a bad actor. He didn’t do anything inherently wrong. Anytime you’re engaging in an angry way with people in vehicular situations, you don’t know who that person is, you don’t know what kind of day they’re having or how they’ll respond or they’re a psychopathic killer. Because you don’t know, especially if you’re carrying a gun on your person, you should be doing everything possible to if anything de-escalates, but certainly not escalate the situation. The only reason to lean on the horn in that scenario I just described was because the driver was angry that he was cut off in the intersection. It didn’t make him safer. It didn’t prevent anything bad from happening. It was an expression of his reasonable frustration and anger being cut off in the intersection like that. The consequence could have been, he caught one of those rounds and died as a result. He got lucky only his car got shot. He didn’t get shot. Again, that was not within his control where those bullets were going to end up. I always caution people. I know what it’s like. You get your concealed carry gun. I remember the first time I got mine. I was 22 maybe living in Massachusetts. Believe it or not, had a concealed carry permit. I grew up in New York in a place in New York state where you could not have a concealed carry permit. It was impossible. I was shocked when I became an adult and realize, “Oh my God, I can get a permit to carry a gun on my person just like a police officer.” That’s amazing. The first time you do it, it feels super empowering. It’s like, “Oh my God, I have a gun.” That’s about the most powerful thing I can be carrying around. I don’t have to take nonsense from anybody now. The truth could not be the more opposite. You’re carrying a gun on your person, you basically have to take no nonsense from everybody except the person trying to kill you, rape you, or kidnap you. That’s who the gun is for. For everyone else, you cannot afford to allow yourself to get engaged in confrontations that are otherwise avoidable. Don’t be getting into fights. You don’t need to be getting into because of those catastrophic consequences.

Rob: That’s so perfect. I go over almost weekly talking about, I’m going to be an armed citizen. I’m going to exercise that right. It’s almost like when I put my gun on, I have to take my ego off. As soon as I’m doing that, I need to realize that I can’t react on emotions anymore because emotions is what start these things. It’s that the guy goes through the intersection, “Oh my gosh, you almost hit me. My heart’s racing. you idiot and I lay on the horn. You’re talking about the percentages of fights that we win and yes, Mike Tyson has been knocked out. We’ve seen everybody has an easy button. I’ve trained sports combatants for decades. I’ve trained and participated and been involved in every aspect from being an athlete, being an official, being a coach. It is a game though. Those are within constructed rules in an arena specifically designed for that thing. There are no rules in a street fight or a referee, nobody to step in and break you or stop it or anything else. I can’t count on anybody else. What I can count on is somebody picking up a camera or a phone and filming the thing and dependent on when they become involved in that incident, it may appear as though you’re the aggressor. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take.


Andrew: Something else you don’t control, that video footage. If you could get the entirety of the video footage, it’ll probably be good for your justification or use of force if you did things the right way. If you knew what you were doing, you followed the rules– In my experience, good guy cases of self-defense are very rare, by the way. Within the criminal justice system, 99% of claims of self-defense are garbage. They’re just bad actors whose lawyers are raising the legal defense of self-defense because that’s what you do as a defense attorney. If you’re a traditional criminal defense attorney, his clients are criminals. That’s just the nature of the job. Everybody knows it wasn’t a legitimate claim of self-defense and tends to get blown up early in trials. Criminal defense attorneys may have a lot of experience arguing self-defense cases but they tend to be bad guy cases of self-defense. Most criminal defense attorneys, I know you talked to Don West, for example, your National Trial Counsel at CCW Safe or any other really experienced criminal defense attorney, 30-year career, 40-year career, you ask them how many good guy claims of self-defense they’ve ever had to defend. It’s a handful, 3, 4, 5, 6, over 30 or 40 years. It’s very, very uncommon. The system is completely used to seeing bad guy cases of self-defense. When you are fed into the system, guess what you look like to everybody, to all the professionals in the system, the cops, the prosecution, the judge? They see nothing but bad guy cases of self-defense. I had a point I was circling back to and I dropped it. I dropped it from my head. Can you refresh my recollection where we were, Rob? Oh, the video. One thing that distinguishes good guy cases of self-defense from bad guy cases in self-defense is normally in the rare good guy case of self-defense. They tend to get into trouble not because there’s too much evidence in the case. They tend to get into trouble when there’s too little evidence in the case. The claim of self-defense begins to look speculative or fabricated. When someone’s recording you on their phone for WorldStar publication later on, you don’t control what portion of that video gets released. They control that. If there’s a portion that’s favorable to you, I would not count on that being released. That won’t exist. The only thing that will exist is the bad portion, the portion that makes you look like the bad actor, and that’s the evidence you’re stuck with there.

Rob: It’s not just that. I could be 100% honest as an eyewitness. I’m driving along down the Interstate and all of a sudden, two cars come zooming past me and you can tell that they are engaged. They are fully involved somehow, and you don’t know what happened. Then I see car B do something and all of a sudden, the thing escalates and things go really south. What I see, what I witness, what I tell the officer when he asked me is the guy driving car B did this. This happened to car A and this is how the whole thing got to where it is right now. I don’t know what car A did 3 miles back. I only know the little bit that I’ve been exposed to. It’s not worth that gamble. Unless we’re out in the middle of the country on open Interstate, I rarely go 3 miles without having an opportunity to get off. I will absolutely exit. I’ll flip a U-turn. I’ll do something to get away from that. It’s just not worth that effort. You mentioned, you never know who that person in that car is. I don’t know anything about him. I don’t know if he’s fleeing an armed robbery. I have no clue what’s going on. This guy may be ready to just snap and pull the trigger on the first person that gets in his way. I had an incident like that as I was going to work as a young patrol officer. I’m in my personal vehicle. I’m driving to this station. As a young guy, I wasn’t smart enough to go in plain clothes. I’m already dressed. I’ve got my full uniform on. It’s dark enough that the other driver has no earthly idea that I’m a cop and he just goes crazy. I tried to slow down and let him pass and it’s not happening. I finally just thought, “I’m going to pull over the shoulder of the Interstate here. I’m just going to stop.” He stops too and he gets out of the car. I can see both hands are empty at the time, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a weapon but at that time, I can tell that he’s not armed. I step out of the car and I said, “Well, you wanted my attention obviously. Now you have it.” What are you going to do when it’s a cop that you’re doing that to? I called for an on-duty unit and wrote the guy tickets. That’s a safe conclusion. You don’t know that I’m not that guy that’s having that really bad day and I’m just done. I don’t care who steps in my way next, I’m going to handle it.


Andrew: That guy should be going through a bad divorce or business is collapsing or he just had a damn bad day and someone’s going to pay for it. I’ve worked cases where we have clients, road-rage accidents, and suddenly, they’re on the shoulder of the road because they got cut off. The other guy gets out with a tire iron and starts beating the crap out of their car. Nobody likes that. Fortunately, my client, he was armed, he was a weirdo so he was armed with a revolver, but he was armed. The other guy starts chasing him around the car with the tire iron. Fortunately, my client just kept the car between him and the other fellow until the other fellow got tired, and got back in his own vehicle and rode away. To me, that’s a huge win. Could my client have shot him? Almost certainly and have that been a lawful shoot, but he didn’t have to. He was able to keep the car as a barrier. The other guy only had an impact weapon. If my client had slipped and fallen and the other guy had gotten on the same side of the CarSim, that guy with car iron would have been shot and killed. No question about it. My client knew how to run that gun. Fortunately, that didn’t have to happen. Even better is if you’re never in the encounter in the first place. We don’t have control over other people. We don’t know how they’re going to respond. We have no influence over that but we have control over ourselves, or we ought to have emotional control over ourselves. If we’re going to carry guns, especially we need to carry them like professionals, our own sense of being a professional, meaning, cool, calm, collected, not driven by emotion, not driven by anger. We can’t afford to allow ourselves to get in situations where emotions are being spun up, either the other person’s emotions or our own emotions. Frankly, people should condition themselves to that state. They should think to themselves, what if there’s an event like this and the guy starts saying horrible things to my wife or horrible things to my kids, the kinds of things that would normally spin up any red-blooded American male? You just can’t allow yourself to be manipulated or driven by that. We might like to think we live in a world with that kind of offensive conduct would justify your use of force against someone. I know a lot of people do feel that way on an emotional level, but I can assure you on a legal level, it does not work. That’s not a justification for use of the defensive force. You could well find yourself in a position where you end up actually being the unlawful aggressor in a confrontation. Then, you don’t actually have a self-defense justification, folks. You don’t have a legal defense. Whatever use of force you engaged in, it’s just a crime. Once you get convicted, you’re found guilty or you take a plea which is the same as being found guilty just to a lesser offense. You’re being found guilty voluntarily. The system just treats you just like everyone else convicted of those crimes. They don’t say, “Hey, it’s Andrew Branca, he’s normally a nice guy. Just had a bad day.” No, you’re getting the same sentence, because especially in these politically charged times, the judge doesn’t want there to be a perception that he’s treating some people better than other people because of their background or the race or whatever the case might be. You should expect to receive the full weight of the sentencing rules applied against you. Over what? Again, there are things that are worth those risks. There are things that are worth going to prison for, but it’s a very damn short list. Someone’s actively trying to kill you, maim you, rape you, kidnap you, or do any of those things to someone you have a duty to protect, awesome, that’s worth taking the risk. After that, I run out of things I’m willing to spend the rest of my life in jail for or die over.

Rob: The other thing, I’ve had instances, just completely innocent that I’m going and I think, “You know what? I’m going to change lanes,” and I don’t do a good job clearing my blind spot and I begin to slide over and all of a sudden, you get somebody’s laying on the horn like, “You idiot, I’m right here.” Yes, I was an idiot. I didn’t see it. I’m guilty. I will be the first one to just go, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.” The fact that I’m sorry and apologetic about what happened may not be enough for the emotional wreck beside me in that car and we may now have an incident. That is the time for me to get off the freakin road, get away from this guy. We had a case that we were involved with where same thing– It’s kind of a benign act, but somebody took great offense to it. All of a sudden, it’s cat and mouse at high speeds, and finally, that’s a couple and they went, “You know what? We’re out of this. Call 911.” They’re doing all the right things. They pull over, but the other party pulls in behind them. Still okay. I’m not comfortable with this guy who has spun up behind me but I’m still okay. Then, one of the involves that is in the lead car decides, “That’s it. I’m confronting this idiot.” He goes back and he shows him his firearm. We just became the aggressor. It doesn’t matter how it started, but it had stopped for a time and you re-engaged, you approached, you were now the aggressor. I can’t make that okay. I can’t make that go away for you. You have to understand those things.

Andrew: For folks that don’t know, the moment you make someone else aware that you have a gun for the purpose of changing their behavior, you’ve arguably just committed aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, with a firearm and that’s good for 10 to 20 years in most states. Most of the cases I work on are exactly that. Normal law-abiding people with a concealed carry permit got scared, got angry, showed someone their gun. Sometimes, they drew the pistol. Sometimes, they just opened up their jacket. Normally, they didn’t fire a shot, didn’t actually hurt anybody but you don’t have to hurt anybody to be charged with aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is simply putting another person in imminent fear of deadly forced harm. That’s what you’re doing when you threaten someone with a gun and make them aware you have a gun for the purpose of changing their behavior. You can justify that as self-defense if you meet the conditions for self-defense, but if you don’t meet the conditions for self-defense, all you have is the crime. People need to understand that when we’re talking about self-defense, not as a physical act but a legal defense that’s being raised by your attorney. He’s raising that legal defense against a criminal charge. Self-defense, it’s a legal defense that’s of the nature of confession and avoidance, meaning you’re not saying it wasn’t you, you didn’t do it, you were someplace else. You’re at your mom’s house having dinner. You have an alibi. That’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying if you’re claiming self-defense, you’re saying, “It was me. I did it. I pointed my gun,” or “I shot that guy,” or whatever the underlying conduct is, “but I did it with the legal justification of self-defense.” If your legal justification of self-defense is defective or defeated, all that’s left of confession and avoidance is confession. You’ve conceded to the underlying conduct and then that’s a walk-away conviction for a prosecutor. It’s very, very common. People don’t know. I don’t know what they’re thinking, “Unless I’ve shot the person I’m not facing legal jeopardy.” You’re facing a lot of legal jeopardy the moment they know that you have a gun and you’re making them aware. By the way, you don’t even need to have actually a gun. If you’re pretending that you have a gun and putting them in reasonable fear of imminent deadly force harm, it’s still an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Rob: My last assignment in law enforcement, I was an investigator in my last assignment. I worked a few years as a robbery detective. There’s a difference between robbery and armed robbery, and they don’t have to know for a fact that you got a gun. It’s just like you’re talking about there. I come in and I make the threat of, and if I’m the teller at a bank or whatever the case may be, and all of a sudden I go, “Oh my God, this guy, he’s going to kill me if I don’t comply.”

Andrew: He’s got his hand in his hoodie and he is pointing his finger like there’s a gun in there. He doesn’t need to have a gun to be committing armed robbery.

Rob: Correct. Because my belief was he’s armed and there we go. On another end of that, I’m talking about the other incident that’s a real live incident. A couple pulls over, the guy pulls in behind him. The guy gets nervous, comes back, and displays his firearm. Let’s say I’m the guy that gets frustrated and goes back to approach and I display my firearm and unbeknownst to me, the guy behind me is way better at running a gun than I am. He now has that fear of imminent danger. I just showed him I got my gun, and he pulls me, shoots me. Guys, he’s got a great chance of walking away from this thing and you started it because you brought the gun into play initially.

Andrew: When you display that gun, you walk back, open up your jacket, show him the gun, you better have been facing an imminent deadly force threat. That’s what needs to have been occurring for you to be justified in displaying your gun at that person. If that’s not the case, your threat of force is unlawful. No different than if someone walked up to you and threatened you with a gun. If your threat of force is unlawful, you are the initial deadly force aggressor in that confrontation, in that moment regardless of what had happened earlier. That person can well be privileged to use deadly force against you and justify his use of force as self-defense. You’ve given him a free ticket to shoot you dead lawfully. That’s not a good plan, folks.

Rob: Again, it’s why we just beat it like a dead horse. We go over and over again. You’ve got to check your emotions. You put your firearm on, you take your ego off. It’s just that critical. That’s the only way that I walk away from that every single time unscathed. It’s just one of those that I understand the macho part of it or the ego part of it, but I’ve also seen lots of guys get shot over things like that. I’ve investigated hundreds of aggravated assaults and shootings. There’s nothing cool about getting shot. There’s nothing cool about getting shot at. I can assure you. It changes your perspective on everything in life. You mentioned how we can control our wins and losses. I’ve trained guys that were world-class athletes. I’ve trained with guys that were Olympians. I’ve been blessed over my lifetime to be in an area that I’ve had those kinds of associations but every single one of those guys has suffered defeat. Every single one, not a one of them has won everything. Everybody has an easy button, everybody. The one thing I can tell you that I am 100% absolutely undefeated forever is everything that I’ve avoided. If I’ve avoided a fight, that’s a fight I cannot lose it. It’s just that simple.

Andrew: Of course, there are circumstances in which the fight just comes to you and there’s really nothing you can do except deal with that confrontation. We’re not really talking about those. We’re talking about the ones where you can influence how things are developing. That’s something that you have some control over. To have a good outcome there frankly requires competency. To do well at anything requires competency and you develop competency. The first time we ever pick up a handgun, we don’t shoot it very well but if you practice, you get training, you dry fire, you’re disciplined, you maintain your proficiency, you develop competence. When you’re competent with a handgun and it’s a very different experience than the first time you pick it up. Say you’re shooting competitively, the whole experience is overwhelming the first time you do it but competitive shooters often say after they’ve had a few years of experience that they can just see more. They see more of what’s going on. They see more of the sites. They see more of the targets. What that really means is they’ve made more of their reactions and their actions subconsciously competent. Those things are happening automatically in the background so they have more bandwidth to see more. It’s the same, BJJ, I know you’re a BJJ practitioner. You see the higher belts in BJJ training with a lower belt and the lower belt often looks frantic. The higher belt almost looks like they’re moving in slow motion, but they’re completely dominating the situation because they’re seeing more. They have a higher degree of competence. The reactions are more automatic. They’re subconsciously competent. They don’t have to think about it. I think the same is true on how we react emotionally to these types of confrontations. We need to develop a level of competence and you do that. With shooting, it’s dry firing. With BJJ, it would be rolling on a mat and training. Dealing emotionally with confrontations, it’s thinking through those scenarios ahead of time. I always urge people when you hear about road rage incidents, especially these days when everything’s caught on video so you can actually visualize something, think to yourself, “What would I do in that circumstance? What did this person do right or wrong? What led to a good outcome or a bad outcome? How would I react myself?” It’s the kind of mental dry firing or mental rolling. You condition your brain so if you’re ever in one of these situations, it’s not actually the first time you’re there mentally. As far as your brain is concerned, you’ve been in that situation many, many times before. Your default reactions tend to be competent and emotionally controlled as opposed to emotionally reckless. Otherwise, you resort to the animal part of your brain and you lean on the horn and you get that situation we talked about in Oakland where not just your emotions, but the other side’s emotions begin to get spun up as well. That’s not where you want to be folks but really the only way to develop confidence is through training. In this context, it’s purely mental training but you need to do it on a fairly regular basis if you’re not going to default to that animal part of the brain.

Rob: There’s a couple of words that we’re playing with here, both of them are completely necessary to become a really good concealed carrier, a citizen defender. We talked on proficiency, but I can develop a measure of proficiency and not have the mental competency to pair with that. It’s why in a lot of martial arts, if you got a child taking part in something and all of a sudden, at 8 years old or 9 years old, they’re testing this kid and now he’s a black belt. You’ve been snowed so badly. There’s no such thing as a child who is a black belt. Not like that because they may have the technical aspects of things, but they do not have the mental. It’s one of the things that we talk about. I’ve touched on it in other aspects, but once you get to a certain level in a combat sport, my body won’t hold up as I age and mature the same way that it would when I was 16, 18, or 24 years old. I go flying into decade number seven and if I get rolled up really hard, even if I win a competition, it still hurt. You just have to factor all of those things in. Instead of getting the physical repetitions, there’s nothing wrong with me kicking back in my chair knocking the lights down and doing mental repetitions like Andrew’s talking about. These are the mental things that you’re doing here are so incredibly important. All your great operators, your special forces group guys, if you don’t think these guys don’t do mental reps, you’re absolutely missing the mark. If you don’t think really high-speed cops aren’t doing mental reps, it can be a situation that they have never been in before, but they can take all of their other experiences, all of the other trainings, all the things they’ve done, and they can mentally work their way through a problem before they’re ever personally encountered with that problem. The ability to slow things down. It’s like Andrew was talking with the competitive shooters. All of a sudden, their world slows down. They see things better. They move more efficiently or the white belt or the junior competitor rolling with the black belt. You see the black belt and he looks like he’s in slow motion.


Andrew: He’s just making better decisions. It’s almost like his brain got 10 times bigger. He’s just making better decisions. That’s what competence does for you. Now, what’s really happening, of course, it’s not that your brain got bigger. Your brain’s 100% whatever it is, but without competency under stress, the stress itself consumes such an enormous percentage of that brain capacity that there’s very little left for rational, effective, competent decision-making. The more competent you become, the less effect that stress has, the less of your mental bandwidth it consumes. Where if you’re a novice, untrained, incompetent, or you haven’t thought through these road rage incidents before, in the panic of the moment, that stress might take 90% of your bandwidth. You have 10% of your brain left to make decisions. Part of those decisions are things like how to run the gun. There’s almost nothing left for actually making decisions, but if you thought these things through, maybe stress is taking up 10% of your brain. You get 90% left. That’s 10 times as much as you had before, not because anything external has changed, but because your brain is more proficient and competent at handling the situation because you’ve prepared for it. It’s much like pilots. Any of the audience who are pilots, they know. They study other pilots’ crashes, not so they can crash, but so they can learn vicariously through those experiences. We can do the same thing with these road rage incidents that we hear about in the news. We have the benefit of learning from other people’s experiences developing our competence without having to get into a series of gunfights.

Rob: Absolutely. If I don’t have the competency to respond and I’m responding out of emotion. I love to point things out in the gym or in the dojo or on the firing line. The first time you go through a class and somebody’s telling you, “Okay, this next course of fire, we’re going to be at the 7-yard line. We’re going to load our magazines, three magazines with four rounds each. Four plus four plus four. You’ve got X number of seconds to draw, engage, and fire this many rounds. All of a sudden, man, your heart rate goes up. Your respirations change. Breath control is one of the basic fundamentals of shooting. Do you think about your breath when you’re on the firing line anymore? Is that anything– I know how to breathe.

Andrew: No.

Rob: I’ve been doing it from the day that I entered this earth.

Andrew: It’s funny. There’s a lot of things you focus on as a novice. I’m an NRA instructor myself and I teach these things to novice students. Things like breath control and stance. Once you develop a certain degree of competence, you just stop thinking about those things. They become less important because you can focus on the things that really are important like getting the sight picture you need to see for that particular shot. You know what that looks like. That’s when you can break the shot. It hardly matters where your feet are or what your breathing is because those are not the critical conditions. Those things are things that a novice can manage to help facilitate their ability to get to the necessary sight picture. Once you have a high level of competence, you just know what the necessary sight picture looks like, and if you see that, whatever the other conditions, that’s the time to break the shot. You only have that luxury once you’ve made the effort, you’ve made the investment to develop that degree of competence. If a novice tries to do that, they’ll just send a bunch of rounds into the berm and not hit much of anything besides the dirt.

Rob: I’ve been there and done that [chuckles]. The same thing, you’re talking about a combatives kind of thing. I think all of these things are very necessary to be a fully functional, well-rounded, concealed carrier. I need to understand spatial awareness and how to retain my gun and how to not present it in a manner that I actually presented to my assailant. If you watch these guys in combatives that have never been a part before, you’ll see guys with experience that are flowing and moving and they’re very gentle and graceful with a lot of the things. Their breath is controlled because it’s not all a physical exertion muscular thing. Brand new people, because they have nothing else at their disposal, run how to air in about 45 seconds because they squeeze and they grip and they [unintelligible 00:37:53] Just given everything they have and they’re contracting everything in their body to try to control something. Those very same things come into play in a shooting. Those things happen. I’ve been involved in law enforcement with doing entries really on homes that are sometimes fortified, but we’re going after confirmed, no doubt, really bad guys. I know the first time I ever went through the door like that, it was a little overwhelming. It seemed like everything happened so fast. As I became better trained, more competent, more proficient, I could go in a door and it was almost like the world slowed down. I could see everything that was going on. I could survey the room even to the point that I knew what most of my partners were doing at the same time. That comes with years and years and years of practice and training and preparation. Like Andrew was talking about, a lot of that is the mental aspect, not just the physical.

Andrew: They overlap because the mental stress is really the same as physical exhaustion. It has the same effect on you. There are two sides of the same coin. We see this, particularly in combat soldiers. They might be in three or four minutes of a firefight but the stress of that firefight, they may as well just ran 5 miles. They burned that much energy. They’re that exhausted at the end of the day. Folks, we don’t tend to make better decisions under stress. We tend to make worse decisions under stress. Most of the cases I consult on, law-abiding citizens, normal law, abiding citizens, never been in trouble with the law a day in their lives. They made some bad decisions and that’s why I’m working on their illegal case. To my eye, there were a lot of exits off that freeway to use of force that they could have taken before they ended up in the bad situation but under stress, they didn’t see them. If you condition yourself to stress so that you’re better able to respond, you’re more competent. Guess what? You see those exits and you’re like– It’s like the maturity of foresight that I call it. It’s how adults see the world differently than kids. If you have kids, you’ve all seen them take the cup of some colored juice usually that’s hard to clean and they put it on the coffee table halfway off the coffee table, like 49% on the edge of the coffee table. We’re sitting there. We’re watching this and we know it’s going to happen. The cup’s going to fall off the coffee table for sure and make a big mess that we have to clean up. Guess why? We’ve seen it before. We have the maturity of foresight. We can see what’s going to happen in the future, make reasonable inferences about what’s likely to happen. Children don’t have that. They haven’t developed it yet. Adults under stress, unless they’ve conditioned themselves to some degree for stress, prepared themselves, they have difficulty foreseeing how things are going to unfold moving forward. If you do the work, if you think about these road rage incidents, think about how you would respond, you’ll find that you can foresee just like when we’re driving cars normally. We all do this. We do this a thousand times. Every time we get in a car, we see other traffic. We get a sense of what’s that driver going to do. Is he going to turn in front of me? He hasn’t turned yet. You’re almost predicting the future but what you’re actually doing is seeing little micro cues and making predictions about what might happen. You put your foot on the brake. Maybe you’re not breaking but your foot’s there ready to step on the brake just in case. 99% of the time, you don’t have to jam on the brake. Nothing bad happens, but we’re observing all this. By the way, guess who doesn’t observe all that when driving? Novice drivers. They’re overwhelmed. Once you become a competent driver, you see more just like we’re talking about with guns or martial arts or anything else. It becomes much more intuitive. You can prepare your mind the same way for this prospective kind of confrontations where you begin to see micro cues very early on and exit off the path very early on and you avoid thousands of confrontations and fights that way. They simply never happen because you don’t put yourself in a position to be there when they’re happening. The best way to do that is as we say, do this kind of mental dry firing. I’m sure if you Google road rage videos, you’ll come up with 10,000 of them on YouTube. Train yourself. By the way, anything else you can do to expose yourself to modest levels of stress. Growth only happens outside the comfort zone. Put yourself outside the comfort zone a little bit. Go to a competitive shooting match. Sure. Is it stressful? A little bit. You’re not going to get hurt. There’s no real danger. Is it uncomfortable? You might be afraid you’re going to embarrass yourself. If you’ve never done jujitsu, try it. Most of these schools give you a free class. Is it uncomfortable to touch people if you’re not used to touching strangers? It is. I remember what that feeling was like but you get more comfortable with it when you push yourself outside your comfort zone a little bit. That’s when you begin to develop true competency. If all you ever do is stay in your comfort zone folks, then the only time you’re tasked with doing something exceptional is in a real-life stressful situation where bad decisions can have catastrophically bad outcomes. That’s not where you want to be.

Rob: Andrew, that is so good. Diamonds are formed under pressure. That’s how it works. Back in the ’80s, my son was young. My wife was pregnant with our daughter. Do you remember when gas prices went so outrageous, interest rates went up ridiculously high? I had about a 40-minute drive to work every day. As a means to cut back and save on fuel costs and things like that, I started riding a motorcycle to work. I had two incidents in one week that both just absolutely terrified me. I thought I’m absolutely being stupid. I’m going to drive my car. I’m selling the bike. I have a child on the way. This is irresponsible. I get out of the motorcycle business. I’m done riding a bike to work. A couple of years later, I have a friend of the family, he lives in Gainesville, Florida. He’s coming through and he’s making a cross-country trip again. He comes in and he pulls in and he’s on this beautiful sport bike. I never would’ve dreamt of taking a cross-country ride on a sport bike but he’s got a tank bag. He’s got saddle bags on the back. He just lays down and actually said it was the most comfortable ride that he’d ever had going back and forth. I was like, “Man, I love that bike,” but this was my experience. I’m done. He goes, “That’s your problem. That’s your fault.” “What do you mean that’s my fault?” He says, “If you’re going to ride a motorcycle, you need to pretend as though you’re invisible and if you do that, you keep yourself out of every one of those situations that gets dicey,” like the truck that comes screaming through the intersection on a red light and makes the other guy upset. As long as I don’t have to be the jackrabbit off the line and be the first to cross the intersection, I give that extra little second and that’s all it is to just check both ways. I’m good or I see, “Oh my gosh, this guy’s not going to stop.” About 2006, 2007, somewhere in there I got another bike. I’m telling you, never had another close call. It was absolutely all because of my awareness. We go into all of those things as far as spatial awareness and situational awareness. I don’t just run into a convenience store when I’m gassing up and grabbing me an ice tea or anything like that. Before I actually enter that, I kind of scan and take a look inside and make sure things are safe. I don’t just insert myself into a problem that’s already unfolding.

Andrew: The last segment of my full-day class, we talk about these kinds of things, how to integrate all the legal stuff we talked about in my Law of Self Defense class. I’m putting it in a real-world context. A lot of it is simply avoiding confrontations and being aware of your environment. I’ll ask people, “Hey, when you’re walking into a convenience store, how many times do you actually affirmatively look through the glass into the store and look at what’s going on into the store?” Almost nobody does. They treat that glass like you can’t see through it [crosstalk] and they don’t know what’s going on in that store until they open up the door and step inside. It could be an armed robbery going on in there which they could know if they only look through the glass first but they don’t. It’s remarkable. They don’t because they never thought of it. You do it a thousand times and 999 of them, there’s no problem, so you just assume it’s not a problem moving forward but it doesn’t take much effort to look through the glass. You just have to be aware, make the effort, do it and then you’re stepping into an environment that’s somewhat known to you. You’re not simply putting yourself in an ambush position all the time.

Rob: It’s something that I can tell you from experience is one of those things that gets police officers hurt. Complacency kills. Just like you’re talking about, we’ve done this 999 times and nothing has ever happened and then all of a sudden, I walk through that door one more time and I’m unprepared. It’s funny. I sit here listening to you going how many times you walk up to a convenience store and do a scan every single time but that became an ingrained behavior over years and years and years. I understand that it only takes that one time. I’ve worked in those cases where somebody is laying dead behind the counter. There’s nothing cool about anything that is lethal force related.

Andrew: One of the huge advantages that concealed carriers have, folks like me, I’ve never been in the military. I’ve never been a cop. I just wear normal clothes. I carry a gun every day. Oh my God, more than 30 years now, I’ve been carrying a gun every day for personal protection but no one knows I have a gun because I carry it concealed. If people ever interact with police officers and they seem a little standoffish, it’s because they spend a large part of their lives in uniforms readily identifiable as law enforcement officers. You would think that bad guys would be hesitant about attacking cops. No, no, no, no, there are plenty of bad guys out there who would be ecstatic to beat the snot out of a cop. Cops know this. They’re well aware of this. They have to be hyper-attentive to their environment. You do that on your shift every day for 10 or 15 years, and it spills over into your normal life too and that’s why they seem to be acting a little different. They’re acting a little different because they’ve been conditioned by their career to respond a little different, be more attentive, be more aware, more sensitive to their environment than even someone like me has to be because I’m not identifiable as somebody who has a gun, for example.

Rob: I’m very cognizant of my behavior. For that reason, I understand that I have to at least physically dial that down. The numbers of times I’ve had people just walk up out of nowhere and go, “You’re a cop, aren’t you?” because they see it, they recognize that hypersensitivity to everything going on around you. Still, I’m not going to change how I position myself and sit in a restaurant [chuckles]. I’m just not going to. It’s something that I can keep an eye on and respond, even if it’s just a second.


Andrew: Just look around [chuckles].

Rob: Yes.

Andrew: Walk in, look around the room. It’s amazing how many people don’t even do that. Just look around the room. [crosstalk] Look at first to scan to see if there’s anything weird going on. Man, I’ve walked into restaurants, looked around, and walked back out again because somebody was having an argument. I didn’t want to be in that environment. Rob: That’s a great point. Andrew, how can our folks get a hold of you? How can they dial in and get your education, they get your book, get your stuff, because guys, if you haven’t done it, it is absolutely the next step in your journey. You have to prepare yourself mentally. You have to know the law. You have to know what you can do. As we’re talking about today, the things that we need to actually step away from and avoid and know that that’s a losing situation for me and if I step over that line, I’m going to find myself in trouble.

Andrew: Yes, of course. The benefit of taking that super cautious approach is if there is a circumstance where you do need to use deadly force and self-defense, you’re still completely well positioned to do this. I do want to mention to people that I’m not suggesting that people do anything that increases their jeopardy. All the things I’m talking about being cautious, avoiding fights, it’s all stuff that can be done consistent with safety. Don’t make things more dangerous for yourself. I’m not suggesting that. Often when I lecture to people, someone in the class will come to me afterwards and say, “Oh my God, you scared me so much. I’m not going to carry a gun anymore.” That’s not what I’m trying to do. I carry a gun every day. I just want people to make informed decisions, to have thought out their decisions so they can avoid making bad decisions that don’t have to be made. In terms of how people can get out to me, I think all the CCW Safe members already get a copy of my book. I’m not sure, but if anybody doesn’t have it or would like to get one for a loved one, you can get a copy of this book, real book, physical book for free. We just asked that you covered the cost of shipping the book to you. Pretty simple, Get a copy of the book. Otherwise, we’re everywhere, We’re on YouTube. We’re on Twitter. We’re on just all the social medias. If you do whatever the social media platform is, Instagram, it’ll redirect you to that. I don’t do a ton of social media, but that’s where you would find, except YouTube. We have a lot of videos on YouTube.

Rob: Andrew, thank you so much, brother. Guys, these are just absolute nuggets of gold [chuckles]. Share this link with your friends. It’s one of those things that if we’re going to carry a firearm, if we’re going to be armed citizens, and citizen defenders, it’s something we really, really need to pay attention to, the mental aspects of this and understanding what the pitfalls are, where I’m going to find myself in trouble. It’s the difference between spending the rest of my life with my family and spending the rest of my life incarcerated or maybe dead. Know your mission. Train as much as you can and training doesn’t cost a dime. Andrew’s talking about watching these. Google all these different incidents. Educate yourself. See how these things unfold, see how they occur, and then start doing the mental repetitions that if I was in this guy’s place, what would I do, how could I have possibly avoided being in that position, to begin with? If I’m stuck in that position and there’s no way out, what’s my response then? If a guy’s already got a gun drawn, it’s not the smartest time to go, “Okay, this is now a quick draw competition.” It may be time to be very submissive and hands up, and try to get to a position where if necessary, I could, behind a display rack in the store or something, maybe get to my firearm, but once that gun’s already trained on me, I’m already behind the curve and odds that I’m going to lose that one. Again, be smart, be safe, take care of one another out there. As always, if you guys have any questions, comments, suggestions, you can always reach me at We love to hear your questions. If you got things you want us to cover and touch on, we’d be happy to do that for you. We look forward to seeing you guys next week, so thank you so much for tuning in. Andrew, brother, it’s so good to see you again always.

Andrew: I’m happy to be here as always. My answer is always yes. When you guys call, the answer is always a yes. Anytime you want me on, just you know where to reach me.

Rob: Be careful telling me that [laughs]. Thank you, guys. We’ll see you, for now.