Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground 101

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The attacks on “Stand Your Ground” laws, in Florida and elsewhere, are becoming more numerous. This is dangerous because so many people are woefully ignorant about what such laws do, and more importantly, what they don’t do.


One critic on TV called Florida’s law a “hunting license” and hysterically proclaimed that “you can shoot someone, and all you gotta do is tell police that you were defending yourself, and the cops can’t even detain you!” But not one person on the panel challenged him, leaving the casual viewer wondering if his statement might actually be true.


Absurd? Of course. Anyone familiar with police procedures understands that they can pretty much detain any person for any reason, for as much as 72 hours, depending on the circumstances. But most people have little or no knowledge regarding law enforcement practices.


Surprisingly, some on “our side” often exhibit the same ignorance. In 2012, shortly after the Trayvon Martin shooting, I overheard a conversation in a gun store. One gentleman stated, with absolute conviction, that “in Florida they got that ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, and you can shoot some dude and it don’t matter, ‘cause they can’t prosecute you. You got immunity!”


Reality is quite different. FindLaw is an excellent resource that I often use for basic legal information.  They provide a “quick reference” guide to states with Stand Your Ground laws, as well as those with some form of “duty to retreat” requirement:


“The following is a list of states that have enacted laws specifically affirming one’s right to stand your ground when defending yourself against a serious imminent threat, with no duty to retreat, so long as you are in a place you have a right to be in. States that have adopted a stand your ground doctrine through judicial interpretation of their self-defense laws are not included in this list:


Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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As noted above, some states have self-defense laws, either through statute or case law, that are similar to stand your ground laws, but with at least one key difference. These laws generally apply only to the home or other real property (such as an office) and are often referred to as “castle doctrine” or “defense of habitation” laws. These states include:


Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia. 


A substantial minority of states have laws imposing a duty to retreat, with some important variations. The following states impose some form of duty to retreat before deadly self-defense is authorized:


Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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Laws on self-defense vary widely from state to state and may have minor, but crucial differences in their language and application. For an in-depth understanding of self-defense laws and how they work in your state, it may be best to check with a local criminal law attorney.” [source: FindLaw]


But remember that statutes are merely the tip of the legal iceberg and tell little about how laws are implemented in the day-to-day administration of the criminal legal system. Remember that “the law” is complex, and from the cop on the street, to the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury, it is always being interpreted differently.


California's “Stand Your Ground” Laws

“Stand your ground” laws are actually just a variation on the legal defense of self-defense. If a state's self-defense law says that the defendant has no duty to retreat before using force to defend him- or herself, then that state has a “stand your ground” law. 


California self-defense law is a “stand your ground” law. In California, you may use reasonable force to defend yourself even if you also had the option of escaping the threat by running away.     


You may even pursue your attacker until the danger has passed.

Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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George Zimmerman never invoked “Stand Your Ground” in his defense. But given the notoriety of the Zimmerman/Martin case, and the opposition to Stand Your Ground that has resulted, it’s worth a look. Florida Statute 776.013(3)(2006) states:


“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” [Emphasis ours]


But how does Stand Your Ground actually work in real life? According to Tim Hessinger, a top-notch Florida criminal attorney (and past president of the Pinellas County Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers):


 “The Florida legislature has [in 2006] enacted a law that permits you to stand your ground, anywhere, anytime, you are attacked. No longer must you take the risk of retreating from an attacker before protecting yourself. The protection given by the law is the highest protection, immunity from prosecution.”


But things are never as simple as they seem. Tim then warns that preemptive action is often necessary:


“…to prevent charges from being filed, or dismissed if they have been filed already.”


Now comes the really important part:


“With proper legal representation you may be entitled to immunity from prosecution for any harm, even death, which you inflict as a result of your efforts to lawfully defend yourself. The procedure for obtaining dismissal of criminal charges is complex and uncertain. The law is in its infancy and the various courts are struggling with its application.” [Emphasis ours]

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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Note the use of cautionary, highly qualified language, not to mention the lack of any “guarantee” that everything will turn out to your benefit. THIS is the reality of criminal law, especially when it comes to self-defense that involves a lethal outcome.


Finally, Tim references how even within the State of Florida, there is no universal agreement in the courts on how to handle a Stand Your Ground case:


“Around the State of Florida the appellate courts have been wrestling with the proper procedure for pursuing a claim of immunity. The First District Court of Appeal has embraced an evidentiary hearing permitting the trial court to weigh and confront factual disputes to render a ruling.


However, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled that when the State files a proper traverse, the [defendant’s] motion for dismissal must be denied by the trial court and the case proceeds to trial.

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of a Motion to Dismiss based on FS 776.032(1) immunity, but does not comment on procedure.


The Florida Supreme Court has not yet issued an opinion on the proper procedure for asserting an immunity claim in pre-trial litigation.” [Emphasis ours]


Stand Your Ground is a claim, and granting it is never “automatic,” certainly not without at least a hearing to investigate the facts of the case.

 

California's “Stand Your Ground” Laws

“Stand your ground” laws are actually just a variation on the legal defense of self-defense. If a state's self-defense law says that the defendant has no duty to retreat before using force to defend him- or herself, then that state has a “stand your ground” law. 


California self-defense law is a “stand your ground” law. In California, you may use reasonable force to defend yourself even if you also had the option of escaping the threat by running away. 


You may even pursue your attacker until the danger has passed. 

Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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In this discussion, we have focused primarily on Florida, because of the attention given to it in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case (and in spite of the fact that Zimmerman never made a claim under their Stand Your Ground law). Many of the comments made in the media, and even on “gun friendly” sites such as this one, make it clear that there is a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to such laws.


Which is why, when it comes to ANY legal matter, we advise you to check with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your state. Just reading some statute or case law is not enough, because it tells you little about how such laws work in the real world. All law is a matter of interpretation, whether by prosecutors, judges, or a jury. Talk to a legal “gladiator” who is in the arena every day.


Now, those of us in the carry community learn early on in our training the importance of avoiding conflict, and most of us would likely try to find a way to escape a dangerous situation before using deadly force. So why do we need Stand Your Ground? There are a number of good reasons.


First, without Stand Your Ground (whether in statute or in precedent law within your state), prosecutors routinely, and often egregiously, abuse the concept of retreat, arguing that unless the defendant used every outrageous (and sometimes virtually impossible) option to run, crawl, hide, go through a door, or otherwise escape a situation, they cannot claim self-defense.

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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Contrary to claims by opponents, Stand Your Ground does not “wipe away” the long-standing principles of self-defense.  A defendant always has to conform to all of the common law rules of self-defense. Obviously, if you provoked the confrontation, or if at some point you came to be seen as the aggressor, or in some other way were found to have violated the standards of deadly force, then Stand Your Ground may not even be applicable, let alone help you.


But Stand Your Ground laws do more than eliminate the requirement to retreat. Such laws also send an important moral message, both to the jury and the public at large, that victims of violent assaults have an inherent right to protect themselves and their loved ones, without having to go to absurd lengths to “prove” their innocence.


Another aspect of many Stand Your Ground laws is the issue of civil lawsuits. In Florida and some other states, immunity from civil suits (for things such as “wrongful death”) is part of the law. Florida’s includes the following:


“A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force.” [Emphasis ours]

Stand Your Ground 101, (Continued:)

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Again, a defender will need to establish that he/she was acting within the bounds of common law self-defense. But without such protections, you could be sued, which may not technically be “double jeopardy” but in practical terms, amounts to the same thing: being punished twice (both criminally and financially) for the same incident.


If your state has Stand Your Ground, check to see that immunity from civil action is included. If it isn’t, advocate for it. Otherwise, you could be cleared of any criminal wrong-doing, but find yourself losing everything you own. Stand Your Ground should become an accepted element of common law self-defense.

 

California's “Stand Your Ground” Laws

“Stand your ground” laws are actually just a variation on the legal defense of self-defense. If a state's self-defense law says that the defendant has no duty to retreat before using force to defend him- or herself, then that state has a “stand your ground” law.  


California self-defense law is a “stand your ground” law. In California, you may use reasonable force to defend yourself even if you also had the option of escaping the threat by running away.  


You may even pursue your attacker until the danger has passed.  

About Us

5 Things To Know About 'Stand Your Ground' In California

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 Here are five things to know about how California handles stand-your-ground defenses: 

 

1) Neither California's constitution nor its statutes contains a stand-your-ground law. They have what's known as a "castle doctrine" (California Penal Code Section 198.5), granting a justification for deadly force inside one's residence. If someone forces his or her way into your home, and you have a "reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury," then you would be justified in using deadly force to defend yourself.


2) Even though it's not in the law, the California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) do allow a jury to acquit someone based on a stand-your-ground defense. The instruction appears in CALCRIM #505 and #506, both of which deal with justifiable homicide:


"A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/great bodily injury/<insert forcible and atrocious crime>) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating."


So in California, not only could you stay and fight, you can even chase your attacker if it will neutralize the threat to your life. 

5 Things To Know About 'Stand Your Ground' In California

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3) California's stand-your-ground defense as part of the justifiable homicide rules has several conditions. Aggressors are not eligible for this -- you must be defending, not striking first. You, as a reasonable person, would have to believe the danger is imminent and not a threat at some time in the future. Also, you had to have believed that deadly force was necessary, and you had to have used just enough force to defend yourself. However, a defendant does not have to be correct about having actually been in danger. A jury can acquit if they think the defendant reasonably believed that mortal danger was truly there. 

 

4) The legal precedents that established this jury instruction are very old: cases like People v. Hecker in 1895 and People v. Newcomer in 1897. Hecker says you may stand your ground if it's safer than retreating, but Newcomer changed that by removing the need to retreat (or "fly," as the ruling said). These precedents have been cited over and over, but the state has never actually settled the question of whether stand your ground is legal in the modern era.


"Over a hundred years ago, the California Supreme Court said, 'no duty to retreat if you're in your home,'" says UC Hastings Law Professor Rory Little. "'We're going to leave open whether there's such a duty if you're outside of the home.' That little leaving-open has never been firmly answered by the California Supreme Court. They simply repeat the same broad language over and over again."

5 Things To Know About 'Stand Your Ground' In California

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Think the George Zimmerman verdict couldn't have happened under California law? Not necessarily. Florida may have a so-called "stand-your-ground" policy written into its laws, but it is possible that a California jury under very similar circumstances could have also handed down an acquittal. 


5) To those assessing stand-your-ground laws based on the Zimmerman trial, some have complained that Zimmerman never actually invoked the law, even though it seems to have helped his acquittal. In California, as in Florida, a defense team does not have to actually invoke it: the judge is responsible for giving the jury this instruction on his or her own if the facts of the case warrant it. 


Our thanks to  KQED's Joshua Johnson a reporter who authored and filed this report after interviewing and discussing the legal details surrounding California's stand-your-ground defense with Professor Rory Little of the UC Hastings College of the Law.    Read the Article.

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Stand Your Ground

What Should You Do After Using Deadly Force in Your Home?

If you remember only ONE thing I say in this post, I want it to be this: When we (the police) respond after you have used deadly force in your home, we are going to be “amped up.” Someone has fired shots, and someone else has fired back, fled the scene, been injured or been killed. So we are understandably concerned about being shot by SOMEONE when we arrive.


You’re the Good Guy or Good Gal, But…

Because of this, please remember to do EVERYTHING we tell you to do. Do those things IMMEDIATELY and without hesitation, then await further instructions. You know you’re the good guy, and your family knows you’re the good guy, but we probably don’t have a clue as to who you are or what you’ve done. The reactions of responding officers may seem extreme, but do not debate or argue about anything you are told to do. You do not want to end up being a tragic statistic.


In the Immediate Aftermath of a Defensive Shooting…

What I want you to do in the immediate aftermath of using deadly force in your home is … nothing. Give yourself at least a 10 count so that your pulse returns to normal and any additional actions you take are coherent. Once your adrenaline has dropped, verify that your family members are OK and call 911 if the line is not already open.


If you have taken down an intruder who is now motionless, you should move to a better position of cover. Reload if you can, and continue to monitor the suspect. Never approach a downed suspect!


While You’re Awaiting Police Arrival…

Let the dispatcher know you have an injured suspect inside your home who needs medical attention. Advise the dispatcher of any injuries you or any family members have. Remember that even if you or other family members have been injured, fire department medics will not enter your home until law enforcement officers declare the scene safe. This means that you will need to tend to any personal injuries yourself. Don’t attempt to aid the suspect! Give a description of yourself, including clothing, so that arriving officers recognize you.


Once the Police Arrive…

Make sure your gun is not pointing anywhere toward the police entry point. Once officers have control, limit what you say. Give your “name, rank and serial number” (so to speak). You can say that your life was in danger and that you defended yourself.


You may be asked to go to the station for questioning or even be arrested, but don’t say anything further — and don’t panic. If you have a USCCA Membership, call the Critical Response Team at the first opportunity, and they will help advise you further.


Avoid Bad Advice; Get Home-Defense Expert Answers

Sometimes home defense involves firing shots when an intruder is at the threshold of entry trying to force his or her way in by breaking down a door. Some really bad “advice” about what to do in these situations has circulated for years. If you are forced to fire as an assailant attempts or makes entry, and the suspect’s body falls outside the threshold, don’t “drag the body” inside your home. That’s tampering with a crime scene!


I don’t know if this so-called advice exists only in Ohio or if it exists nationwide, but it is the worst self-defense advice I’ve ever heard.


Fortunately, the USCCA exists to put bad advice like this permanently to rest!


Deadly Force Defined

I do lots of concealed carry training and I ask my students the same question every time: When can you use deadly force or what constitutes deadly force?


I get all sorts of answers. Typically someone will say, “When your life is in danger.”


That is true, but not the whole story. Take a few minutes and watch the video. I think you will get the idea. It is more complex than you think.


The rules governing deadly force are vaguely specific or specifically vague. They are in place to protect people, but also to give prosecutors lots of leeway to find a reason to charge you with a crime. Learn these rules.

HOME INVASION: STAND YOUR GROUND & CASTLE DOCTRINE

Home Invasion: How Does ‘Stand Your Ground’ or Castle Doctrine Apply?

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If someone kicks in the door of your home and tries to enter, are you allowed to shoot? Concealed Carry Magazine Executive Editor Kevin Michalowski and former criminal defense attorney Tom Grieve break down a simulated home invasion.


As is often the case in such a scenario, the answer to the question “Can I shoot?” is … it depends. It depends on the laws in your state and the specific situation you find yourself in. But we do have some tips for you.


Can You Shoot a Home Invader?

In a Castle Doctrine state, if someone you don’t know enters your home, it is legal to draw your firearm. That’s not to say you won’t face legal troubles, but it’s certainly less likely. If your state has a duty to retreat, however, it’s probably not legal.


One thing the trainee did well was to issue strong verbal commands while reaching for the gun she kept on her. However, to avoid additional legal trouble, do not follow the intruder outside of the house. Witnesses will only see you pointing a gun at someone exiting your home. In addition, you don’t know who might be outside to help the intruder.

A Threat Approaches... Should I Shoot?

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This is a question we get often... and the answer is never simple.   Today, Kevin Michalowski and Brock Majkowski tackle an all-too-common scenario.   


You can't take the law into your own hands, but when a victim is in danger, you have to make a crucial decision and act based on your local laws and your training. Always make sure the proper authorities are alerted to the crime, if possible.  


For more nail-biting scenarios, claim your Should I Shoot? book today, with 31 deadly force scenarios that will change the way you think about concealed carry.  Call us at: (714) 680-5500.  And for more concealed carry and self-defense training, tips, and tools check back on this website as its constantly being updated because laws change and so do methods of self-defense.


The mission of USCCA’s  & 5150 HEAT Firearms Training Academy is to Educate 10 Million Gun Owners, Legally Protect 1 Million USCCA Members, Stop 20,000 Crimes, and Save 1,000 Lives.   


Like and share these educational and informative videos. Together we can Save Lives.   Ready to join our mission? You can activate your membership in less than 5 minutes and be protected by the full power of the USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD:  Call us at: (714) 680-5500.  


Not ready to join? You can learn more about the USCCA and how we're trusted by over 250,000 responsibly Armed Americans by contacting our 

Service Agents at  Call us at: (714) 680-5500.  


If you're a responsible gun owner, we'd love to have you subscribe and join us! 

It doesn’t take much for a normal day to turn into one of the most pivotal moments of your life…

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 Acting in self-defense during a home invasion has its own laws that vary from state to state. People often confuse what stand your ground law or castle doctrine actually allow you to do. Even if you're in the right to act in self-defense, you still open yourself up to a world of legal pitfalls.   


To see the full breakdown only our members get, activate your membership by contacting 5150 HEAT Firearms Training Academy and claim your bonus package worth over $500: Call us at: (714) 680-5500.   


In this scenario, Kevin and Tom breakdown a home break in. You need a home defense strategy. Don't just hope that by having a shotgun, rifle, or pistol somewhere in the house that it will be enough. Home security systems, including security cameras, panic buttons, and a home defense plan for various scenarios will help prepare your family to protect your home.  


When acting in self-defense, be sure you train, know your state gun laws, and only use the amount of force necessary to stop the threat.  


The USCCA’s mission is to Educate 10 Million Gun Owners, Legally Protect 1 Million USCCA Members, Stop 20,000 Crimes, and Save 1,000 Lives.   


Like and share these educational and informative videos. Together we can Save Lives.     


Not ready to join? You can learn more about the USCCA and how we're trusted by over 285,000 responsibly Armed Americans by contacting our Member Service Agents. Call us at: (714) 680-5500.  

STAND YOUR GROUND

Burglar In YOUR Home Self Defense Scenario - What Would You Do

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In this self-defense scenario, a couple encounters a burglary in process. The burglar walks out with a TV and the homeowners are forced to react.  This incident happens so quickly that unless you have prepared in advance and give yourself the best chance of surviving.  You also need to consider the state gun laws in the state you are in and/or where you live to determine if you have the duty to retreat or can stand your ground.   


Running through self-defense scenarios like these will help prepare your mind if you are in the situation in real life.  To see the full breakdown only our members get, activate your membership by contacting 5150 HEAT Firearms Training Academy and claim your bonus package worth over $500: Call us at: (714) 680-5500.  


The mission of USCCA & 5150 HEAT Firearms Training Academy mission is to Educate 10 Million Gun Owners, Legally Protect 1 Million USCCA Members, Stop 20,000 Crimes, and Save 1,000 Lives.   


Like and share these educational and informative videos. Together we can Save Lives.   


Ready to join our mission? You can activate your membership in less than 5 minutes and be protected by the full power of the USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD:  Call us at: (714) 680-5500.  


Not ready to join? You can learn more about the USCCA and how we're trusted by over 305,000 responsibly Armed Americans by contacting our  Member Service Agents at Call us at: (714) 680-5500.     


If you're a responsible gun owner, we'd love to have you subscribe and join us!
 

Disclaimer

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The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. Members and the concealed carry community and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and, as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer for a specific case. 

Ask USCCA: Can I Use a Firearm to Defend Property?

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Use of Deadly Force in the Protection of Property – Is a Very Risky Situation!


In today's episode of Ask USCCA, Kevin explores the topic of using your firearm to defend property. If you were getting robbed for property would you use a firearm to defend it? Kevin explains his answer in today's Ask USCCA. 

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Many people don't realize it, but firearm marksmanship and safety are perishable skills that must be continuously renewed and reinforced through “proper” practice and training. Every expert firearms instructor recommends regular range time or dry-fire training to both improve and maintain safe, speed & accuracy and the skills needed to ward off deadly attacks... Check back often! 

Concealed Carry Fundamentals

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Concealed Carry Fundamentals is a comprehensive course for anyone considering owning or carrying a firearm for self defense. In this class you will learn conflict avoidance, situational awareness; shooting fundamentals; the physiology of violent encounters, legal aspects of using deadly force (including knowing what to do in the aftermath); and a complete guide on gear, gadgets, and ongoing training. Following the course, training and live-fire exercises are conducted on the range.  

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BASIC HANDGUN FUNDAMENTALS

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This course is designed to give participants an entry level understanding of handguns and how to utilize them in self-defense situations. The curriculum is divided into four modules, each with several chapters. Classroom and Laser Pistol simulator time. Each participant will receive an excellent textbook: Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals. Intro to Laser Pistol training. 

HOME DEFENSE FUNDAMENTALS

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USCCA, Home Defense Course, is a comprehensive course for every skill level that focuses on firearms as a tool for home defense. Ultimately, the goal is for students to develop a home defense plan. Plus, many more useful subjects! Intro to Laser Pistol training. 


Each participant will receive an excellent textbook: Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals.  

WOMEN’S HANDGUN TRAINING

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Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals covers the basics — along with the fun, seriousness and importance of being a responsibly armed female. The basics of shooting will be introduced, reviewed & built upon, while also exploring universal safety rules, situational awareness, common types of handguns, ammo types, marksmanship skills, advanced firearms handling/defensive essentials  & the use of deadly force.  Intro to Laser Pistol training.

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Certified NRA Police Firearms & Tactics Instructor & Range Master - Prior to my retirement from law enforcement I served as a Police Firearms & Tactics Instructor and Range Master with Brea Police Department since 1992. 

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Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals is a comprehensive seminar for anyone considering owning or carrying a firearm for self defense.

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The great teacher tells, explains, demonstrates and inspires students to think!