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Book Review – Free of Malice, a Novel by Liz Lazarus

Book Review – Free of Malice

I love to read, but I often find I do not have much extra time to devote to recreational reading. However, I was fortunate to receive a copy of Free of Malice by Liz Lazarus, and I am very glad I made the time to read it. Free of Malice is a thriller that begins with a physical attack on a young woman in her home while her husband is away. It then addresses the aftermath, including the psychological trauma and a newly developed desire to obtain a firearm and learn about self-defense. Ms. Lazarus also added some intrigue to catapult you through the pages on a quest to find the perpetrator.

Given my background in firearms law, I found the novel offers an education to its readers about a self-defense shooting and the legal aspects involved. Often, attorneys instruct individuals about self-defense law, but it is not always practical or as understandable. This story makes the law relatable. In general, I found the psychological and legal analysis to be sound, while understanding, of course, that this is a work of fiction and the story crafted to work with the narrative. In general, the use of self-defense legal terms and firearms terms were correct with the exception of a few references to the term “clip” that made me bristle. In hindsight, since the character was new to firearms, perhaps it was purposeful to illustrate this “newness,” particularly when so many people without gun knowledge misuse the term. In any event, it is a very minor complaint given the overwhelming number of errors seen in the media with respect to firearms. It certainly did not detract from the quality of the book or the story.

If I had one complaint about the book, it would be that the ending was abrupt. In short, I wanted more. I wanted to know how the character went on with her life. I wanted to read the aftermath to her family. However, the novel was an appropriate length for the average reader and dealt more than adequately with the main story line. Moreover, Ms. Lazarus did exactly what a good author should do—left me wanting more so that I purchase her next book!

If you want a good vacation or holiday read, I recommend Free of Malice. It is entertaining and enjoyable and has the added benefit of providing education about self-defense law the reader may find easier to understand in the context of a story. What I love most is that it is a pro-Second Amendment read. Too often, authors treat guns haphazardly in books and movies and vilify gun owners. Free of Malice explains why self-defense is not only a right but also a necessity.

I was excited to meet Ms. Lazarus in January, and hearing her own story of recovering from an act of violence—which inspired her books—proves she is a tough and amazing woman. I look forward to her next read, Plea for Justice.



Book Review – The Law of Self Defense by Andrew F. Branca

Book Review – The Law of Self Defense by Andrew F. Branca

I recently read The Law of Self Defense by Andrew F. Branca. Andrew is a fellow member on the Legal Advisory Board for the USCCA. He is an attorney in his third decade of law practice, a former Guest Instructor and subject matter expert on self defense law at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor member, an NRA Certified Instructor, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions. Andrew also teaches lawyers how to argue self defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country.

The Law of Self Defense

With that background, you might assume this is a legal book full of legalese that only lawyers can understand or want to read. To the contrary, Andrew’s book is written to the average person who either carries a gun for self defense or who is considering doing so. It is straightforward and easy to understand. The book provides a general overview of self defense law in the United States with practical information and real-life examples from case law and media reports.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen statements and quotes in social media and online forums about “the law” that are not only wrong, but frighteningly wrong. Some people read an article in the news or hear a story about an outcome of an event in one jurisdiction and assume it applies to every jurisdiction in every state. As Andrew details in his book, each jurisdiction is different. Not only is each jurisdiction different, but much of the determination as to whether you will be prosecuted will be made by a prosecutor at the local level. What is legal in Texas may not be legal in Ohio or some other state. The attitudes of the people in these states differ also which inevitably impacts what the local prosecutor decides to do. Do you know the law in your state? Do you know whether defense of property is legal in your state or under what circumstances? I would argue this is crucial information for someone who carries a weapon in self defense.

If you are in the fight for your life, for the life of your spouse or your children or your parents, you MUST win. Period.

After Andrew explains the five elements of self defense, he discusses the use of self defense to protect property and others and provides information about strategy in protecting yourself. In the back of the book are handy tables with state specific legal information. This book makes you think, and thinking about how to prepare, how to handle yourself, what is smart, and what’s not is a good thing. It also is better to consider these things now while drinking a cup of coffee than trying to figure it out when you are in the moment, with time seeming to pass in slow motion, with your heart is racing, when your breathing is shallow, when your stress is high, with your adrenaline surging, and with panic setting in. Better to consider them now instead of after this event is over, and the stress response settles in, and you are not thinking clearly.

But winning the physical contest is far from the end of the matter. Not hardly. Because now begins the legal battle.

I enjoyed reading this book, and I recommend it…for anyone, whether you are a lawyer, an instructor, or someone who carries a weapon for self defense.  The book will make you consider your actions and give you an understanding of how the legal process will unfold should you be forced to use your weapon to save your life or the life of someone you love.

You can purchase the book here. If you purchase today, use the promotional code CRYSTAL, and you will get 50% off. This is a smart purchase in my opinion.