Book Review: Self-Defense Laws of All 50 States

posted on November 8, 2010
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The Supreme Court’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller explains that self-defense is “the central component” of the right to keep and bear arms. Yet knowledge of the right to self-defense does not explain when or how those arms may be lawfully used for this purpose. Into this void step Utah attorney Mitch Vilos and son Evan Vilos, research assistant, with Self-Defense Laws Of All 50 States. As the title implies, the 6"x9", 556-pp. softcover book identifies and explains each state’s relevant laws, with an emphasis on translating legal mumbo jumbo into plain, understandable English.

Topics include “Defense of Third Persons,” “Duty (or No Duty) to Retreat,” “Responsibility to Innocent Third Parties,” and “Civil Liability,” among others. Each concept is explained in an overview, with additional details in the sections for each state. Helpful illustrations and anecdotes illustrate key concepts such as “castle doctrine,” “reasonable necessity,” and “serious bodily injury.”

While knowledge of general concepts can help a person avoid legal trouble, the devil is often in the details for those who actually find themselves defending their freedom or finances in court. Inclusion of the legal language also highlights ambiguities of which responsible gun owners should be aware.

Mitch Vilos also provides readers with experience and insights from his practice as a trial attorney by explaining what he calls “Thumbs-Up” and “Thumbs-Down” factors that aren’t codified into law but that tend to sway a case’s outcome.

While no one book can capture all the nuances of American self-defense law, the Viloses have done an admirable job of compiling a helpful, entertaining, and practical overview that is refreshingly sympathetic to the concept of armed self-defense.

For more information, go to firearmslaw.com or contact Guns West Publishing (801) 295-3340. Price: $29.95.

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