Repeal of Citizen’s Arrest Law Will Endanger the Lives of Georgia’s Citizens by Miguel A. Faria, MD

This week Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that made the Peach State the first in the nation to repeal its citizen’s arrest statute.

“Today we are replacing this Civil War-era law, ripe for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right of self-defense of person and property with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward,” Mr Kemp said, as reported by The Hill.

When this law was proposed and discussed in the state last year, following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, I wrote a letter rebutting many of the misconceptions, deliberate omissions, and misrepresentations about the law. The letter wasn’t published in any of Georgia’s newspapers, although I have been a guest columnist in the Macon Telegraph for many years.

My rebuttal still holds because the misrepresentations and frank mendacity used in reporting by the media about this politically correct, but misguided law are still being bandied about as if they were truths that are self-evident.

It’s worth repeating my points here as I wrote and submitted them back to the press, July 14, 2020:

Dear Editor of The Georgia Recorder,

I read with interest Stanley Dunlap’s article on the Georgia Citizen’s Arrest law. Let me categorically state that the killing of Ahmaud Arbery had nothing to do with the citizen arrest law. There is no evidence the killers were attempting to arrest Arbery, but the incident had more to do with plain thuggery, and there are laws already on the books to punish hate crimes and murder. The incident is being used to attempt to change or repeal the law for ulterior motives related to citizen disarmament and gun control through the back door.

Murder is murder. The Waycross prosecutor who cited the law as justification for the actions of the men who pursued and killed Arbery in Brunswick was trying to score political points rather than seek justice for the young black man.

Clarification will be used to declaw the measure, but it seems repeal is the ultimate goal of the Democrat state lawmakers as well as by the Mercer law professor cited in your article, “I think it’s a good idea to repeal the statute altogether but at a minimum it really ought to be clarified because it is not helpful for a private citizen trying to understand what the law authorizes.”

Repeal of this law will leave citizens, who have nothing to do with this crime, helpless, and at the mercy of criminals at home and in the streets; and if cornered, would be left with having to resort to more drastic actions. Repeal of the Citizen’s Arrest law may have unintended consequences, such as the killing of suspects who otherwise would have been arrested and handed over to the police.

It was very wise that our legislators enacted the Castle Doctrine and the Stand Your Ground laws. They help to stem crime at home and in the streets. With the citizen’s arrest law, citizens will not have to resort to more drastic measures in protecting their homes and loved ones.

And since “criminal justice reform,” racism, and “Civil War-era” history were brought into play, let me also say that gun control was passed in the South after the Civil War to deprive black citizens of their right to keep and bear arm, a civil right that was incorporated in the 14th Amendment.

The inconvenient fact — namely, that blacks were deprived of their Second Amendment rights for needed self, home, and family protection in the post-Civil War-era — was not mentioned in your report. That in and of itself is quite telling and reveals selective omission, in other words, bias and misinformation. Perhaps, since I bring a much needed contrarian point of view, my little letter may resonate with at least some of your readers.

Sincerely,  Dr. Miguel Faria

In Georgia, citizen’s arrests are not uncommon. In fact in June 2017, two escaped convicts, dangerous criminals in my own county of Baldwin County, Georgia, killed two guards and broke out of jail. After a crime spree, they were finally apprehended by an armed citizen at his own doorstep.

A friend commented and asked me, “You already have in Georgia ‘stand your ground,’ the ‘castle doctrine,’ protected self-defense, etc. Why do you need this law?”

I replied, “What do you do if your home (your castle) is broken into by two burglars in the daytime, who are nevertheless unarmed and want to carry off your wife’s jewelry and any other valuables that strike their fancy? You will have to let them take what they want.”

As we have seen with the COVID 19 and George Floyd riots, the police have not been either prompt or reliable — and in many jurisdictions, they have been unwilling or unable — to protect citizens, homes, or businesses. In others, they have been defunded.

While you call the police and risk your life and those of your loved ones, the criminals are free to do as they like, take what they want, and leave. What do you say now?

Miguel A. Faria, M.D. is Associate Editor in Chief in socioeconomics, politics, medicine, and world affairs of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. Author of Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002).  His most recently released book is America, Guns, and Freedom: A Journey Into Politics and the Public Health & Gun Control Movements (2019).

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Repeal of Citizen’s Arrest Law Will Endanger the Lives of Georgia’s Citizens., May 25, 2021. Available from:

This article also appeared on and The Truth About Guns (TTAG) on May 14, 2021.

Copyright ©2021 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

Tales of Human Survival with Firearms by Miguel A. Faria, MD

Guns and Self-Defense: 23 inspirational true crime stories of survival with firearms (2019) by Robert A. and Sims Waters appropriately begins with a quotation from a Washington Post writer expressing the erroneous view and, at the same time, contempt that elitist liberal journalists hold for the average American, and for any citizen who dares to conceive the idea of protecting his or her home and family with a firearm. Reading this fascinating book, the reader soon learns how mistaken the arrogant intelligentsia is holding to such misinformed and thoroughly hoplophobic views.

If Professor Gary Kleck and scholar John Lott have gathered the facts and provided the accurate statistics, then authors Robert A. and Sim Waters have provided the human-interest stories that animate these statistics, bringing the facts to life.

In their most recent book, the authors recount “23 inspirational true crime stories of survival with firearms.”  And once again, the reader won’t be disappointed. Highly entertaining, these thrilling stories provide lessons in sociology and survival:

1. Convenience store work is inherently dangerous, second only to cab drivers, and especially so for clerks working at night. Yet most chain convenience store businesses forbid employees to carry weapons, making them sitting ducks for robbers and other dangerous criminals. This is testified to by two dramatic cases, one in Toledo, Ohio; another one in Naples, Florida.

2. Carjackings can be deadly and a determined citizen can play a pivotal role, even if not intended to do so. In one case, a valiant and determined nurse defended herself with a firearm and “single handedly” stopped a vicious carjacking ring in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

3. Armed citizens have assisted cops who are in danger by coming to their aid during life or death situations,  as in two cases: One case in the Arizona desert, and another near Ocala, Florida.

4. Many of those cases also illustrate the axiom that criminals prefer to prey on the elderly and the more vulnerable in society — even the blind and paralytic confined to wheelchairs. They deem these individuals weaker and less likely or incapable of mounting any defense. In several cases, feisty senior citizens successfully defended themselves with firearms against much stronger, younger, and even armed assailants. To illustrate that point, the authors relate a case that occurred in an Internet Café on the outskirts of Ocala, Florida. In another case a Macon, Georgia, grandmother found herself  “ducking bullets and throwing lead,” as she described it. And a couple who fought back put an end to the “Cutthroat Committee,”  a criminal gang of felons operating in the Jacksonville, Florida area.

5. Poorly treated or unrecognized mental illness is a contributing factor in many cases of assault and battery.  Unwary citizens may suddenly be forced to defend themselves, and the firearm remains the only tool that can reliably be used to protect oneself from such deranged madmen — disturbed individuals that have fallen through the cracks of society and the mental health system has failed to institutionalize and treat effectively. In one such case in Pocatello, Idaho, a deranged madman violently attacks his neighbors with a machete.

6. Other cases cited illustrate the problem of revolving prison doors in America’s criminal justice system, whereby criminals are thrown back onto the streets before the ink has dried on the arrest papers! Moreover, many criminals commit additional crimes while out on parole and carry stolen guns to commit various crimes even though the law prohibits them from carrying or possessing weapons. Specifically in “How does thirty years in prison become five?” the authors write, “The question still remains: how did a long-term career criminal with multiple violent sex crime convictions get released after only five years? Had he served his full thirty-year sentence, he would not have been able to cause a reign of terror in the small, normally peaceful community of Lake City, Florida” (p. 96).

7. The police cannot be there in time to save you. “Dial 9-1-1 and Pray” illustrates the point that the 5 to 15 minutes before the police arrive at a crime in progress may seem like an eternity, and may, in fact, mean the difference between life and death. The firearm in the hands of the intended victim makes the difference.

8. One cannot trust criminals with any pronouncement they might make during a robbery or violent confrontation. The case where the malefactor says, “Please don’t shoot. It’s a fake gun,” drives home the point to not necessarily believe what thugs may claim! The St. Petersburg, Florida, case illustrates the necessity for individuals to always be aware of their surroundings, be adept with their firearms, and keep their distance from the criminals. Another case demonstrated that one or more armed men violently entering your home, claiming they are “police,” in reality  may be predators bent on robbing you. These assailants in many case would not hesitate to kill you, whether they get their way or not — fearing identification later, they will eliminate witnesses so they won’t get caught.

Lastly, I’m touched by the human generosity of citizens who, despite having undergone horrendous ordeals defending themselves from wanton criminals, still express their humanity. Almost all of them expressed tremendous fear for their lives and had no other way out of danger but by having to pull the trigger. Consider the lady who was left “financially ruined, physically shattered, and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder… She had black eyes, a large gash on her nose, several teeth knocked loose, and bruises everywhere… chronic disabling nerve damage to her back and spent more than a year in a wheelchair.” And yet her thought after she shot the criminal was, “ ‘what did I do?’ She couldn’t believe she had just shot someone… It took police more than 6 minutes to arrive” (p. 130-131). Contrast this lady to the criminals who uniformly express no remorse for their intended victims or the crimes they perpetrated, except that they got caught!  
Guns and Self-Defense will help you formulate a plan for self, family, and home defense. But you must consider your state laws. Has your state enacted “Stand Your Ground” and Castle Doctrine” legislation? Know your state laws and reconcile them to your moral code, whether inside your home or in the street. Back away and escape if possible, but only if it will not endanger your life or those of others. If you are not familiar with firearms, take a gun training and safety course, and follow the rules.

At home, when sensing imminent danger, call 911, and get your gun. You may have less than one minute to get ready and repel a home invasion. Take the safety off, but keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Shoot only when your life or the lives of others are in imminent danger. Fire at the main body mass until the threat is no longer present. Do not shoot when the predator is down or has turned to run. After the danger has passed, put down the gun, render assistance to your family, and await the police. Be wary of wounded thugs. They may have another weapon.

In short, this is an excellent little tome that will keep you at the edge of your seat. The knowledge imparted can definitely save your life and the lives of those you love. Get this book and read it!

Reviewed by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, M.D., is Associate Editor in Chief in socioeconomics, politics, medicine, and world affairs of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He was appointed and served at the behest of President George W. Bush as member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2002-2005. His recently released book is America, Guns, and Freedom: A Journey Into Politics and the Public Health & Gun Control Movements (2019).

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Tales of Human Survival With Firearms. A Book Review of Guns and Self-Defense., August 25, 2020. Available from:

Copyright ©2020 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.      

The Best Defense by Robert A. Waters

This book recounts true stories of intended victims who defend themselves with firearms. It is a must-read book for the millions of Americans who already own firearms, or those who intend to buy, or even think of buying, a gun for self-defense or home and family protection.

In addition to the fascinating human interest stories contained in this book, heroic tales of individual citizens defending themselves with firearms (as well as interesting stories of shop owners, bankers, etc. defending themselves in the workplace), it also has cliffhanging stories of citizens defending themselves and their families against serial killers and sundry vicious predators, stalkers, etc.

While these easy to read chapters make gripping stories, they also provide didactic lessons in citizen self-protection, factual information on why law-abiding citizens must be capable of protecting themselves and their families from vicious predators and criminals, because, as these stories clearly demonstrate, the police simply cannot be there to protect every citizen every time a crime occurs. Here are some of the very valuable lessons we learn:

  1. Why a father (and sometimes a mother) must be capable of defending her home and family.
  2. Why a private citizen may need heavy firepower with high capacity magazines and even the use of semiautomatic, so-called assault weapons to protect not only himself/herself but even assist the police in times of crisis.
  3. Why a woman defending herself against a robber in her own home may need a high caliber gun to protect herself from a much larger and determined assailant.
  4. Why a couple doing business in a thriving community and tourist city like Orlando, Florida, may be unexpectedly attacked by thugs and have to defend themselves to protect their lives and businesses, even protect customers.
  5. Why concealed carry laws are needed in states that don’t have them, and national concealed carry reciprocity should be a national priority.
  6. Why proper gun training and safety may be lifesaving.

The dramatic denouement chapter, “The Last Ride of the Dixie Mafia” keeps you at the edge of your seat, but you might already be there from the preceding chapters.

The book should be read not only by all citizens who own firearms for self- and family protection, but also by those who don’t — particularly, gun-banning politicians who believe the Second Amendment is outdated and intended only for duck hunters. After ten years, I still remember some of the dramatic episodes. Get this book and read it! I am reading both of his newer books — Guns Save Lives and Guns and Self-Defense — as well.

Reviewed by Dr. Miguel A. Faria

Miguel A. Faria, M.D., is Associate Editor in Chief in socioeconomics, politics, medicine, and world affairs of Surgical Neurology International (SNI).  He is the author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). His recently released book is America, Guns, and Freedom: A Journey Into Politics and the Public Health & Gun Control Movements (2019).

Copyright ©2020 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

Universal Background Checks and Waiting Periods Are Dangerous by Miguel A. Faria, MD

A good approach to decrease gun violence and street crime should not involve penalizing law-abiding citizens and infringing on their Second Amendment rights while coddling criminals. And that is exactly what Democrats want to do. In fact, they have tried to exempt criminal gangs from the Red Flag laws they want to exact on the law-abiding citizen. It sounds incredible but it is true!

The Democrats want to force strict background checks upon law-abiding citizens with no time limit or deadline for the FBI to issue an approval. Before the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was instituted in 1998, the Brady Law (1994-1998) was in effect. It mandated a federal background check on all firearms purchases and imposed a five-day waiting period before the transfer of the purchased firearm. It was ineffective and did not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Gun control is dangerous.

Incidentally, the Democrats also instituted an “assault weapons” ban from 1994 to 2004 that had no effect on crime or mass shootings. Congress, led by the Republicans, wisely let it expire and refused to re-introduce it in 2013.

The Brady Law enforcing waiting periods for gun purchases passed in several states, endangering lawful citizens needing a gun quickly for self-protection. There are lurid stories of victims killed by attackers, who were killed by the assailants that previously threatened them. They were killed while waiting to pick up newly purchased and badly needed guns for self-protection.

The Universal Background Checks legislation now pushed by Democrats does the same thing, endangering potential victims — not to mention the fact that this legislation can be used to illegally register firearms, which we know is a prelude to banning and confiscation of firearms, as has happened in Washington DC, Detroit, New York City, Seattle, and several jurisdictions in California.

Gun Owners of America (GOA) keeps useful data available for study. Their research shows that waiting periods threaten the safety of people in imminent danger. One case described was that of Bonnie Elmasri, who tried to obtain a gun for self-protection from an abusive husband, a spouse who had repeatedly threatened to kill her. She was subjected to a 48-hour waiting period to buy a handgun. Unfortunately, Bonnie did not get her gun in time. The next day, her abusive husband, a man well known to the police, killed her and her two sons.

In yet another tragic case, Carol Bowne of New Jersey tried to purchase a gun for self-protection but was forced to wait several weeks for her background check. While fearfully waiting, the man who had been stalking her and who she was afraid would kill her, stabbed her to death.

In contrast, we have the case of Marine Corporal Rayna Ross. She was able to purchase a gun in a state without a waiting period and was forced to use it in self-defense only two days later, killing her assailant. If Corporal Ross had been subjected to a waiting period or burdensome universal background checks, like Bonnie Elmasri or Carol Bowne, she would have been defenseless against the man stalking her.

Serious attempts to decrease gun violence should involve keeping guns away from convicted criminals, who have legally forfeited their right to possess firearms. In fact, the vast majority of murderers are career criminals with long criminal records. We now know that the typical murderer has a prior criminal history of at least six years with four felony arrests in his record. But no, the Democrats coddle criminals and penalize law-abiding gun owners, why?

In a recent article, Dr. James I. Ausman, Editor Emeritus of Surgical Neurology International, and I analyzed the topic in some detail: We concluded that gun control is about people control. My recently released book, America, Guns, and Freedom: A Journey Into Politics and the Public Health & Gun Control Movements, which examines the push for civilian disarmament by the public health establishment, also concludes that gun control is about people control and that it is dangerous. If the Democrats win the Presidency and the U.S. Senate in 2020, they will empower government to implement very dangerous, draconian gun control legislation. If we are to preserve freedom and keep our Republic, the Democrats must not win in 2020!

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, M.D., is Associate Editor-in-Chief in socioeconomics, politics, medicine, and world affairs of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). This article is excerpted and edited from his newly released book, America, Guns, and Freedom: A Journey Into Politics and the Public Health & Gun Control Movements (2019)

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Universal Background Checks and Waiting Periods Are Dangerous., November 4, 2019. Available from:

Copyright ©2019 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

The moral philosophy of self-defense and resistance to tyranny in the Judeo-Christian tradition by Miguel A. Faria, MD

David Kopel’s monumental book, The Morality of Self-Defense and Military Action: The Judeo-Christian Tradition (2017) has not received the attention it deserves for such a well-researched and magnificently written tome. Kopel has succeeded in objectively discussing difficult and controversial topics of moral philosophy that spill into hotter political issues of armed self-defense and justification for wars and revolution, and he does this in an eloquent, logical, and enthralling fashion. 

The morality of individual self-defense, collective rebellion in revolution, and engagement in collective military action are topics discussed succinctly and engagingly in this book, as justified by our Judeo-Christian inheritance, a main pillar of Western civilization. Kopel, who is a civil rights attorney and a constitutional law professor, not a moral philosopher (much less a moralist), has achieved what myriad other experts have tried to do but have failed because of preconceived notions, biases, and selective interpretation of Biblical passages and historical events, as well as political immersion while engaging in theological obscurantism. Fortunately, this is not the case with Kopel’s more tolerant approach and research that lead to the attainment of truth. 

The book is divided into two major parts: Part 1 deals with the Old Testament and proceeds chronologically with the history of the Israelites, the problem of violence in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Prophets, the Diaspora, the Holocaust, and modern Israel. Part 2 discusses the New Testament, the Apostles and continues with Rome, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, Revolutions (including the American Revolution), Modern Christianity, the Quakers, and concludes with Modern Pacifism and its ramifications.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Kopel’s research leads him to quote religious and philosophic authorities, such as St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) near the time of the fall of Rome; John of Salisbury (1120-1180), Bishop of Chartres, a leader of the Early Renaissance of the 11th Century in which the Church refused to submit to government interference and claimed independence from the State; St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the great medieval scholastic philosopher, as well as the more radical Spanish Second Scholastics, including the Spanish Jesuits, Juan de Mariana and Francisco Súarez, who asserted categorically the right of revolution against tyrannical governments. These writers wrote that standing armies were inconsistent with free governments, but that citizen militias were essential to protect the natural rights of the people and prevent usurpation by kings or even elected bodies. These writings percolated from the Catholic world and in time found a home with Protestant leaders ushering in the Reformation. 

St. Thomas Aquinas

Catholic teachings embrace Natural Law affirming the personal right to self-defense, particularly to protect the lives of others, especially those weak and defenseless. Supporting these views about Natural Law were the great writers of antiquity — Cicero (106-43 BC) and the rediscovered Aristotle (384-322 BC). The metaphysics and political writings of Aristotle were reconciled to Catholic dogma by St. Thomas Aquinas, while Rabbi Moshe Maimonides (1153-1204) attempted to do the same for Judaism. The right to self-defense extends from the individual and his household to the community, as to oppose government tyranny; and to nations, as to engage in Just wars to oppose aggression, as long as there is a chance of success and the number of casualties is limited. 

People then have a right to self-defense, as well as a moral duty to defend their families and neighbors, and the community has a right to collective self-defense to curb or prevent tyrannical government. Arms are necessary to exercise those rights. And it is for that reason that governments, monarchical or elected, which have a tendency to be tyrannical, disarm the people. Liberty and the right to preserve life via self-defense are natural rights of the people — namely, gifts from God or Nature to man — and governments that attempt to circumvent those rights are no longer legitimate governments but usurpations. Bad governments and usurpations are already in rebellion against God and man, so the people have a legitimate right to self-defense in the form of insurrection to overthrow those governments. 

John Locke

These freedom concepts reached eloquence in the writings of John Locke (1632-1704), who added that the function of government is to 0protect the natural rights of the citizens, and those which did not, could legitimately be overthrown. Protestant leaders, including Calvin and Knox, believed that the right of violent resistance to governments that did not follow the precepts of God was legitimate. But they impose the caveat that intermediate magistrates must lead the people, who of themselves do not have that right. Usually support of the nobility then was necessary. But Locke, like Salisbury before him, affirmed that the right of violent resistance was inherent to all citizens and did not require intermediate magistrates. 

Kopel correctly points out that all the strands of resistance to tyrannical governments and the assertions of natural rights theory — individual self-defense and collective right to revolution — united and reached fruition in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution that ended with the founding of the United States and the incorporation of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution

The doctrine of Just Revolutions came from both extremes of Christian views — Catholics, as we have seen, and Calvinists, who adopted similar ideals, but not from Lutherans or Anglicans, who were more prone to preserve the status quo of government authority in northern Germany and Scandinavia, and in England, respectively. In the United States, the Anglican Church was loyalist generally, except in the South, while Calvinists sects were pro-revolutionist. The intellectual origins of the American Revolution have been said to have been influenced greatly by the ideas of John Locke and the Enlightenment, but they were also heavily influenced by Calvinist ideas coming from New England and distilled from John Knox and Presbyterianism stemming out of Princeton College under the direction of John Witherspoon (1732-1794). Kopel quotes Horace Walpole, the English politician, addressing Parliament: “There is no use crying about it. Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson, and that is the end of it.”

Edmund Burke

Whig member of Parliament Edmund Burke (1729-1797) went further and admonished his fellow parliamentarians that the Americans were “not of submissive of mind and opinion,” and it would be best not to try to subjugate them. Burke, an intellectual father of modern conservatism, was correct. The Sunday sermons emanating from the pulpits of Protestant America in the years immediately prior to 1776 preached the message of rebellion and violent resistance to tyranny and likened the American colonists to the belligerent Israelites searching for the Promised Land of American Independence. The Americans could not be subjugated. And on April 19, 1775, the American militia met the British Redcoats at Lexington and Concord and as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his Concord Hymn, “The embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world.”

Kopel’s book is momentous, not only because of important theoretical or academic considerations, but also for practical and more down-to-earth reasons: Too many thugs deny by their actions that human life is sacred, crime is rampant, and Islamic terrorists continue to carry out acts of savagery throughout the world. Innocent civilians are victims of mass shootings by deranged killers and terrorist suicide bombings and increasingly being plowed over by deadly moving vehicles driven by Jihadists. Christians in particular are subject to selective terrorist attacks in foreign lands. And yet we are constantly being told that citizens should not respond with violence to these frequently deadly and unprovoked attacks. Christian Scripture is often cited as invoking pacifism — e.g., “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:39).

Kopel does not deny that some Biblical evidence can be found to support seemingly contradictory points, but he also reminds us that Scripture must be interpreted in its totality. Thus moral points cannot be made by isolated passages. Kopel writes: “… attempting to show that much of what the Bible has to say about the legitimacy and illegitimacy of violence can be read in a variety of ways all of which are reasonable good-faith interpretations.” 

Conclusions based on the totality of the Scriptures — both in the words and actions of the historic Judeo-Christian religious leaders — can be drawn about the morality of self-defense, participation in Just Wars, and the justification for rebellion and revolution against tyrannical governments. Kopel’s conclusion is that self-defense is not only a personal right but also a moral duty, especially when protecting others, individually or collectively.

And as far as nations and soldiers engaging in a Just War — as initially proposed by St. Augustine and expounded upon by St. Thomas Aquinas to thwart aggression and prevent the imposition of evil governments — is not only permissible action but also a moral duty of good soldiers in order to preserve benevolent societies and eventually bring about lasting peace.

The Torah

Bolstering Kopel’s conclusions is the Judeo-Christian tradition, encompassing the Hebrew Bible, particularly the first five written books called the Torah that discuss Jewish law; the Talmud, the Oral Torah given by Moses to the Israelites and written about 200 BC; and the subsequent rabbinical commentaries of the Middle Ages, particularly the Mishnah Torah penned by the medieval scholar and physician Maimonides and other Jewish authorities to the present day. In fact, Maimonides elaborated on the laws of self-defense and affirmed the right, not only of the homeowner but also of any other good citizen, to kill a burglar. The book extends the historical-philosophic narrative to the present state of Israel. 

The Holy Bible

For Christians, the Judeo-Christian tradition includes the Old Testament and the New Testament, followed by the teachings of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches; the writings of the early Protestant leaders of the Reformation, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox to modern Christian writers. Kopel does not neglect pacifist writers. They too have their say, but while their convictions and their intentions may be pure and good, their Scriptural evidence remains tenuous, their logic problematic, and their historical accuracy frequently lacking.

In the modern world, good citizens  of all religious persuasions in general and persecuted Jews and Christians in particular have the right to armed self-defense and the moral duty to defend themselves and their families from terrorists in this very dangerous world. 

The Morality of Self-Defense and Military Action: The Judeo-Christian Tradition (2017) is highly recommended for moral philosophers, lawyers, sociologists, criminologists, and the lay public, and it would be of more than passing interest to citizens following or participating in the gun control and gun rights debate.

Reviewed by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, M.D., Associate Editor in Chief in socioeconomics, politics, medicine, and world affairs of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He is the author of a three part series: Violence, mental illness and the brain — A Brief History of Psychosurgery” published in SNI and available at his website. His recently released book is America, Guns, and Freedom: A Journey Into Politics and the Public Health & Gun Control Movements (2019).

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. The moral philosophy of self-defense and resistance to tyranny in the Judeo-Christian tradition., March 15, 2018. Available from:

The photographs used to illustrate this book review exclusive for Hacienda Publishing came from a variety of sources and do not appear in the author’s book. They illustrate this article for the extra enjoyment of our readers.

A shortened version of this article was published on on March 19, 2018.

This book review was also published in Surgical Neurology International on August 8, 2020 with an accompanying note by SNI Editor-in-Chief, James I. Ausman, MD, PhD. The book review may be cited as: Faria MA. The moral philosophy of self-defense and resistance to tyranny in the Judeo-Christian Tradition — A review of David Kopel’s The morality of self-defense and military action: The Judeo-Christian Tradition (2017). Surg Neurol Int 2020;11:241.

Copyright ©2018-2020  Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

Potentially lethal force may require defensive deadly force by Miguel A. Faria, MD

The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s life;
and the killing of the aggressor…The one is intended, the other is not.
— Saint Thomas Aquinas

Figure 1

Violence is a global problem, which in the context of this article (interpersonal violence), is intentional force against another person or persons with the potential to cause injury or bodily harm, resulting in disability or death. Despite what one has been led to believe, America is not the most violent nation. [Figure 1] When it comes to violence, objectively compared to developed nations, the U.S. is in the middle of the pack; when considering the rest of the world, the U.S is far behind Latin America (including Brazil), Africa, and much of Eastern Europe and Eurasia (including Russia).

Nevertheless, we must admit that we have an endemic problem that needs addressing. Violence perpetrated by assailants carrying (or having the opportunity to rapidly be able to pick up and use) a blunt object to attack another person may result in severe bodily harm and/or head injury. In the body, severe blunt trauma may result in long bone fractures and external or internal injuries and bleeding—complications requiring surgery by a trauma surgeon. As a neurosurgeon, I’m most familiar with spinal and head injuries, and will reserve these comments to consequences of assaults resulting in severe physical head trauma.

Penetrating head injuries occur with sharp objects forced into the head, such as knives and screwdrivers, both types of tools I have had to remove surgically and in the emergency room under urgent, life-saving circumstances. Most common, though, are blunt traumas to the head of the victim. Penetrating knife injuries and gunshot wounds to the head we will leave for another day.

A stick, bludgeon, or some other solid object can be used against another person. If the head is the target, as it frequently is because of its vulnerability to incapacitation following concussion and loss of consciousness, serious or lethal trauma to the head may result. Blunt head trauma may result in specific injuries, and can with other related injuries of the skull and brain—for example a linear or depressed skull fracture—be associated with a traumatic intracerebral hematoma (brain blood clot), a brain contusion (brain bruise), or a life-threatening epidural hematoma.

Figure 2

Most depressed (and all open depressed) skull fractures require immediate intervention by the neurosurgeon. The trauma may also cause primary brain damage in the form of a cerebral contusion, or laceration (tearing of the brain), or an expanding hematoma compressing the brain and causing further secondary injury. [Figure 2]

Serious blunt trauma to the head during assaults may result in an expanding hematoma requiring emergency surgery. These lesions result in death when carried out with lethal force, or, if the patients live, they may leave them with serious sequelae, such as brain damage, seizure disorders, or incapacitated in a chronic vegetative state.

Brain hemorrhages can form subdural or epidural hematomas, depending on whether they occur above or under the dura mater, the membrane covering the brain. They can be equally lethal by compressing the brain and causing swelling and cerebral herniations (pressure-induced brain shifts) in turn resulting in compression of vital centers ultimately causing chronic vegetative conditions or death. Acute subdural and epidural hematomas frequently require emergency surgery. But even when successfully treated, they may leave the patients, usually younger people, disabled or incapacitated. They can also be fatal, depending on the force of the injury and on how soon the victim-patient makes it to the operating table. The mortality of acute subdural hematomas ranges from 30% to 75%.[1] Admittedly, much of the lethality at the high end of the spectrum occurs with motor vehicle accident, but it also occurs with severe beatings during assaults and the commission of crimes.

Figure 3

Subacute or chronic subdural hematomas, on the other hand, occur in older people, also as a result of blunt head trauma, and are very common, even after relatively minor injuries. This occurs because as we age the brain sags, the subdural space enlarges, predisposing older folks to the tearing of the bridging veins at the top of the head inside the skull. [Figure 3] Chronic subdural hematomas can occur after relatively minor injuries or even after a vigorous struggle or simply the shaking or bumping of the head during a scuffle with an assailant.

Sometimes difficult to diagnose, subacute and chronic subdural hematomas may present in older victims days or weeks after an assault. Yet these hematomas can also cause severe brain damage, incapacitation, or death. In other words, a serious or mortal injury can occur when a weaker person is attacked by an assailant who is intent on injuring or incapacitating his target, male or female, to rob them or sexually assault them.

Violence is rampant and endemic. Assault in the streets or during home invasions, whether the object is robbery or rape, frequently takes defenseless persons by surprise. The best defense is ready, armed defense. The firearm must be immediately available, usually concealed for self-defense outside, or kept in a secure place inside the home. Criminologists have determined that a firearm is the most effective weapon of defense against violent assailants.[2-5]

In dealing with these assault cases, one must also keep in mind that a person bent on attacking and victimizing another person carries the advantages of timing, selection, and purposeful intent. They are intent on hurting, robbing, or raping their victims. Thus they have the advantage of having selected the time, place, and the victims themselves.

Victims do not expect the attack and are often taken by surprise. Frequently, assailants are younger, more agile, and stronger than their victims (whom they have picked as suitable targets). Smart unarmed assailants would hesitate from physically assaulting an Arnold Schwarzenegger or a Jesse Ventura, but not a frail individual whom they believe they can successfully victimize. Even an unarmed predator can wield deadly force with his hands, feet, or other simple objects easily carried. A stolen candle stick in the hands of a determined assailant should be considered a lethal weapon and treated as conveying deadly force, especially when the assailant has entered or broken into a home and the victim, male or female, reasonably feels threatened and in mortal danger.

As I wrote many years ago, criminologists have noted:

National Victims Data suggests that “while victims resisting with knives, clubs, or bare hands are about twice as likely to be injured as those who submit, victims who resist with a gun are only half as likely to be injured as those who put up no defense.”

Similarly, regarding women and self-defense, “among those victims using handguns in self-defense, 66% of them were successful in warding off the attack and keeping their property. Among those victims using non-gun weapons, only 40% were successful.

Among those victims fleeing the scene, only 35% were successful. Among those victims invoking physical force, only 22% were successful. Among those using verbal shouting only 20% were successful…” The gun is the great equalizer for women when they are accosted in the street or when they are defending themselves and their children at home.

When severe bodily injury and blunt head trauma are a possibility, deadly force used in self-defense is warranted and morally justified.[6] And the safest and most effective defense is with the use of firearms by the intended victims, that is, by citizens who know how to use firearms and are determined beforehand to protect themselves and their families from predators. Such unpredictable violence should be considered capable of causing grave bodily harm and blunt head trauma. Neurosurgical complications of head injuries may include seizure disorders, paralysis, blindness, and mental and emotional problems that result as sequelae of brain injuries, not to mention the death of the victim.

In short, guns are the great equalizer for both men and women assaulted by criminal predators, who hold the advantage in acts of violence, and purposely inflict bodily harm in the commission of their crimes. Thus, when persons with hostile intent break and enter a home threatening bodily harm or injury, the victims are justified in using deadly force for self-defense and family protection. Business establishments that forbid the carrying of arms by persons possessing a valid concealed carry license and who wish to exercise their right while patronizing the premises should be held legally responsible when customers are harmed or killed because their right to self-defense was denied.

It’s time that the public, prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries, legislators, and the police understand that blunt trauma to the head can be potentially crippling or lethal during a scuffle with a criminal, and that the use of deadly force by the potential victim is often needed and almost always justified for self-defense and family protection.


1. Faria MA. Tindall GT.  Evacuation of subdural hematoma. In: The Medical Management of the Surgical Patient. Lubin, Walker, and Smith (editors). Boston, MA: Butterworth Inc., 1982. 

2. Kates DB, Harris PT. How to make their day. National Review 1991;43(19):30-32.

3. Kleck G. Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1991.

4. Lott JR. More Guns Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.” Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

5. Wright J., Rossi P. Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms, New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1986.

6. Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, II, Ch. 64, Art. 7

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.), Mercer University School of Medicine. Dr. Faria was a member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2002-05). He is the author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). His website is His most recent book is America, Guns, and Freedom (2019).

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Potentially lethal force may require defensive deadly force., February 9, 2016. Available from:

First published February 6, 2016. A version of this article also appears in DRGO.

Copyright ©2020 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.