Brandishing Vs Drawing: When Is Pulling A Gun Okay?
Every concealed carrier should be aware that they potentially face liability for their actions, including for brandishing if drawing a pistol is not appropriate. Just like the use of lethal force by means of firing, a person cannot draw unless it's appropriate to do so and may face charges if they do outside the scope of the law.
Bear in mind that this is not legal advice, merely a discussion about the topic of legally drawing a firearm in self defense if need be.
Drawing A Gun Is Always Brandishing - Circumstances Merely Justify It Or Not
What is this "brandishing" that people are so concerned about? Well, the short answer is:
Brandishing is displaying a firearm or other weapon to intimidate another person.
In other words, if a gun or other weapon is drawn and displayed in such a manner as to intimidate, threaten or otherwise impress upon another person that deadly force is imminent, then that is brandishing. It's almost guaranteed that getting arrested or worse, convicted of it, will result in a person losing their concealed carry permit and possibly firearms priviledges.
A companion and often lesser charge is "Improper Display of a Firearm," which is a lesser degree of inappropriate displaying a gun. The exact definition and seriousness of the crime varies (in some jurisdictions it's a misdemeanor, a felony in others) but it's still criminally threatening another person.
However, here's the rub: pulling your gun on someone is always brandishing. The intent, even if defensive, is to intimidate or threaten, if not to shoot or kill. The question is whether a person can justify it. Likewise, shooting a person is attempted homicide or is homicide. The question is whether or not it's justifiable under the law.
Pulling a gun because of a mere argument doesn't count.
When Is Drawing A Gun Legal?
When is drawing a gun legal? When a person would reasonably fear for their life or great injury. There are other circumstances where the use of force is authorized, though the exact nature of those exemptions vary by state. Many states allow the use of deadly force to stop an in-progress felony, such as armed robbery or sexual assault.
Pretty much the only state where it's justified in defense of mere property is Texas, and even then there are limitations on it.
Depending on the jurisdiction, any witnesses must conclude that the pistol wasn't drawn or displayed with willful disregard for the safety or well-being of others. Not only must a hypothetical reasonable person do the same thing in the same situation, but anyone who saw it must conclude the same thing.
The Importance Of De-escalation
De-escalation is vital for the concealed carrier. Carrying a gun doesn't make you Superman, or Wyatt Earp. It doesn't earn you special privileges for shooting people. If anything, it makes you MORE liable, as one has the means to deliver deadly force if need be. Doing so outside the bounds of the law is a heinous crime.
That's why it's important to de-escalate. A responsible carrier, and indeed a responsible human being, doesn't pick fights and doesn't let an argument get out of hand. A responsible person is not susceptible to road rage and doesn't egg anybody on. If, however, you aren't given the alternative of flight, then drawing becomes appropriate.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.