Sunday, February 12, 2012
So – when exactly do I draw my gun???
I’m looking at a gentleman a few years older than I and in his first weapons class. In fact he had only run a couple magazines through his new handgun – a Springfield XDM 9mm. We were discussing various scenarios for encounters where an individual could feel threatened. And that’s when the question came up:
So – when exactly do I draw my gun??
Just to be clear – I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. I am not in law enforcement. I have no legal training. I have done my best to truly understand all the laws pertaining to carrying a weapon in Iowa and believe I have a firm understanding of them. Finally, I have taken live fire with a clear intention that I was not supposed to walk away from the encounter. Yet, those experiences were during my military days with Rules of Engagement that bear no resemblance to the US legal system. That said, here was my explanation, I welcome any/all feedback and thoughts.
In an earlier post – You Are A TARGET! – I approached parts of this topic from a situational awareness point-of-view. How you evaluate your ever changing environment as you move through the streets of modern day society. However, I want to address the actual drawing of your weapon in your own defense and some broader issues that arise around that.
As a CCW permit you will be held to a much higher standard of behavior in the event you have your weapon on you and you get into a situation that deteriorates to the point where you need to defend yourself. The best way to avoid a gunfight is to leave and not have one. There are particular actions that you will be evaluated by in the aftermath of a shooting.
Incitement: to move to action: stir up : spur on : urge on
You’re walking down the street with your girlfriend. A fellow standing on the corner does a wolf whistle and makes some comment you feel is inappropriate. You’re carrying – feeling a little extra tough because of it – so you confront the fellow and tell him what an ass he is. At that instant YOU have incited an escalation of the encounter. That little extra bit of testosterone you’re carrying has seriously clouded your judgment. If things progress from this point on where you take that fellow’s life – even to defend yourself – things will not go well for you.
Escalation: to increase in extent, volume, number, amount, intensity, or scope
You find yourself in an argument with an individual. Words are flying back and forth and you find yourself becoming more and more angry. Suddenly, you cross a boundary where – right or wrong – you are going to win this argument. When the smart thing to do would be to simply say something like: “Hey, ya know what, this is simply not worth arguing about, I’m going to just let it go and leave” – you double down. Again, that chunk of steel under your clothing makes you feel that you can ultimately win this argument – so you push your point . . . build the anger . . . push your point . . . build the anger . . . . . until there is a body on the ground and a gun in your hand. Things are not going to go well for you.
Under the influence: you’re drunk
You’re at a bar, you are carrying (BTW – this is profoundly stupid – do not carry a weapon into a bar – EVER) and you have let three or four too many drinks slide through your lips. During a game of pool your opponent cheats (at least in your drunken state he cheated) an argument ensues and suddenly you feel threatened. Maybe he lifts a pool queue to take a swing at you – and again there is a dead body at your feet and a smoking gun in your hand. Things are not going to go well for you.
Brandishing: to shake or wave (as a weapon) menacingly
True story from our region – names and places purposely left out. A lady is in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. She is getting out of her car and a person accidentally backs into her car. She asks them to stay while she calls the police and they decide it’s a good time to boogie. Her solution? She whips out her brand new revolver from her purse and holds them at gunpoint until the police arrive. Things did not go well for her.
Another example – you’re in a store, in an impossibly long line and the person in front of you is being an ass. Stupidly, you ask them to just relax, you tell them things will eventually work their way through the incredibly long line. The person truly is an ass and threatens to pound your butt into the ground. Rather than leaving you make an equally stupid remark like: “Careful bud, I got a gun!” as you sweep back the corner of your concealment garment just to prove your point. You have now “Brandished” your weapon and made a direct threat on the person. Things will not go well for you.
OK, OK, OK – so when do I draw my weapon then?? When I’m bleeding on the floor??
The way I explain it (again – not a lawyer, not a LEO) is that if you feel like you are in “mortal danger” you are (again – in MY opinion) justified in drawing your weapon, announcing to your threat that you will shoot them if they continue to advance on you and then – and only then – if they continue their advance, engage them to “stop the threat”. Obviously that does not include the “existential threat” that appears virtually instantly (from around a corner, behind a door, between a car) where you simply have time to react. In that case, react – defend yourself – and then call the police and wait for them.
What is “mortal danger”? It is that feeling that tells you that if you don’t stop this person you will be going home to your Maker and not your family. You will die. You will be dead. Pine box city.
The after action reality?? The courts will more than likely make the final decision on whether you acted appropriately. You should expect to be arrested. You should expect to have your weapon confiscated. You should expect to be questioned about the event, the steps leading up to the event, the amount of training you have had, the length of time you have carried a weapon . . . and dozens of other questions about the specifics of the event. Your answer – “I thought I was going to die!!!”
My advice for once you are past that statement? Tell them who you are, offer to answer their questions, but only in the presence of your attorney. This is your constitutional right, exercise it. I carry a card in my wallet with my attorney’s personal cell phone number on it. We have discussed the possibility of a shooting event happening and we have agreed upon a plan of action. That is what I will follow – then I will answer any questions the police may have with my attorney sitting by my side.
So, bottom line – when do you draw your weapon? When you feel like you are going to die!
Otherwise, use your head and remove yourself from the situation.