5 Times it is Not Okay to Draw Your Weapon
Even though we have a universal and fundamental right to defend ourselves protected by the United States Constitution, each state has its own individual laws regarding how and when self-defense is ‘allowed.’ Some states make it severely difficult to protect yourself—especially with a firearm—while others recognize the significance of the Second Amendment by approving Constitutional Carry for their citizens.
As responsible gun owners in our respected states, we need to do everything possible to obey every law regarding gun ownership and firearm carry. If this means foregoing your firearm for happy hour, then so be it. If you must lock up your ammo separate from your firearm at home, then…well…you heard the man. As much as some of these laws are burdensome, learning to adapt is much better than losing your right to own or carry a gun.
If your state requires a permit or license to carry, the requirements for acquiring that permit or license varies. In Texas, during a license to carry (LTC) class, we are taught to only draw your firearm when your life is in immediate danger or in order to stop a felony currently in progress and ONLY if you are prepared to use it. You should NEVER pull your gun as an empty threat. Brandishing your weapon to someone without the intent of actually using it may be illegal, as well as extremely dangerous.
Now, I’m no lawyer, and this article should in no way, shape or form replace advice from legal counsel or an attorney, but I do know when it is not okay to draw your firearm.
*I want to point out just because you have your firearm drawn and at the ready, you don’t have to pull the trigger. There are many, many, many times a firearm owner has pointed their firearm at a home intruder or attacker without anyone seriously injured or the firearm owner forced to use deadly force. Gun drawn and you’re ready to use it, but you don’t fire…completely legal, as long as it is justified.
Here are five times you should not draw your weapon.
- Petty theft
Remember, your life must be in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury for it to be justified that you pulled a firearm on someone. Though, incredibly maddening, someone who snatches your laptop or phone off the table at Starbucks is not trying to harm you—not psychically, at least. Shooting them would most likely be found legally as unjustified.
- Road Rage
Fifty percent of drivers admit to becoming aggressive when behind the wheel—including tailgating, speeding, honking the horn, flashing lights and shouting. Road rage incidents account for 1/3 of all car accidents and an average of 30 murders a year. None of us are immune—if you have driven for any length of time, you probably have had someone flash their brights on you, flipped you the bird, and rolled down their window and shouted a few choice words. I’ve actually had a dude so mad at me when I first started driving that he followed me home to yell at me. But that doesn’t mean your life is in any danger. A middle finger never hurt anyone—except maybe your ego.
- Verbal Threats
Though verbal threats can be crude, nasty and downright terrifying, a verbal threat alone isn’t enough to justify pulling out your firearm. If whoever is doing the threatening is at a safe distance away from you and showing no signs of advancing or going for a weapon, drawing your gun, especially to intimidate would not be justified under the law. Concealed carriers (and open carriers) are taught to diffuse situations. We keep a cool head. Just walk—or drive—yourself quickly out of the area to avoid the situation getting any worse.
- Too Hurt or Wound
If you must ever use your gun, it will only be to stop the threat. My concealed carry instructors always told me, “shoot until the threat stops.” The word “kill” was never spoken during my license to carry classes. To hurt or wound someone means you probably didn’t feel like your life was in immediate danger. The hurt or wounded can still be a threat, even after shot. A professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, David Kilnger, says, “Why would we want to injure or maim people. It doesn’t stop them.”
- Someone Pushes or Punches You
There have been numerous legal cases reported involving someone drawing a firearm during a regular good ole’ fashion fist fight—usually the gun owner is found at fault and could be charged with manslaughter. Of course, a physical altercation can escalate to where a life is in danger, however, you must be able to explain to police you were in real danger of death or serious bodily harm if you use your firearm. Try telling a police officer you were justified by shooting the dead guy on the ground who made a pass at your partner and then pushed you when you told him to back off. A push or a punch, even a few punches, isn’t (mostly) a threat to your life.
Distance yourself from fights. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you might be forced to use your gun. In fact, many states have a clear “duty to retreat” law. In Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, people have a legal requirement to retreat in public, while those living in Vermont and Washington D.C. must retreat while in public and in the home.
Your best bet to any of these situations is to leave and call the police. Many of these scenarios aren’t black and white. Just make sure you aren’t in a gray area if you draw your gun.
Studies show that concealed carriers are more law-abiding than even law enforcement. Carrying a gun carries a big responsibility. Besides regular training, you should also:
- Practice self-restraint
- Remain level-headed
- Try deep breathing exercises if you find yourself getting angry
Carrying a firearm and protecting yourself and loved ones is one of our most sacred rights. You don’t carry a gun to intimidate or scare someone. You don’t carry a gun to prove you’re stronger or bigger than anyone else. You don’t carry a gun to show off. You carry a gun because your life and your family’s lives are priceless.
Do you conceal carry? What are the laws in your state regarding using deadly force? Share with us in the comment section.