What Does Brandishing Mean? And Why You Should Never Do It…

What Does Brandishing Mean? And Why You Should Never Do It…

There are going to be tense days.  You’ll eventually run into someone who isn’t paying attention or just very extremely violent and rude.  It doesn’t matter.  Your concealed carry pistol stays concealed and in its holster until you are one hundred percent certain you intend to use it for your own self-defense.

Letting someone know you are armed – whether it’s resting a hand on your pistol grip or sweeping back your shirt to let the other person know you’re armed – can and will be construed as a threat.  And once it’s safely in that arena, you can be prosecuted in both civil and criminal court.

A few years ago, noted firearms expert Ben Findley wrote a very comprehensive article on the definitions of brandishing as they apply to some of the states.  In that article, he gives a rough overview of the various definitions that exist out there as a means of educating concealed carriers to the facts about brandishing.

Brandishing can be called a lot of different things.

  • “Improper Exhibition of a Weapon”
  • “Defensive Display”
  • “Unlawful Display”

But it all reduces down to one key concept: threatening.  And while in your mind, at the time, you may think along the lines of “that’s not a threat – that’s a promise”, the prosecuting attorney will tend to agree with you.

If you’re charged with brandishing of a firearm or weapon, most states will use that as reason to revoke your concealed carry permit.

Let’s be absolutely clear about one thing: your firearm doesn’t give you the authority to take the law into your own hands.  It affords you the right and privilege of defending your life from lethal attack.  Anything short of that will be construed as threatening someone who has not demonstrated intent to do you harm.

Let’s Look At How Brandishing Affects You And Everyone Around You

You’ve gotten in a verbal altercation with a stranger.  Things have got hot and he’s looking like he may assault you.  This is a precariously dangerous place to be in as a concealed carrier.  

A.)  If you have power to stop or de-escalate, do it.  

It doesn’t matter how foolish you look or what people say about you – you have a moral obligation to de-escalate because you’re armed with a firearm and you don’t know if the other guy is.  

More importantly, if he doesn’t back down – in many states you are perfectly allowed to defend yourself accordingly.  That is, however, after all other options have been exhausted.  Failing to do this will leave you open to both criminal and civil prosecution.  

While you may never see the inside of a jail cell, your concealed carry pistol will be forfeited for at least the duration of the investigation and the court proceedings.  If found guilty, you will effectively lose all rights to bear arms, serve significant jail time, and be ordered to pay costs associated with the case, the victim’s family, etc.  You will also end up spending tens of thousands of dollars on defense attorneys – if you don’t expect to simply lay down under that legal bus heading your way.

B.)  Brandishing your firearm is not an immediate “win” to any altercation.  

If anything, you’ve just informed the other person that you’re reckless enough to show your firearm.  Worst of all, if he is armed – you just presented yourself as a threat.  And this doesn’t extend to just him – anyone in the field of view can independently determine that your careless display constitutes a logical, lethal threat to their well-being.  And they’d be right.  If you can’t be counted on to know the law and act lawfully with your firearm then it’s reasonable to say you’re woefully ignorant of the rest of that process — all of which could draw those surrounding you and your “foe” into that conflict.

Before considering “defensive display” or anything of the sort, put yourself both in the shoes of the person you’re dealing with and those in the near vicinity.  How would you feel if you saw two people arguing and one of them draws or brandishes a firearm?  You’d likely be scared – rightfully so.  You would feel your life is danger.  You would try to move your family and close friends away from the potential hot spot.  You immediately don’t trust the reasoning and rationale of the person doing the brandishing.

Each person you see is a witness in this event.  Your actions will be judged by the full extent of the law.  Whatever you do – do it with clear intent and communication.  Don’t brandish your concealed carry pistol.

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  • Reloader54

    This is a great article. And one that any Responsible gun owner should know if they do in fact have a CCW. I do carry everyday now because of things that I’ve been seeing these days and for the fact that it seems that the current Admin. in Washington just doesn’t seem to care to enforce the laws on the books now. I’m not able to carry concealed because of some physical issues that I have with my arms. So I always carry openly. but I do not reach for my gun all of the time. I do know that it is there but I just go about my business as if it were not there. I have had people ask me about my firearm and why I have one and we talk about the reason why I have it on me. But so far I’ve not had any problems where I’ve had to pull it out unless I was told that I could not have it where I’m at. Then I just go and put it in my car. no problem. My carry gun is a 1911. So I carry it locked-n-loaded with the safety on. And as I’ve said so far I’ve had no problems with anyone and me have a gun on my hip. And I don’t plan on having any.

  • Reloader54

    This is a great article. And one that any Responsible gun owner should know if they do in fact have a CCW. I do carry everyday now because of things that I’ve been seeing these days and for the fact that it seems that the current Admin. in Washington just doesn’t seem to care to enforce the laws on the books now. I’m not able to carry concealed because of some physical issues that I have with my arms. So I always carry openly. but I do not reach for my gun all of the time. I do know that it is there but I just go about my business as if it were not there. I have had people ask me about my firearm and why I have one and we talk about the reason why I have it on me. But so far I’ve not had any problems where I’ve had to pull it out unless I was told that I could not have it where I’m at. Then I just go and put it in my car. no problem. My carry gun is a 1911. So I carry it locked-n-loaded with the safety on. And as I’ve said so far I’ve had no problems with anyone and me have a gun on my hip. And I don’t plan on having any.

  • Ben Hansen

    Hi Luke. I’m usually 100% on board with your articles and I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you
    on this one. I think maybe the title and explanation could use a little clarification however. I’ve been teaching the California, UT, AZ, FL, CCWs for many years and as you know, most states do allow for a legal form of brandishing. Utah’s law states that it can be done if the person reasonably believes the action to be necessary in compliance with Section 76-2-402 (Use of force) with the purpose to prevent another’s use of unlawful force. California’s law states that brandishing may be done if the person reasonably
    believes you or another person is to suffer imminent harm, and you fight back with no more force than is reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.

    While I absolutely agree with you that the law requires that it never be done in a fight or quarrel unless you’ve done everything reasonable to de-escalate, I wouldn’t say that it should “never” be done.
    I always tell me students that it’s a dangerous game to play because once you introduce the gun into the conversation, the attacker can try and call your bluff and you have to be willing to use it if the situation
    escalates. Then you have all the concerns of witnesses misunderstanding the threat like you have mentioned.

    Where some instructors get into trouble- and I’m not suggesting this is what you meant- is when they tell students that the gun should never come unholstered until they’ve decided to shoot. I always include drills where we clear the shirt to access or even draw from the holster, but don’t shoot. I don’t want it ingrained within them to shoot every time the gun is gripped or drawn. For example, a man with a machete is yelling
    at me from across the street, starting to walk toward me, and saying he’s going to chop me up. He’s about 35 feet away and outside of the “21-foot rule”. Although not a hard and fast rule, many would argue that the threat isn’t imminent enough yet to justify pulling the trigger. You better believe however that I’m going to draw my firearm in a “defensive display” and give the attacker demands as I back up and look for cover and/or an escape route. This of course would be considered brandishing, but in a legal manner. I can also envision a situation where a woman is walking late at night and alone through a parking lot to her car. She
    notices that she’s being followed by a shady character and there’s no reasonable explanation why this person is following her (i.e. there’s no other cars in the lot, it’s not a shortcut to anywhere, etc.). She first makes eye contact to let him know she’s not an easy target, then tries to engage in conversation by asking if he’s lost. He keeps coming straight toward her, picking us his pace. She finds her vehicle or a cement pillar to place between them and she walks a circle around it, but he obviously and deliberately follows her move. I would first recommend a less-lethal option like a Taser. If she doesn’t have one however, she then accesses the gun compartment of her purse and places her hand on the gun. At this point, she’s getting
    behind the time curve as he tries to close the distance between them. She greatly fears she’s about to become a victim of a forcible felony or is about to suffer serious bodily injury because of a size and strength disparity. She can yell at him forcefully to get back. If this doesn’t work however, it’s reasonable to assume in her situation that anyone who continues an advance is about to commit a serious crime. This is a good example of when informing the attacker that she has a gun and/or displaying it is the last best option short of actually firing the gun in self-defense. Shooting an unarmed attacker can be a very difficult decision, but the decision should quickly become clear once the gun is displayed or the attacker is informed she has one. The ball is in his court. If the situation escalates and he continues the approach instead of turning and running, then she must be willing to use the gun. Like you had mentioned, all other options have been exhausted and a person must first be justified in presenting the gun in the first place.

    While I don’t have exact stats, it’s understood that a good portion of such dangerous conflicts are avoided just by the presence of the gun. While I believe the main thrust and intent of your article was regarding those wanting to engage in fighting, I just wanted to insert my opinion that in certain situations, brandishing against an armed or even an unarmed attacker can be an effective and legal manner to avoid a
    lethal conflict, just short of pulling the trigger. I would also always call the police right after. In California, many sheriffs require the CCW holder to inform them of an incident where they draw their weapon. Some criminals have the audacity to even call the police on the victim after a botched attack to report a
    brandishing. It’s always a good idea to let the police know right away so they can establish who the true victim is. Thanks for your great articles Luke. I share them a lot with my students.

    • TinMan21850

      Thanks, you cleared up some concerns I’ve had.

    • BAdams

      These scenarios legitimize open carry. If they engage me already knowing I have a weapon, then there’s little other choice.

    • LongPurple

      “The attacker can try and call your bluff and you have to be willing to use it if the situation escalates.”

      That was the case in the Gerald Ung shooting of DiDonato in Philadelphia a few years back. DiDonato was shown in the video closing in on the retreating Ung, saying “Who you gonna shoot? Who you gonna shoot?”
      Shortly afterward, he was asking the EMTs “Please don’t let me die”.

    • FirstShirt

      This is a superb article because it opens a h-u-g-e door to a much needed discussion regarding CCW. This is the subject matter most folks need to bone up on. Your reply to this article is well thought out and will stimulate thought on the part of the readers. I know it did mine.

  • TinMan21850

    Good article, but I have a question maybe someone can answer in general. I am a disabled vet, it wouldn’t take much to cripple or kill me. All my arteries from my heart down my legs are artificial two back operations ect. I am mild mannered, I would even apologize if I was right to avoid a fight. I have a couple CWP’s that allow me to carry in several states. I am about 178 lbs and 5′ 11″. Where do I draw the line on what’s a deadly threat if he is not armed and determined to beat me to death.

    • Ben Hansen

      That’s a great question without a clear-cut answer. The trier of fact (the judge or jury) will use the reasonable person standard to determine if your actions were appropriate and legal. Part of this mythical “reasonable person” is that they must place themselves in your shoes with the information that you knew at the time, and not retrospectively. Some factors they might consider are:

      1) Has the assailant(s) communicated an intention to commit a felony or cause great bodily injury or death?
      2) If there’s more than one aggressor, as a cumulative total, do you fear they could overpower you and cause serious injury?
      3) The ability of the attacker to cause great bodily injury or death (does his physical size, age, or fighting skill increase the level of danger)?
      4) Have you already justifiably presented the gun to prevent an attack and the assailant continues to escalate the threat?
      5) The attacker’s distance from you or another victim
      6) The attacker’s ability to use the means to carry out the threat (skillfulness, mindset, history, etc.) You may not know any of this information at the time.

      In most states, you can’t draw your gun in a fight or quarrel or later use it after engaging in mutual combat unless you clearly make every effort to first withdraw, like you said that you always do. As stated in other comments, it gets really dicey if you were at all partially at fault for fueling the heated exchange. You knew you had a gun before going into the fight, therefore every conflict you have is an armed conflict. A good self-defense case should clearly indicate that you were the victim. Otherwise, you’ll be in quite a bit of trouble without witnesses that say they saw you try and walk away or withdraw verbally. Roughly half the states have some form of “stand your ground” law written in their code now, meaning that you don’t have a legal duty to retreat… but this really gets messy if you were a party to initial altercation. Always retreat from fights if possible. Assuming you’re clearly in the right, the judge or jury will then look at the level of fear a reasonable person would feel in your shoes. Your defense will have to articulate the reasons that gave rise to such fear. In your case, this is where your physical condition and limitations will come in to play.

      It varies from state to state as to how they measure the degree of fear. In California for example, the law says, “A bare fear (not a fear of bears- this was the lingo they used in the 1800s) is not sufficient to justify it”. The circumstances must be “sufficient to excite fears of a reasonable person and party killing must have acted under the influence of those fears alone.” In other words, it’s more than just an apprehension or moderate anxiety. You must feel compelled that it was necessary. Utah’s law doesn’t address fear directly, but says that you must reasonably believe that force or threat of force is necessary to prevent another person’s imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. You’ll see some version of “imminent danger” in nearly every states’ laws. Simply, it means it’s happening right now or about to happen. In all cases, you can of course only use the amount of force reasonable to overcome the threat presented.

      Lastly, there’s one other principal factor that varies a bit from state to state. Aside for imminent danger of death, most states will specify that deadly force may also be used to prevent some form of serious bodily injury. Utah calls it “serious” bodily injury, California calls it “great” bodily injury, and Florida calls it “great bodily harm”. Case law in each state can give you an idea of what is considered significant injury, but to simplify it, I like to tell my students to think of an injury that would send you to a hospital in an ambulance. Many injuries could either be moderate or major “great” injuries depending on the circumstances. With your medical condition, a 300 pound attacker sitting on your chest and pounding your head in the cement could present an equal risk of great bodily injury to me as well. However, whereas I’m fairly able-bodied and can fend off blows, a 6’4″ 200 lb attacker may knock me around a bit, but it would probably only result in scrapes and bruises, maybe a broken nose. For you, the same person might cause major bone breaks, concussions, or loss of consciousness. Consider this person grapples with you on the ground and then discovers your gun or is robbing you after you’ve become unconscious and finds it. It was a more clear-cut case when I worked in law enforcement because the public clearly knows a man with a badge may shoot you if you charge him, even unarmed. When we carry CCW, it’s our secret that we have a gun and it’s difficult to know the mindset of the person if they discover the gun. In general however, fear of loss of consciousness COULD be articulated as a great bodily injury and the possibility of them finding your gun just exacerbates that danger.

      I apologize for the long response, but it’s not a straight forward issue and it does vary a bit depending on the state where it happens. In summary and in general, your decision to draw or use your gun against an unarmed attacker must be supported by your ability to articulate the following:

      1) You felt in fear of imminent danger of death or great bodily injury (or to prevent a forcible felony in some states)
      2) Your fear was sufficient to make you feel it was necessary to use deadly force to stop the attack; and
      3) You used no more force that was reasonably necessary to overcome the threat

      I hope that helps a bit. I always encourage my students to take a class or two in boxing or martial arts. Once you’ve been knocked around and hit in the head a bit and realize you can take more than you thought, you’re less likely to resort to using your gun. You’re also more confident that you can defend against blows and counter-attack with an open-handed defense to get away. More than likely, an unarmed attacker is going to threaten at such a close proximity anyway that going for your gun is usually not your best option. Breaking contact and getting distance is usually your first priority before you would even think of drawing. In your case, I would highly suggest also carrying a Taser. As far as incapacitating an attacker, studies have found that it can be even more effective than using a 9mm pistol.

      • Oingo Boingo

        I’m too young to die, and to old to have my butt whipped.
        I pity the fool…

  • Bill Kelly

    I agree with the other comments that we need to make a distinction between drawing a gun against a justifiable threat and displaying a gun as part of an argument. If I’m minding my own business and someone threatens me in a way that justifies my use of force in self-defense, I shouldn’t be charged with a crime because I don’t fire a shot. The threat that justified my shooting should also justify my taking a defensive stance without shooting. The situation described in this article seems different. If I willingly engage someone in an argument that escalates, then using my gun to end the argument is a crime because I wouldn’t have been justified in shooting in any case.

  • LongPurple

    If a gun is displayed as an act of aggression it is “brandishing”.
    If a gun is displayed by the potential victim of an aggressor, to demonstrate he is prepared to resist that aggression with deadly force, it is a “warning”.
    Circumstances are extremely variable in any such confrontation, and there can be no hard and fast rules about what is always/never suitable. The best comment I have seen on the first defense, avoidance of conflict, was stated by Ralph at TTAG.

    “I have saved several lives by just walking away. None of those lives were mine.”

  • Dave Hare

    Brandishing if done at the right time can be ok. There was onetime was at a Sonic Drive in my Corvette In Albuquerque NM. A thug was approaching me fast and didn’t look friendly. took my gun out and placed it in the dash. Right away the thug turned and walked away and did not look back. I know did the right thing. If I had not had a gun with me I believe I would have been carjacked.

  • dasbunker

    Thank god I live in an open carry, be it a mostly liberal state.
    Have been open carrying for 7 years everywhere I go.
    Never had an issue with the public or LEO.

    I believe open carry will deter a lot of opportunistic crime that happen on a daily basis using situational awareness.
    Always be polite to everyone you meet and always try to de escalate any situation you find yourself in
    Be an ambassador of our cherished 2nd Amendment,
    Stay safe all.

  • RedPayer2015

    I had an “unpleasant” (and legally very expensive and personally embarrasing) ‘brandishing’ experience in a very BLUE (2A unfriendly) State 20+ yrs. ago.

    It’s hard *not* to brandish a shotgun (on one’s own property), however.

    I was dragged thru the legal/judicial/court system, and ended up with a (lesser) criminal plea agreement. I “discovered” that the state government has limitless financial legal resources. I did not. Did I mention that I was U.S. military with 20+ yrs. service? I almost lost my retirement (“pension”) over this. Never mind, but it IS teue.

    This article is spot on.

    Don’t do it.

    If you choose to act, then use a CCW pistol/semi/revolver and keep it in your pocket until/unless your life/family’s lives are threatened. Strongly consider and pay for 2A/firearm liability insurance (NRA, USCCA, etc.). I have it now.

    I didn’t, and I learned the hard way.

    BTW, my firearms rights are now legally restored, and my criminal record is now expunged.

  • tom

    if you pick up something from a store and someone sees your gun does mean you may be brandishing your gun or are you doing something unlawful in fla.

    • Ben Hansen

      Florida’s law is pretty similar to the way states like Utah and California read. Florida’s “brandishing” statute…

      790.10 Improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms.—If any person having or carrying any dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon or device, or other weapon shall, in the presence of one or more persons, exhibit the same in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

      I believe Florida still hasn’t resolved their “open carry” dispute so locations where you may open-carry are still very limited. However, in 2011 or 2012 (I can’t remember which) Florida amended a section of the open carry statute. The law above uses the term “careless” as one of the elements that can satisfy the crime. In other words, years ago, if you inadvertently let your gun become unconcealed (like if you were reaching for something on a high shelf and your shirt comes up) then it is possible that responding local authorities would charge you with the violation of exhibiting the weapon in a “careless” manner that was not “self-defense”. The law passed a few years ago sought to remedy this. Here’s the text….

      790.053 Open carrying of weapons.—

      (1) Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.

      (2) A person may openly carry, for purposes of lawful self-defense:

      (a) A self-defense chemical spray.

      (b) A nonlethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun or other nonlethal electric weapon or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes.

      (3) Any person violating this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

      You’ll see that they made an exception for CCW holders who briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person when it is NOT done in an angry or threatening manner. It doesn’t have to be necessary self-defense either. If you ask me, the law is worded rather awkwardly. “Briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person”. That makes it sound like the gun holster and grip can’t just barely show to a degree where someone is questioning whether you have a gun. It makes it sound like it you have to fully have your cover garment pushed away so their is no doubt that a person with ordinary sight can openly see that it’s a gun. Why law makers stated it this way, I have no idea. The point is, if someone sees it, they most likely don’t know the law and they’re going to call the police. The police will then determine if you let the gun show accompanied with anger or a threatening manner, or if it was more than just a brief display. That’s hit or miss in Florida. California is different. When a man let his gun accidentally fall from his jacket on campus (where he legally was carrying) someone called the police and the whole campus was put on lock-down. No threats were made. He didn’t even violate California’s brandishing law. Because he caused a public alarm however and acted carelessly according to the sheriff’s discretion, he lost his CCW permit. That’s how things are done out here.

  • Micheal Price

    I carry a full size smith and wesson here in kentucky and dont normally have any problems I get more flack from the concealed people that surround me (telling me I need to get concealed) then the people that spot my gun and have actually had L.E. stop me more to ask what kind of gun im carrying then to see if I was breaking a law

  • Oingo Boingo

    Fishing alone at night at a Reservoir. Back to the water, 2 drunk nasty ex-cons (I found out later) in front of me. One declares that he’s going to kick my ass and starts coming at me. The other Dirt was behind him with a knife out.
    I draw a snubbie, level off and say “I don’t friggin think so.”
    Defensive Display ?
    Class ?
    Anyone ?
    Bueler ?
    I hold them off with one hand and collect my gear with the other and head for my car…keeping the rod tips pointed at the first Dirt’s face.
    No shots fired, dammit.
    Their returning drunken girlfriends called the cops.
    The Dirts had conflicting stories…FAIL… and I was apprised of my right to press a private criminal complaint, since the cops didn’t see anything happen. I didn’t bother, wanting nothing further to do with the White Trash.
    Long story ,short…No arrest, no charges. I got my gun back from the cops that attended the scene the very next day.

    • Ben Hansen

      Yes, I would say that was a defensive display and depending on the state you were in, it was probably an acceptable legal defense for brandishing. The knife display (if done with the other verbal threats or motions to intimidate) would most certainly warrant it. If both were unarmed, it would fall back on how you articulate your fear as to how “as a cumulative total” they could overpower you to cause death or serious serious bodily injury (again, exact verbiage depends on your state) and how you articulate using the gun was necessary to defend against that danger. It looks like you handled the situation properly and came out alive. That’s just my opinion anyway.

      • Oingo Boingo

        Thanks for that.

      • Miss Bunny

        I’d say the display of the knife by one of the perps was definitely an imminent threat and he was well within his rights to draw his firearm. The fact there was two of them, and their female accomplices nearby, shows disparity of force. Two or four of them could’ve easily overcome this man and done him great harm or death.

  • Jeremy M. Jackson

    I agree…but, I have to wonder how this applies if you are say, open carrying?

  • tom

    thank you ben i was not sure best thing to do is dont piss off the pd LOL

    • Ben Hansen

      No worries Tom. It looks like my reply to you about the Florida law was deleted, maybe because I included a link. The funny thing is, it was a link to an article on their own site. Oh well.

  • G50AE

    Does displaying a CCW Badge qualify as “brandishing”?

  • Mighty Fine

    There was a shooting resulting in a death several years ago near where I live. It started as a road rage incident where a large Hispanic man cut off a white business man and words were exchanged. The Hispanic mans vehicle was in front of the white man’s, and he slammed his brakes on, causing the white man to stop inches from his bumper. Now the car behind him stopped inches from him so he had no escape route
    The Hispanic man got out of his vehicle and approaches his car aggressivly, carrying a baseball bat, the smaller white man pulled his cw and held it at his side. The big man started trying to open his door to assult him and was then shot once right in the face and died in the middle of the road while his wife and son watched from his vehicle up front. The white man ended up being found guilty of manslaughter! ( not sure of the degree) and spent 7 years in prison, even though other motorists agreed it was self defence. So I guess you never know what will happen after you shoot someone. But just maybe, if he got out and pulled his gun and warned the guy to back off or get shot, maybe he could have avoided jail time? I Hope I never have to find out.

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  • Matthew Hornung

    Looking to find out if I was justified here, or if I committed a crime. This was in rural Tennessee.

    This last weekend I was out canoeing on a river in TN with a group, I got pissed because one of my friend’s friend’s told his kid to commit a misdemeanor (kill an innocent non-venomous Northern Watersnake), and throughout the day they continued to force the issue and blow it farther and farther out of proportion until I was being given verbal death threats, had knives drawn on me at one point, even though I was trying to keep my distance but knew I needed a ride back to the campground. I even asked other people on the river if they were going back to the same place so I could avoid the group I was with, but no luck.

    On arriving back on the campground, I was trying to get my canoe loaded onto my truck so I could get my stuff together and leave, when one of the men jumped me and started pounding on my face. This was the 2nd time I had been physically assaulted for this, plus 2 other times someone verbally said they wanted to harm me lethally. Up to this point, I had made no counter threats or physical retaliation, not even a single shove or punch back. But after that I went and retrieved from my truck, a .22 cal tiny little north American arms revolver, was only loaded with rat shot but I didn’t tell them that. Never pointed it at anyone, never cocked it, never a finger on the trigger. But I did make it visible and yelled back at the guys who kept wanting to attack me, to stay back.

    I finally got my canoe strapped in, and my tent and stuff thrown in the truck, and I left ASAP. Now those people have given me death threats if they ever see me in town. It’s a small town, I’m scared to even leave my house, thankfully I don’t think any of these guys know where my house is, but I have started locking my doors.

    So was I justified in pulling out a gun, even though the private campground said no guns allowed? I was in fear of my life, but had no wish to hurt anyone, just to get my things together and leave. Two physical assaults and 2 more verbal lethal threats. But in their opinion I suddenly blew everything out of proportion by drawing a gun (FYI I’m a scrawny, non-athletic guy who has never fought in his life)
    Is there something else I could or should have done?

  • John Caparatta

    Great article and some very infomative replies. I am In Delaware, an open carry state. If you are in a state that “allows” open carry and you are a CCW permit holder, does going from concealed to openly showing your weapon GENERALLY mean that you are brandising ? For example, if at an public event, I decide its to warm and remove my cover garment, bradishing ? Or is it more situational ? If I go from concealed to open carry because I find myself concerned about my surroundings, brandishing ?

  • Les Warren

    Open carry end of problem

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