If you are a regular reader of my blog you probably read my post a few weeks ago on Brandishing, “Brandishing…Obvious…or is it?” I talked more about the entire issue of brandishing and what it means to brandish a firearm. But there was a recent story that came up which offered a great example I wanted to share with you that put it in real terms.
Let me give you the highlights and then you can decide whether this was an appropriate use of brandishing or maybe it wasn’t enough…
The story was about a home owner that came home and found 4 people having a party in his house. They weren’t invited and were there without his permission. The homeowner asked them to leave and they apparently refused and were somewhat verbally abusive to him. Granted, this is really a stupid thing to do to start with but bear with me here as the story unfolds.
The homeowner, feeling a bit threatened by this conversation, went into his closet and grabbed his gun and proceeded to not only brandish it in front of them but actually pointed it at the partiers and insisted they should leave. At gun point, the partiers left under protest.
The questions that enter into the discussion are more than brandishing in this situation. They were clearly trespassing and violating his homeowner rights. They hadn’t physically threatened him but certainly did verbally. In some states, but not Idaho, the law provides the home owner has the right to defend his home but also says he is obligated to retreat before using deadly force against the intruders. He didn’t end up using any force, only threatening them with it. In Idaho, the homeowner does not have to retreat. But, I recommend retreating to a safe place to defend himself and his family and then calling 911 before confronting the intruders.
This seems like a pretty open and shut case that the homeowner was in the right…but was he? In this case nothing violent happened…thankfully. But it easily could have and in many states, the outcome could have been very different based on the local laws. But we aren’t here to debate or even discuss the law in detail. What is important is to help you think through the situation and ask the right questions. Some of these that might help you from a legal perspective could be…
- Once the homeowner saw someone in his house that was not supposed to be there, should he have retreated immediately, dialed 911 and waited?
- Once the homeowner asked them to leave and they didn’t, and became verbally abusive, should he have stayed in the home, locked in a room with his gun, and called 911 and waited until they arrived?
- If he was going to confront the intruders, and was having a dialog with them, was he ready to shoot if the situation escalated? This is a question every gun owner needs to be prepared to answer well before this type of situation occurs.
- If the homeowner decided Brandishing wasn’t enough, was he justified in firing at the intruders based on the verbal abuse he was receiving and would he be protected with Castle Law?
These are just a few of many questions we would ask you to think about well before being in the situation. The answers to these carry many consequences. We can’t tell you the answers because we aren’t in the actual situation. Suffice it to say, when a gun becomes involved, whether it is fired or brandished, everything changes. This is what I talk to people about every day and help them think through some of the decision making that needs to happen…before, during, and after an incident involving a firearm.
How did you answer these questions? Share your answers in the comments if you feel so inclined. It would be great to hear what everyone thinks in a situation like this and have some discussion.
Discussions like this help all of us be better prepared for unpredictable circumstances and being prepared is the key to owning a firearm that could be used for self-defense.