One Sunday, Carl T. was at his home around 11:30 p.m., when he witnessed a person sitting inside the driver’s seat of his neighbor’s black Honda.
Since he didn’t recognize the man sitting inside the car, Carl went outside to inquire why the person was inside a car that he didn’t own.
“The man told him that he was leaving money for a friend and when the homeowner asked him the friend’s name, it was not the name of his neighbor so he pulled his gun out,“ said Chief John Livingood.
Carl forced the guy out the car at gunpoint and held him until police arrived. When police arrived, the man told them that he went to the car to leave money for drugs but later realized that he was at the wrong home.
He told police that his friend owns a similar black Honda and he told them the address where the car should be parked.
Police went to the address and searched the black Honda where they found a bag of marijuana inside the vehicle. “It was unusual to say the least,” said Deputy Police Chief John Livingood.
According to police, Carl had a permit to carry a handgun but was wrong to use it in this situation. “This is not an offense where you could use deadly force, it was not his house,” said Chief Livingood.
“We would never advise anybody to do that… had something gone wrong it would have been an issue. Don’t take the law into your own hands, call police… who knew what could have happened.”
In the end, the man who was inside the wrong car was given a citation. The owner of the second Honda was charged with possession of drugs and Carl was not charged with any crime.
The fact is, when Carl approached the man sitting in the car he obviously had no idea whether that man was armed or not. On the other hand, the man sitting in the car was not a threat to Carl even if he was trying to commit a crime.
This brings up a common question that crosses every concealed carrier’s mind. When is the right time to draw?
Never draw unless there is a threat. In every U.S. state, there is a difference in laws between when a person decides to pull a gun in self-defense, versus pulling a gun for other reasons.
What I mean is, drawing a firearm in any situation other than self-defense is usually a misdemeanor, commonly referred to as “brandishing.” Brandishing is defined as when a person draws a weapon for the purposes of intimidating someone.
If one pulls a gun for self-defense, on the other hand, that is not illegal provided that a person does so due to a reasonable belief that their life or the life of another person is in jeopardy.
You must justify and articulate. In law enforcement training, officers are commonly told they must be able to articulate the reasons for their actions. What this means is that officers must be able to explain to an investigator, a judge, a jury, etc. that what they did at that moment in time was reasonable and necessary based on the totality of circumstances.
Even if you aren’t a police officer, in an incident where you draw your firearm, you should be able to tell anyone why your actions are both reasonable and necessary.
With that being said, after a stressful situation, you probably won’t be thinking clearly, so take your time, talk to your lawyer and articulate your actions to police when you’ve had a chance to compose yourself.
Always call the police. If you draw your firearm in self-defense, always notify the police immediately, no matter what the outcome. If you are holding someone at gunpoint you should have another person call police and they should tell the police what you are wearing and the situation regarding why you are holding the person at gunpoint.
Now, make sure you put the gun down when police arrive and listen to their commands.
The core principle of drawing your firearm is this, if you believe your life is in imminent danger and if you can’t escape, then use your gun.