Know The Law About Brandishing A Weapon
At our Concealed Carry Force On Force class we saw a lot of different approaches to solving critical incidents. Some were better than others, but one you do not want to perform is brandishing a weapon.
Don’t Brandish A Weapon
In Texas if you use a weapon in a dangerous, threatening or reckless manner it is a crime. This action can also be called deadly conduct. You can face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances. The setting we typically saw this action was after a scenario where attempting to resolve the critical incident resulted in escalating to deadly force. From there, it was as if everyone turned into a hammer and everything was a nail. Dangerous situation indeed when you think the only way to resolve a critical incident is with deadly force.
What Is Brandishing A Weapon
Now, I know the students did not intend on alarming their opponent. I know in their heads they were not thinking about deadly conduct. It was more a result of fear. Let’s also define brandishing a weapon. If you draw, point or display a weapon whether loaded or unloaded it may be construed as deadly conduct. Display is the action I’m referencing we observed in class. The student displayed their firearm by obtaining a firing grip. Some stated they were in fear of serious bodily injury or death to justify their action. While they may be technically correct, it is also subject to interpretation. The real issue is your intentions. If you intended to cause alarm or fear in the violent criminal actor therein lies the problem.
Avoid Confusion & Distress
Why did so many brandish their firearm during the various scenarios? Many of it was fear, but some lacked confidence or an ability to manage an unknown contact. The biggest weak area for most students was the inability to verbally engage. Without it, they were not able to gain psychological control or maneuver into a superior position. Our role players had to follow a script as per the scenario guidelines. It was purposely designed to force the students to verbally engage in a manner their verbals had to mirror their physical actions. In other words, if their body was saying one thing, but their words were another it caused confusion in the actor and distress in the student.
Your Mind & Body Must Be Balanced
The solution was to ensure you are in balance. Meaning, what you are saying is what your body is willing to perform. Violent criminal actors are incredible adapted at reading body language. If you are out of alignment it will be more apparent to them. This misalignment will in some cases embolden the violent criminal actor; which in turn forces you to escalate your actions. You loose a degree of control, not that you had much, but what little you have starts to wane. It is far better to rehearse a short and descriptive phrase you can use for a variety of situations. During the initial dialogue you are trying to ascertain their intentions as best as possible. From there, you make the effort to diffuse. A little bit of empathy and honesty can go a long way in this case. If at a certain point your attempts at diffusing prove futile then you are now looking to disengage. This is where I find your rehearsed phrase or tape loop to be important. You can attempt to disengage through a stern phrase that matches your body language. If you are able to disengage great, if not the violent criminal actor has more clearly revealed their intentions.
There are no easy answers during interpersonal conflict. Be aware, be proactive and when provoked be prepared.
One thought on “Fear And Brandishing a Weapon”
Great post, Jeff. When I was in this class with you I noted that in my head when my brain crossed that “oh crap moment”, there was sometimes an instinct to prepare to draw the weapon. For me this often manifested itself in a weird half flinch for the weapon (it didn’t usually end up in a firing grip but it got awfully close sometimes). In every case the bad actors noted this action and would typically reciprocate but they rarely went so far as to draw their own gun. I think in real life this would often preempt and escalate the encounter to a deadly force situation (where that might have still been able to be avoided).