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Using Force Until the Threat Stops
Displays of Firearm in Public
The main objective of this Florida Gun & Self-Defense article is to educate gun owners about gun law and self-defense law. Ignorance of the state and federal laws is not an excuse for unintentionally breaking those laws. It is gun owner’s responsibility to learn and abide by the law and practice safe gun handling accordingly.
Start by implementing Colonel Jeff Cooper’s, Four Rules for Safe Firearms Handling. Mistakes will not occur by doing so. One, treat all guns as if they are always loaded with a round in the chamber, even when the gun is empty. Two, never point the muzzle at anything you ‘don’t’ want to destroy. Three, keep your finger off the trigger until your gun sights are on the intended target. Four, always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
In addition, I would like to add a fifth point. When you pull the trigger, think of all bullets as having a prosecutor and a very expensive lawyer attached to them. Therefore, use your gun lawfully. If you are unsure of any situations regarding gun usage or handling, or what is lawful or unlawful, please refrain from public conceal carrying of your firearm until you have proper training. Contact me, and I’ll point you in the right direction to give you the confidence to safely and legally operate your firearm.
Today’s firearms focus will be on Florida State Statute 776.013 Justifiable Use of Force. Within this law, a person is legally permitted to use deadly force or non-deadly force when there is an ‘imminent threat of unlawful force, or deadly force. That is, when a person reasonably believes using or threatening to use force or deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves, or others, and or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
The key in this situation is “Imminent Threat”, as in any person evaluating the situation would agree that it was reasonably qualified to be considered as a real immediate threat. Imminent or immediate, does not mean within five minutes, nor does it mean within one minute. It means occurring or starting or beginning. It is a very subjective question however, as to when ‘occurring, starting, or beginning’, actually happens. So, I advise that you play it safe and think of imminence as meaning within five seconds or less.
Now consider these violent felony scenarios. You r in the process of defending yourself with a firearm, you have the attacker in your sights, and they end the threat by backing away while yelling, “I’ll deal with you on another day”. Or consider that the attacker at the last moment, before seriously harming you, stops. Or after significant battery on your body, the attacker backs away and stops the attack. Or perhaps, you were forced to shoot them, and they stopped the attack by running away, or just stopped due to being shot. In any of these types of outcomes, you must stop using force or deadly force, because the threat against you has ended.
If you continue using force or deadly force when the threat has stopped, you then become the aggressor, because you initiated a second altercation and are now therefore the attacker, initiating an unlawful use of force or deadly force. Every violent action by you from that point in time is illegal and can result in justified legal action against you.
A lawful person does not desire to harm, nor desire to kill, an attacker. A lawful person desires to save their life from a deadly or non-deadly imminent threat. This is an essential distinction; to save oneself from physical harm and death while not wanting to inflict undue damage or even death, to the attacker. So, when the threat ends, the use of any degree of defensive force must end.
A law-abiding reasonable person does not want to kill under any circumstances. To do so, I would argue is in fact the act of committing Murder. Doing what is necessary to ‘Stop the Threat’, is what a lawful person attempts to achieve. So, it is most important to develop this mindset; to develop the mental discipline and not engage, in the same violence you initially acted to stop.
Shooting an active shooter in the head who was or is attempting to murder innocent people, is an act of ‘stopping the threat’. In this case, a headshot does not mean in any way that you wanted to murder or committed a murder. Killing a person in the act of committing murder is not murder. It is a “Lawful Killing”.
Pistol Conceal Carry Law: Florida State Statute 790.053 ‘Open Carrying of Weapons’. The law states that a lawful conceal carry individual, (who either has, or does not have a conceal carry license, per the new Unlicensed Conceal Carry law enacted July 1), does not break the law if they “…briefly and to 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.”
The following situations are permitted. If a lawful conceal-carrying individual accidently reveals that they are carrying a gun while in public domain, no law has been broken. In the case of someone, threatening lethal or non-lethal force, ‘which is not imminent’, you may reveal in a non-threatening manner that you carry a pistol, to persuade and deter the person from violent action against you. And an individual can briefly openly display their firearm to the “ordinary sight” of another person when they believe an imminent threat of grave harm or death is very close to beginning.
However, you cannot display a firearm in an intimidating and threatening manner to someone during an intense, non-violent, non-lethal, dispute or argument, which does not qualify as lawful self-defense. Intense aggressive confrontations, no matter how heated they become, does not give you a lawful right to brandish a weapon for angrily threatening the life of a non-violent person who might be yelling and acting aggressive.
My personal discipline is to never display the gun, but to rather signal or verbally inform, the threatening person that you do have a gun and that you don’t want to use it but will if forced to lawfully defend yourself from a violent felony. Simply putting your hand on the area of your clothing, which conceals the pistol and calmly, peaceably, indicate there is a gun concealed, and backing up to break contact, is the preferred passive defensive tactic.
The best lawful gunfight is the one that never takes place. A violent fight avoided, is a fight won.
Florida Gun & Self-Defense offers firearms training, self-defense classes and in-field training. Single or group classes or customized training is available. For more information, please call Dave Douglass at 863-381-8474
Dave has been a firearms instructor and trainer since 2013. He is skilled in advanced tactical gun and self-defense gun operation, in accordance with Florida gun law and use-of-force self-defense law. He is an adamant supporter of an original historical literal interpretation of the Second Amendment. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org