A Scenario to Think About

Let me describe a situation and get your thoughts …

You, a legally and responsibly armed American, perhaps in the company of your date/spouse/friend/other, are strolling along a public sidewalk when a neer-do-well steps out of his hiding place and demands all your valuables. When you hesitate to comply, he lifts his shirt to reveal a pistol stuck in his waistband and gives you an “I’m dangerous” sneer. In the spirit of de-escalation and/or detent, you draw back your jacket to reveal your own weapon properly holstered on your belt.

Question: Did you just commit an act of “brandishing”?
Would this action be escalation, de-escalation or null?
What are some other reasonable responses?

Before y’all jump in, let’s lay out a few parameters. 1) You are legally armed and legally allowed to be armed while in the location. 2) Your location is not considered particularly dangerous or crime-ridden. 3) Your assailant has initiated the encounter and has clearly stated and demonstrated his intent to commit at least one criminal act. 4) Your opportunities or physical ability to safely flee the scene are severely limited. 5) Assistance from others, including LE, is not immediately at hand.

All that being understood, have at it.


Whether or not your action would be considered brandishing would be up to local laws and their interpretation by local prosecutors and potential jurors.

Many states do have provisions to allow for brandishing in response to a deadly threat. I would consider the criminal’s actions to be brandishing and a clear imminent threat.

There is a chance that brandishing in return might cause the criminal to think twice and walk away, thus deescalating the situation. But I wouldn’t take that chance since there is an equal if not greater chance that seeing your weapon would escalate the situation causing them to act with force since they now see a threat in return and also may perceive your brandishing as an unwillingness to use actual force.

My response would depend on specifics to the situation that I could not determine without being there. But I personally wouldn’t let them see my weapon until I decided to draw it with the intent to use it.


IF, he is close enough, attack HIS weapon, get your hands on it and push it down, don’t pull it out. This of course would be an option if you had the physical ability to fight hand to hand.
Start backing away, get between the scum bag and edit “your partner”, do not act like a victim, remember you are at least his equal in this situation.
Since he revealed but didn’t draw, maybe, draw and engage the threat.
As far as brandishing goes, in the legal sense, I wouldn’t care, the point is to survive.


I wouldn’t do that, I’ll start with that statement. If I am going to make that move, the least I’m going to do is put my hand on the grip to facilitate an immediate draw. I’m also going to be moving from the start, not standing still

I was walking to start the scenario so I can at least continue walking even if it’s a different direction

My non lawyer opinion is that would not be a crime (revealing the gun)

My opinion is also that drawing would likely be justified

And do that while moving


This would be one of my top options. At least one of his hands is busy lifting the shirt and he is likely expecting a much different response than the intended victim going for his weapon.

Another option would be to toss my throw down money clip at their feet and use that as a distraction to either run or draw.

As @Nathan57 pointed out the draw should involve moving or the running should involve drawing.


This is also, IMO, a great example, if I may reference a different ongoing thread, of a scenario in which one may draw but hopefully not need to shoot


It would be a tricky situation though.

Ideally when the criminal sees you start to draw they will immediately make it completely clear that they have decided to cease being a threat. But pausing for even a moment to try and give them a hair more time to make that choice could give the initiative back to the criminal and put your life and your partners life at significant risk.


I sort of see it as two different decisions

First decision, draw (many options here but for this discussion we’re going with the flow chart post-draw). He is in the process of committing armed robbery and threatening your lives. Draw is a viable option IMO

Second decision, shoot/no shoot. It is very possible he will never reach for that gun and I won’t need to fire. Or is also possible he or a buddy will be drawing or shooting as I am finishing the draw and accuracy is key after making that second decision to fire

Or or is possible that shooting is justified based on the initial scenario parameters and maybe he is justifiably shot while the gun is in his waistband

Check your local listings and assess the totality of the circumstances which we can never fully address as a hypothetical forum post

Basically, a LOT of different things could happen in the next 1-5 seconds or so


Thank you! Many good points so far.


We don’t have a “Brandishing” law here in MS. Also state laws state that you have no duty to retreat if you are in a place you have a right to be. In this case, deadly force is authorized and that is exactly what I would use in that situation. I would act like I was getting my wallet and I would draw my weapon and double tap him. I would then call 911 and then call USCCA.


Agree that there are lots of variables involved that can only be decided and acted upon in the midst of a real scenario.

But to my thinking and training (and I very much want to be told if folks here believe my thoughts and training are flawed), in this scenario it should be legal to draw in response to this imminent threat with the intent to use force to stop the threat. As long as a person believes the threat is real and imminent and they have no other options to defend themselves and others.

If something happens during the draw that you can recognize in time to be a clear indication that the threat has ceased and you can stop your forceful self defense action in time then you certainly should. Yes a prosecutor and jury might be more likely to disagree because you didn’t wait for the gun to be drawn and pointed at you. But waiting to make the fight the criminal started a more “fair” one by giving them time to draw doesn’t seem like the best idea to me.

I think drawing with the intent to decide if you are going to shoot after the draw or with the intent of hoping you can make the criminal run away or hold them at gun point until help arrives creates a lot of openings for the criminal to harm you before you can react to the additional actions you are giving them time to make.

In this situation I would want to make the decision on whether or not shooting the threat was necessary and worth the risk of legal repercussions before I started my draw.


To be clear I never mean to draw “with the intent to wait and see what happens” but as stated in the other thread you should always be constantly evaluating whether or not you will fire, including while drawing and orienting the gun to the threat

We know as a matter of fact that the vast majority of* justified defensive gun uses don’t have any shots fired so clearly drawing but not firing happens a lot. Like a lot lot


Agree. It is the hardest thing I am coming up with an effective way to train for. Though I just had an instance where that came up at the practical pistol course range after they shifted the targets. As I got to the line and started engaging the targets as I had been I realized just before pulling the trigger that there was a non threat behind the target I was about to shoot. I was able to stop myself from pulling the trigger just in time but it took me an extra half second to figure out I needed to move to a clear and safe angle for the shot.

The problem is that it isn’t really something you can take the time to think about and ponder during an incident without slowing your reactions down so much that it gives the threats a significant advantage. You have to run as many possible scenarios through your head and preferably train for them if you can beforehand. This way your subconscious and reflexes can react in the heat of the moment and give your brain a heads up that the situation has changed. If your brain is stuck actively running through not previously considered if/thens during an incident you run the risk of not recognizing and reacting to what is actually happening in front of you because your brain is stumbling through a whole bunch of new concepts it hasn’t dealt with before.


I carry a throwdown money clip full of TV prop $100 bills just for such an occassion. Very realistic. Have tried it out at work and it gets everyones attention. It will definitely give you enough time to run like the hounds of hell are after you (don’t forget to zig zag), or to draw and clear your holster (judgement call).


If im clearing my garment and drawing I’m shooting. what’s our engagement distance? building blocking laterally or is it an open lot? how busy is the street? flesh my scenario out a bit more before i give an actual honest answer lol


Yes - he’s still got his “gun” (airsoft???) tucked into his waistband, which might be sagging halfway down to his knees - but I digress…

IMHO, blocking my path and showing a weapon that is capable of killing me or doing great bodily harm is a threat to my safety.

Bonzo probably has little or no training on using a “gun”, so you could, since you dry fire draw every morning, right?, arguably get your firearm out and on target before he poops himself and turns and runs.

I also like the idea of just throwing money down and backing away.


I saw some people do a test on this once. They found it was easier to hit zig zagging people because they had to slow down to change direction. They found that running away in a straight line angling away from the shooter was the hardest to hit.

If there is cover nearby, beelining to that is probably the best bet.


i’d move pull and shoot he’s proved himself to be a deadly threat.

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In my opinion, just showing your concealed handgun is not a solution in any situation. You either draw it or not.
I would never just reveal it and compromise my tactical advantage. If somebody is threatening you by showing his deadly weapon, you never do the same, you always do one step more. Draw the firearm, keep it in either retention or low ready / compressed ready… ready to use.
It’s not going to be brandishing. It’s going to be act of self defense. Are you going to shoot? It depends.


Excellent, and well stated.

As for the shoot/don’t shoot question: a long time ago I read a book which included a passage addressing this decision. In brief, the story goes like this: our hero has just rescued his civilian partner from bad guys jail/torture center. As they leave, the civilian sees bad guys slumped all over the floor and in shock asks if the hero killed them all. The hero, shocked by the assumption, says he didn’t kill them, he just stunned them for a while. (Sci/fi magic techno weapon) Then he explains that “most of the time you don’t have to kill people; you just need them to leave you alone for a while.”

This seems to sum up the majority of defensive gun uses where the weapon is drawn but not fired. Defensively, my goal is to end the immediate threat. If I can do so without firing a shot, so much the better.