Is displaying a gun from inside your home considered brandishing if criminals are outside and see it?

I did a cursory search for this topic on this page, so I hope this isn’t redundant. I’m in one of the worst areas of the country and state of CA regarding self defense and the law. I’m in L.A. County but nowhere near the city.

I’ve had three attempted robberies, but the first one could easily be considered an attempted home invasion. I’ve shared about the first experience several times on other USCCA boards. The mere display of a shotgun probably caused a criminal intent on breaking a window or rear door to flee during that incident. It was either that or he saw that a TV was on, which is considered the number one deterrent by criminals according to an article I read after a researcher asked prisoners charged with breaking and entering. The shotgun was swept carefully but I then fixed it toward the rear door when I immediately saw one of the criminals. A sheriff later said I did everything right.

I had two less dramatic incidents, one where a couple showed up at my doorstep after backing their pick up truck against my garage door. The man was hiding almost away from my line of sight to the side of the door while a woman continued to knock. If someone who would have opened the door they probably would have been attacked. The second incident only involved one woman at the door with a false flier of a dog they supposedly lost. It was laminated and professionally printed. The man was in the car the entire time. During that incident, I did have my handgun in my right hand but pointed downward and finger off the trigger. The potential criminals in these two incidents never saw me since the shutters over the windows were closed the entire time. But I was able to see them by peeking through the very small holes of one of the shutters over the window that directly faces the front entrance.

I thought that maybe if I had displayed the gun in a non-threatening way so that a potential criminal could see it through the window, this could easily have ended any desire on their part to trespass. I bring this up especially because my mother had a very complex surgery to repair her ascending aorta due to an aneurism. And they basically reconstructed the entire area around her heart. She already had high-blood pressure problems but none of us knew she could have died instantly had the aorta ruptured. Those past incidents probably contributed to her aneurism, especially the first one. She cannot hear of any bad news because of her condition, and something like those incidents might exacerbate her condition. I’m thinking that in order for me to avoid any excitement or distressful situations like the attempted home invasion or robbery, I would simply display a gun in a non-threatening manner. That is, not pointing it at anyone. I know that this is risky as well since a potential criminal might also be armed. That might also cause unintended consequences. So I realize this is complex but I’d only do it to stop a potential threat as quickly as possible. Displaying a gun in this case would be more of a deterrent than a threat.

And sorry for such a long winded explanation but I think it’s important to give as many details as I can in order to get a good answer. If my mother wasn’t in such a delicate condition, I don’t think I would consider this option for various reasons. She’s not out of the woods, so to speak, because she can get a stroke or heart attack if her blood pressure reaches abnormal levels. I’m her caregiver and I have to be even more careful than ever.

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Unfortunately there isn’t really a straight answer here. Brandishing is one of those terms that’s rather wide open to interpretation. A “good” prosecutor can make your shirt riding up and exposing the grip of your handgun a brandishing charge.

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Yah, this isn’t an easy one.

Maybe @Dawn can get one of the CA program atty’s to comment.

As a rule, most states that don’t have a duty to retreat written into the statutes give you a lot of leeway on your own property and particularly in your own home.

The best SD advice I can give here is don’t open the door but state loudly that you are home, armed and dialing 911. I’d also advice dialing 9-11 so there is a recording of whatever follows.

Remember too that when you make a 911 call modern systems have the ability to record everything starting 30 seconds before the call is answered and continue recording for 30 seconds after the call is disconnected.

As for someone creeping around your house rather than trying to force a door, I’d be very careful about making myself visible because in doing so you’re making a target of yourself.

The same advice above I think would apply here. Dial 911, tell the perp you’re home, armed, and on the phone with police.

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Sounds like you are doing good so far. I don’t know that I would consider “flashing” a weapon to be a good defense as it seems your neighborhood draws flies. The one thing about flies is they hang around even when you go to work. You may walk out with your hand gun concealed but walking out with a shotgun is pretty obvious. That means no one is home and there is a free gun inside… I’m thinking sensor lights, a Ring doorbell or even more professional bits of surveillance technology as your budget may afford. Look at reinforcing your door hinges and lock sides with 3.5" stainless screws. There are many ways to quietly protect your home.

Cheers,

Craig6

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Good advice. If I lived in a high crime area or was having repeated problems with potential break ins or actually break ins I think I’d install reinforced burglar proof screen/storm doors and add a cross bar on the inside of my entry/exit doors similar to what we used to see in old westerns in secluded cabins and prairie/ranch homes.

Just a note. If someone is building a home I’d encourage them to have the contractor use 4x4’s or even 4x6’s to frame the doors and make sure they are secured to the top and bottom plates with screws, not nails.

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YUP!!! My contractor looked at me like I had 6 heads when I told him my standards. Jokingly he said, “That’s pretty light weight, sure you don’t want 8x8” I looked right at him and said “If I thought you could steel fab I’d tell you 4 x 4 x 1/4” square tube with tie in’s". I got what I wanted.

Cheers,

Craig6

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In my part of the world steel framing is actually becoming more and more popular and it’s a lot cheaper than standard wood framing.:smile:

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I deal with steel studs every day and while attached to drywall they are a viable an cheaper alternative.
For entry ways I strongly believe in telling the contractor to fit the door frame for molding and leave it unattached that way I can slip in some 3" angle iron screwed in every 12". I was trained how to breach a door and you can defeat most inertial hammers with a suitable application of 1/4" steel. I do like your prairie door bar idea…

Cheers,

Craig6

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This place is actually considered a Leave-It-To-Beaver neighborhood as one website continues to classify it. It’s so peaceful and quiet at night. The street that crosses the one I live on has the name ‘peace’ included in it! People walk around here especially in the evening and at night, and early in the morning. You will see older adults with their parents, grandparents or parents with their children and grandchildren, strollers, dogs… There’s a basketball and tennis court in the park across my home and there’s also a fire station nearby. Most residents here are business owners, or professionals in either the IT or medical industry. I mean it’s an ideal neighborhood for families but boring for teens. The problem is that some homes are being bought by rental companies and rented out to mostly families. Sometimes the homes are vacant. But the criminals who were targeting these neighborhoods knew about the demographic here and took advantage of that. Some idiot composed a rap that actually encouraged thugs to victimize a certain ethnicity. It got so bad in one Sacramento neighborhood that the people had to organize citizen patrols. The media was and is silent about this. The criminals in the first incident I was involved in were comprised of one of several south central L.A. gangs who specialize in so-called knock-knock burglaries. We later found out that my mother’s family friend who lives in an older and more exclusive neighborhood in another city had a similar incident, but with much younger kids also from south central L.A. The sheriff who arrived at her address gave her the information about these criminal gangs. Some are now coming as far away from Oakland! They even hit homes in Holmby Hills and shops in Rodeo Drive. Prior to the first and second incident, we didn’t have Ring. After those incidents, a few more occurred on the cross streets that I live on. I saw sheriff vehicles parked all over the intersection below me one night and a helicopter flew by very low. It seemed that this community was now crime infested because of the large number of incidents. About a year later the neighbor that’s next to the one right across me was actually home at night with all kinds of bells and whistles when a few burglars attempted to break the rear doors as they were watching TV. He did everything right, including a well-lit front yard, an alarm warning sign, etc. Prior to any of the incidents that occurred at my home, I had heard a helicopter circling near a gated community close to me. Then I heard a voice from the chopper instructing what I presumed to be the criminal to come outside of the front door with his hands up in the air. I never gave that much thought and I wasn’t even aware about the criminal activity around me. Now it’s died down a lot. There hasn’t been once incident here or nearby for over a year.

As for brandishing, I agree. That’s why I was considering it as a first resort only because of my mother’s delicate health. I would never want to see her experience something like this again because I believe it would literally kill her. During the first incident, I was already on the phone about a minute before three guys opened the doors to their luxury car and ran up our driveway. My mother saw one of them open the trunk and slip on a hoodie. I didn’t see that because I was grabbing my shotgun during that time and about to go downstairs. My mother later told me she wanted to dial the home phone but her fingers were shaking uncontrollably. That really made me consider many other choices the next time something should ever happen like that. Shouting something loudly should have been the first thing I should have done but I was already on the phone with a sheriff before anything happened. I almost panicked watching three big guys running quickly up my driveway, as one of them with thick green gloves ran toward one of our side gates. It was like a scene out of an action film. In those few seconds I had to decide what I was going to do rather than continue to talk and wait for a sheriff to arrive. Doing the latter would have been detrimental.

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Hello Ernest, I’m in near Ca as well living in the Santa Clarita Valley. I’d say the advice given about seeking the advice of an attorney is the best advice you’ll hear. As far as taking what a LEO says, I wouldn’t bank on that as many you’d be surprised aren’t well versed in the law.

Being smart, and using reason will help as many are well aware of how it can be difficult to keep up with the ever changing legislation here in this state.

If it’s reasonable force for self defense check out the CA Penal Code it’s a good reference.

PC 417.
(a) (1) Every person who, except in self-defense, in the presence of any other person, draws or exhibits any deadly weapon whatsoever, other than a firearm, in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or who in any manner, unlawfully uses a deadly weapon other than a firearm in any fight or quarrel is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 30 days.

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Prior to getting Ring Installed, we had the habit of ignoring solicitors, which the guy who initially knocked on the door during the first incident seemed to be. We thought he had left but that’s when my mother and I went to the room across hers that overlooks the driveway and street. I was going to dial 911 because my mother suggested that I do that but I realized it wasn’t an emergency. About a minute later after observing an arm moving around through the car’s passenger tinted window, as well as rear white paper license plates, I decided to call the sheriff directly about a suspicious vehicle. I was perplexed how a seemingly young kid selling who knows what was able to afford a Porsche Panamera. And why if you are that young and can afford a car like that, would you buy a four-door sedan? A smaller and more sportier car would make more sense. After about a minute talking to the sheriff is when all hell broke lose. Probably one of the most frightening moments of my life. You can do nothing to stop it and you know you have to make quick and important life and death decisions. In my fear and panic I shouted to the sheriff to hurry up and arrive at my home! The first sheriff to arrive berated me for not having announced that I was home. She seemed angry and upset that she had to be called there instead of something more important, I guess. I understood her point. Maybe all that happened would have been avoided. But then again, they arrested all of the criminals who were also prior felons. Right below the trunk of the car they drove were several pairs of new athletic shoes and other stolen items. So at least they took off four criminals off the street. One more level headed and kind sheriff told us that I did everything right. That was consolation for me and especially my mother who was rabidly anti gun. Ironically, one other positive accomplishment that came out of this incident…? My mother finally accepted the fact that guns are excellent and necessary tools in the right hands of law abiding citizens. I never had to argue about guns and gun-related issues with her again. If there’s ever a chance that I think we’re about to argue over guns, I simply mention how she felt when she saw me defending her and our home. It always seems to decrease or quell any potential arguments.

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My fault, I’m not talking about thin, cheap steel studs, I’m talking about all steel construction.

Not so long ago that was reserved pretty much for barns and commercial buildings bout out here due to the wind, tornadoes, big hail storms etc we’re seeing more and more homes, smalls stores etc built with steel from the ground up.

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I love the Ring Doorbell idea. Also, for your mom’s safety what about something like Life Alert which just has a big button? Or some other alarm type button? That way if her fingers are shaking, she just has one big button to push.

If you’re inside your home where you have the presumption of privacy, are you brandishing? @MikeBKY or @Tom_Grieve might be able to answer that as a general topic, not state-specific.

Granted, if a criminal sees your gun, they may break in when you’re not home to take it.

There’s no easy answer. I’d suggest talking to the police, the DA or a self-defense attorney in your area for further ideas. Ask the police what they do for their homes? What do they do for their elderly parents’ homes? They may be willing to share some ideas with you.

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I just saw your reply now. Thank you for providing that penal code. It is something I was vaguely aware of, and that’s why I’m very cautious about avoiding any confrontation–even though I carry other instruments instead of a gun. I’d rather let something go than retaliate, especially if it primarily concerns my ego or pride. The end result is rarely ever worth arguing about.

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After reading the replies to my question, I feel that brandishing a lethal weapon might cause more problems than solve them. There’s still the chance that other criminals related to the same ones that tried to break into our home might try burglarizing our home again. A few weeks ago I observed a nice SUV dropping off two guys with small blue and white boxes in their hands. They were carrying them above their waists all the time as they walked quickly. They seemed to look similar to the guy that knocked on our door the first time. They both had goatees and similar clothing like the guy who knocked on our door. The two guys were about to cross the street but noticed I was home. I later realized that those two might have been trying to exchange a Ring doorbell or two for theirs. This has already occurred. By doing that they will be able to monitor your home wherever cameras are installed and connected to Ring. The homeowner might never be aware of this.

I have considered Life Alert for my mother. I believe it’s more necessary now since she’s still recovering from a rare and very complicated open-heart surgery. Thank you for your help.

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Hello Ernest,

Check out this coincidence on a story of an off duty LAPD officer getting arrested for brandishing a replica weapon during a road rage incident.

The definition of the law is a weapon, regardless of real or not, if loaded or unloaded. If it caused someone to fear in a non self defense role it’s illegal.

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Thank you for that. The LEO seemed to commit a stupid action that could have been avoided. Or maybe they’re not telling us the entire story…? An officer should know better but I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that perhaps there was a valid reason for her to do that.

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I think you can carry pretty much anything you want to around your house when you answer the door. Just do not do so in a threatening manner. A rifle on your shoulder is not threatening and a pistol in your hand pointed down is not threatening.
But I’m in Kentucky.

Thank you for your opinion, I once did that with a pistol but the person at the door never knew that because the hand with the pistol was hidden from sight. I think displaying a firearm even in your home while answering the door would have been a nonissue in CA before the 1970s and maybe even during the early to mid 80s. The demographic in CA today would persecute and then prosecute me. And afterwards I would again be persecuted endlessly until I lost everything. Whenever the news in SoCal talks about a person defending him/herself legally with a firearm and it’s obvious that he or she did it because he or she had no other choice (disparity of force, etc.), they will almost always create doubt about the person defending him/herself. They may say that the defender may be charged with a crime to perpetuate the opinion that gun owners are bad or even evil. :roll_eyes:

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We definitely live in different worlds @Ernest_G.

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