Friday, May 9, 2008

AZ: HB 2629 defensive display of a weapon

As in most States, in Arizona it is illegal to brandish or display your weapon to an aggressor who is using or attempting to use unlawful or deadly force before it reaches the point where you have to draw your weapon & shoot in self defense. If you show your weapon to ward off an attack before that you can be charged with brandishing a weapon among other possible charges such as reckless endangerment & assault with a deadly weapon. The first point a criminal threatening you will see your weapon under current Arizona law is when the 3 requirements for self defense are fully met & you are pulling out your weapon to aim at & shoot him or her in defense of your life or the lives of others.

HB 2629 (An AZCDL endorsed bill) if passed & signed into law would change that in Arizona giving law abiding citizens the option to display their weapon to an aggressor who is using or attempting to use unlawful or deadly force without having to shoot the aggressor. It has passed in the House and is currently being considered in the Senate. It passed the step of the Senate Committee of the Whole this past April 29th by a vote of 14 to 9, so the step left is the Senate 3rd read & final vote. You can view & listen to the Senate Committee of the Whole discussion of HB 2629 in video format. An audio only version is also available as an mp3 file.

During the Senate Committee of the Whole discussion Senator Miranda (District 13 Democrat) spoke out against HB 2629:

". . . It is not against the law to show a weapon . . . my concern in my district is that we're getting a lot of young men of color that are being injured, seriously injured, or death, we have a high incidence of violence, and in my community we do not need this, we do not need to escalate the danger of confrontations going fatal . . . why do we want to increase the potential of a fatal incident . . ."
Senator Harper & Senator Gorman both did an excellent job of speaking in support of the bill. Senator Harper said:
". . . if you're being physically threatened, and you do not want to wait until the person is about to kill you, it's a good idea to let them know that you have the means to defend yourself . . . but for some reason under the interpretation of the law that is being deemed a felony, and it should not . . ."
Senator Gorman said:
". . . I was somewhat surprised to find out that under current law if you properly and legally carry a weapon for defense & you find your life threatened . . . if you pull out your weapon defensively, you basically have to shoot & kill the guy or else you're in trouble for brandishing a weapon at that point . . . I'd like to give people the option of putting their gun back in the holster & not being arrested for brandishing a weapon."
Below is the text of HB 2629 as currently amended being considered in the AZ Senate:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1. Title 13, chapter 4, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 13-421, to read:

START_STATUTE13-421. Justification; defensive display of a firearm; definition

A. The defensive display of a firearm by a person against another is justified when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against use or attempted use of unlawful physical force or deadly physical force.

B. This section does not apply to a person who:

1. Unless otherwise justified pursuant to this chapter, points the muzzle of a firearm directly at another person.

2. Unless otherwise justified pursuant to this chapter, discharges a firearm in the direction of another person.

3. Intentionally provokes another person to use or attempt to use unlawful physical force.

4. Uses a firearm during the commission of a serious offense as defined in section 13-604 or violent crime as defined in section 13-604.04.

C. For the purposes of this section, "defensive display of a firearm" includes:

1. Verbally informing another person that the person possesses or has available a firearm.

2. Holding, exposing or displaying a firearm in a manner that a reasonable person would understand was meant to protect the person against another's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force or deadly physical force.
Whether or not you agree that it is tactically sound to show your weapon before it's time to shoot, I believe this law is a good step in expanding our freedoms that will give every citizen the free choice to make that decision for him or her self based on the facts of any given scenario.

Update 1: Listen to Dave Copp & Michael Anthony describe why this legislation is imporant in the Senate Judiciary Hearing. Also listen to bill Sponsor, Representative Pierce in the same hearing. You can also watch the video archive.


Laughingdog said...

It's not really a question of it being tactically sound. Even if I can draw incredibly quickly, and wait until I'm certain that I need to shoot the person attacking me or I will be killed, it's still likely that the attacker will quickly change his mind as soon as I draw.

Under your current law, it looks like my choices at that point are to either continue to pull the trigger, even if the attacker has been deterred by my gun, or be charged with brandishing.

Wording like we have in Virginia does a much better job of protecting legal use of your firearm.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense. Persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor or, if the violation occurs upon any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds or upon public property within 1,000 feet of such school property, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

gvaldeg1 said...

This Bill passed the final read in the House and has been transmitted to the Governor. Even if she doesn't sign it, it becomes law 90 days after the Legislature adjourned Sine Die. This will make it law on July 29th. She only had 10 days from its transmittal, on April 28th, to veto it. I don't believe that she has vetoed it will become law.

Dustin said...

Yeah this is actually an old post. It actually was already signed into law last year.

Hugh said...