Jump to content

I had to pull my weapon - Questions regarding my decision and legal rights


Recommended Posts

If posted in wrong area, please move accordingly, as I could not determine which area would be best.

On Christmas Eve, at Opry Mills, a very real and tense moment occurred.  As my wife and I were about to pull out of Bass Pro, a car coming up the secondary lane slammed on their horn.  I had the right away, and in the holiday spirit, I wished them a one finger holiday greeting.  The car then cut over to the opposite lane of traffic and cut in front of me, blocking me in.  Within seconds, the passenger was out of the car, and attempted to break the driver window with his elbow.  I immediately pushed the car into park, as I went to draw my sidearm.  Upon putting the car in park, my Camry automatically unlocked the doors, never realized that little detail before. The man was grabbing for the door already, and when it unlocked,, he slung the door open, and lunched at me. He was immediately hit in the face with my pistol, which startled him.  He took a couple of steps backward, looked me in the eyes, then reached for his waist.  At that moment I screamed stop or I will shoot.  He looked at me for what felt like ten seconds, then literally jumped in the other car, and they sped off.

Over the past few days I have wondered what legal grounds did I have, and not the "you would be fine", but would I have had to spend years fighting this in court?  Did I use good judgment not firing, or was this a case that I could have been killed myself, and should have pulled the trigger?

I have trained with guns for over 30yrs, literally started as a child.  I have been to class after class, and never thought I would question a decision.

The outcome was fortunate as neither my wife or I were hurt.  But was this a scenario of being cool headed or was this hesitation that could have gotten myself, wife, or both killed?

Please take a minute to consider your response, as a week ago I thought my reaction would have been different.

Secondary factors and additional details:

1. Weather was clear

2. It was around 3pm in the afternoon 

3. I did not have the "adrenaline" spike, in fact it was one of the clearest moments I have ever had.

4. Pistol I had was a Beretta APX Centurion 9mm

5. I never stepped out of the car

6. Driver of the other vehicle was a woman, and I had clear sight of both, upon drawing. 

7. Yes I filled police report, but they seemed to chalk it up to holiday road rage, and didn't really seem to care.

This was not a fear issue, as I drew my weapon, just as I have always trained.  This is a "If this ever happened again, should I have neutralized the threat"

Thank you for your time. 

  • Like 4
Link to post
  • Replies 70
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Just a thought here. Had you not flipped the guy off, would the rest of the scenario have played out as it did?  I'm generally a pretty calm man, but having someone say "FU" to my face, through words

I came to the same conclusion after contemplating, as a knee jerk reaction caused a unnecessary situation. Definitely have to own my own faults, as a traffic dispute is not worth a life, but listed th

Thank you all for the discussion, as I have learned from the group.  I hope this never happens to any member, and can now from experience say, "Turn the other cheek", as legally I might of been justif

Someone trying to get into your car certainly means to do you harm.  I think that a reasonable person would call it a good shoot, but my opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it. 

If nothing else your incident has reminded me that I need to look into overriding the auto unlock feature on my Tundra.  I hate that it does that.  If I pull over for lunch, or I'm checking my phone before I go into a store, I want my doors locked, especially since my attention is not focused on my surroundings. 

  • Like 5
Link to post
4 hours ago, MarkS said:

Did I use good judgment not firing, or was this a case that I could have been killed myself, and should have pulled the trigger?

I absolutely think you did the right thing. From your description, you were justified in using deadly force, but you didn’t because you didn’t need to. You then reported it to the Police. I don’t know how anyone could second guess that, and I wouldn’t care if they did. Good for you, you survived it without taking a life or having to go through an investigation.

  • Like 11
Link to post

Just a thought here. Had you not flipped the guy off, would the rest of the scenario have played out as it did?  I'm generally a pretty calm man, but having someone say "FU" to my face, through words or gestures, really, REALLY ticks me off. Frustrations can be high in heavy traffic, and sometimes a simple thing like waving the guy on by, right of way or not, can diffuse a situation such as you describe. FAR better, in my opinion, to avoid the confrontation in the first place. A honked horn is one thing, a bullet in the chest another.

Mind you, I am NOT excusing the passenger's actions. If someone tries to get into my car my reaction will be similar to yours, but what I am saying is that your gesture contributed.

  • Like 13
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
7 hours ago, MarkS said:

The outcome was fortunate as neither my wife or I were hurt.  But was this a scenario of being cool headed or was this hesitation that could have gotten myself, wife, or both killed?

This was not a scenario of being cool-headed.  A guy blew his horn and you escalated the situation.   Nothing cool-headed about that.

This guy of course bears the responsibility of escalating things way out of proportion, and your warning to him may have created enough of a break in the cycle of escalation that you didn't have to shoot him.  You deserve credit for that.  But what if you'd broken the cycle of escalation earlier by not flipping the guy off?

The fact that you're analyzing the situation now for lessons to be learned is also a plus.  As always -- observe, learn, and move on.

Cheers,

Whisper

Edited by Whisper
  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to post

I agree. While you did do everything else right, you're gesture led to the escalation. People are crazy enough as it is. The current pandemic situation is multiplying craziness ten fold. Much better to just blow off another persons minor actions than risk causing more trouble. 

  • Like 4
Link to post

Somewhere I bet there is another driver rethinking his actions, and hope he also has seen the light of not escalating a non event into a life changing one.  I recently drove back from Denver, and am heading back there tomorrow, and have encountered some very rude drivers.  One passed into my lane, on purpose, within inches of my vehicle even though traffic was light.  I almost honked at him but decided not to as I did not want to escalate the situation even though I was well armed.  You never know what the other guy has going through his head, they may be looking for any excuse to be confrontational, it's best not to indulge them with any actions unless there is no other choice.   

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post

Those of us who choose to carry need to be mindful of situations like MarkS's.  Perhaps we need to be just a little more tolerant of the actions of others when we're armed. I'd hate to shoot anyone for something that began as trivially as a dispute over right of way. Almost all of us have made some bonehead error of judgement while driving. The older I get, the more tolerant I am when someone else does something stupid, knowing I've probably done something worse. 

You can bet that had MarkS pulled the trigger he would have been sued, and whether or not he'd won, the legal fees would have been significant. And the political implications for all gun-owners are considerable, too.  Like Omega, I hope that passenger had a epiphany when he saw a firearm pointed at him, and perhaps next time he'll refrain from jumping out of a car to confront someone. MarkS might think hard next time about flipping off someone. The lesson I take from this situation is that small, thoughtless actions can lead to the most severe consequences. My dad used to tell me not to sweat the small stuff, and I guess that was pretty good advice.

  • Like 5
  • Love 1
Link to post
3 hours ago, Darrell said:

Just a thought here. Had you not flipped the guy off, would the rest of the scenario have played out as it did?  I'm generally a pretty calm man, but having someone say "FU" to my face, through words or gestures, really, REALLY ticks me off. Frustrations can be high in heavy traffic, and sometimes a simple thing like waving the guy on by, right of way or not, can diffuse a situation such as you describe. FAR better, in my opinion, to avoid the confrontation in the first place. A honked horn is one thing, a bullet in the chest another.

Mind you, I am NOT excusing the passenger's actions. If someone tries to get into my car my reaction will be similar to yours, but what I am saying is that your gesture contributed.

I came to the same conclusion after contemplating, as a knee jerk reaction caused a unnecessary situation. Definitely have to own my own faults, as a traffic dispute is not worth a life, but listed that detail for full disclosure and discussion. 

  • Like 13
Link to post

First thing I do when I get a new car is adjust this door unlock setting.  I prefer them to not unlock at all, when inside the Car, only the door I open from inside unlocks.  I even set mine to only unlock the drivers door on first push of the fob button, not all doors, when returning to my car. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to post

I'll second (or third?) the thought that flipping someone off is never going to de-escalate a situation.

What exactly were you trying to accomplish by flipping them off? No one in the history of mankind has been calmed down or had their poor behavior corrected by someone flipping them off. But it has led to a lot of fights. And just because YOU (and most normal people ) might not be willing to cripple or kill someone over an insult there are "feral people " out there that absolutely are. Jail is full of people who do not "act like normal people" who have killed people over seemingly minor insults. 

Personally I'm a big proponent of living by the advice found in Romans 12:18 . If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

 

When my wife and I first started dating (20 years ago) she asked me why I seemed to never get really upset when people did dumb stuff while driving . I told her I generally stay pretty calm because ...

1. Getting angry about stupid stuff solves nothing

2.  I'm "secure enough in my manhood" to not feel the need to prove anything

3. Because I have the ability and skill to kill pretty much anyone I come in contact with I prefer to avoid those situations where I might be forced to do that if at all possible. 

4. I'd rather not instigate a fight with my significant other as a bystander or an accidental participant in a fight between armed people. 

 

 

As far as your reaction once the fight was on? From what you describe I don't have any major complaints. Having to fight while seated in the car sucks but we deal with what we are dealt. I've done it so I know what I'm talking about. In fact my particular situation is actually somewhat similar to this even if it started differently. We can argue that striking dude with the pistol can lead to it getting grabbed but I have done the same thing for real and the dude was so surprised that he just got muzzle punched that he just backed up. As to not shooting him? That's a personal choice. If you felt that you didn't NEED to shoot him that second then you probably didn't NEED to shoot him that second. There is a big difference between making the conscious decision NOT to shoot because of how he reacted and being too paralyzed with fear to shoot . Sounds like you made a conscious decision to not shoot.  You are the only one who was there to make the decision and the decision seems to have been right. As they say "All's well that ends well". 

 

 

  • Like 8
Link to post

The Finger is Free Speech and protected by the 1st Amendment. No one has the right to physically assault you for making Free Speech. Period.

That said, your life was not in jeopardy, you contributed to the mess and the nothing in the event comes close to requiring deadly force.  

It's a very good thing for everyone you did not discharge your weapon.

 

 

  • Dislike 5
Link to post
19 minutes ago, Swamp ash said:

That said, your life was not in jeopardy, you contributed to the mess and the nothing in the event comes close to requiring deadly force.

I disagree, my opinion is that attempting to break his window and forcibly entering his vehicle, justified the use of deadly force. But…. that’s just my opinion. Good thing he didn’t have to find out.

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to post

I wouldn't have called the police.

Probably would have turned the wheel, put the car in reverse and backed him over. I'm left handed and drawing isn't easy from the driver's seat.

I think you handled it well.

Edited by gregintenn
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to post

Once the other person opened the door, then the threat was real, in my book. He had intent to do bodily harm.  You had the right to draw and do what you did.  However, I do think flying a bird was the wrong thing to do. That being said,  I have to admit that I have done the samething a time or two in the past.  Now I tend to wave at people, with the whole hand. Which, when you think about it, isn't very smart either.  Better to not show any reaction at all.

  • Like 2
Link to post

You didn't have to fire your weapon, no matter how you cut it, that's a big win.  You would only make a bad day worse.  One must check their ego when armed...period.  No flipping people off.  You really do have to take more crap.  When the guy got out of the car you should have simply driven off to avoid anymore conflict.  When he opened your door you would have been justified in shooting, but your restraint was his and your good luck.  You would not be justified in shooting just because he was banging on the window or car.....again drive off.  Immediate police notification is smart anytime you pull your weapon.

  • Like 4
Link to post

I remember in the 80’s when people in Miami were disconnecting their car horns because people were being shot for honking at others in traffic. Crazy people are everywhere.

  • Like 1
  • Wow 1
Link to post

Forcible entry into the vehicle to assault the occupant is generally going to be viewed as something you can use lethal force to repel. 

We can argue that since dude was not visibly armed that pulling a gun on him was not warranted but we can also make an argument that a reasonable person would be in fear of grave bodily injury or death from someone who took those same actions and assaulted him in his vehicle. The totality of the circumstances plays in favor of MarkS. But again, the assault might not happen if there was no bird flipping. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
1 hour ago, Swamp ash said:

The Finger is Free Speech and protected by the 1st Amendment.

I believe you're wrong (though I am no scholar of constitutional law.) The Supreme Court has ruled that "fighting words" are NOT protected by the 1st Amendment:

"Fighting words are, as first defined by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942), words which "by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality."

Fighting words are a category of speech that is unprotected by the First Amendment.  Further, as seen below, the scope of the fighting words doctrine has between its creation in Chaplinsky and the Supreme Court's interpretation of it today.

and

 

Texas v. Johnson (1989)

In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court redefined the scope of the fighting words doctrine to mean words that are "a direct personal insult or an invitation to exchange fisticuffs." In the case, the Court held that the burning of a United States flag, which was considered symbolic speech, did not constitute fighting words.`

 

HOWEVER:  Whether or not flipping someone off constitutes "fighting words", it's coarse and unseemly and will NEVER result in conflict resolution. Civil society requires a degree of civility, doncha think? Using such a gesture is definitely a step in the wrong direction in most any situation.

Edited by Darrell
  • Like 4
Link to post
  • Moderators
8 minutes ago, Darrell said:

I believe you're wrong, The Supreme Court has ruled that "fighting words" are NOT protected by the 1st amendment:

"Fighting words are, as first defined by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942), words which "by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality."

Fighting words are a category of speech that is unprotected by the First Amendment.  Further, as seen below, the scope of the fighting words doctrine has between its creation in Chaplinsky and the Supreme Court's interpretation of it today.

and

 

Texas v. Johnson (1989)

In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court redefined the scope of the fighting words doctrine to mean words that are "a direct personal insult or an invitation to exchange fisticuffs." In the case, the Court held that the burning of a United States flag, which was considered symbolic speech, did not constitute fighting words.`

https://www.npr.org/2019/03/15/703665710/police-officer-cant-pull-over-driver-for-giving-him-the-finger-court-rules

  • Like 1
Link to post

your vehicle is the same as your home via the castle doctrine.  Forcible entry is regarded as intent to do serious bodily harm/death.  That is the basis for 'permitless carry' in one's vehicle.  However, avoidance is always the best policy.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
13 minutes ago, Chucktshoes said:

Flipping off a cop is stupid.

A cop thinking he can stop a car with no probable cause is stupid.

But teach your kids that it probably won’t work out as well for them as it did for that woman. 🙃

  • Like 3
Link to post
16 minutes ago, Chucktshoes said:

Interesting. Thanks for the link. And what a shame!

I saw a YouTube video recently in which a young woman was walking away from a judge in his court room and flipped him off. He called her back to the bench and sentencd her to 30 days. 

 

Edited by Darrell
Link to post
  • Moderators
1 minute ago, DaveTN said:

Flipping off a cop is stupid.

A cop thinking he can stop a car with no probable cause is stupid.

But teach your kids that it probably won’t work out as well for them as it did for that woman. 🙃

Agreed on all accounts actually. We may disagree on the state of modern policing, but I think we are in agreement that needlessly antagonizing officers isn’t a smart idea. You’re never going to win a court battle on the side of the road. 

  • Like 3
Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

THE FINE PRINT

Tennessee Gun Owners (TNGunOwners.com) is the premier Community and Discussion Forum for gun owners, firearm enthusiasts, sportsmen and Second Amendment proponents in the state of Tennessee and surrounding region.

TNGunOwners.com (TGO) is a presentation of Enthusiast Productions. The TGO state flag logo and the TGO tri-hole "icon" logo are trademarks of Tennessee Gun Owners. The TGO logos and all content presented on this site may not be reproduced in any form without express written permission. The opinions expressed on TGO are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the site's owners or staff.

Before engaging in any transaction of goods or services on TGO, all parties involved must know and follow the local, state and Federal laws regarding those transactions. TGO makes no claims, guarantees or assurances regarding any such transactions.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to the following.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Guidelines
 
We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.