WHAT IS BRANDISHING?
Do you ever read the Floyd County Court Cases published here in the Floyd Press? On occasion, I see where someone has been charged with brandishing a firearm.
Merriam-Webster defines brandish as “to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner”. The Virginia Legislative Information System says “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.”
Notice the definition says “to exhibit”. You don’t need to point a firearm at someone to be charged with brandishing. You don’t even need to put your hand on your handgun to be charged. All you have to do is “brandish… in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another… of being shot or injured.”
Here’s a typical scenario. Two or more people disagree in a discussion, strong feelings are displayed and the situation goes south. Heated words are exchanged and a threat is made. At this point, somebody says “Oh, yeah?” pulls back a jacket and displays a handgun in a holster.
You just blew it. Instead of being the mature adult and walking away from a confrontation when you had a chance to, you just got yourself arrested and charged with brandishing. And if you draw that handgun and point it at the other party, you could be charged with threat with a firearm, a much more serious charge.
A citizen that has been issued a Concealed Handgun Permit has gone through an extensive background check by the Sheriff’s Office prior to receiving the permit. The fact that you have the permit indicates you are considered to be a law-abiding citizen. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the records that indicates you might be a hot head and have a short fuse.
People disagree on various subjects every day, that’s human nature. It’s also human nature to get upset when the other party won’t even hear you out or give you the benefit of the doubt. What separates mature adults from those that are simply older than 21 is how an individual chooses to respond to provocation, insults and/or a threat.
Being mature and remaining calm while being verbally abused, insulted or threatened can make all the difference between going home, going to the emergency room or going to jail. That’s a choice we all have to make eventually. And if you lose your temper while you’re carrying a handgun and do something stupid, believe you me, the Sheriff’s Office can and will solve the problem. “Get in the car, boy.”
You cannot go around displaying your handgun just because somebody says something that you don’t like. You’re held to a higher standard and you’re expected to set the example of proper conduct. If you don’t, you’ll find out what it’s like to ride in the back seat of a cruiser to Montgomery Regional.