“[DeAundre] Hamilton, who works at McDonald’s, didn’t have a key to his father’s condo at 10110 Forum West Drive, so he was waiting outside for his father to come home,” click2houston.com reports. “The 18-year-old says he was on the phone with his girlfriend and when he looked up, he says there was a man holding a gun and yelling at him.” Crucially, “Hamilton says [Daniel Edward] Andrews never pointed the gun directly at him, but he says he waved it in his direction.” Hmm. There is no “brandishing” law in Texas. Which is why Mr. Andrews was charged with . . .
disorderly conduct. Specifically, Andrews was arrested underthe bit of the statute that applies to any citizen who “displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.” Or maybe the bit that covers anyone who “threatens, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of the person’s family or household, or the person’s property.”
This despite the fact that Andrews never threatened to shoot Hamilton. And Texas penal code 9.04 Threats as Justifiable Force, which states “a threat to cause death or serious bodily injury by the production of a weapon or otherwise, as long as the actor’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary, does not constitute the use of deadly force.”
As always, the call comes down to the reasonable person standard. “Brandishing” (not a legal term in Texas) is OK if “the actor reasonably believes the conduct is immediately necessary to avoid imminent harm” and “the desirability and urgency of avoiding the harm clearly outweigh, according to ordinary standards of reasonableness, the harm sought to be prevented by the law proscribing the conduct.” [Sec. 9.22]
And then there’s the part of the story that no one’s mentioned.
It seems clear to me that Andrews believed Hamilton was guilty of SWB. You know, Standing While Black. Perhaps responding officers (whose race is entirely irrelevant to the bust, obviously) didn’t want to “allow” a white man holding a shotgun to interrogate a black man, period. The fact that Mr. Andrews’ bail was set at $500 indicates a certain, shall we say, under-the-radar reluctance to read him the riot act.
OK, so, my point: be careful when investigating suspicious activity, interrogating strangers or generally meeting new people when armed. In states with brandishing laws, you can be busted for arguing with someone with your holstered weapon in plain view. Even on your own property.
It’s not right and a good lawyer will probably get you out of the jam. But my God, the paperwork! And the loss of gun rights, however temporary. And the public vilification (TV news!). The whole thing’s best avoided simply by being polite to everyone you meet. And by being discreet with your firearm. Like not answering the door with an openly carried firearm.
Yeah, about that . . .
I home carry. There are times when I don’t cover my firearm from people working on my property or entering my home to conduct business. Could I be arrested for doing so? In Rhode Island I wouldn’t have been surprised. In Texas? Never gonna… uh-oh. And when Texas goes open carry? Hmmm.
They say discretion is the better part of valor. Or, as gun guys put it, concealed means concealed. Then again, the more the gun muggles see friendly people openly carrying firearms, the better. The question is, do you want to put yourself in the brandishing crosshairs? What if you’re carrying openly and you want to complain about the service with a surly waitress? Something to think about.