brandish: to shake or wave (something, such as a weapon) menacingly
Monday evening, the Georgia Senate Judiciary committee approved Senate Bill 224 which clarifies the offense of aggravated assault when committed with a firearm. In other words, when a gun can be displayed in a defensive situation.
By Tuesday, ignorant, panicky reporters were claiming that . . .
Of course, the word “brandishing” doesn’t even appear in the bill or Georgia Code.
This caused some initial confusion, because the bill filed had no such provision. What all these fine “reporters” failed to mention is that the committee completely substituted the bill with new language, and the old version was still on the Assembly web site.
The new version still had the original text addressing carry in churches and government buildings, but now added new language to Georgia Code 16-5-21, defining aggravated assault when committed with a firearm.
“provided, however, that if with a firearm, the firearm is held within the person’s hands and aimed offensively or otherwise used in a threatening manner toward the other person;”
If you’ll compare that to the existing language, you can see that it merely clarifies that a firearm display must be offensively threatening to constitute aggravated assault.
Defensive displays — especially of a holstered firearm — in the face of a person acting offensively are not a crime.
Further, if it was a defensive display, but in a situation where deadly force would not be justified, the display remains a crime under 16-11-102.
A person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he intentionally and without legal justification points or aims a gun or pistol at another, whether the gun or pistol is loaded or unloaded.
Under current law, a person could be charged with aggravated assault if he displayed a holstered pistol in response to a mugging attempt. The charge would probably be dropped eventually, but not before the innocent person ran up significant legal expenses.
SB 224’s language fixes that.
But if someone displays or draws a gun in response to a shouting match over a ball game, he can still be charged under 16-11-102 because the threat of deadly force is an unlawfully disproportionate response.
Long story short: you can display a firearm against a felonious act, but not in a non-life threatening scuffle.