Pointing of a Firearm - Call the Police


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Werewolf
July 20, 2005, 12:34 PM
Well - I just got thru reading the "Tired of having guns pointed at me..." Thread.

Quite an interesting read.

FWIW pointing a firearm at someone loaded or unloaded can be either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Oklahoma has such laws and I'd bet most other states do too. In Oklahoma the law regarding that issue reads:

21-1279.

MISDEMEANOR POINTING A FIREARM

Except for an act of self-defense, it shall be unlawful for any person
to point any pistol or any other deadly weapon whether loaded or not,
at any other person or persons. Any person violating the provisions of
this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor
punishable as provided in Section 1280 of this title.

Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this section after
having been issued a concealed handgun license pursuant to the
provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, Sections 1 through 25 of
this act, may be subject to an administrative violation as provided in
Section 1280 of this title.

What that means is if you point a gun at someone in OK you are guilty of a misdemeanor offense unless you are defending yourself. Call the cops.

In OK pointing a gun at someone can escalate to the level of felony under some circumstances:

21-1289.16. Felony pointing firearms.

FELONY POINTING FIREARMS
It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully or without lawful cause point a shotgun, rifle or pistol, or any deadly weapon, whether loaded or not, at any person or persons for the purpose of threatening or with the intention of discharging the firearm or with any malice or for any purpose of injuring, either through physical injury or mental or emotional intimidation or for purposes of whimsy, humor or prank...

(Emphasis Mine)

There are exceptions to the above law listed in the law itself but none apply to a situation where a nut-job points a gun at you in a gunstore or at a gunshow.

It is possible that pointing a firearm in a gunstore at a customer could be considered whimsy. If the pointer continues pointing after asked not to then the mental or emotional intimidation aspects might apply.

Moral of the story - call the cops. If that doesn't get the message across to the miscreant nothing will.

AND I'd bet having the police show up at a gunstore would get the management's attention if nothing else.

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dolanp
July 20, 2005, 12:38 PM
Interesting, but the cops would probably just laugh at you.

Rockrivr1
July 20, 2005, 12:39 PM
If this were actually enforced in some states the Kittery, ME local or state police would be very very busy visiting the Kittery Trading Post. I've never had more rifles pointed in my direction in my entire life then I did in one day of being in that place. Love the place, but really hope no one ever leaves a loaded rifle in the rack to cause the place trouble. :uhoh:

centac
July 20, 2005, 01:04 PM
The Kittery Trading Post rocks.

Smurfslayer
July 20, 2005, 02:59 PM
Actually, in VA *you* can get the warrant by going to the magistrate. I had cards made up with our brandishing statute printed on it. I've never had to use one to correct someone....

Before you're going to get a successful prosecution, you need to fully evaluate the "totality of the circumstance". Did the pointing occur inadvertently in a gun shop by a customer unfamiliar with firearms?
Or, was this the result of an argument? Or was it something that happened after you asked the person to not do that.

If they're truly in the wrong, but made a simple, negligent mistake, it's going to be hard to get a successful charge, especially if they're apologetic. I think before I drop the criminal charges on someone, I'd have to be sure they were being grossly negligent, belligerent, and unapologetic combined or they did it on purpose... YMMV...

carebear
July 20, 2005, 03:17 PM
...to willfully or without lawful cause......for the purpose of threatening or with the intention of ...


Intentionality (mens rea) is everything (as it should be) in defining criminal action. That accidental first sweep is not covered at all by this felony law since it will be assumed to be unintentional.

Now with the second and all after, after having been informed that you find it threatening, there might be an issue.

I would presume that a lack of "willful intentionality" would probably result in no charges being filed in a misdemeanor circumstance as well. Though they should probably tighten that one up as well.

peacefuljeffrey
July 20, 2005, 03:34 PM
This is crazy. I just remembered that in a dream I had just last night, a gun store employee was pointing a .22 rifle at me during the course of taking a look at it, and I pushed the side of the barrel away from my torso, making my point, but he didn't seem to get it. Then when he opened the action, we found that there had been a live round in the chamber, and then he was red in the face! :cuss: Weird, I guess after all the discussion here, the subject stuck in my mind and I ended up dreaming about it.

In the dream, the clerk was the same jerk who enforced, to my dismay, the "buy your ammo here only" rule when I recently went shooting. He acts like a smug know-it-all. I don't like him.

-Jeffrey

peacefuljeffrey
July 20, 2005, 03:37 PM
Quote:
...to willfully or without lawful cause......for the purpose of threatening or with the intention of ...




Intentionality (mens rea) is everything (as it should be) in defining criminal action. That accidental first sweep is not covered at all by this felony law since it will be assumed to be unintentional.

Now with the second and all after, after having been informed that you find it threatening, there might be an issue.

I would presume that a lack of "willful intentionality" would probably result in no charges being filed in a misdemeanor circumstance as well. Though they should probably tighten that one up as well.


I was thinking that when they say OR, it means that as long as EITHER one applies, the standard is met. So "willfully OR without lawful cause" means it doesn't have to be willfully as long as it is simply without lawful cause.

I don't think this law was written by someone with a competent command of the meaning of his words.

In Logic classes, if both conditions must be met, they use AND. If any of the conditions must be met but there is no requirement for all of them to be met, they use OR. It's very clear.

-Jeffrey

carebear
July 20, 2005, 04:08 PM
No, I think you are correct on the either/or understanding, but both are then modified by the following "for the purpose of threatening or with intent" options.

He may indeed be "willfully" (although I'm sure there's a legal definition of that beyond the obvious meaning of "willingly") pointing it at you at the counter, but without the requisite following "purpose or intent" it doesn't meet the elements of the crime. So you need at least one from each menu to have the crime. (with all 4 you get eggroll :D )

GhostRider66
July 20, 2005, 04:11 PM
I wondered about this same thing but from a different angle. Say you are involved in legally drawing and pointing your weapon (bad guy pointed one at you and/or shot at you). At this point, the bad guy gives up prior to you shooting him/her. You or somebody with you dials 911 while you continue to point your weapon at now disarmed bad guy.

Can you be held criminally for pointing your gun at what can be called a non-threat at this point? I guess taken to its most absurd conclusion, could you even be charged with holding someone against their will. Not saying that any reasonable police officer would ever arrest you for it. But there may be some overzealous district attorney who decides you should have put your weapon away once the threat was 'gone' or diminished. I guess there may even be civil suits about being held against their will in these circumstances.

Frandy
July 20, 2005, 04:17 PM
the bad guy gives up prior to you shooting him/her. You or somebody with you dials 911 while you continue to point your weapon at now disarmed bad guy.

Well, I don't know if I would be gulity of pointing where I shouldn't be pointing, but I do know this. If I am no longer being threatened or I don't believe I am threatened with any harm or death, I will lower the muzzle to avoid accidentally killing an unarmed bg. That said, I'd be ready to point it right back at him and pull the trigger if he did display a threat.

Khaotic
July 20, 2005, 04:18 PM
Not sure about other localities Ghost, but in Baltimore, MD - that exact practice is so common it's notorious, and twice I nearly wound up arrested for exactly the situation you pointed out.

It's usually both the officer and the DA who push the issue, actually, but it's still so common that it's become not only a discouragement to CCW, but most folk who carry in the city any more carry illegal "dispos-a-guns" or "drop guns" which are thrown away or wiped down and tossed into a back alley somewhere after use, because even the most righteous of shootings will be prosecuted with extreme prejudice.

I am so glad I moved to MI...

-K

carebear
July 20, 2005, 04:32 PM
I don't see that standing up in a reasonable court. But you mention MD. :rolleyes:

It's not like the crime disappears just cause you interrupted it. Bringing logic back into it, the parallel would be "attempted (insert crime, say, robbery)". Just because the thief decides to run off when you draw doesn't invalidate the attempt to commit the crime.


I guess it would come down to the law containing a "citizen's arrest" provision that discusses reasonable force. It should be reasonable force to hold an armed robber (threat of injury implicit in crime) with the same countervailing force you used to stop the crime in the first place. That would give you an affirmative defense anyway.

Hawkmoon
July 20, 2005, 05:51 PM
If they're truly in the wrong, but made a simple, negligent mistake, it's going to be hard to get a successful charge, especially if they're apologetic. I think before I drop the criminal charges on someone, I'd have to be sure they were being grossly negligent, belligerent, and unapologetic combined or they did it on purpose... YMMV...
Pointing a firearm at another person isn't grossly negligent in your lexicon?

Carebear, the portion of the law you cited was for FELONY pointing. The misdemeanor pointing section of the statute did not include those qualifiers, leading a reasonable person to conclude that accidental or negligent pointing is very intentionally covered by the misdemeanor pointing section, since the legislature went to the trouble of excluding them from the section dealing with FELONY pointing.

carebear
July 20, 2005, 10:37 PM
Hawkmoon,

I'm not willing to grant a legislature that much forethought without reading some transcripts saying that was their intent. :evil:

Reducio ad adsurdum, in theory, you could be a quarter mile away, looking through a telephoto camera lens, through a window, at a gunshop counter, down a barrel and take a picture and the facts of your case and the evidence could meet the elements of the crime and the resulting misdemeanor offense could cause someone's permit to be taken. (I assume that's what admin violations lead to)

It may be careless, and could have terrible consequences, but, realistically, sometimes truly accidental coverings are just that and should be dealt with outside the law at first if at all.

My opinion anyway, and before you ask, "truly accidental" is like "obscenity" in my book.

SteveS
July 21, 2005, 10:23 AM
It may be careless, and could have terrible consequences, but, realistically, sometimes truly accidental coverings are just that and should be dealt with outside the law at first if at all.

I could be wrong, but I'd guess that most prosecutor's offices are very busy and these types of occurances probably wouldn't be a high priority.

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