Imminent Threat Question

I sometimes wear a revolver on my hip when I am outdoors. I live in Montana and bears and other large predators are common around here. I also have a CCW, but I don’t think that’s relevant since it’s legal to openly wear a gun where I live. The gun in question is legally registered to me.

Let’s say I am walking around town and I encounter someone who is belligerent and starts acting aggressively towards me for no apparent reason. I immediately step away to avoid a direct confrontation and instinctively reach for my gun to make sure I remembered to bring it with me. I place my hand over my holstered gun and hold it there until the threat subsides.

In most jurisdictions would my actions be considered an “imminent threat” to the other person? I didn’t remove the gun from my holster or point it at anyone, I simply put my hand over it and held it there. I was simply preparing myself in case I needed to use it to defend myself.

IANAL, but no. Placing your hand on a holstered gun is not dangerous, in the way pointing a gun at someone or shooting at someone is dangerous.

An imminent threat has to be credible. A threat to shoot someone with a holstered gun isn’t credible.


IANAL, but…

I think that in most jurisdictions, that would be a question of fact for a jury to decide. In general, the question is “would a reasonable man consider that to be an imminent threat?” My guess is that reasonable people in places where it is more common to carry guns might have different views than reasonable people in places where just carrying a gun makes you look suspicious.

Imminent? Probably not. Do you have a strap over the handle?

IANAL, but is “imminent threat” a legal term, or a term used in any sort of relevant law in Montana? In other words, what law might you possibly be breaking?

Personally, I don’t see you moving your hand to the top of your holstered revolver, while backing away, as being threatening or endangering anyone’s safety. It is a defensive posture. Whether you might be arrested for something is one issue, and whether you might be convicted is another. I’m doubtful of either, but I don’t know the laws in Montana.

Can you shoot/kill a grizzly bear with a pistol? (Can you, I have wondered about this question before).

From what I know, I know almost nothing about guns, but from the little overlap I have picked up from studying Martial Arts/Self Defense:

1- You should practice quick draw

2- You should practice quick draw and fire

3- You should be going to the range a lot, for general accuracy

4- In terms of basic self defense, the non threatening hands up in front of you, calmly, “I don’t want any trouble” is the best all around stance for most situations. It does not escalate and it gives you the most offensive/defensive options.

5- I think, putting you hand towards your gun can be viewed as escalation by the other party, I am not speaking legally, I am talking about how people act/react.

6- I read somewhere, from a study on Police Officers, I think… that placing your hand on a gun, or any weapon, automatically increases your perception of “threat assessment”. In other words… putting your hand/finger on the gun/trigger it will make you more likely to “want to shoot” than not having the hand on the gun. I have had the same experience from my limited training in knife fighting.

Shoot - yes. Kill or disable - extremely unlikely.

Weren’t LEOs found justified in shooting an individual whose actions were significantly less threatening than that a number of times?

This post is a little confusing. “Threat assessment” implies that the other guy is more likely to shoot when his hands are on the weapon.

I’m not disputing that, but the “assessment” of LEO vis-a-vis an armed man is pretty damn severe and anything like that, to my mind, should get you arrested if not justifiably shot dead.

The assessment of another civilian in a debatable state of belligerency, and the assessment of a jury as to that assessment (:)) would be to my mind far more lenient, that is, you assume a defensive posture. Which you don’t do with LEOs unless you’re up to no good.

Ninja’ed in general point by clairobscure. I think.

IANAL - I think you’re looking at this the wrong way. The “crime” here for you would be assault, which is threatening someone in a way where they reasonably fear for their safety.

Telling someone you’re going to kick their ass and then moving towards them is actually an assault. You don’t have to be successful (battery) to be guilty of assault.

So the question becomes, would a jury decide that it was reasonable for the other guy to fear for his safety because of your actions?

My big question is how does the law even get involved? The other guy would have to go make a complaint unless a cop watched the whole thing go down. If he doesn’t have witnesses to back up his story and if you don’t give the detectives checking it out a reason to believe you’re hinky, then it’s just his word against yours. “Yeah, he approached me and I put my hand on top of my holstered weapon, and that’s as far as it went.” If the guy isn’t hurt, my guess is the cops give you a pass.

It wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice, as even the most powerful handguns are far less powerful than modest rifles. But lots of people carry .44 magnum (or similar) revolvers in Alaskan bear country - just in case. If I were faced with an angry grizzly, would I rather have a powerful rifle? Sure. But I’d rather have a .44 magnum than a 9mm, .380, knife or nothing at all.

Do grizzlies get lucky feelings?

I have a feeling they make their own luck.

[But, yes, I get your reference to “the most powerful handgun in the world”. It used to be, but no longer holds that title.]

I can. Living in Alaska, my outdoor carry pistol is a S&W 500.

Here’s a report of a grizzly bear being shot with a .45…

“The man, who was in the lead, drew a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol when they heard a noise coming from the brush. When the bear emerged from the thicket and ran toward the other hiker, he fired approximately nine rounds in its general direction. The bear stopped, turned, and walked back into the brush, where it quickly disappeared from view,” said the release."

The bear was found dead the next day, but the .45 didn’t put him down immediately.

Yes, I have a strap over the handle, but I can slip the strap off and pull out my gun in a second or two. The strap just keeps it from falling out of the holster when I bend over too far.

Okay, I think just about everyone agrees that my putting my hand over the gun, in a purely defensive manner, probably wouldn’t be considered an imminent threat by a judge, jury or perhaps even a cop.
Let’s take this one step further. What if I unholstered my gun, but I am careful to keep it pointed down toward the ground at all times. Does that cross the line? Would a reasonable person consider pulling out my gun an imminent threat to their safety?

Aside, but note that the OP said “bears”, but didn’t specify which kind. Black bears are a lot more common than browns, especially near human-populated areas, and are also a lot easier to scare off and/or kill.

I would, and they don’t come more reasonable than me!