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New Arizona Law Passed to Clarify "Defensive Display" of a Firearm…

Yesterday, Governor Jan Brewer signed a new law that clarifies what constitutes a legal “defensive display” of a firearm.  This new law takes effect on September 30, 2009.

The law states that the “Defensive Display” of a firearm by a person is justified “when and to the extent that a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the use or attempted use of unlawful physical force or deadly physical force.”

The law does not apply to the following circumstances:

  • When a person intentionally provokes another person to use or attempt to use unlawful physical force.
  • Uses a firearm during the commission of a ‘serious offense’ or ‘violent crime’ as defined by State law.

In addition, “Defensive Display” is not required prior to the either the threat of or the actual use of physical force, if the use of force would be justified.  In plain English, if you are justified in using physical or deadly force, you are not required to make a ‘Defensive Display” prior to the using either physical or deadly force.

For the purpose of this law “Defensive Display of a Firearm” includes:

  • Verbally informing another person that you possess or have a firearm available.
  • Exposing or displaying a firearm in a manner that a reasonable person would understand was meant to protect oneself against another’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical or deadly force.
  • Placing your hand on a firearm while the firearm is contained in a pocket, purse or other form of containment or transport.

This law is an extremely important development that broadens the legal protection and extends the options of someone that carries a firearm for the purpose of self defense.  Prior to these clarifications, the above acts could have potentially constituted aggravated assault on the part of a person attempting to legally defend themselves from a legitimate threat.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Ralph Daniels says:

    As a CCW holder not 100% I understand this one. I CC OWB with shirt. What law would I break before this law if I felt threatened to just pull back my shirt thus open carrying now? Since Az is open carry state, simply moving my shirt to expose my gun would still be legal. What am I missing?

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  2. Peter Archambo says:

    SB1243 If someone threatins me with a baseball bat does this justify me in using deadly force.

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  3. Stu Strickler says:

    I think Doug Little says it very well. This should help keep overzelous prosecutors off the back of honest citizens

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  4. Andrew Scott says:

    I just took my CCW class two days ago. In response to Ralph Daniels, if you are concealing your handgun and then show it to an individual to stop an argument or show that you have a weapon on you, this doesn’t mean you’re going from a “concealed carry” to an “open carry.” According to the State of AZ this is a threat with a deadly weapon (until September 30th that is) which is classified as Aggravated Assault, which is a felony. Dumb, most certainly, however this new law is a welcome surprise. It is also going into effect with 7 other gun laws on the 30th, including the right to carry on National Parks. Not sure what the rest are, looking for them now.

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  5. Jerry Van Sant says:

    Does the NEW CCW “defensive display” law pertain to situations where “I” am NOT in danger but a 3rd party is? Such as a mugging, robbery,etc. If I’m at McDonalds and someone approaches the counter to rob the “cashier” at knife/gunpoint can I DRAW my weapon without shooting???

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  6. Sparrow says:

    Before, this was considered “brandishing a firearm” and still is if not properly carried or transported or if you are not in immediate danger. As always, gung ho is not a good idea when it comes to deadly force. I’m glad that gov. Brewer is reasonable and prudent about gun laws. I also, am in agreement with the “bar law”. As a 5 generation native, I’m glad we now have a gov. that respects our “old time values”, seeing how our state is being overrun with liberals in the last 20 years. BTW I’m more of an independant libertarian.

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  7. Doug Little says:

    Think about this law in terms of exposing your firearm in response to some potential or actual threat. Prior to this law, you were potentially at risk of being accused of aggravated assault if you inappropriately exposed your firearm without justification. This law was passed to attempt to further clarify when a ‘defensive display’ in the face of a potential or actual threat would be justified and therefore legal.

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  8. Doug Little says:

    Yes, Defensive Display can apply if a third party is being threatened, but remember you are then placing yourself at risk. I generally don’t recommend that civilian concealed carry permit holders get involved in third party situations. You are risking your life for someone you don’t know. You are also placing yourself at risk of civil liability if something goes bad. I’m not saying that you cannot legally go to a third party’s aid, just that you should recognize the risk of doing so.

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