Typically among most states, brandishing a firearm is not only illegal, but is frowned upon as a tactic to scare away a potentially forceful criminal since the state would deem that the person brandishing was never in imminent danger of deadly force if they had time to brandish but not fire at the forceful criminal.

New Hampshire RSA 627:4 II-a: A person who responds to a threat which would be considered by a reasonable person as likely to cause serious bodily injury or death to the person or to another by displaying a firearm or other means of self-defense with the intent to warn away the person making the threat shall not have committed a criminal act.

What also complicates this hypothetical is NH’s oddly-phrased duty-to-retreat law.... or IS it a duty?? See below.

RSA 627:4 III-a: A person is not justified in using deadly force on another to defend himself or herself or a third person from deadly force by the other if he or she knows that he or she and the third person can, with complete safety: (a) Retreat from the encounter, except that he or she is not required to retreat if he or she is within his or her dwelling, its curtilage, or anywhere he or she has a right to be, and was not the initial aggressor;

What do you think?

Let’s use this hypothetical situation. A citizen who is carrying a pistol concealed is sitting in the waiting room of an auto shop. A criminal walks in and holds the cashier at gunpoint demanding they hand over all of the cash in the drawer. I see 4 possible outcomes:

1: The concealed carrier runs for the door and leaves without conflict

2: The concealed carrier demands the robber leaves, then when the robber points their weapon at the carrying citizen, the citizen draws their pistol, and shoots the robber

3: The concealed carrier immediately draws their firearm, points it at the robber demanding they leave or they’ll shoot

4: The concealed carrier immediately draws their firearm and shoots the robber.

Which of these scenarios would be legal, and which ones would lead the best outcome, safety-wise, and legally?

I’m having trouble interpreting these laws, and case law about this subject seems to favor the criminal instead of the concealed carrier it seems.

  • 1
    You forgot one outcome: the concealed carrier remains seated and waits for events to progress without his assistance. – user6726 Nov 13 '19 at 21:03
  • Hello! Welcome to Law.SE. Please read our tour page. – isakbob Nov 14 '19 at 18:49

The scenarios you have outlined would depend on the actual circumstances of the instance, but you are free to use the weapon to defend yourself from serious harm. Different approaches fill different needs.

For example, the police don't shoot everyone they encounter with a gun. However if that person shows intent to use it, the police will open fire. You should follow that logic instead of a pre-planned scenario.

If you are facing the threat of serious harm during any of those situations, you may brandish the weapon.

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