You are eating in a public restaurant. A group of people suddenly take out their guns and point them at you. You have a gun on you but you don't want to use it because you are afraid of getting shot while pulling it out. Instead you tell them you have placed a bomb on you (you do not), and you will detonate it (you cannot) if they get closer.

Is this legal? What is the most optimal strategy to execute in this situation?

  • 1
    I think the word you want is "detonate". And you should look up defense of necessity. Jul 3 '20 at 0:20
  • @NateEldredge Thanks. I'll check.
    – Brent
    Jul 3 '20 at 0:22
  • That's a highly unlikely and rather outlandish scenario. Why do you care ?
    – Hilmar
    Jul 3 '20 at 9:09
  • Praying seems to be the optimal strategy.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 3 '20 at 12:54
  • This is such an outlandish scenario. Please send me a link to the movie once it's finished.
    – user253751
    Jul 3 '20 at 17:37

In Washington, it looks like it would be legal. As stated in RCW 9a.16.020,

The use, attempt, or offer to use force upon or toward the person of another is not unlawful in the following cases:...

(3) Whenever used by a party about to be injured, or by another lawfully aiding him or her, in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against his or her person, or a malicious trespass, or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in his or her possession, in case the force is not more than is necessary;

  • 4
    The "force is not more than is necessary" part may preclude the OP's suggestion. The bomb would surely be a threat to more than just the aggressor and would do a lot more than just stop them. Jul 3 '20 at 0:49
  • The 'force' in this case would be the threat to detonate a non-existing bomb. It would probably be judged differently if the bomb existed. It would be up to a judge to make a final determination. Jul 3 '20 at 5:04
  • 2
    @MarkJohnson The statute in question seems to draw no difference between a "threat of force you can actually follow through on" and a "threat of force you cannot actually follow through on, but nobody knows that". There's a threat of force. What is that threat and force? To detonate a bomb. That you were bluffing to diffuse imminent lawlessness seems more likely to be something the jury might construe in your favor, so the prosecutor might decide it's not worth it to bring a charge, but that's a practical determination rather than a legal one. Jul 3 '20 at 15:57
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson The bomb threat very specifically endangers not only your own life but that of many others; almost surely at least as many are threatened by a bomb in an enclosed space as they are by some people with guns. Only the OP knows they're lying; everyone else may reasonably suppose there's a suicide bomber in their midst, and will respond in accordance to that (which may include a panic, which may result in the original threats firing their weapons at everyone, etc.) Threaten 20 bystanders to save one? Such a (threat of) force is well beyond necessary. Jul 3 '20 at 17:35
  • 2
    Threaten 20 bystanders. One of them might be armed and decide it’s best to shoot you without warning (an it’s a situation where you wouldn’t give a warning). I can very much see a claim of self defence to succeed.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 4 '20 at 16:44

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