SpringfieldGuy wrote:My understanding is that "threatening" them with " I will shoot" is considered just that....a threat and not legal. Use of a firearm in self defense must be made without threat or brandishing.
This is not correct.
A threat accompanied by a show of immediate force is considered assault, and aggravated assault if the force in question is deadly force. So threatening someone with a gun is probably aggravated assault (76-5-103), but it may be simple assault (76-5-102), depending on the details of the situation... UNLESS it's justified.
The justification required for the use of deadly force in defense of persons (76-2-402) is the same whether you merely threaten it or actually do it. Specifically, you have to have a reasonable fear that you or someone else will be seriously injured or killed, or be the victim of a forcible felony, and you have to have a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to prevent it.
In the situation that started this thread, it was three-on-one, and the "attackers" were making threats. In that situation, it's reasonable to fear serious injury even if the threats were vague ("We're gonna mess you up"), and a fear of death is even somewhat reasonable. That's sufficient justification for the use of deadly force, and scott.pete06 would have been legally justified in just shooting them at that point. He was also justified in using deadly force by just threatening, though, and that was the wiser course of action. Had he actually shot them, he would have been arrested, might have faced both criminal and civil trials, etc.
Prior to the passage of HB78, actually displaying the gun might also have been a misdemeanor under 76-10-506, but again fear of death or serious injury would have provided justification. When HB78 goes into effect, you will only have to have a reasonable belief that unlawful force (any, not just force that might cause serious injury or death) is going to be used against you to be justified in threatening with or showing your gun.
In my opinion, the only mistake Scott made was in failing to call 911 afterwards. If the three had decided to make the call, he might have been fighting assault charges, and really he should have pressed assault charges against them.
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Utah CFP Instructor; NRA Certified Instructor for Pistol, Rifle and Self-Defense in the Home; NRA RSO.
I am not a lawyer!