Defensive Display

Arizona's new law (2009) is a model for the nation

Warning an attacker that you're armed is protected by law.

Dreamed up and first enacted in Montana, "Defensive Display" has been drafted, introduced and pushed through by the Arizona Citizens Defense League (with help from the NRA and the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Assn.). A citizen now has robust protection for using a firearm in self defense without actually firing it. Previously, a threat or motion to produce a firearm, even when threatened by an attacker, could lead to assault charges against the innocent gun owner. Now, to balance that out, a specific law justifies the threat or reach for a gun in self defense. Elegant, simple, fair.


A.R.S. §13-421. Justification; defensive display of a firearm; definition
(SB 1243, enacted July 13, 2009, effective Sep. 30, 2009.)

A. The defensive display of a firearm by a person against another is justified when and to the extent 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.

B. This section does not apply to a person who:

1. Intentionally provokes another person to use or attempt to use unlawful physical force.

2. Uses a firearm during the commission of a serious offense as defined in section 13-706 or violent crime as defined in section 13-901.03.

C. This section does not require the defensive display of a firearm before the use of physical force or the threat of physical force by a person who is otherwise justified in the use or threatened use of physical force.

D. For the purposes of this section, "defensive display of a firearm" includes:

1. Verbally informing another person that the person possesses or has available a firearm.

2. Exposing or displaying a firearm in a manner that a reasonable person would understand was meant to protect the person against another's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force or deadly physical force.

3. Placing the person's hand on a firearm while the firearm is contained in a pocket, purse or other means of containment or transport.

The law is described in plain English here.

Alan Korwin
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