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Old December 14, 2009, 01:14 AM   #1
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Minnesota Brandishing Law(s)?

Does anyone know Minnesota's laws on brandishing a weapon (in self defense)?

Note: I explain why I am asking here. If you would prefer to just read and answer the question, scroll down.


I ask because I have been a couple of unnerving situations:

1. I was once walking home after dark...probably around midnight (comng home from a friend's house). Though I was on a major street, it was empty because of the time. A car came from behind me and slowed down when it got near me. A teenager was driving. He rolled down his window and yelled "I'm gonna put you in a noose!" I ignored him and kept walking. He kept driving next to me yelling "Hey!" a few times. Eventually, he sped off (by "sped" I mean he completely floored it).

2. Another time, I was walking to my friend's house. Again, it was after dark, though this time only around 9:30 PM. There were cars traveling on the street. A guy who appeared to be around 18 approached me from the front and asked me for a cigarette. I don't smoke, and I told him so. He said he didn't believe me and asked again. I kept repeating that I don't smoke. I kept walking and tried to ignore him, but he seemed to be getting angrier and angrier (he was following me at this point) that I was ignoring him and that I wasn't giving him a cigarette. He then asked me to buy him some, and I ignored him again. He seemed pretty mad now, saying things like "Why don't you ****ing talk?" Eventually, I got to a busy area and he left.

Both situations ended without me really doing anything, but I sometimes think about how they could have been worse. Gun crime isn't really a problem in my neighborhood, but I still don't like the idea of being attacked. About five years ago, my friends and I were attacked by three (apparently unarmed) individuals.

Naturally, I'd prefer to scare off a potential attacker instead of actually hurting one. That's where my question comes in. The "thugs" in my area probably wouldn't be carrying guns (note I don't rely on this's just based off my and my friends' experiences). They ten to have knives or batons at worst. However, I'm usually at a distinct disadvantage. I usually travel alone, I don't work out, and I'm only around 5'8", 130 lbs. If an unarmed assailant attacked me unarmed, I wouldn't win a fight.

So assume I have a weapon with me. Someone tries to attack me. Knowing I don't really have a chance of defending myself, I brandish a weapon to try to scare him off. Now suppose this works, but he goes and calls the police to say I threatened him with a weapon.

What would happen to me? Does Minnesota law prohibit brandishing a weapon in self-defense. Does the type of weapon matter? For example, what if I brandished:

1. A stun gun (legal to carry)
2. Pepper (legal to carry)
3. A knife (the one I carry is legal)
4. A firearm (carried with all of the required permits, of course)

I don't currently own a firearm, but intend to get one soon (including taking classes to train me in its use and such). Even when I own and carry a firearm, however, I would take out the stun gun or pepper spray first, and then escalate if the attacker did not back down (or more realistically, stun/spray him and try to get away, only pulling the knife/gun if he chased me).

I would think there wouldn't be as many problems with the first two, as they're designed to be nonlethal, but I would still like to know was, if any, laws there are against this.



What are the laws in Minnesota concerning brandishing the folloiwng (in self defense):

1. A firearm
2. A stun gun
3. Pepper spray
4. A knife

NOTE: This all assumes that running didn't work, as that would be what I'd try to do first.

Thank you for your time.

Last edited by almasy87; December 14, 2009 at 01:27 AM.
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Old December 14, 2009, 12:49 PM   #2
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Consult a local attorney.
OldMarksman is online now  
Old December 14, 2009, 08:46 PM   #3
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See for a starting point on information on Minnesota Laws
wally626 is offline  
Old December 14, 2009, 09:40 PM   #4
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I know this wasn't your question, but I feel I have to say this: I would strongly advise against brandishing pepper spray, a knife, or a stun gun. Those weapons are only useful when the other guy doesn't know you have them. A real thug, the kind you need to worry about, will not be phased by weapons like that unless they're brandished by someone of equal or greater thug-ness. And they will know you are not that type.

And if you draw a weapon like that, and the guy decides to jump you anyway, because he's nuts or whatever, your gun is then useless.
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Old December 25, 2009, 08:59 PM   #5
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Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2,076
You will find MN statutes on brandishing here 609.66

You stated this,
Again, it was after dark, though this time only around 9:30 PM. There were cars traveling on the street. A guy who appeared to be around 18 approached me from the front and asked me for a cigarette.
You are placing yourself in bad position to allow a stranger to get that close to you. Even if you are armed you will not be safe IMHO, and because of what you posted.
In a situation where you are alone on the street and someone approaches you, you MUST make an obvious deviation to your path to keep distance 21 feet minimum between you and anyone that causes you concern. Now if say you start to cross the street while this other person is still more than 21 feet from you and that person also changes his direction to get closer to you, that is where you take a stand or flee.
What I am trying to convey here is you have to be alert and recognize your surroundings and be ready at all times, armed or not.
Now when you take a stand, your hand can be on your weapon so that you are ready if this person that causes you concern advances into your space when you have told said person to not come any closer.
I am not an attorney, but I have stayed at a few holiday Inns, and I do concealed carry classes, So if you should then draw a weapon in a situation where you made obvious effort to keep distance, or evade and that didn't work I would not think you were "Brandishing" in a manor that would cause a law abiding, upstanding citizen to have fear for his life.
For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, But to us who are being saved, It Is The Power Of God. 1Corinthians 1-18
Gbro is offline  
Old December 26, 2009, 11:18 PM   #6
Join Date: August 30, 2009
Posts: 27
I would recommend taking a carry class with a good instructor in MN. I also am from Minnesota and I can recommend the one I took my class with. The instructor will go over the legalities of it all.

I am not a lawyer, or an instructor, but I have taken a MN class, and this is how I understand it.

Simply put, "brandishing" a gun technically is the use of deadly force. If you would not be justified shooting in the situation, then you more than likely are not justified "brandishing", and you could be charged in some way.

There is a lot of very good information on the instructor I took the class with owns the forum, there are MANY instructors that frequent, and one of the people who helped to write the MN carry law also posts occasionally. That would be a good way to find a class in your area, as well as ask questions specific to MN.
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Old December 27, 2009, 01:40 AM   #7
maestro pistolero
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OC (pepper spray) is a very good idea, especially if you have a gun. I'm a card carrying CCW'r for more than 25 years, but I'll be the first to tell you, you are way more likely to need OC spry than a gun. If you do need a gun, nothing less will do, of course.

DO NOT BRANDISH PEPPER SPRAY. If you are being threatened, soak the face of the individual, and get yourself away to safety ASAP. If you are threatened by more than one individual, you may be justified in drawing a gun and, depending on circumstances and the disparity of force present, firing it to defend your life.

DO take the course, and do learn the laws about when you may and may not use, or threaten to use lethal force.
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