Texas Penal Code

SB 378 enumerates the instances where deadly force can be used and will justify an exemption from both civil and criminal liability that would ensue by virtue of an injury and death that may result thereto. In effect the provisions of SB 378 amended the provisions of Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code.

In substance it allows a person who has reasonable belief that an immediate necessity to use deadly force may do so in the following instances, as self defense when the other has illegally or forcefully entered habitation or residence, vehicle or workplace of the defendant; or with use of force, the actor is trying to remove the defendant from habitation or residence, vehicle or workplace or is about to commit or committing crimes of “aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery” (Texas Penal Code, Section 9. 31).

The deadly force employed will be allowed provided that the defendant did not provoke the actor and that the defendant is not guilty of any other offense except minor offense of misdemeanor or violation of traffic regulation (Texas Penal Code, Section 9. 31). Another instance is provided under Section 9. 32, in defense of the defendant’s person such as when the other “uses or attempts to use unlawful deadly force on him”; or when the other is about to commit the crimes of “aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery” (Texas Penal Code, Section 9.

32). The use of handguns is regulated in the state of Texas. The requirements for obtaining the permit or license to carry a concealed weapon are provided in the various statutes of Texas, i. e. Texas Government Code specifically Chapter 411. The provisions of the Texas Government Code provides the qualifications, requirements for the issuance of a license, terms and conditions of the license, expiration, grounds for revocation of the license among others.

Provisions of the Penal Code specify crimes and offenses which relate to the carrying of weapons and firearms and prescribe the penalties therefore. It also provides a definition for crimes of criminal trespass, which is entering premises without consent with firearm; unlawful carrying of a handgun by the license holder among others (Texas Penal Code, Chapter 46). It is believed that as of the early part of 2007, there has been no reports of a case whereby a person who defended himself or herself has been prosecuted in Texas (Pegasus News Wire, 2007).

The proponent of the bills modeled them from the version of Florida’s. The Castle doctrine with the ‘stand-your-ground’ clause has the effect of creating a legal presumption that justifies the use of deadly force under circumstances specified by law to act in defense of oneself (Pegasus News Wire, 2007). Conclusion Far from what the critics predicted before that the enactment of the Concealed Handgun Law containing the castle doctrine and the stand-your-ground clause, the law has proven to be effective in bringing down the statistics on basic crimes in Texas.

While many predicted a blood bath and a ‘wild wild west’ scenario as an inevitable consequence, this did not transpire. Based on statistics, it revealed that FBI Uniform Crime Report showed “an 18% drop in handgun murders down from 838 in 1995 to 688 in 2004. And a 13% drop in handgun murders per 100,000 population, down from 4. 5 murders per 100,000 Texans in 1995 to 3. 95 per 100,000 in 2004” (Patterson, 2006). “Texas Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report indicates the overall crime rate in Texas has continued to drop over the past 10 years.

In 1997, DPS reported 5,478 crimes per 100,000 Texans, based on a population of 19,355,427 Texans. In 2004, with almost 3 million more Texans, the crime rate is 5,032 per 100,000” (Patterson, 2006). In a Report prepared by the National Center for Policy Analysis, an increase in licenses covering concealed handguns are evident, however, the report stated that this notwithstanding, those with carry licenses are less prone into committing crimes compared to a citizen without a license.

They in fact, follow and obey the law than the average citizen (Patterson, 2006). The Report also mentioned that those with licenses to carry firearms are5. 7 less prone to commit violent offenses; 14 times less for a non violent offense and 1. 4 times less to commit murder (Patterson, 2006). This law was enacted in response to the clamor of the citizens of Texas for more protection against crimes. One of the victims of the Luby blood bath actively pushed for the drafting of the law. Dr.

Hupp witnessed the murders of her parents together with the others at Luby’s Cafeteria when she could have readily defended herself and her parents because she had a firearm in her car. But she did not carry it with her because it was prohibited. Her despair caused her to testify in legislative hearings to persuade the legislators of the imperative need to have a law drafted that can be more protective to citizens in fighting assaults against their persons. The need for protection and for personal safety is a basic one.

Most often, this is not met by the law enforcement agencies and departments due to a number of reasons, i. e. inefficiency, lack of financial budget and lack of personnel. A system therefore must be put in place to address the basic necessity of the citizens. The enactment and passage of a law and provisions of justification are not enough. It entails intelligence and tremendous responsibility of the citizenry in responsible ownership and use of the handgun. It requires knowledge of the terms and conditions of the license.

Owning handguns is a means of protecting ourselves and our loved one—it can also be a means to assault and injure another. Clearly, it entails the burden of exercising our rights within the legal bounds and a clear discernment of what the law is.

References

Briggs, D. Self-defense laws of Texas. Excerpts from A Matter of Personal Protection: The Weapons Laws of Texas, 2nd ed. , 1992. Self defender web site. Retrieved on March 26, 2008, from http://www.self-defender.net/law3.htm