LUBBOCK Texas – With recent changes to Texas gun laws, legal experts said it’s important for gun owners to know their right to protect themselves and their family in high-risk situations.
On September 1, a new permitless carry law went into effect. The law allows Texans to carry handguns in the state without requiring a license to carry.
Fernando Bustos, a Lubbock attorney, said even with constitutional carry there are still places where firearms are not allowed. This includes, but are not limited to, schools, hospitals and airports.
Bustos said in Texas, the “castle doctrine” allows people to protect themselves if someone enters their home, vehicle or workplace unlawfully with the intention of committing a violent felony.
“In Texas law, fighting words alone is never going to be to justify the use of deadly force,” said Bustos. “If you’re trying to resist deadly force being used against you, or a violent felony being committed against you, then you can use deadly force.”
Bustos said once a person is outside their home, vehicle or workplace, it becomes more difficult to justify the use of deadly force unless the other person(s) pose an imminent threat.
“Once you’re outside one of those three areas, you have to be more careful about the use of deadly force,” said Bustos. “Make sure you’re only using it if you know you’re meeting deadly force.”
Scott Harmon, a sales associate at Sharp Shooters who also teaches handgun courses, said he recommends getting a license to carry even if it’s no longer required and said resorting to deadly force should be a last resort.
“You can defend property, but I tell people in my classroom this can be on your plate for the rest of your life, said Harmon, “‘Are you really going to be able to live with that shot, that guy because he had my iPad?’ You know, people can see, you know, that’s property — [you] have a right to do it, but that’s something you want to live with?”
Harmon said even if someone is in your home, using deadly force can be a legal risk.
“[Say] someone’s in your home and you turn on the light and you catch them there and you you’ve got your gun and you tell them, ‘Get out of my house’ [and] they’ve got their back to you, you better not shoot them because they’re not a threat to you if they’re moving away from you,” said Harmon.