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2013-01-17

RLAT gets UTD on Texas conceal carry laws

By Evelyn Snyder RLAT Secretary

Bandera County resident Sgt. Mike Towers discussed Constitution, Texas laws covering concealed handguns, Texas "Force Law" and the so-called "Castle Doctrine" during a recent meeting of the Ranchers and Landowners of Texas.
He also distributed a booklet containing the Constitution of the United States and Amendments to members and other participants. Towers is a Texas Concealed Handgun License instructor,
Since the 1500s, the Castle Doctrine presumes that a man's home is his castle and therefore, he has a right to defend it. According to Texas law, inside your "castle" legally presumes you acted reasonably and justifiably if force or deadly force was used to defend oneself against an intruder. This premise would apply to an occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business or employment.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms. All amendments apply to all citizens all the time. The Rule of Law is the code of criminal procedure that sets rules and mechanisms to implement the Rule of Law. The Texas Penal Code sets forth specific crimes and their elements and laws concerning use of force and deadly force.
A specific section of the penal code is addressed in a criminal case. The fact that conduct is justified under Chapter 9 does not abolish or impair any remedy for the conduct that is available in a civil suit. Civil cases are between two or more people; there are no specific civil violations.
Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code - Use of Force, Including Use of Deadly Force - states: "A person is justified in using force against another when...[he] reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect [him] against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful force." It defines deadly force as an action that causes injury that requires medical treatment.
"Reasonable" force, however, is decided by a grand jury. Towers emphasized every other avenue should be explored before a person decides it is imperative to shoot someone. "Shooting someone will forever change your life," he said. Towers also urged repeatedly for people to use commonsense, reiterating, "Don't shoot anybody if you don't have to." He also cautioned people about interceding as a third party in an altercation.
Towers stated that under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments individuals have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. He especially warned against blurting out something ill-advised in the excitement of the moment.
Other helpful advice in Towers' presentation included:
• Individuals can carry a handgun in their vehicle without a CHL - provided the handgun is not in plain sight. Additionally, there is no prohibition from the handgun being loaded.
• Only Texas peace officers are authorized to carry a gun openly in this state.
• Individuals with a concealed handgun license are not required to carry a firearm.
• Just because an individual carries a gun doesn't mean that individual must use it.
Towers holds both a Master Peace Officers certification and Advanced Instructor and Firearms Instructor Proficiency certification from TCLEOSE, the law enforcement licensing and credentialing authority in the State of Texas.
A retired Bexar County peace officer, Towers teaches regularly at regional police agencies. He also serves as a contract instructor for a local private military contractor, instructing Navy SEALS and State Department embassy personnel, among others. Towers currently coaches the Bandera County 4-H Rifle team.

Pictured: Retired Texas Peace Officer Mike Towers