Criminals in Texas got a bad break, while citizens got a good one, with enactment of The Castle Doctrine in the Lone Star state, which went into effect on Sep. 1, 2007. In simplest terms, a criminal who forcibly and illegally breaks into your home, vehicle, or place of business or employment can be shot. It's a little more complex than that, but the bottom line is that the law has been shifted against violent aggressors and in favor of innocent homeowners and drivers. Don't want to be shot? Don't break in. It's just a simple, reasonable, common-sense gun law.
Technically, the law creates a presumption that, facing an illegal break-in or kidnap attempt, it is reasonable for you to believe that the use of force, including deadly force, is immediately necessary to protect yourself. The law also makes it explicit that you do not have to abandon your home or vehicle and run away ("retreat"), but can stand your ground in such a case. Be sure to read the actual wording of the law before taking any action (use our update link above).
For good measure, the law also makes it hard for criminal attackers, or their surviving kin if they're killed, to sue you for harming them while they were committing their crime. News reports generally railed against the changes, and in boring repetition, predicted blood in the streets -- ignoring the fact that the law only applies against illegal and forcible break-ins.
The public and the legislature were delighted and passed the new laws enthusiastically. No universities have announced plans to study the crime-deterrent effect of the new law.
Texas Also Gets Emergency Powers Limits
Texas Also Gets Emergency Powers Limits
Sometimes called the Katrina Law, this new statute, effective Sep. 1, 2007, prevents authorities from confiscating firearms or ammunition in the event of a natural disaster or human emergency. It is designed to prevent the type of dangerous abuse caused by corrupt politicians in Louisiana after the Katrina disaster.
Unable to control the chaos and criminals running around at large, they chose to disarm the civilian population at gunpoint instead, leaving innocent people helpless. None of the perpetrators of the illegal confiscations have been brought to justice, and most of the confiscated property has not been returned, despite repeated court orders, which the "authorities" simply ignore. Texas law now bans such actions, though no prison terms are specifically spelled out for officials who might decide to violate the law.
In all, ten major new gun laws were passed in Texas, and are posted at gunlaws.com. A technical analysis of the official "statutes affected" list, where many tiny but surprising gun-law changes are typically found, will be completed soon and posted as well.
New Arizona Gun Laws Effective Sep. 19
New Arizona Gun Laws Effective Sep. 19
The Grand Canyon state will have five new gun laws on its books this week, including an emergency powers limit like the one in Texas, and small changes to its CCW and hunting laws. Click the updates button on the home page, probably by next weekend if my schedule permits.
The big news though was the suspension of a young student for sketching a laser gun on a piece of paper. Intolerant and fearful school officials have apparently lost all sense of proportion in an incident that made national headlines. My editorial on the issue ran in the 500,000-circulation Arizona Republic on Sunday over the Labor Day weekend:
GUNS VITAL TO OUR FREEDOM,
BUT SCHOOLS DEMONIZE THEM
Zero-Tolerance Gun Policy Is Ignorant, Wrong
A junior high school in suburban Chandler, Ariz., has made national headlines by exercising a zero-tolerance policy and suspending a student for sketching a gun.
Too many teachers have virtually no understanding of the value of guns, the role guns play in our history, and particularly, the fact that guns are why America is still free. They are passing their ignorance on to their students.
The paranoid and politically correct creation of zero-tolerance policies for guns by schools is an affront to everything this country stands for, and must come to an end.
There is no way to accurately teach history, sociology, politics and other subjects without a deep examination of the role guns play in protecting people and maintaining civil order. Students in these zero-tolerance days must be getting some sort of fairy tale instead of an education.
Guns have been a fundamental part of American life since the country began. Some nine million people buy new guns annually according to the FBI, and current estimates suggest nearly 100 million Americans keep at least one gun at home, for good reasons. None of this has any connection with crime or evil -- quite the contrary -- but schools don't seem to care and hide this in the classroom.
Guns save lives. Guns stop crime. Guns protect people. Guns are good. Guns are actually fun when you go to a range and practice. You never hear about that in the news though because, like the education establishment, the news media basically has a zero-tolerance policy for stories that show the truth about guns. This is linked directly to student suspensions for gun sketches.
The media exacerbates the problem by publicizing and literally promoting criminal misuse of guns incessantly, typically on page one, while suppressing news about the good guns do. Thirteen scholarly studies, including one by the Clinton Justice Dept., have found between 700,000 and three million defensive gun uses every year (depending on study length and the set of respondents questioned).
For all the "gun stuff" you see in the news, you haven't seen that, have you. Legitimate gun use outnumbers criminal misuse by orders of magnitude. Talk about unethical biased reporting. Reporters have excuses and justifications for it, but they're bogus. Guns are part of our economy, job pool, tax base, retail markets, hobby scene, sports world, balance of trade, all newsworthy.
Defensive gun use has heroes, villains, lives saved, families preserved, blood and guts, criminals brought to justice, honor, valor, courage, flashy police lights -- all the elements the media says matter.
In an unpublished study I did for a think tank, I found that Americans purchase between five and nine billion rounds of ammunition every year. Almost none of it goes into crime -- and almost none of it goes into the news, skewing everyone's view. Reporters are afraid of guns, don't go to the range to practice, have a morbid fascination with guns that only lets them see the danger and not the safety guns represent. Teachers have picked up on this, and now hurt everyone with their adopted myths.
That's why it's critical for school systems in Arizona to set an example for the country. Schools should adopt and begin teaching the Arizona Gun Safety Program our legislature enacted in 2005. This elective high school class teaches the truth about guns, and requires safely discharging a firearm at a target to get the credit toward a high-school diploma. It will move us from today's abject ignorance and cowering fear to a brighter day of enlightened, educated students and teachers. Sketching a gun in that class would merit a gold star, not punishment.
The Arizona Gun Safety Program teaches how guns work, how they are handled safely, why they are important, marksmanship, the constitutional roots of these precious rights and their place throughout history. Perhaps most important, the class examines the role of firearms in preserving peace and freedom, a linchpin to any valid education in history and politics.
When an evil person commits a vicious aggression, you send in people with guns because it's the right thing to do. The role of firearms in society is critically important, and needs to be honored and appreciated, not amputated by small-minded fearful bigots who think hiding what they hate will make everything just fine.
Alan Korwin is the author of seven books on gun law and runs the website gunlaws.com.
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