Texas Homeowners Could Soon Shoot First, Ask Questions Later - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

02/13/07-Tyler

Texas Homeowners Could Soon Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

A bill likely to pass the Legislature this year would broaden your rights to fight off would-be intruders or car-jackers. 

Someone wouldn't have to begin to attack you or your family to use deadly force.  The proposed state law would make it legal to open fire on someone even before they make it inside your home.  

"A family's home is their most sacred place.  Their family is there, their kids, their wife, or husband. If they want to defend themselves, they ought to have that right and not worry about the retribution that might come afterwards," says State Senator Kevin Eltife, who has signed on to a measure that will end the current "duty to retreat."

That is the doctrine that says deadly force can't be used if a reasonable person in a similar situation would have retreated or fled.   Soon, an intruder, carjacker or even someone believed trying to do so is assumed to intend death or great harm.

"I'll tell you exactly what my take is: If someone's breaking into my home, I'm going to do everything I can to defend my family, and I think everyone in the State of Texas ought to have that right," Eltife says.

The legislation brings what equals to immunity from civil lawsuits as well, again if they think someone's trying to intrude.   But Mack Woods of The Shootist in Tyler says anyone who shoots first must think about everyone.

"Even if you know for a fact that it's a bad guy, you can shoot him.  But if you shoot him with a weapon that's way too big for normal self0defense purposes, injuring or killing somebody, Texas law allows for prosecution in that case,"  says Woods.

Opponents say this law would turn city streets into the "wild west".  But bill backers say if law-abiding Texans can stand their ground and defend their homes, it's the criminals who will think twice.

The ability to use deadly force would extend to personal vehicles and even businesses.

Of course, you would have to be inside to use force. 

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