10:35 AM CST on Thursday, November 29, 2007

By Dave Fehling /11 NEWS

The Pasadena case where a homeowner gunned down two burglars who were ripping off his neighbor, has put a spotlight on Texas’ Castle Law.

You may have one at home right now: a gun.    

Would you use it to stop someone who’s stealing from you or from your neighbor?

It’s what happened earlier this month in Pasadena, but using deadly force can have repercussions that could cost you far more than whatever it was the thieves were after.

It’s one thing to know how to shoot a gun at a target, but what if you were shooting at a real person?

It’s what Joe Horn did when he said he saw two men burglarizing his neighbor’s house in Pasadena.

“I can’t take a chance on getting kill over this,” he was heard saying on a call to 911. “I’m going to shoot. I’m going to shoot.”

The deadly blasts from his shotgun caught on the 911 tape.

It’s one thing to be for the right to bear arms, to protect you or your property. But what if you really did it? Shooting someone is about as serious as it gets, legally, financially and even emotionally.

Take Jerry Casey.

One night 13 years ago, he thought a thief was trying to steal his pickup from in front of his home in north Houston.

He got his rifle and fired, killing the man who was in a wrecker and turned out to be a repo man just doing his job.

A grand jury though did not indict Casey, but eight months later, he nonetheless killed himself, citing the repo tragedy in a suicide note.

In cases like these where it’s not a clear cut case of self-defense, the legal costs can soar.

“The average price today to be represented before a grand jury is about $8,000,” Greg Smith said. “If they no-bill you, you’re still open to civil litigation.”

Smith isn’t a lawyer. He’s an instructor for people wanting to get licensed to carry a concealed gun.

“The bottom line is, I don’t want them to ever have to use their gun,” Smith said.

He said after he explains the legal and financial liability for shooting someone, the majority of his students decide not to pack a pistol.

“They realize going through this class all the repercussions, all the implications,” Smith said.

“There’s an attorney attached to every bullet you fire,” lawyer Tom Nixon said.

Nixon is a lawyer. He’s also a card-carrying concealed handgun owner and has a company that provides licensed gun owners legal help for $10 a month.

“And if God forbid, you ever have to go to trial, we defend you at trial,” Nixon said.

How much would that cost?

“For murder? Probably between $75,000 and a $100,000 because you’re going to have to hire expert witnesses, and they’re never cheap,” he said.

You can get free advice on his Web site:

Like, “Do not tell the 911 dispatcher” any details about the shooting because it’s “being recorded” and will be used “against you.”

And instructor Smith said, “If someone breaks into your house, you don’t go hunting for them … defend yourself if necessary, but hide or run.”

The point: Minimize the chance you’ll have to shoot because pulling the trigger can carry extraordinary costs.

(Article courtesy of Channel 11 KHOU News)



Castle Law: Shoot or Don’t Shoot?”:   

1 Comment

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  1. Victor

    If someone armed with a firearm or any weapon breaks into your house…they aren’t breaking in to hold your hand.

    There is only so much running or hiding you will be able to do in the average residential home when a criminal shows up. Sean Taylor and many others were not given the chance to run and hide. If Sean and others had the option of defending themselves with a firearm, the outcome may have been different for them, but no one can honestly say for sure. However, there is something to be said for having that option. The lives of potential victims can be spared by the proper use of a firearm.

    In my opinion, if someone breaks into your home, you have to defend yourself. Call 911 immediately(if you have time), but be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones within seconds. Going outside of your house at any time(Joe Horn was wrong) to face an intruder is not smart at all. Let the police take care of that threat. But, when they come into your home…that’s a different story.

    Recently, someone attempted to break into my home. He attempted to break the locks on one of my windows and one of my patio doors. He was a noisy crook, so, I heard him. I got out of bed and went into my living room and listened as he tried to work my locks open. I carefully watched him do this through a side window that looked out onto my patio deck. I had a loaded gun in my hand, but I didn’t feel threatened at the time. So, I decided to confront that idiot verbally.

    I yelled out, “Hey, what are you doing on my deck!!!” This moron jumped up all stunned and said, “I’m…I’m just trying to smoke a little somethin’,oh,tryin’ to smoke a cigarette.”
    Then I said,” Smoke that somewhere else, but not on my patio, partner!”
    Then he said, “Oh, my fault.” Then he jumped off of my deck and ran away.

    That was 3am.

    I called 911 and reported the incident and they sent an officer over. I gave the cop a description of the guy and later that morning I started house hunting. I watched my old neighborhood steadily get more and more “unsafe” until finally that attempted break in just motivated me to move. About two weeks before that incident, the police came by one evening to ask me questions about recent criminal activity in the area. So, it was certainly time to get a new address.

    A criminal always comes back to the scene of the crime. If they are not caught they will return. When you hide, they don’t receive oppostion. This can present the appearance of an easy “score” for them. So, they will be back.

    If that guy managed to get into my house, I wasn’t going to run and hide. I would have defended myself, and it was not going to be a verbal confrontation.

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