ABC: A Man's Home Is His Castle, and He Can Defend It

Even in Texas, some prosecutors are wary of the new law. It expands Texans’ rights to use deadly force in their homes, vehicles and workplaces. And no longer do they have an obligation to retreat, if possible, before they shoot.

“There’s too many imponderables in this law, whereas the previous law was working just fine,” said Warren Diepraam, the Harris County Assistant District Attorney. “Frankly, life is precious.”

Consider the case of Joe Horn, a 61-year-old computer technician who lives in an affluent subdivision in Pasadena, Texas. Last November, he called 911 to report a burglary in broad daylight at the house next door….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

38 comments on “ABC: A Man's Home Is His Castle, and He Can Defend It

  1. Newbie Anglican says:

    And that’s the way it should be. Don’t mess with Texas.

  2. drummie says:

    This is going to be an emotional topic at best. I don’t feel he was justified in using deadly force with the information in this article. He didn’t have to face those men. He had contacted 911, could descirbe them and their means of travel etc. It didn’t get deadly until he inserted himself into the situation. As a retired law enforcement officer who is now a police chaplain and has been forced to use deadly force on the job, this could have been prevented and I do not feel that he was justified. Life is much more valuable than property. These guys were fleeing the scene, not using deadly force on anyone if the article is correct. That does not justified killing them.

  3. Jeff Thimsen says:

    His attorney says that the men charged Horn. Apparently they charged him by running backwards. Tricky criminals. Maybe some new martial arts technique.

  4. Fisherman says:

    The Harris County Assistant District Attorney states “Frankly, life is precious.” I agree. The lives of my family are precious and I will protect them with all available means at my disposal.

    A particular questionable instance will not change this.

  5. Wilfred says:

    Does this new law apply to congregations defending their churches? Better notify over-eager re-appraising bishops.

  6. CanaAnglican says:

    “There’s too many imponderables in this law, whereas the previous law was working just fine,” said Warren Diepraam, the Harris County Assistant District Attorney. “Frankly, life is precious.”

    Yes. Life is precious. Therefore no person should ever break and enter in Texas, for if they do they risk death. What part of taking responsibility for your actions does the Asst. DA not ‘get’?

    New equation in Texas: You rob=You die.

  7. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    America has tried “leaving it to the professionals” [you know, the ones that won the judgment that they are not required to “serve and protect”] for far too long. As a result, the crime rate climbed and climbed, just as it is doing now in England and Australia.
    When “shall issue” language for firearms permits was introduced in various states, the Police Chiefs around the nation sounded dire warnings. It is a demonstrable fact that crime rates in those states began dropping immediately. [Perhaps the Chiefs were worried that the need for them would decline, and so would their budgets.]
    As to the case of Joe Horn…the case is before a Grand Jury and will receive due process. Now, how many police officers, the professionals, also face charges for wrongful death every year? Of those facing wrongful death charges…how many are for completely innocent people? At least in the case of Joe Horn, the people who died were actually criminals in the act of committing a crime. I know of many cases where the police went to the wrong address, broke in and shot first; at least one where a grandmother was shot to death in her bed. That was done by “professional” law enforcement.
    I am all in favor of the Castle Doctrine, concealed carry, etc. Soon, it is my fervent hope, that the Supreme Court will rule definitively on the 2nd Amendment and put the issue to rest. When police see armed citizens as a problem, the problem is with the police. This is a government of, by, and for the PEOPLE.

  8. chips says:

    The man did not have a “permit” for a shotgun. You do not need a permit to own firearms in Texas. He may have a concealed weopons permit but that would not apply to a shotgun. Even prior to a change in the law you could shoot in defense of property at night – when I was in law school Texas was the only state in the union where deadly force could be used soleley to protect property. My criminal law professor said that convictions run into trouble here on self defense claims because of the “SOB deserved to die rule.” I am always shocked when watching Law and Order that the prosecution thinks it has a chance in such a situation.

  9. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    Here is a classic example of police “professionalism”:

    While lecturing civilians on the danger of firearms, this idiot manages to shoot himself in front of a classroom full of kids! Now wonder some police “professionals” are afraid of an armed citizenry when members of their own profession act as this one did!

    He is a “professional” and did not even know that simply removing the magazine from an automatic pistol is not sufficient to unload the gun. One must clear the chamber. In fact, he should have locked the slide back and looked into the chamber to verify that it was clear [unloaded]. I have been shooting since I was four years old [my Dad would hold the gun and let me pull the trigger – yes, I now know you are supposed to “squeeze” the trigger, but then, I was 4] and I have never shot myself or anyone else. [I have got a buck and quite a few pheasant.] I have a concealed carry permit and have had for nearly two decades. I have NEVER been tempted to do anything illegal with my firearms. However, I will not shrink back from defending my family or myself.

  10. William P. Sulik says:

    I read the headline and I thought “Rowan said [i]what!?![/i]

    (first Sharia, now this…)

  11. libraryjim says:

    My dad taught me to shoot a .22 rifle when I was around 10. My son learned to shoot the same at Boy Scouts (with me looking on). His first time out he got an impressive score, and the last time we went five bullseyes out of five shots, with fairly nice grouping. I’m quite impressed with his aim and control, and know if he ever decides to have a gun of his own he will take proper care of it. As of now, however, his mom (my wife) won’t hear of having a gun anywhere near the house (yet her dad and brother were hunters).

  12. Anglican Paplist says:

    God bless Texas.

  13. drummie says:

    Many people will talk about “I would do . . . . in the same circumstances”. If you haven’t been there, you don’t have a clue about how you would react unless you are just hoping for a confrontation so you can shoot somebody. If that is the case, then you are the one who does not need a firearm. As a Christian, I value all human life. Do I support crime, NO. Do I support defending myself, yes. But that is NOT what happened here. From the information in the article, this man took it upon himself to be judge, jury, and executioner. He made a conscious decision to kill two men because of his own fears. Just because they had burglarized an empty home does not warrant the death penalty, and that is what was pronounced on them by one individual acting on his own. Lynch mobs used to do the same thing.What is Christ like in any of this incident?

  14. Cennydd says:

    One of the first things my father taught me about firearms was this: Never aim a gun at someone unless you mean to use it on him or her. My military training taught me to shoot to kill, because my life and those of my fellows might depend on my ability to act deisively when necessary.

    This man acted improperly. His neighbor’s jewelry wasn’t worth the taking of two men’s lives. He should have held the men for police………a shotgun is no weapon to argue with, and I’m highly experienced in its use. No one in his right mind would argue with one.

    Property can be replaced………human life cannot! That Grand Jury should indict him for voluntary manslaughter.

  15. teddy mak says:

    Neither of these criminals will ever again threaten someone’s home.

    Texas passed this more explicit personal defence legislation because tens of thousands of felons are pouring into the State from South America and the conventional law enforcement people, state and federal, have abandoned the citizenry to their depredations. In Louisiana, we have the concealed carry permit, and the famous “Car Jacking Statute” so roundly criticized by the lefty media mavens. Violent crime in the South is down by 13 percent since the carry permit. (study by University of Chicao) Car jacking, once a sporting event in New Orleans, has dissappeared since a few of them got shot dead in the process. The message is, stay out of other folk’s houses, don’t try to rob me, I may have a concealed weapon, and don’t jerk open my car door.

    Otherwise, you may not “Have a nice day…”

  16. Tegularius says:

    Wow, the spirit of Christianity is just overflowing on this thread!

  17. stevejax says:

    Did you guys miss a key element of this story? He was not “protecting” his OWN Castle — it was his neighbors Castle. While I agree in principle with the law, this does throw a wrench in his defense.

  18. robroy says:

    Steve, the neighbor asked him to keep an eye on the place while he was gone. In Texas, that is good enough.

  19. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    [blockquote]Wow, the spirit of Christianity is just overflowing on this thread![/blockquote]

    Would that be this spirit of Christianity…

    “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword” Matthew 10:34-39.

    …or would that be this spirit of Christianity…

    “He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Luke 22:36

  20. Fisherman says:

    Under Section 9.01 of the Texas Penal Code a person is not limited to using deadly force for protection of just themselves or their personal property. The right extends to third parties. See:

  21. evan miller says:

    Thank goodness we have a “Castle Law” here in KY. Anyone should have the right to defend his person or his property without being second-guessed by a bunch of criminal-coddling bureaucrats, trial lawyers, and media pundits. My two children have shot rifles, handguns, and shotguns since they were old enough to hold them properly. They know where they are in the house and how to operate them. I hope none of us ever has to use deadly force in defence of life and property, but I believe we should have the means to do so. Thankfully, due to the foresight of the framers of the 2nd Amendment and the vigilince of the NRA, in most places in this country, we still do.

  22. Oldman says:

    When I first married many years ago, we moved way out into the country where we couldn’t see another house. A friend of mine who was in the security business advised me to buy a shot gun for my wife to protect herself and our small boys against any intruders when I was at work. She was too small to handle my 16 gauge hunting shotgun so I bought her a 410 and taught her how to handle it. Another thing I taught her was not to try to shoot from the shoulder, because a strong, quick man could slap it away, but shoot from the hip with the gun pointing straight into his lower abdomen. (You know where). The word got around and though some neighbors were burgled, my pocket of heaven was never physically bothered. “Don’t mess with country people” was the rule. As one old-timer said, “I never shot a man to kill him.”

    I don’t have a working pistol and don’t want one around, but I do have very well-working shot guns for four legged and two legged coyotes, rabid racoons, and poisonous snakes.

    The Biblical admonitions are virtuous, but I don’t think they were intended for brutish males who terrorize women and small children, especially in isolated pockets near large cities.

  23. libraryjim says:

    [i]The Biblical admonitions are virtuous, but I don’t think they were intended for brutish males who terrorize women and small children, especially in isolated pockets near large cities. [/i]

    Those types of people were even more common in pre-Roman and Roman times, however. The parable of the Good Samartian and the workers who take over the vineyard are two examples of this type of scoundrel.

  24. Carol R says:

    A 65 y.o. woman in Tyler, Texas was putting gas in her car when a young thug ran up, opened the driver’s door and said he was taking her car. She defended herself ably . . . she shot him at point blank range . . . with Regular/unleaded! He was taken in and officers were careful not to smoke in the squad car. GO Granny!!

  25. Carol R says:

    And I’ve got my own pistol that I keep at home. It makes me feel much more secure when my husband is away overnight and I’ve got charge of protecting our kids, myself and our home.

  26. Larry Morse says:

    The Europeans would be horrified to read all t his: Those gun-crazy Americans! Will Somebody take away their deadly toys!!! And the funny thing is how law-abiding most Americans are. In Europe, a soccer match is a signal for public mayhem. A commonplace. And yet it rarely happens here – sometimes, but very rarely. Even a Red Sox/Yankee game doesn’t bring out the mobs – and that’s saying something. Mobs are commonplace outside the US, but when was the last time you saw a real mob in action in this country.
    Will the guns slow down thieves. I doubt it. It only means that thieves will carry heavier weaponry. But that misses the point, doesn’t it? Larry

  27. drummie says:

    Some people seem to be reading just one or two lines in Matthew and taking that to mean taking up a deadly weapon. Christ was speaking to his apostles about the trials and difficulties they would face in spreading his word. He gave them the sword of true words. The divisions he speaks of are between believers and non believers. Taking one line and makeing a case with it can be dangerous. What is the context? Christ was NOT talking about a sword to kill with but words to teach so people could be saved.
    It is very disturbing when people that you assume are Christians advocate killing another human over material posessions. You can’t take them with you and no “stuff” is worth a human life unless you worship and love your “stuff” more than you love God. Then it becomes idolatry at best. Christ would never teach to kill over “stuff”. That is a part of the fallen nature of man to kill over his “stuff”.

  28. Carol R says:

    My pistol is not to protect my stuff, it’s to protect my family and myself. If my home is buglarized when no one is home then obviously the criminal is in no danger of being shot, (unless I have a neighbor like the guy in the news story). But if someone is breaking into your home while you are there, you have no idea what their intentions are do you? Are you going to ask them, “Uh, excuse me home invaders, but do you just intend to take my stuff and leave or were you planning on inflicting bodily harm while you’re here? Cause I need to know if I should shoot you or not.”

  29. Dale Rye says:

    I have been a Texas prosecutor for 27 years. We already had some of the most expansive laws in the country on this subject before the latest set of statutes went into effect last year.

    It is legal in Texas for a permit holder to take a concealed handgun into an airport, so long as he stays outside TSA security until he and the other terrorists rush it. I once heard a former legislature list that law as her proudest accomplishment.

    It is legal for a permit holder to carry a handgun into almost any public building and the police can’t do anything about it until he starts shooting public officials. Prosecutors and judges have had to fight back bills every session that would allow guns legally into courthouses, despite a significant number of courthouse shootings in Texas and elsewhere (I personally knew three people who have been shot). There are inevitably going to be bills offered in the next session that would allow adult permit holders to carry guns into schools.

    The only meaningful limitations on getting a concealed handgun permit in Texas are that you can’t be a convicted criminal or adjudicated mental patient. Basically, if you can buy a gun you can get a permit. Oh, yeah, you also have to prove that you are a good shot.

    Until last year, only people who held a concealed gun permit or who were making an overnight trip from county to county could carry a gun in their car. Now anybody (except a convicted felon) can do it at any time. Comes in handy when you encounter—or get—road rage, don’t ya know?

    The new laws helpfully, and specifically, provide that the right to use a gun in a road confrontation does not depend on whether it was the shooter who violated a traffic law to provoke the argument. Since the new “no retreat” law also applies to vehicles, there is no longer any legal reason to drive away from an altercation rather than just to shoot somebody when he reaches for your door handle or reaches into his own glove box for the insurance policy you thought might be a gun.

    There is absolutely no requirement that the shooter be in fear of his life or of anything else. It is sufficient that the shooter “have reason to believe” that the person “was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment.” Under Texas law, any action that goes beyond mere preparation is an attempt. Please note that there is no requirement that the person [b]actually[/b] be attempting to enter your car, home, or business, that a reasonable person in your situation would mistakenly believe he was doing so, or even that you yourself really believed it. All you need is to state a “reason to believe” and you are immune from criminal or civil liability for homicide.

    The new law says you have no duty to retreat from a confrontation if you are anyplace you have a legal right to be. So if two coworkers (or two customers in a place of public accommodation or two passengers on a common carrier) get into an argument, neither of them has any legal duty to back down before the situation escalates into a shooting match.

    The law also justifies the use of deadly force against someone if you have “reason to believe” that they are “attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment.” Sooner or later, and probably sooner, someone in Texas who has reason to believe he has been unlawfully fired is going to shoot his boss for trying to throw him off the jobsite. It would be perfectly legal. Likewise a tenant who has reason to believe he is being unlawfully evicted.

    As a prosecutor in probably the toughest law and order county in Texas, I hardly think it is mollycoddling criminals to suggest that some of this is bad public policy.

  30. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    [blockquote]Christ was NOT talking about a sword to kill with but words to teach so people could be saved.[/blockquote]

    So then, by that reasoning, when Christ sent them out the first time without swords, He sent them without words to teach so people could be saved? He just sent them wandering about for no particular reason? Also, what about the knapsack and moneybag? Were those just figures of speech too? Tell me again, exactly why would they now have to sell their cloaks to buy “words to teach so people could be saved”. I’ve got news for you…that dog won’t hunt. BTW, at least two of the Apostles actually were carrying swords at the garden on the night of Jesus’ arrest.

  31. Tegularius says:

    [blockquote]BTW, at least two of the Apostles actually were carrying swords at the garden on the night of Jesus’ arrest.[/blockquote]
    Yes, and when one of them [i]used[/i] his sword, Jesus reprimanded him.

  32. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    [blockquote]Yes, and when one of them used his sword, Jesus reprimanded him.[/blockquote]

    Yes He did. The Apostle was using it against a soldier…not a criminal. My point remains valid. Jesus told His followers that the time had come for those who did not already have a sword [some were already carrying swords] to SELL HIS CLOTHES and buy one. It sounds rather urgent, doesn’t it?

  33. Tegularius says:

    [blockquote]It sounds rather urgent, doesn’t it?[/blockquote]
    Urgent? Yes. An endorsement of vigilante justice, and of summary execution as the penalty for breaking and entering? Not hardly.

  34. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    [blockquote]An endorsement of vigilante justice, and of summary execution as the penalty for breaking and entering?[/blockquote]

    That’s a very nice strawman. Read my posts. I endorsed only the defense of one’s life and one’s family’s life with the use of deadly force. I specifically stated that the the case of Joe Horn is and should be before a Grand Jury and that it will receive due process. This fellow will receive the same due process as the New York City police officer who shot and killed an unarmed robbery suspect:

    I note that it is not only in Texas that robbers are shot and that it is not only done by “civilians”. Who knows, it may be determined in these cases that the shooters acted in accordance with the law. Then again, maybe it won’t. These cases are now to be decided in courts of law…not in the newspapers or “court of public opinion”.

    My broader point is that Christians are not required to be disarmed pacifists in the face of criminals.

  35. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    [blockquote]Prosecutors and judges have had to fight back bills every session that would allow guns legally into courthouses, despite a significant number of courthouse shootings in Texas and elsewhere (I personally knew three people who have been shot).[/blockquote]

    Well now, it seems pretty obvious that CRIMINALS are not obeying the prohibition on carrying firearms into the courthouse…are they?

    Perhaps, if the honest and law abiding citizens had been legally allowed to carry their firearms in the courthouse, they would not have had to sit by passively and watch while the three people who you personally knew were shot. Maybe, an honest citizen carrying a firearm could have stopped the criminal [who was ignoring the law anyway] from shooting.

    Are the courts so unjust that they need fear the honest citizens having firearms? Criminals already ignore the law, by your own account. See how well the gun control law worked? I fear that no amount of logic can pierce some irrational pacifism, yet I hope that some may persuade.

  36. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    Should be: “…that some may be persuaded.”

  37. Dale Rye says:

    Re #35: In almost all courthouse shootings, there are trained peace officers present who were acting as bailiffs or prisoner transport officers. It is crazy to assume that if these people who are specifically trained to handle these episodes cannot prevent fatalities, that a bunch of untrained panicky civilians with guns could have done so.

    Our bailiffs have told me that the last thing they would ever need in this sort of situation is to be forced to distinguish between the illicit shooters and a bunch of vigilantes. With guns barred from the building, they can currently assume that any civilian who is carrying a gun is a hostile. If permit holders could carry into the building, the safest course for the officers’ (and general public’s) safety would still be to shoot everybody who is armed and sort it out later.

    Most people who carry out courthouse shootings are not people with criminal records who could not get a permit. They are people who have been pushed over the edge, typically by a spectacularly bad family law case. Having big red signs on the doors prohibiting firearms and forcing everybody to go through a metal detector keeps their guns out. Allowing them into the building with guns would be a formula for disaster.

  38. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    Having big red signs on the doors prohibiting firearms and forcing everybody to go through a metal detector hasn’t seemed to work so far. As you said, you personally knew three folks who were shot in the court room.