Sunday, September 6, 2009

San Marcos Texas and the Castle Doctrine

Local news on reports on the double fatal shooting which very well may have been justified. The action took place a couple blocks from Texas State University.

A fatal San Marcos shooting may fall under the castle doctrine. Two Luling teens are dead, one is in the hospital and another is in jail.

"Three of the suspects were armed, one with a handgun, two with what we were later to find out were pellet guns, but very realistic looking,” San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams says the teens burst inside the home. There were three people inside; a college student, and two men, one of which was armed.

"He opened his bedroom door. When he did, one of the suspects in his living room pointed a weapon at him. He fired on the suspects in his house,” Williams said.

Two 16-year-olds died, another is now at Brackenridge Hospital with serious injuries. Williams says 17-year-old Frank Castro escaped uninjured, but is now in jail charged with aggravated robbery.

I have to admit, this type of crime seems to justify some of the tough talk the pro-gun folks often use about criminals, "it's an occupational hazard" and "they asked for it." When people barge into some else's home with guns in hand and get killed for their trouble, I see absolutely no fault with the shooter.

What's your opinion? Does this "occupational hazard" extend to all criminals, even fleeing ones, as discussed here and here, and unarmed ones?

What about that castle doctrine law, which the article said was new? What did Texas have before?

Why do these crimes seem to happen more in Phoenix and Houston than in similar cities in New York and New Jersey? Is that why they adopted the castle doctrine law in Texas, because they need it more?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. "What about that castle doctrine law, which the article said was new? What did Texas have before?"

    You ask an honest question, I give an honest answer.

    Before Castle Doctrine, the victim must retreat if able to do so if attacked or threatened. In this case it would mean that the victims inside the home would have a legal obligation to vacate their own home and leave everything to the burglers, including any sleeping children if it were possible.

    After Castle Doctrine, any law abiding citizen can stand their ground and fight their attackers without any legal obligation to run away.

    If you have a legal right to be somewhere, then you also have the legal right to use force against force to protect yourself from great bodily harm or death.

    It really is that simple, MikeB.

    The Right to stand your ground and repel an attack on yourself or your children, or your friends or heaven forbid, a complete stranger.

    Try to imagine this scenario; it won't be pretty and I don't wish it upon you but just play along for a sec.

    You peer out the kitchen window into the back yard and see that your 5 year old child is being dragged into a van full of naked space aliens. If you run out the back door and try and stop the naked space aliens instead of running out of the front door, away from the assault on your child, then you face criminal charges without the protection of Castle Doctrine.

    What would you do MikeB in this scenario, MikeB? Back door or front door?

    I really am curious. Are you willing to break the law in order to stop the assault on your son? Or will you bow down and comply with what some government scumbags have decided is "best for society"

    This is rare since most juries would never decide to find guilt in such actions, and therefore most District Attorneys won't even bother bringing charges, but it's a matter of principle nonetheless.

    Try to imagine our outrage that it has taken 200+ years and an act of Congress to pass this in some of the states. I live in Oregon which does not have Castle Doctrine in place but we do have the "lesser of two evils law" here so I'm covered in a different manner.

    "Lesser than 2 evils" protects me from prosecution from breaking a law if, in doing so, prevents or halts an even worse crime from occuring or being completed.

    Not too shabby.

    On a side note, I hope the one in the hospital dies and the one in jail is brutally ass-raped with barbed wire until he dies. For the two who are already dead, I hope they are ground up and made into dog food.

    But that's just my opinion you so politely asked to here about.

    It's still raining here, hope you have sunshine.

  2. Your silence is deafening.

    You already posted my comment so I assume you read it.

    I now surmise that you are either googling like mad trying to find any falsehoods in my assertion as to what Castle Doctrine is or are hiding in shame because, deep down, you know that I'm right.

    There's no shame in admitting the truth.

    There's no shame in exercising your rights.

    There's no shame in being human.

    Join us.

  3. Why do these crimes seem to happen more in Phoenix and Houston than in similar cities in New York and New Jersey?

    Because Phoenix and Houston haven't tried to make it as difficult as possible to own (and use) a firearm. If you don't have a firearm, it is impossible to defend your home with one. Four armed assailants (even if they all only had pellet guns) against one home owner with a cell phone is not a fair fight. Give that homeowner a firearm and his odds increase. If he trains regularly with his firearm, his odds increase greatly to the point that it might be a "fair" fight. The firearm does not prevent all crime, but in this case you can see that a firearm in the proper hands (even with multiple firearms in improper hands) can prevent the situation from getting worse (if you are a criminal and get shot as a result of your actions that is your fault, armed or unarmed, I have no sympathy). You will notice that the criminals in NY and NJ have no trouble getting firearms.

  4. Perhaps you would like to talk to me in person on this matter?

    Call me at 1-541-367-4587 to do so.

    I await your call.

    Not sure about the international stuff, but you're a smart guy, you can navigate it.

    The time difference is not a problem, call whenever and i will pick up.


  5. Call me and I can describe in detail how I wish that criminals should be ass-raped until death!

    I'm so lonely.

    I need a friend.

    Call and let's talk ass-rape death!

  6. Home invasion crimes hapen in NJ and NY and many states. It is so common that without a murder there is no or little coverage. See in those states the homowners are at the mercy of the invader.

    There was big case in Conn last year that the home invader killed the family and kids. There was a call for reducing the guns regulations.

  7. Why no phone call, MikeB?

    Are you scared of my sultry voice?

  8. The four criminals set this in motion when they attacked those people. Fortunately for the victims, one of them was armed. In some states, that "home invasion" might have ended up with three victims being murdered by the invaders.
    Three of the criminals were armed. A pellet gun is not just "realistic looking." It is a weapon fully capable of killing or seriously injuring someone.
    As I recall, the duty to retreat language was added with a rewriting of the Penal Code around 1973. It flew under the radar for most Texans, including me, for a long time.
    Even with the "Duty to retreat" codified, it is unlikely that any Texas jury would convict someone for not fleeing their own home. Texans, including jurors, tend to not be like sheep. That is why we have juries--to see that justice is done even if the law doesn't.
    Given that, it is unlikely that the victim in this case would have been charged even before the Castle Doctrine became law. The Castle Doctrine does prevent the criminal's family from trying to victimize the victim again through the civil courts. That's good.
    I suspect that these home invasions don't happen more often in Houston than most of the "gun-controlled" cities. When it happens in Houston, it is unusual enough that it is news--as we see with this article.
    Some advice to would-be home invaders. Don't do it! Home invasion is a good way to lose your life in Texas. Our laws are not intended to assure your safety when you engage in such criminal activity.

  9. Many states (including DE) essentially have a castle doctrine law. We don't have anything by that name, but our deadly force laws allow you to defend your home or place of business without retreating if you have a legal right to be there.

    Honesty, if I Lived in a state with a duty to retreat in my own home I would consider that an illegitimate law if put in a home defense situation.

    The State has NO RIGHT to tell me I must run from my own home if someone breaks in and attacks me. I would do what was best for myself and my family in such a situation, regardless of what the law compelled me to do.

  10. Castle doctrine is the principle that you are not required to retreat from your own home. The related concept known as "stand your ground" means that you are not required to retreat from a criminal attack in a place you are legally entitled to be.

    Both laws are also called "shoot first" by the Brady campaign and their associates.

    Even without castle doctrine and stand your ground, people are rarely convicted for defending against a criminal attack. In most cases there is an affirmative defense for self defense--meaning that you admit the facts but the circumstances make it justified. This is usually where a duty to retreat comes in. Even in states with a duty to retreat, it is only a duty if it can be done safely, and without abandoning family or other innocents to the crimihals. With Castle Doctrine you can take advantage of a self defense exemption without admitting anything--"I do not admit shooting him, but if I did it was legitimate self defense, since he was engaged in crime at the time"

    The real benefits to these laws are primarily financial--they generally forbid civil suits for self defense unless (and until) the defender is found guilty. There are also some prosecutors that do not believe they should be the ones judging affirmative defense situations, so they charge cases that clearly fall under affirmative defense, forcing the defender to get a lawyer, pay a bond, etc.

  11. Colorado had "castle doctrine" when it was known as the "make my day law." Since the early 80's or even late 70's.

    Now to me ... I am all about letting criminals run away if that's what they are going to do. If they're carrying the stereo or TV ... even without other considerations, like dealing for the rest of your life with having taken a human life, it's cheaper to let the stereo go than replace the carpet and have the police turn your house into a homicide investigation scene (in Colorado I wouldn't even be taken in unless tehy have cause, but they would investigate). Other's are more agressive in their willingness to shoot criminals, which I have no problem with other.

    But the bottom line is castle doctrine is a simple tactical necessity. Anything else is madness (and, in fact, in most jurisdictions the courts have been on the side of armed homeowners and not been sticklers for the duty to retreat).

    The problem is that a confrontation in the home normally take place with the people facing off 10 feet or less from each other (think how large the rooms in your house are). It takes a minimum .1 second for even a trained human to respond to a visual stimulation, and with that in mind time how quick you can move across a room in your house and grab something (i.e. the gun in the hand of a homeowner). If you are facing off with someone, and give them the chance to shift position and prepare to lauch themselves at you, there is a high percentage of possibility they will reach you before you can pull the trigger, or at least they can make you miss and then you're in their grasp.

    The rules the police use are very simple and common sense, but only are technically legal if a castle doctrine is in place. Basically, if someone is within 20 feet of you and posing a threat, you MUST neutralize that threat immediately before the bad guy can move. With an armed civilian that means shooting, as the homeowner generaly won't have backup or a taser or whatever.

    So with the "castle doctrine" I don't have to stand there and negotiate, like always seems to happen in the movies or TV, while the other guy prepares to grab me. I can do as a police officer would do, and if the bad guy neither runs nor becomes compliant (i.e. gets on the floor with palms up) I can take action to defend myself and my family.

    In terms of shooting people in the back ... why were they running? Did they have a gun, and were they just trying to take cover? Were they headed for the kids room? Did they spin just as you fired? With adrenalin running high things happen that wouldn't happen in training. We've GOT to err on the side of the homeowner/victim if we want to avoid putting innocent people behind bars, and if we want to empower people to defend themselves and their families.

  12. Little Steve, Thanks for your last comment. I liked very much the way you described it.

    I have to admit that business of being required to abandon your own home sounds crazy to me.

    Thanks to the other commenters too, including cbrtxus.

    kaveman, you lost me, man. I really don't know what you're talking about with the phone call and all that. Please don't be offended. Write to me on the e-mail if you like. I treat whatever I receive that way as confidential unless otherwise instructed.

  13. Nope, they adopted it because it is just.