Republished with permission from Texas Law Shield:

As a law-abiding gun owner, you might ask yourself: “Why would I end up in jail when I carry my firearm legally and know how to use it correctly?” Unfortunately, as our experience has taught us, even legal gun owners are not out of the reach of the long arm of the law. Here are five reasons legal gun owners often end up arrested and in jail even though they think they have done nothing legally wrong . . .

Number 1: Bad Guys are Liars

If you are involved in a self-defense incident with your firearm, chances are good that the bad guy is not going to admit that he was threatening to rob you and that you pulled out your Glock in self-defense.  Instead, he and his buddies will likely tell police that he was the victim, and was threatened by a crazy person with a gun, even though what really happened was that he tried to steal your purse while threatening to assault you, and you pulled out your firearm in self-defense.

Number 2: Gun Owner Ignorance of the Law

Unfortunately, despite feeling certain that they know what the law is, many people do not actually know what the law says about when and where they can carry and use their firearms. Even though the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to keep and bear arms, that doesn’t mean there are no restrictions! Not only are there federal and state statutes that govern firearms, but there are also regulations, case law, and local ordinances that might limit where and when you can possess and use your firearm. Firearms law is complicated, and even attorneys cannot memorize every law for every situation!

Number 3: Law Enforcement Ignorance of the Law

John and Jane Doe are not the only people who may not fully know the law! Often times, even police officers are unaware of recent changes in federal or state law that may lift restrictions on or eliminate crimes for the possession and use of firearms.  Firearms laws change all the time, and not every officer stays up-to-date on the latest passage of a bill in the state Legislature. This lack of knowledge may result in you being charged with and arrested for a crime that may no longer exist!

Number 4: Decisions for Another Day

The job of police officers is not to decide who was right or wrong in a self-defense incident they were called to the scene of. Law enforcement is there to take control of the situation and may end up arresting everyone at the scene, regardless of whether the person being arrested was the aggressor or not. Further, if you are the only one at the scene with a firearm, the police may automatically view you as the aggressor, leading to charges that have to be sorted out by the district attorney and/or the courts.

Number 5: Politics

Despite the continued efforts of U.S. Law Shield and other advocates for gun rights across the country, anti-gun bias is real and prevalent across the country. Many prosecutors and police officers in your state may have come from states with much more strict firearms laws and think that these laws are how things should work. Unfortunately for law-abiding gun owners, this sometimes results in situations where the particular leanings of an individual may lead to the burden and inconvenience of an arrest booking into the local county jail.

Many of these reasons are beyond an individual gun-owner’s control. After all, the bad guy is never going to be the good guy, and you often can’t make someone else understand the law in the heat of the moment. Our mission at U.S. Law Shield, however, is to educate and protect our members who obey the law and are forced to use their firearms in self-defense.

35 Responses to Texas Law Shield: Top Five Reasons Legal Gun Owners End-Up In Jail

  1. I know the #1 reason people lose their CPL in Michigan is operating while intoxicated. CPL holders in our state (and all states as far as I know) commit crimes at much lower rates than the general population, but that doesn’t make them immune from being dumbasses. Why someone would drink and then drive is beyond me.

    • Here in VA, CC’ers cannot carry if they have been drinking, but the law is vague. It just says they can’t be drinking in public while carrying or carry “under the influence,” which a judge could consider any amount of alcohol at any time before arrested. Contrast with driving, where the law gives specific blood alcohol percentages for “under the influence.” But here’s the part I really hate: LEOs, even off duty, are exempt from this law. They can be carrying legally with a snoot-full. What could go wrong?

  2. It’s a minefield out there. Be the gray man. Don’t get onto a cop’s radar and you don’t risk arrest.

    And if sh*t happens, be the first to call 911. Don’t make them come look for you. It will not go well.

    • Every CCW instructor whom I know in Missouri stresses that if one is going to carry a gun then one *must* also carry a cellphone and call the 911 *immediately* after any defensive use, even if that “use” was merely drawing or even uncovering the holstered firearm. The aphorism taught it that “the first party to call the cops is seen as the victim and YOU want to be the one the cops see as the victim.” In far too many instances, individuals legally carrying concealed have deterred threatening individuals or groups and then blithely gone on their way thinking the incident was over; meanwhile the thwarted criminals have called the cops to report being threatened by “a crazy man (or woman) with a gun.” Always, always immediately report even the suspicion of having been forced to defend or deter a potential aggressor.

  3. In Texas it is also illegal to be intoxicated while caring your firearm. But, the interesting thing, there is no legal limit for carrying, as in, you could be below the limit for driving and avoid the DUI but still get popped for carrying while intoxicated. If you are carrying, best to not even have the one beer or one glass of wine.

    • In some jurisdictions, it is a crime simply to possess, in public, both a firearm and an alcoholic beverage, even if the firearm is unloaded and the container of the beverage is unopened.
      Reinforcing Five’s comment, it may be illegal to possess a firearm with __any__ level of alcohol in one’s bloodstream.
      Alcohol and gunpowder is a combination that is, IMHO, far worse than alcohol and gasoline.

      Please, please, know the law before you go. Never assume that common sense will be a good guide in matters of firearms legislation. Never rely on the good will of the next LEO you meet. He or she may very well be a saint—or your worst nightmare. Why take a chance? The penalty for being wrong could well be the destruction of your life, or even the ending of it.

    • “Intoxicated” has a legal definition in Texas:

      “Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.”

      It is illegal either to drive or carry a firearm in public if you are intoxicated. It is that condition described above that constitutes intoxication, REGARDLESS of any specific blod alcohol level.

      If you are only at, say, .04 BAC, but that renders you intoxicated as defined above, then you are guilty of DUI or carrying while intoxicated, as the case may be. Texas law does not set .08 BAC as a magical threshold, below which you are automatically not intoxicated, whether for driving or carrying. If you fit the definition above, then a mere .04 BAC wil not be any legal defense.

      That said, Texas law does work the opposite of that. If your BAC is .08 or higher, then you are legally presumed to be intoxicated, REGARDLESS your degree of control of yourself. You could be driving and carrying with textbook precision and presenting zero hint of any intoxication whatsoever, even though you’re at .10 BAC, and if you get stopped at a DUI checkpoint or if you’re in a DGU, then you’re busted for being intoxicated.

      So, below .08, it goes by the definition. At .08 and above, you’re automatically guilty (driving or carrying), regardless whether you’re physically intoxicated.

      People drinking at home need to be aware of that when they make that quick beer run. You may well be fine to drive and carry, but at .08 and higher, you’re still guilty.

  4. Five said:

    “If you are carrying, best to not even have the one beer or one glass of wine.”

    Absolutely the very best advice on this page

    • I disagree totally. Absolutism regarding drinking and certain behavior may is fine for Singapore, but not our democratic republic.

      If the law prohibits ANY drinking while carrying, then the law is stupid and paranoid. It should be changed.

      The standard should be inebriation. You can legally drive after one drink, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to also carry. Carrying after a long dinner that includes a drink or two is not an issue for most people. It’s paranoia to think otherwise. Extreme attitudes toward low, responsible alcohol consumption blur the distinction between enjoyment and abuse.

      • I agree. I think you should be able to drink and drive, too. Yes, I said drink and drive, as in drive down the road drinking.
        Oh no he didn’t! Sure I did, and what’s wrong with it?

        Now, driving while drunk, that I’ m against, but that’s not the same thing as simply driving while drinking. I’d say the same for carrying.

        I’d much rather have a guy grab a cold one at the gas station to drink on his way home after work, than have him go sit on a bar after work and drink five or six before driving home.

        • Up until the mid or late 80s, it was perfectly legal to drink while driving in TX. Still illegal to drive drunk, but you could have a can of brew while driving, a cop see it, but so long as you presented no appearance of intox you were fine. Incidentally, you could also have a full gun rack in the rear window of your truck while doing so…. both a common sight in my childhood. Do they even make truck gun racks for the rear window anymore?

  5. “Firearms law is complicated, and even attorneys cannot memorize every law for every situation!”

    Herein lies one of the greatest of infringements on our rights (and not just our gun rights). With the complexity of even a single jurisdiction’s laws coupled with the mish-mash of differing laws between neighboring jurisdictions, we have what amounts to an environment toxic to legal gun ownership. I guess that’s what we get when we let lawyers run things.

    • This is also the fundamental argument between “states rights” and “federal” law. It is easy to get tripped up in this concept because if certain laws are passed that are meant to be “one size fits all” then there will be arguments that the feds have no right to impose their will. As annoying as it may be for gun laws to change city to city, it also means that if one particular administration is in power, they cannot dictate their laws where they are not wanted, or at least as easily.

  6. “…even police officers are unaware of recent changes in federal or state law…”

    I think the average cop knows very little about the laws they enforce. Their incentive is to make arrests and it takes very little knowledge of the laws to do this. They know what laws they can use but they don’t care about any of the nuances of the laws and they don’t care about being fair and just. They just care about making arrests because that’s how they get their promotions.

    Incentives matter.

    • …You are clueless, Bob. The Dept. Where I worked cared very much about current law, especially changes in case law. These were briefed before every shift and at least 8 times a year we had all day training sessions which always included discussions about law changes. Once a year hdqtrs sent a dog and pony show around with both printed changes in the law and a show& tell movie. Many if not most Dept’s require all arrests to be approved by a Sgt. And the report to be completed before end of shift so it can be approved or revised.

      • Many cops may know the law, but there have been many instances where they obviously don’t. The PD in Alexandria, VA, of all places (probably more lawyers per square mile than any other place in the country!) passed out brochures that encouraged people to call the cops if they saw anyone open carrying, which is legal in VA. They also tried to post no-gun signs on the Alexandria public buildings, which is not legal, except for court houses. Our state gun rights org., the VCDL, got both actions reversed in short order.

  7. If it looks like you might be arrested:
    (1) Shut your mouth.
    (2) Ask to speak with a lawyer (only exception to Rule #).
    (3) Keep your mouth shut while in custody.

  8. Join the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (www.armedcitizensnetwork.org) – they have a nationwide legal network and will pay an attorney to represent you in the immediate aftermath of a self-defense shooting. Then get legal insurance for attorney fees from the NRA or other group. These two actions will cost you about $400 a year, but are worth it if you are going to carry a firearm and have to defend yourself. Also, do what BigBoy said above. “I thought they were going to kill me. I will provide you with a statement after I consult with my lawyer.” Then STFU.

  9. “Join the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (www.armedcitizensnetwork.org) – they have a nationwide legal network and will pay an attorney to represent you in the immediate aftermath of a self-defense shooting. Then get legal insurance for attorney fees from the NRA or other group.”

    There you go. I’ve been waiting for coordinates for such things (being that I’m lazy.)

    Any of the legal eagles around here have an opinion on how these two groups do? Good idea in principle.

  10. “Often times, even police officers are unaware of recent changes in federal or state law…”

    It is my firm belief that in the majority of cases covered under category #3, the arrest is for an offense that was never illegal or for one that has not been an offense in the last ten years.

    Example #1: Simple outdoor open carry of a firearm was never illegal in Michigan.

    Example #2: Michigan has had near-total preemption of local firearms laws for over 20 years, but before Capital Area District Libraries vs Michigan Open Carry was decided in 2013, local gun bans were widely enforced.

    • I have trouble taking Texas Law Shield seriously. The concept seems good but when they behave like used car salesmen all the time–the sort whose dealerships blare ads at 30 decibels louder than the show they are interrupting–you wonder what the catch is.

  11. This top five review isn’t just for guns, it can be applied ANY TIME someone deals with a bully or aggressor.

  12. No, turn it around the other way. When you know you’re going to be driving, what the heck do you think you’re doing starting to drink?

    • This was intended as a reply to something else upthread, and got posted down here by mistake. I didn’t ieven notice it until I had thirty seconds to delete it. But there is so much crapware bogging down this site (at least the autoplay videos are finally gone) that the delete didn’t happen.

  13. I take this article with a grain of salt. It is like a security system salesman trying to sell you a security system. Not to say that Texas Law Shield is bad, I know nothing of them. Texas may not have the best firearms laws, but we do have some of the best use of force/deadly force laws (or worst if you do something wrong).

    Number 1: Bad Guys are Liars
    True, and the police know this. They will find out who the actors are on the spot. Through IDs or dead mans finger prints. It only takes minutes for wither. Someone that will commit aggravated robbery will 99 times out of 100 will have a large criminal record. Those that have CHL will not.

    Number 2: Gun Owner Ignorance of the Law
    This is the only thing that we can control. We MUST read the laws in our state. Then reread them. Then ask questions. This way you can weed out those that will tell there opinion and actually believe it is the law. I have done everything I can to learn the state laws. I can almost quote the use of force laws in Texas (Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal code).

    Number 3: Law Enforcement Ignorance of the Law
    Nothing we can do about this.

    Number 5: Politics
    Texas is VERY conservative with the use of deadly force. Even in large cities/counties.

    In Texas all felonies must go before a grand jury (Texas Constitution Article 1 Section 10 and Texas CCP Article 1.05). The grand jury alone will decide if state felony charges are pressed. It is not up to a cop, DA, judge, etc… (although they can still arrest). Here are some interesting cases no billed by Texas grand juries:

    Joe Horn – Shot 2 people (one in the back and the other in the side) that where burglarizing his neighbors home in Harris County.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Horn_shooting_controversy

    Man shoots someone stealing his potted plants – not sure if the grand jury true billed, but the article states that the police are not going to try for a grand jury indictment in Bexar County). This shooting was not legal. Texas law allows for the use of deadly force to stop theft at night. This shooting happened at 8 am.
    http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/2012/02/15/man-shot-while-trying-to-steal-potted-plant0.html

    Man shoots deputy serving a no-knock warrant at 4am – no billed by the Burleson County grand jury. He was arrested, but to prosecute they must have a grand jury indictment.
    http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/Man-Charged-With-Killing-Burleson-County-Deputy-No-Billed-by-Grand-Jury-243993261.html

    Texas peace officer charged by a grand jury for illegally shooting a thief. Later convicted of manslaughter.
    http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/woodlands/crime-courts/article/Jury-convicts-suspended-Conroe-officer-in-fatal-5542363.php

    Again, it is up to all of us to know our state laws.

    P.s. Under Texas law DUIs are only for people under 21. DWI is the proper charge.

  14. number 3 is why i keep a list of all pertinent statutes for my state in my wallet. Never had to use it yet, but JIC

  15. Join the USCCA. They will pay for your criminal defense in a good shoot and cover you in a civil defense. It’s well worth the peace of mind.

    Above all else, know the local laws and what constitutes justifiable use and follow them.

  16. Under reason number 5, you forgot anti-white racism, just ask George Zimmerman and Officer Darren Wilson. (Only) black lives matter!

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