Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said Texas needs to revise its law to prevent a tragedy such as the Trayvon Martin case in Florida from happening here.
This state’s current law is not that different from the so-called Stand Your Ground law used in Florida. Under current law in the Lone Star State, a person is justified in using deadly force in self-defense or if someone is unlawfully and with force trying to enter their home, business or vehicle or is in the act of committing murder, kidnapping, rape or robbery.
The current law took its shape in 2007, and used a model that had passed in Florida and 14 other states. What changed is that the Texas Legislature removed a provision that said people have a duty to retreat if faced with a potentially violent situation. The old law also said that citizens had the right to use deadly force to protect themselves, others or their property but only if there was no avenue for escape.
Coleman, who voted against the change five years ago, said it’s time to dial back the Texas law to its pre-2007 status. He said a duty to retreat could have prevented what happened in Florida when a neighborhood watch volunteer confronted an unarmed teenager and ended up shooting him.
Rep. Coleman expanded on that on his site.
The Texas Castle Doctrine too freely gives license to use deadly force based on subjective assumptions and needs to be corrected. In 2007, when the Legislature eliminated the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense, the likelihood of killing someone simply because they were presumed to be dangerous was increased. Now Texans can justify the use of deadly force based on perceived danger almost anywhere and not just at home— in their cars on public roads, the workplace, and essentially anywhere they are not trespassing and lawfully allowed to be on that property. What was passed in 2007 was unnecessary, and I voted against it. Texas law already allowed people to defend themselves against deadly force with deadly force if they were unable to run away and escape danger. I will file legislation that returns Texas law to a balance that values human life, avoids violence when possible, and preserves the right to self-defense in clear situations of immediate life-threatening danger.
Coleman sent out an email announcing this as well, which included this link to the House Research Organization’s bill analysis of SB378. I note that one of the people who testified against the bill in the House committee hearing was Bill Delmore from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. I believe that this extension of Texas’ Castle Doctrine was unnecessary, and now that we have clearly seen the potential consequences, it’s time to rethink it. I hope Rep. Coleman’s colleagues in the Lege listen to him. The Chron has more.