I must confess, it had never occurred to me that Texas' laws regarding the use of deadly force to protect one's property needed to be loosened, but that's what they're fixing to do in the Lege.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio and Rep. Joe Driver of Garland have sponsored bills to have Texas join more than a dozen states with the so-called "Castle Doctrine," a sort of shoot-first, retreat-later approach to defending hearth, home, truck and business.
Essentially, the Castle Doctrine is born out of the common-law theory that a man's home is his castle and he has a right to defend it.
And although Texas already has some of the broadest self-defense laws in the country, Wentworth says his bill would expand the legal rights of crime victims to protect themselves, their relatives and their property from intruders in their home, occupied vehicles or business.
It would create a legal presumption that an intruder is there to cause death or great bodily harm and that victims have the right to use deadly force. He says current law in some instances imposes a duty to retreat before using potentially deadly force on an intruder.
"I believe Texans who are attacked in their homes, their businesses, their vehicles or anywhere else have a right to defend themselves from attack without fear of being prosecuted and face possible civil suits alleging wrongful injury or death," Wentworth said.
Jerry Dowling, a criminal justice professor at Sam Houston State University, said state law already protects self-defense of life and property, particularly in one's home, or castle.
"I've lived in Texas 30-plus years and I would be astounded to hear of a Texas jury that convicted someone who blasted a guy who was in his house," Dowling said. "It would just be anathema to the culture down here."
Prosecutors have had mixed reactions to the bill, said Shannon Edmonds, spokesman for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
District Attorneys are waiting for proponents of the change to produce an example of someone wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Texas for an act of self-defense.
"Is this a solution in search of a problem?" Edmonds said.
Wentworth's office said nearly all of the 31 state senators have signed onto his bill and more than 100 house members have signed Driver's bill in that chamber.