How Social Media Can Be Used Against You…

The following is a video transcript.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat: many of these social media outlets have become a common part of our daily lives. But can one of your simple social media posts be used against you in court; or worse, could it lead to your arrest?

The quick answer is “yes.”

Social media posts can be used against you in court. As a former prosecutor, I can tell you from experience that social media posts are actually used quite frequently as evidence against people. So, does that mean you can’t have social media at all? Of course not. It simply means you should be conscious of what you are posting.

We’ve all seen pictures of guns, with sayings like, “How do you feel about gun control? Break into my house and find out.” On the surface, it seems harmless and kind of silly, but what happens if you actually have someone break into your house and you end up using a gun in self-defense? A prosecutor could come along and show this post to a jury, and imply that you’ve always been trigger-happy and just waiting for the opportunity to shoot an intruder.

But can social media posts lead to your arrest? Again, the answer is yes.

In fact, we’ve handled cases of those who’ve posted photos which they thought were completely harmless, but law enforcement got ahold of them and used them to arrest the individual.

Here’s an example: someone posts a photo of themselves with a deer they shot, and it turns out the deer is actually a protected breed that’s illegal to shoot.

It’s possible for wildlife officers to see this photo and use that photo to press charges against the individual. In fact, field reports posted by wildlife officers prove this is a very common practice. In addition, we’ve spoken to several ATF agents who’ve stumbled upon suspected criminal activity when they saw a YouTube or Facebook video of a person allegedly shouldering an AR pistol.

Officers are embracing the age of technology as much, if not more so, than we are.

Even an innocent photo here and there of you and your friends at the range or showing off your new addition to your collection can be used against you. Imagine an enterprising prosecutor, gathering dozens of photos with you and firearms posted over a long period of time, to make it seem like you’re gun crazy.

Social media can be a great way to keep in contact with friends and family, but it’s important to remember that these outlets are not private. They’re public, and it’s possible for law enforcement to get their hands on your posts.

A picture tells a thousand words and even when there’s no unlawful activity in your post, it may be misconstrued or misinterpreted, and used against you by law enforcement. So, before you decide to post anything on social media, stop for a moment. Think about how this could affect you and how this would look before a jury.

Remember, a picture’s worth a thousand words, but in a court of law, it speaks volumes. If you have any questions about safely using social media, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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Innocent Child vs. Neighborhood Bully

The following is a video transcript. This is a reenactment and dramatization of an actual member’s story. This video does not and is not intended to depict or replicate the actual persons, places, or circumstances involved in the incident.

Kids always manage to find a way to get into trouble. However, in this member’s story, we will see what happens when it’s the trouble that finds the kid.

Our member’s son, Sam, was riding his bike to the park to meet with his friends. The neighborhood bully whose house is along the way was outside playing basketball with another kid.

“One of the boys had called over Sam’s friend, and Sam after a few minutes went over to find out if everything was okay and needed any help.”

The bully grabbed Sam and his bike and ended up knocking Sam over. The bully ran inside and Sam hurried off to the park with his friends. The bully and his parents decided to go to the park to accuse Sam of bullying their son.

“So, my son yelled ‘bull’ and the father had approached by this time and grabbed my son. He got him in a bear hug. The father refused to let go and held on, started screaming and cursing at my son, and then the whole family was yelling at him. The boys that were with my son had called their parents, who showed up with their brothers. They had a talk with this boy’s parents, and they were able to finally get him out of there.”

Sam frantically rode home and ran inside to tell his parents.

“As the story started to unfold and I realized that my son was attacked by a full-grown man, I called the police.”

The police took a statement from Sam and his parents. Sam’s parents told the police where the other family lived, and the police left to speak with them.

Surprisingly, the police came back the next day and gave Sam a citation for assault, harassment, and trespassing.

“So, I immediately escorted them out, took the ticket and escorted them out, and called my Independent Program Attorney the next day.”

U.S. & Texas LawShield Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards got involved and immediately began his own investigation; he was able to thoroughly review the investigating officer’s bodycam footage of the interviews. He concluded that the officer clearly misinterpreted the timeline of events and that a witness from the park who was interviewed had a clear bias towards Sam.

In court, the bully’s father lost his temper during Doug’s cross-examination, showing real signs of emotional instability. The combination of these elements helped Doug successfully challenge the version of events presented by the prosecutor.

This story serves as a reminder that there are people out there who will without hesitation throw an innocent child under the bus of the criminal justice system. Fortunately, Sam’s parents had added Minor Children Coverage to their U.S. & Texas LawShield membership and the judge found Sam not guilty on all three charges.

Learn how you can add Minor Children Coverage, located in our optional Member Coverage, to your U.S. & Texas LawShield membership today.

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Rude Awakening at the Gun Shop | Texas

The following is a video transcript.

You’ve recently had your eye on a new handgun, but it’s been a few years since your last firearms purchase. You go to your local gun store ready to make your purchase. You fill out the Form 4473, and the store clerk takes your ID to run the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Of course, you know the background check is just a formality because you’ve never been in trouble in your life. Imagine your shock when the clerk returns to tell you that your purchase is being denied because the NICS system shows that you’re a convicted felon.

You come to find out that somebody used your name and identifying information when they were arrested and convicted of a felony offense.

You can’t buy a firearm. You cannot obtain or renew your handgun license. Worst of all, now you’re worried that if a police officer stops you for speeding, he’s going to arrest you for felon in possession of a firearm when he finds your handgun.

Unfortunately, this is happening more and more in today’s society.

What can you do to protect yourself if you find that someone has used your identity while committing a criminal offense?

Many states have recognized that this is an increasing problem for law-abiding citizens and have passed legislation to combat it.

Some states have laws on the books. Others have an administrative process whereby a person can obtain documentation that will verify the person does not have a criminal history and is the victim of mistaken or stolen identity. This documentation will usually come from the state’s principle or chief law enforcement agency.

In states without a formal procedure, things can get a bit trickier. You want to get with an attorney to prepare and assemble documentation you can carry with you to hopefully convince law enforcement that you are not the criminal who has been falsely using your name and identity.

Unfortunately, this takes time and can be technically and legally daunting, but knowing there may be a process to resolve these issues can keep you ahead of the game.

With Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage, an Independent Program Attorney will help you with the legal maneuvers that are essential after your identity is stolen.

They will assist you with the laws and processes available in your state, and take whatever steps are legally available to prove you are not the criminal who has been running around with your ID.

Don’t stare down the barrel of your stolen identity without Texas LawShield by your side. Call and add Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage today.

If you have any questions about how a stolen identity could affect you, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to a Member Services representative.

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Employee Spotlight: Martha

Here at U.S. & Texas LawShield, we care about the communities we serve because we are your neighbors, your friends, and your family members.

MEET MARTHA, PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR HUNTERSHIELD AT U.S. & TEXAS LAWSHIELD.

Previously working as a paralegal and writer, Martha’s love for hunting made her the perfect fit for the U.S. & Texas LawShield family. On an average day, Martha is busy creating content for the HunterShield blog, organizing events, and educating others on the benefits of HunterShield.

With over 15 years of experience as a paralegal, Martha comes with a deep understanding of how the law affects people on a daily basis. She has always loved helping people and working for U.S. & Texas LawShield allows her to carry that mission to further lengths.

She shares, “I couldn’t imagine a more important thing to be doing than being a part of an organization that helps others in the aftermath of exercising their rights. I’m super proud of being a member and even more proud that I get to work for such a purposeful company. I love educating others and I’m looking forward to creating great educational materials for hunters.”

When she’s not on the job, Martha is a passionate hunter and a strong advocate for the protection of our Second Amendment Rights. She loves the educational aspect of hunting and the opportunity to teach newcomers all about the sport.

“GUNOWNERS, NON-GUNOWNERS, VETERANS, L.E.O.S SHOULD JOIN U.S. & TEXAS LAWSHIELD BECAUSE THIS COMPANY CARES ABOUT PEOPLE!”

Because of her day-to-day involvement with recreational hunting and daily conceal carry, Martha finds the protection that she gets as a member of U.S. & Texas LawShield is a very necessary part of her life. As a paralegal, she knows how difficult it is to find a good attorney who is available and willing to assist you in your time of need.

Martha enjoys using different types of guns, but her absolute favorite is a shotgun, because of its many uses. Her first pistol was a Kimber Crimson Carry and her very first rifle was a Sako 7mm Rem. mag. The best advice she can give to a gunowner is to shoot often, get training, and get a U.S. & Texas LawShield membership.

The best self-defense strategy begins with self-awareness! Martha can never stress the importance of self-defense enough to the people around her, as she is a survivor of violent crime. Do not become a victim by being unaware of your surroundings. ALWAYS be on high alert.

Thanks to leaders like Martha, we here at U.S. & Texas LawShield are better equipped to support, educate, and protect responsible gunowners. Find out more about our HunterShield program and how to sign up for your own LawShield membership today.

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Traveling State Spotlight: Georgia

The following is a video transcript.

Are you traveling to Georgia soon? If you’re an out-of-state license holder, what should you know? If you’re traveling from out of state without a license, what should you know?

Georgia Reciprocity

To begin, Georgia shares reciprocity with 32 other states. That means that Georgia recognizes the weapons carry licenses and permits from those states just as if they were Georgia licenses. Those who have licenses that share reciprocity with Georgia have the same rights and abilities to carry in locations in Georgia that a Georgia resident does.

Where Can You NOT Carry?

So, let’s talk about carrying with a weapons license versus carrying without a weapons carry license. With a weapons carry license you can carry virtually anywhere in Georgia. There are some specific places enumerated by statute where you cannot carry: courthouses, jails, mental health facilities, government buildings with law enforcement screening. These are commonsensical places where you can’t carry. Places of worship without permission: if you do have permission to carry in a place of worship, and that permission must be a specific, an affirmative “yes,” then it’s okay to carry. Otherwise, you cannot carry, but you can leave it in your vehicle.

In all other locations, you can leave your firearm in your vehicle. But with a weapons carry license, you can carry both openly or concealed; the law makes no distinction between the two. With a weapons carry license, you can carry on your hip, on the small of your back, under your arm; you can carry openly. The law allows you to do this in virtually any location: private property or public property.

Where You Can Carry

If there’s a sign at a property, the law doesn’t necessarily state that that sign is enough to keep you out of the property. However, if you are approached by someone who’s in legal control of the property, manages the property, or has been tasked to perform a security, and they ask you to leave, then you must leave. If you don’t leave, then it could be a violation of the law called criminal trespass.

Let’s say you’re traveling to a hotel. Now, with a weapons carry license and even without a weapons carry license, you can always carry in your home, your car, or your place of business. These three places are called your habitation. If you’re staying in a hotel, that location becomes your habitation if you have excluded all others from the use of that specific room or specific suite that you have.

With a weapons carry license, you can carry in public. You can carry in a state park. Which means in Georgia, if you can carry in a state park, you can also carry in a federal park. But you cannot take the firearm into any federal buildings. If you go to a national park to hike, you can’t take it into the bathroom or the Visitor’s Center.

There’s no distinction in Georgia between restaurants that serve alcohol and restaurants that do not serve alcohol. You don’t have to stay away just because a location serves alcohol. It’s okay to take a firearm in with you, but again, if the owner or the person in legal control asks you to leave, then you must leave.

More generally, let’s talk about those without a weapons carry license for just a moment. If you’re eligible to possess a firearm, then you can carry in your home, your car, and your place of business. You can carry in any location so long as the firearm is enclosed in the case and unloaded. You can carry in another person’s vehicle with that person’s permission, except that in Georgia you must otherwise be eligible for a weapons carry license in order to do this. So, we do run into some issues there, potentially if you’re an out-of-state resident, because the law is not very clear on that point.

So if you are traveling from out-of-state and do not have a weapons carry license, be very careful about carrying in another person’s vehicle.

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Rude Awakening at the Gun Shop | U.S.

The following is a video transcript.

You’ve recently had your eye on a new handgun, but it’s been a few years since your last firearms purchase. You go to your local gun store ready to make your purchase. You fill out the Form 4473, and the store clerk takes your ID to run the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Of course, you know the background check is just a formality because you’ve never been in trouble in your life. Imagine your shock when the clerk returns to tell you that your purchase is being denied because the NICS system shows that you’re a convicted felon.

You come to find out that somebody used your name and identifying information when they were arrested and convicted of a felony offense.

You can’t buy a firearm. You cannot obtain or renew your handgun license. Worst of all, now you’re worried that if a police officer stops you for speeding, he’s going to arrest you for felon in possession of a firearm when he finds your handgun.

Unfortunately, this is happening more and more in today’s society.

What can you do to protect yourself if you find that someone has used your identity while committing a criminal offense?

Many states have recognized that this is an increasing problem for law-abiding citizens and have passed legislation to combat it.

Some states have laws on the books. Others have an administrative process whereby a person can obtain documentation that will verify the person does not have a criminal history and is the victim of mistaken or stolen identity. This documentation will usually come from the state’s principle or chief law enforcement agency.

In states without a formal procedure, things can get a bit trickier. You want to get with an attorney to prepare and assemble documentation you can carry with you to hopefully convince law enforcement that you are not the criminal who has been falsely using your name and identity.

Unfortunately, this takes time and can be technically and legally daunting, but knowing there may be a process to resolve these issues can keep you ahead of the game.

With Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage, an Independent Program Attorney will help you with the legal maneuvers that are essential after your identity is stolen.

They will assist you with the laws and processes available in your state, and take whatever steps are legally available to prove you are not the criminal who has been running around with your ID.

Don’t stare down the barrel of your stolen identity without U.S. LawShield by your side. Call and add Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage today.

If you have any questions about how a stolen identity could affect you, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to a Member Services representative.

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The Federal Bump Stock Ban Explained

Florida and New Jersey Members: Bump stocks are already illegal under state law. For more information, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

 

The following is a video transcript.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has just signed a national ban on bump stocks, expected to go into effect on March 21, 2019. This prohibition is unlike any previous gun ban we’ve seen, in that it was neither passed by Congress, nor signed by the President. Instead, an administrative agency simply changed one of their definitions in order to institute the ban.

Bump stocks will now fall into the definition of machinegun, found in 27 C.F.R. Parts 477, 478, and 479.

Previously, this term was defined as: “[A] firearm which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” The term also includes any part of a machinegun or anything that may convert a weapon into a machinegun.

Specifically, with regard to bump stocks, the new rule adds: “The term ‘machinegun’ includes a bump-stock-type device, i.e., a device that allows a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm to which it is affixed, so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.”

This new definition has the effect of criminalizing the possession of all bump stocks.

The new rule has no provision to grandfather in and register the bump stocks that many citizens already own.

Without exception, before March 21, 2019, if you own a bump stock, you must either surrender it to the ATF or destroy it.

You will not be compensated for the money you spent when you legally bought this item. Failure to comply with this new rule is a federal felony, punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each bump stock in your possession.

There have already been many legal challenges filed and there will be many more to come before March 21. Most ask that the courts block this rule from going into effect so that the issue can be fully litigated before any American has to destroy their property without compensation.

Does this open the door for future regulation and re-classification of guns, ammo, and accessories?

What do you think?

If you have any questions about bump stocks or the regulatory process, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney today.

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How NOT to Fire Off the New Year | Texas

The following is a video transcript.

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner, but there are a few things that don’t mix: drinking, driving, fireworks, and firearms. We often hear of people firing their guns off in the air to celebrate the New Year. This is a very dangerous activity that can result in serious bodily injury, or death, and can land you in jail.

Discharging Firearms

You are not allowed to recklessly discharge a firearm in city limits. In some circumstances, this could even be considered deadly conduct. Gun safety rules should always be strictly observed. That means never displaying or discharging your gun in an inappropriate, reckless, or unsafe manner.

Fireworks

What about fireworks? Many cities in Texas regulate the use of fireworks within city ordinances. For example, Fort Worth, Texas has an ordinance imposing a $2,000 fine for discharging fireworks within the incorporated city limits. Keep in mind if you are permitted to shoot off fireworks in your locality, that does not mean you can or should discharge your firearm.

Intoxication

Of course, it goes without saying, the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated is a crime. You should not drink and drive. Similarly, carrying a handgun under the authority of your LTC while intoxicated is a crime. If you do too much celebrating over the holiday, do not drive, and do not carry your firearm. But even when we are careful, accidents and injuries do happen.

Helping Others

Whether it’s fireworks or some other accident, a common question we get asked is, what happens if I see someone who needs medical assistance? Can I help them? And will I be liable if I accidentally injure them while rendering aid?

While you are not typically required to perform first aid, Texas law protects you when administering emergency or life-saving treatment to someone in need. This protection is commonly called the Good Samaritan Law.

Whether it is a firework mishap, a car accident, or some other injury, the Good Samaritan Law states that you will not be civilly liable if you administer emergency care in good faith, and are not willfully or wantonly negligent.

We wish you and yours a happy New Year. If you have any questions about any of these topics, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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Traffic Stop + Concealed Handgun = Recipe For Disaster?

The following is a video transcript.

Most of us have experienced being stopped by the police for some minor traffic violation, but what if you have your license or permit to carry a concealed handgun? Does this change how an officer handles the investigation? What about your firearm? Can they take your handgun from you just for speeding?

In our previous videos, we’ve discussed the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution: search warrants and their exceptions. In this video, we’ll explore if and when a police officer can disarm you during a traffic stop.

A police officer may legally search an arrested person or any place within a person’s immediate control for weapons and evidence of a crime. This wingspan rule is based on a concern for officers’ safety.

What about a person who is temporarily detained for a traffic infraction?

In most states, a police officer can temporarily disarm a person during an official investigation. This is especially true in those states where you must immediately disclose that you have a concealed handgun license or permit at the beginning of a traffic stop.

When you’re stopped by police, if you have your license or permit to carry and your handgun is on your person or in your vehicle, your best option is to keep both hands on the wheel and let the officer know that you have a firearm.

Next, you want to follow their instructions. Some police officers will ask that you step out of the vehicle to locate the firearm, unload it, and keep it for the duration of the traffic stop. It should then promptly be returned to you. It is also common for a police officer to unload and potentially disassemble your firearm before returning it to you. Other officers may tell you, “Just keep your hands away from your firearm,” and continue with the routine traffic stop. This will depend on the state you are in and the temperament of the police officer.

Most of the time, your firearm is returned to you, but can an officer actually seize your weapon and take it back with them to the police station?

Well, it depends. If the weapon itself is evidence of an alleged crime, then the gun will likely be seized, unloaded, bagged and tagged as evidence while you enjoy a ride back to the police station.

If your firearm is seized as evidence, will you get it back? Whether or not your firearm is returned to you at the end of your court case is going to depend on the outcome. Most states will not return a firearm once it is seized as evidence unless the case is dismissed or a jury finds a person not guilty of an alleged crime. Additionally, a court order to return the firearm may be required. In either scenario, the return can take years.

If you have any questions about whether a police officer can disarm you and seize your weapon, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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Ten Long Years to Clear His Name…

The following is a video transcript.

We live in a world of information and data, where our identities exist inside of databases.

In many ways, this makes our lives easier. You can transfer money to or from your bank account in an instant. And you get that new jacket delivered to your front door by 8:00 p.m. tomorrow.

On the other hand, people’s identities are either stolen or mistaken because of the new vulnerabilities that are present in the digital age.

Imagine you lost your wallet, and then two years later you find out there is a warrant in Detroit in your name. The catch? You’ve never been to Detroit. Fast forward a few more months, you find out that there are more arrests on your record for public intoxication and resisting arrest, and the convictions for marijuana possession and illegal possession of a handgun.

This actually happened to a man in Indiana back in 2006. Authorities finally determined the true identity of the criminal, and that he was using the Social Security number of the man from Indiana who had lost his wallet.

What’s worse? This criminal was eventually arrested and convicted of murder. The Indiana man received paperwork and documentation clearing his name, but his troubles were not over yet.

It turns out, though the Government admitted to the mix-up, the records were never actually corrected. This oversight resulted in the revocation and suspension of his driver’s license and the denial of a handgun permit.

This also caused him to struggle with finding gainful employment, forcing him to take lower paying, labor-intensive jobs. It took nearly a decade before he was able to gather enough documentation to convince employers that the criminal record was not truly his.

And then there’s the 2017 story that involves a man living in Maryland who happens to have the same full name and exact date of birth as a felon in Florida. But they’re in different states. No problem, right? Wrong. He struggles to find work due to the criminal record of the Florida felon which causes him to fail background checks.

The man in Maryland is now forced to carry around a folder of documents containing an affidavit and a set of his own fingerprints just to prove that he is not a felon.

The real tragedy here is that these scenarios do occur. They can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone.

With Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage, we won’t let you face this legal nightmare alone. Let U.S. LawShield guide you through the process.

Our Independent Program Attorneys will help you navigate the legal aftermath of a stolen identity so your reputation and Second Amendment rights are preserved.

Don’t wait. Add Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage to your membership today.

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