Staying at an AirBnB. Can They Prohibit My Gun in Texas?

Summer is in full swing and many members are taking vacations. While looking for a place to stay, many are turning to Airbnb as an alternative to hotels. But a question has risen—can an AirBnB owner prohibit my gun? Watch Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker explain the law in Texas.

You may be thinking that you would rather spend your summer vacation at a quiet private residence rather than a crowded hotel, and are surfing through the available Airbnb or VRBO listings online. The issue of whether or not you can possess a firearm in another person’s house is a generally a matter of private contract law since nearly every state allows a private person to possess a firearm in a structure that is serving as their dwelling even for a short period. Be sure to review your short-term rental agreement closely to see if it restricts the possession of firearms. Further, individuals who use Airbnb are “required to provide notice of and obtain consent for any secured weapons prior to booking, and should use the messaging feature to do so.” In the event that a property owner does not want firearms brought into their homes, the host may cancel the reservation without penalty.

In some circumstances, a person’s possession of firearms on private property could be criminalized. In Texas, if a private property owner does not want an LTC holder to bring in their handgun onto the property, they must provide adequate TPC 30.06 and/or 30.07 criminal trespass notice, this could written into the rental agreement or it could be a posted sign.

Whenever and wherever you are with a firearm always be mindful of the rules and regulations of safe handling and safe storage. Be very mindful to prevent accidental discharges because of the certainty that another’s property will be damaged. Further, whether you are in Texas or another state, most of them have laws prohibiting the reckless storage of firearms where there is the possibility that children may handle them unsupervised.

Finally, one of the most common problems we hear about are folks who have accidentally forgotten to bring home their firearm after a weekend stay. Nothing causes that sinking feeling in your stomach more than a lost firearm. Even if your firearm is found by an honest person who turns it in, it is highly likely that you will have to return to the local of your vacation and prove ownership to the local police in order to have it returned.

Want to learn more information about traveling with your firearm? Download our Travel Guide now. Texas LawShield wishes you safe travels wherever and whenever you may go.

What Could Happen When We Repeal Stand Your Ground

It seems like every few months there is another story in the news about a politician or organization calling for the repeal of “Stand Your Ground” laws. A recent real-life situation demonstrates how precarious your right to self-defense can be without these essential protections.

Imagine a world where the decision to save your own life leads you to a prison sentence, even if the judge believes you acted in self-defense. A distance of a few feet, and a strict interpretation of the law, is all it took for one unfortunate Connecticut man.

Jeffery Sumpter was working as a clerk at a Dunkin’ Donuts when he was assaulted by three juvenile perpetrators. While the chaotic attack started in the store, it quickly spilled into the parking lot, where Jeffery stabbed one attacker in the leg. Little did Jeffery know that in this fateful moment, his act of self-defense would turn into a felony.

We all know self-defense laws vary from state to state, but on top of that, WHERE you defend yourself can be the difference between walking free or ending up behind bars. A minority of states, including Connecticut, impose a general duty to retreat in public before resorting to the use of deadly physical force. Thankfully, most states have what have been termed “Stand Your Ground” laws. These laws do not require an individual to retreat from a threat if they are in any place where they are legally allowed to be. The fact is, Sumpter did not get this protection because in Connecticut, the only two places where a person under attack does not have a duty to retreat are INSIDE of their home or place of work.

When Sumpter went outside of the store and into the parking lot, he was no longer in his place of work when he used deadly physical force in self-defense. In the eyes of the prosecutor, and ultimately the judge, Sumpter should have fled from his attackers. At the moment he stabbed one of his attackers, the tables turned, and he went from defender to defendant. He was charged, convicted, and sentenced to 18 months incarceration, followed by three years of probation.

If you live in a state that is fortunate enough to have a Stand Your Ground law, be vigilant about it, because if it is ever repealed, this could happen to you.

Medical Marijuana Passes in Oklahoma: Gun Owners Be Cautious

On Tuesday, June 26, voters in Oklahoma overwhelming voted 56 percent to 43 percent in support of State Question 788, the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use. As a reminder, we previously reported on the legal implications to gun owners that obtain a permit to use medical marijuana.

While marijuana may have some medical uses, it is still an illegal Schedule 1 drug under federal law. As such, a person’s right to possess firearms can be impacted. In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a letter to licensed firearms dealers concerning marijuana, stating:

“Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes … is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

Lisa Meiman, a spokesperson for the ATF in Denver, says, “Under federal law marijuana is still a controlled substance, meaning that people who are marijuana users are not able to lawfully possess a firearm regardless of the state laws.”

But the issue goes beyond the mere possession of firearms. The ATF amended Form 4473, the Firearms Transfer Form all would-be firearms purchasers must complete to buy a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer, with this warning on question 11 item e—”The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized in the state where you reside.”

Several Oklahoma law enforcement officials, including Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, have stated that it will negatively impact the right to possess or purchase firearms for those individuals that obtain a medical marijuana license in Oklahoma.

Until the federal government reclassifies marijuana or changes its policy regarding use for medical purposes, it will still remain illegal to possess or purchase firearms by individuals partaking of cannabis.

Continue to follow U.S. LawShield to stay up-to-date on all of the changing laws affecting your gun rights.

PA Lawmaker Takes Extreme Steps to Stop Gun Control Bills

One Pennsylvania lawmaker is making it his mission to derail two pieces of legislation proposed in the Pennsylvania Legislature that he believes infringe on the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, even if it meant taking extreme measures.

“We’re going to do every single thing that we can do to stop the folks in the anti-gun movement of achieving their goals of removing firearms from law-abiding citizens in Pennsylvania,” said state Rep. Aaron Bernstine, (R-10, New Beaver).

To that end, Rep. Berstine and his staff worked late into the evening on June 20 to draft 79 amendments to the two measures, and on June 21, Rep. Bernstine filed all 79 amendments.

At issue, are House Bill 1872  and House Bill 2227.

HB 1872

Introduced by state Rep. Madeline Dean, (D-Montgomery County), in October, this piece of legislation seeks to ban “multi-burst trigger activators”  such as bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic the firing speed of automatic weapons.

Bernstine believes banning bump stocks sets a bad precedent for the gun rights of law-abiding citizens, especially since such devices have only been used in one mass shooting ever. “We’re talking about a slippery slope where people are intending to infringe on Second Amendment rights,” he said. “I take that seriously.”

HB 2227

HB 2227 was introduced by state Rep. Todd Stephens, (R-Montgomery County), in April. Upon filing this measure, Rep. Stephens released a statement that this bill would create an extreme risk protective order  (ERPO) that a court would issue to prohibit someone from possessing guns when they pose an extreme risk to themselves or others. The bill would also require the information be forwarded to the state police to have the individual’s name listed on the prohibited person’s list for gun purchase background checks.

Under the proposed law, temporary extreme risk protective orders could be issued upon the filing of a petition by law enforcement or a family member against an individual thought to be a danger to himself or others without a hearing. But a final order would require a “full expedited hearing” within ten days, involving the subject of the order, evidence, and testimony.

What is troubling are some of the factors listed in the proposed law that the court could consider in determining whether the individual did indeed pose a threat, including abuse of alcohol, recklessly brandishing a firearm, or even the recent acquisition or attempted acquisition of a firearm, among others.

“Legislation that chips away at our Second Amendment rights will never get my support in the General Assembly, and I’ll do everything in my power to stop such attempts in their tracks,” Bernstine said.

His attempt began in earnest when he filed his 79 amendments.

“These amendments will drastically revise the original bills to ensure our constitutional right to keep and bear arms is not threatened or questioned,” he said, adding, “Our state Constitution is crystal clear when it says citizens’ Second Amendment rights ‘shall not be questioned.’ I took an oath to defend and protect our Constitution, and I take that very seriously.”

While not a filibuster, Bernstine acknowledged his tactics may have the same effect, forcing the House into lengthy debates on each amendment unless the bills were shelved.

“I’m confident that what we did will stop anti-gun legislation from moving forward,” stated Bernstine, who had vowed to “use any and all legislative tactics available to defeat these attempts to infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Stay tuned to U.S. LawShield to stay up-to-date on these laws and more. Become a member of U.S. LawShield and you will have up-to-date information on laws affecting your gun rights, legal updates, groundbreaking education materials and 24/7 access to our Attorney-Answered Emergency Hotline.

Gun Rights Groups Challenge Ohio Firearms Regulations

Gun rights activists have filed lawsuits against the city of Columbus regarding Ohio gun regulations. City leaders approved a broad package of regulations that made carrying a firearm after suffering a disability a misdemeanor and prohibited the brandishing of imitation firearms in public. The city also has approved the banning of so-called “rate-of-fire firearms enhancers,” commonly referred to as bump stocks.

In March, the city of Columbus announced several new pieces of legislation to tighten Ohio gun regulations, despite the state’s ban on local restrictions. City leaders called for 11 new ordinances that they said would close the gap between state and federal weapons laws and help reduce gun violence.

Mayor Andrew Ginther, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Columbus City Council president Shannon Hardin, announced the measure and said it would increase protections for victims of domestic violence and assault, prohibit firearm sales in residential areas, expand the weapons reporting process, and prohibit the sale of imitation firearms to minors.

This new legislation included a Weapons Under Disability Ordinance, which mirrors federal law that prohibits the possession of a firearm by persons who were previously convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, currently is the subject of a protection order, or previously was convicted of, or is under indictment for, a felony crime that is considered a disability under federal law but not Ohio law.

This includes convictions for drug offense, either as an adult or a child; chronic alcoholic, drug dependent or in danger of drug dependence. In addition, those deemed mentally incompetent, mentally defective or mentally ill by a judge, and subject to hospitalization or otherwise committed to a mental institution would be considered disabled under this legislation.

Having weapons while under disability is a third degree felony punishable by up to 36 months in prison.

However, since 2006 the Ohio General Assembly has prohibited cities and localities from enforcing gun control measures stricter than the state’s laws, which is part of why the Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Ohioans for Concealed Carry filed the lawsuits, on June 14,  and were named as plaintiffs in the cases. The two groups cited that these ordinances, including those related to bump stocks, are unconstitutional and violate Ohio law.

A similar lawsuit has been filed against the city of Cincinnati.

Ohio Revised Code 9.68 preempts the home rule powers of municipalities to regulate firearms, their components, and ammo,” said Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association, in a statement.  “This is important because Ohio used to have a confusing patchwork of gun laws. Merely crossing a city border could turn an otherwise law-abiding citizen into a criminal. More than a decade ago, legislators wisely decided to correct this problem by creating a uniform system of state law and forbidding cities from passing any laws which conflict with those laws.”

In May, Cincinnati became the first city in the Buckeye State to ban bump stocks, and later that same month Columbus approved a broad package of regulations to ban the bump stocks, along with the aforementioned Weapons Under Disability Ordinance.

Bump stocks were of course cast in the spotlight nationwide following the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, where a gunman was found to have used one in a massacre that left nearly 60 people dead and many more injured.

However, the gun advocates in Ohio challenge that this isn’t just about simulating the fire of an automatic weapon, which opponents of the bump stocks contend.

“This isn’t just about bump stock devices,” said Doug Deeken, a director with Ohioans for Concealed Carry, via a statement. “This is about rule of law in Ohio.”

The Ohio gun rights groups have requested that the new ordinances be suspended until their lawsuits are settled. However, attorneys for Columbus and Cincinnati rejected demand letters to file for an injunction to prevent the cities from enforcing the ordinances.

Precedence could weigh in on the case, as the Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Ohioans for Concealed Carry have won lawsuits against cities who have attempted to regulate firearms.

In 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 opinion that Ohio’s “preemption” law was valid; and in a case brought by the City of Cleveland against the State of Ohio, the court held that R.C. 9.68 is valid in all respects, including, but not limited to, the mandatory attorney fee provision against any city that attempts to violate a citizen’s right to self-defense.

Continue to follow U.S. LawShield to stay up-to-date on all of the changing laws affecting your gun rights.

-Peter Suciu, U.S. & Texas LawShield Contributor

North Carolinians Closer to Constitutionally Guaranteed Right to Hunt and Fish

Should hunting and fishing be constitutionally guaranteed rights?

Both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly think so.

On June 25, Senate Bill 677 was passed 92-23 by the North Carolina House. The bill had previously passed 44-4 in the Senate.  The amendment will now be on the ballot in November for North Carolina voters to decide its fate.

But, “what’s the point,” asked Sen. Floyd McKissick. The Democrat from Durham cast one of the four votes against SB 677 in the Senate.

“The problem is those rights are not being threatened or challenged,” he said soon after the Senate’s vote. “I suppose we’ll next need a Constitutional Amendment to protect our rights to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom.”

The bill’s Republican sponsors disagreed.

They are Sens. Danny Britt, Robeson County; Norman Sanderson, Pamlico County; and Tom McInnis, Anson County. They said in a joint statement that the constitutional protection would be a hedge against future threats from anti-hunting-and-fishing organizations.

The sponsors said they are following the example of 21 other states that amended their constitutions to protect outdoor pursuits.

“North Carolinians deserve to have their voices heard when it comes to protecting the hunting and fishing rights that have always been part of our heritage and way of life,” the sponsors said in their statement.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CFS) reports 1.63 million hunters and anglers call North Carolina home. They spend $2.3 billion each year to pursue their passions, which supports 35,088 jobs.

But, according to the CFS, North Carolina sportsmen and women have reason to worry about future threats from groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States.

“Anti-hunting organizations would lead the public to believe that hunting, fishing, and harvesting wildlife are only a privilege subject to social pressures and prevailing public sentiments, rather than an inherent right,” the CFS reported.

“Currently,” CFS added, “21 states have enacted legislation that protects the right to hunt and fish. Though there has been little resistance in several of the states that have recently passed ballot initiatives, others have met considerable resistance and, in one instance, defeat.”

That state was Arizona where, in 2010, Proposition 109—similar to North Carolina’s SB 677—was shot down after the HSUS managed to convince voters that the measure would give the Legislature exclusive authority over wildlife issues and prevent citizens “from initiating statutory petitions.”

But SB 677 states, in part, that, “The people have a right, including the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject only to laws enacted by the General Assembly and rules adopted pursuant to authority granted by the General Assembly to promote wildlife conservation and management and preserve the future of hunting and fishing.”

“As sporting traditions are increasingly threatened, right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife constitutional amendments are important to protect our outdoor heritage,” said John Culclasure, the foundation’s Appalachian states manager.

He added that “every state adjacent to North Carolina” is among the 21 states that amended their constitutions to protect hunting and fishing.

The bill’s sponsors are optimistic voters will approve the constitutional amendment in November.

In their joint statement, they said, “We’re confident voters will agree that this amendment will help ensure North Carolina remains a sportsman’s paradise for future generations.”

— Bill Miller, Contributor, U.S. & Texas LawShield blog

Hunting and fishing laws are constantly changing, as it can be seen in North Carolina. Maximize your U.S. LawShield membership with HunterShield. With this additional coverage, you’ll have 24/7/365 emergency access to Independent Program Attorneys experienced in hunting and fishing laws. Join now by logging into your Member Portal.

Justice Kennedy’s Retirement—Good News or Bad for Gun Rights?

With the announcement by Justice Anthony Kennedy that he will retire after serving on the U.S. Supreme Court for thirty years, years of uncertainty on how the nation’s highest court might decide cases involving the Second Amendment may soon become more clear.

Justice Kennedy has long been considered a ‘swing vote’ on the court, having sided on issues favorable to conservatives as well as on issues championed by liberals. That is why some court observers have speculated the Supreme Court has only taken up one gun rights case in the ten years since it issued its landmark decision in D.C. v. Heller in 2008, and that was in 2010 when it ruled in favor of the Second Amendment rights in McDonald v. City of Chicago.

In both of those cases, Kennedy sided with the majority but did not offer a written opinion in either case, leaving in question the depth of his commitment to the Second Amendment. Faced with the uncertainty as to how Kennedy may vote on gun cases, speculation is that neither the liberal nor the conservative side of the Court was eager to take up any of the dozens of cases that were presented for consideration.

Anytime a new judge is appointed to the Court, there is never a guarantee as to how the new judge will come down on any particular issue, including the Second Amendment. We can only hope that during the vetting process and the confirmation hearings that are sure to come in the next several weeks in the selection process to replace Justice Kennedy, we may be able to have at least a better shot at anticipating the new justice’s temperament.

Here are a few of possible nominees and what information we can gather regarding their position on guns and the Second Amendment, where available.

Judge Thomas Hardiman

An early front-runner appears to be United States Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, one of President Trump’s finalists for the vacant seat on the Court that went to Neil Gorsuch last year instead. Hardiman has a second chance to be nominated by President Trump.

When it comes to the Second Amendment, Hardiman has a track record of taking an expansive as well as an originalist approach to the Second Amendment.  In two cases involving gun rights a few years ago, Hardiman explained:

“. . . the threshold question in a Second Amendment challenge is one of scope: whether the Second Amendment protects the person, the weapon, or the activity in the first place. This requires an inquiry into ‘text and history.”

“. . . the most cogent principle that can be drawn from traditional limitations on the right to keep and bear arms is that dangerous persons likely to use firearms for illicit purposes were not understood to be protected by the Second Amendment.”

Further, Hardiman staked out a strong position four years ago in favor of a 2nd Amendment right to carry a gun in public. He dissented when the 3rd Circuit upheld a New Jersey law that required people seeking a gun permit to demonstrate a “justifiable need” to be armed in the case of Drake v. Filko, writing a 40-page dissent, arguing the high court and Justice Scalia described the 2nd Amendment as protecting a right to “self-defense.”

Hardiman went on to write that because “the need for self-defense naturally exists outside and inside the home, I would hold the 2nd Amendment applies outside the home,” he wrote in Drake. In passing its law, “New Jersey has decided that fewer handguns legally carried in public means less crime,” he wrote. “It is obvious that the justifiable need requirement functions as a rationing system designed to limit the number of handguns carried in New Jersey,” he said, “but it cannot stand in the face of a 2nd Amendment challenge,” he concluded.

But Hardiman is not the only name high on Trump’s list.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 53, is rumored to be at or near the top of Trump’s list of possible nominees.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in D.C. v. Heller in 2008, the District of Columbia went to work on crafting new gun regulations in light of the Heller decision, including gun registration and the ban of certain semiautomatic rifles and magazines with a capacity greater than ten rounds. Kavanaugh was on the bench in 2011 when the regulations were challenged in Heller v. District of Columbia (referred to as Heller II). In that case, the majority of the appeals court upheld the restrictions. Kavanaugh dissented.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, would have struck down regulations banning semi-automatic long guns and requiring gun registration, but he would have asked a lower court to conduct more fact-finding on whether a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips passed constitutional muster. The right to keep and bear arms, he argued, should not be subject to the balancing test adopted by the majority. Because semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines have been in common use, he argued, they should presumptively be deemed constitutional.

Kavanaugh was also a law clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Another former Kennedy law clerk has made the list as well.

Raymond Kethledge

Judge Kethledge has been serving on the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since his appointment in 2007. Kethledge was one of five appellate judges who ruled that someone previously forced into a hospital to treat mental health problems should be able to seek to have their gun rights restored, as long as they are no longer considered a threat to themselves or others.

A plus for Kethledge is that he is an avid hunter and understands and appreciates guns.

Charles Canady

Canady has been a Florida Supreme Court Judge since his appointment in 2008. He is also a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1993 to 2001. During his congressional tenure, he opposed efforts to strengthen gun regulations, voting against both the Brady bill mandating background checks for firearm purchases transacted through licensed dealers and the 1994 assault weapons ban.

Last year, he dissented when his colleagues ruled that defendants in shooting cases seeking to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law had to prove in a pre-trial evidentiary hearing why they shouldn’t be prosecuted. In January, a state lawmaker pointed to Canady’s dissent while arguing in support of a bill that has since passed that shifted that burden of proof to prosecutors. This has been considered a victory for self-defense rights.

Allison Eid

Judge Allison Eid was appointed by Trump to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to fill the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. She previously served on the Colorado Supreme Court. In 2012 she authored a unanimous state Supreme Court opinion that opened the door to concealed firearms on Colorado’s public college and university campuses, overturning a university policy that banned handguns on campus.

Her resume also includes a stint as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

William H. Pryor Jr.

Since 2003, Pryor has been a judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He also served a stint as the Alabama attorney general from 1997 to 2004.

While the Alabama AG, Pryor denounced lawsuits against gun manufacturers that had been filed by city governments and victims of violence, stating such litigation was being carried out by “leftist bounty hunters” in what amounted to an “assault on fundamental civil rights.”

As Alabama’s AG, Pryor also injected himself into the case of a Texas man who had been charged with violating the federal ban on possessing firearms while under a domestic violence restraining order. Pryor filed a brief in the Fifth Circuit case, claiming the government’s interpretation of the law “a sweeping and arbitrary infringement on the Second Amendment.”

During the nominating process for his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals, his positions on gun rights led to questions as to whether he could be impartial on gun cases, being criticized for his opposition to gun restrictions.

Wait and See

We are in the early stages, of course, in our “Supreme Court Watch” and we will continue to monitor the developments as they occur in the wake of Justice Kennedy’s announcement.

President Trump has indicated he will be making his nomination “very quickly.”  Whoever is nominated may wind up sitting on the bench for decades. Let’s just hope that our political leaders take their time and get it right, for our generation and generations to come.

Understanding the Law: Culpable Mental States

Culpable mental states are one of the most important parts of the functioning of criminal law. Though this topic digs into some complex legal theory and wordy definitions, understanding culpable mental states is essential to understanding criminal law as a whole.

Imagine a man is playing with his kids in his backyard at a family BBQ. He is carrying his pistol holstered at his belt. While he is running around with the kids he stumbles, his pistol is jostled loose from its holster, and it falls towards the ground. Instinctively, he reaches out to grab the falling gun.   His finger loops through the trigger well and he shoots his brother-in-law on the other side of the BBQ lawn. The brother-in-law is transported to the hospital in stable condition.

Now imagine a different man. This man is also at a family BBQ when he gets into a verbal altercation with his brother-in-law. After a long heated argument, he draws his pistol from his belt holster, says to his brother-in-law “I’ll kill you!”, aims and shoots him. The brother-in-law is transported to the hospital in stable condition.

Both men sent someone to the hospital with a gunshot wound. But should both of these men be charged with the same crime and face the same punishment? I think most of us would agree that the answer is no—one of these men deserves far greater repercussions. But how does the law make the distinction?

Criminal acts have two distinct parts: actus reus (the “guilty act”) and mens rea (the “guilty mind”). Both men fired a shot that struck a human. Therefore, their actus reus is the same. But the mens rea, the mental state of each man, was very different.

The model penal code lays out culpable mental states for criminal acts. Most common in criminal offenses are the mens rea of intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly. The most culpable mental state is acting intentionally (also called purposefully):

A person acts intentionally if he acts with the intent that his action causes a certain result. In other words, he undertakes his action either intending for, or hoping that, a certain result will follow. For example: I aim my pistol and pull the trigger hoping that I shoot a specific individual.

Next is a mental state we call “knowingly.” A person acts knowingly if he is aware that his conduct will result in certain consequences. In other words, a person acts knowingly if he is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause a specific result. For example: I fire my pistol into a crowd of people, knowing that the result will almost certainly be that a person is shot.

Farther down on the culpability scale is something known as recklessness.  A person acts recklessly if he is aware of a substantial risk that a certain result will occur as a result of his actions, but he disregards that risk and undertakes the actions anyway. For example: I fire shots up into the air to celebrate the fourth of July, and a person is injured by a falling bullet.

The more purposeful and intentional a person’s conduct, the more harshly the law will punish them. This makes sense: we want to impose greater punishment on someone who plans and carries out a murder plot than we do someone who kills a bystander as a result of target shooting when he knows his backstop is deficient.

You might be thinking, none of these mental states seem to fit the man who accidentally dropped his gun, and pulled the trigger while he was trying to catch it. That’s because his mental state falls closer to something we call negligence. Negligence is simply failing to act with the ordinary standard of care that a reasonable person would implement. In its more extreme form, it is actions that grossly deviate from that ordinary standard of care. In most states this is called gross negligence or criminal negligence, and can result in criminal charges.

Though you might not see culpable mental states on the front page of the newspaper, these concepts are foundational to criminal law. Mental states are half the criminal equation, and understanding them will put you leaps and bounds above the rest.  For questions about these issues or any others, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your independent program attorney.

More and More Texas School Districts Allow Armed Staff on Campus

After the recent school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, Texas school districts are putting a major focus on increased school safety procedures during the summer break. One option many districts are turning to is arming teachers.

Back in 2013, Texas enacted its Protection of Children Act Program that allows individual school districts to have armed individuals on campus.

School Marshals

One provision of the act allows a district to opt into the School Marshal Program and designate one staff member for every 200 students to be armed on campus, following intensive law enforcement style training and psychological testing. School Marshals that have regular, direct contact with students, however, are not allowed to carry a gun. Instead, they are permitted to have a secured gun within ready access only in a circumstance that would permit the use of deadly force.

School districts do not reveal the identity of its School Marshals for security reasons, or whether there are any Marshals on campus at all. Therefore, the number of school districts that participate in the School Marshal Program is uncertain.

Guardian Plan

Another provision in the act allows schools to authorize greater access to firearms on campus. Under the Guardian Plan, a district can grant anyone, including employees, permission to carry firearms on campuses through a contract. A guardian basically is there for mainly dealing with school shootings, whereas the Marshal has more of a law enforcement position.

According to Dax González, a spokesperson for the Texas Association of School Boards, few districts chose to go the route of a School Marshal and instead opted for the more flexibility provided by the Guardian Program. The best estimate is that between 20 and 50 districts utilize the Marshal Program.

The Association revealed, as of February 2018, approximately 172 school districts allowed a teacher, coach, or other individuals to carry a concealed weapon while at work. In addition to districts utilizing the School Marshal or Guardian Program, about 150 districts have their own police departments, and more than 250 districts without police have school resource officers.

Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February of this year, another 45 school districts have opted to allow staff to carry a firearm, bringing the total number to 217, roughly 20 percent out of all the school districts in the Lone Star State. González said the number “may continue to grow as districts continue to revise policies” in the aftermath of the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston that left 10 dead.

As a School Marshal or Guardian, you protect yourself and your students. We defend your freedom. Join U.S. & Texas LawShield, the authority in legal defense for self-defense.

Original article can be found here.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Sued for Denying Americans’ Right to Bear Arms

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Federal Bureau of Investigation Sued for Denying Americans’ Right to Bear Arms


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Attorney General, et al. have been served with a lawsuit according to a press release dated June 5th, 2018. The lawsuit alleges that the FBI actively refused to process background check appeals for  National Instant Criminal Background Check System(NICS) denials during 2016. This was only recently discovered through a freedom of information act request that uncovered this unconstitutional denial of due process.


“The Defendants and FBI in particular, is improperly shifting their burden to the individual to follow up with various courts or jurisdictions,” the press release explains. The government is basically using its vast and overwhelming power to discourage Americans from appealing the government’s errors when they attempt to claim their Second Amendment rights.


“This has been an ongoing issue with Defendants … [who were] improperly shifting the burden.” Numerous prior cases have been filed in various courts since 2016. “It is appalling that Americans should have to hire an attorney, go to court, and obtain a judgment to exercise a fundamental constitutional right” says Richard Hayes Independent Program Attorney with U.S. LawShield.


We can only hope that the FBI steps up their act and starts taking American’s civil rights, including the right to bear arms and the right to due process, much more seriously in the future.


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Original article can be found here.