Ask an Attorney

Ask an Attorney

introducing our new member interaction series called Ask an Attorney. In this series, an Independent Program Attorney will be answering questions directly from you, our Members. What do you want to know? Comment below and watch future newsletters to see if your question is answered.

Buying Guns During a Government Shutdown: What You Need to Know

During the most recent government shutdown, U.S. & Texas LawShield received many calls from our members concerned on how their ability to purchase firearms was being affected. With the possibility of another shutdown coming on February 8, we asked one of our Independent Program Attorneys to answer these questions for you.

This weekend’s government shutdown may have only lasted a couple of days but it raised some important questions for gun owners. For instance, if the federal government shuts down, what does it mean for our ability to purchase firearms? To answer this question, we have to know some background information.

When you purchase a firearm through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer, you are required to fill out ATF Form 4473. From there, the FFL submits your 4473 to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to ensure that you are eligible to purchase firearms. The results are often immediate but can take up to three days. As long as FBI employees supporting NICS are at work, firearms purchases should be business as usual.

When Congress can’t pass a budget—as happened on January 19—federal operations cease, and federal employees deemed “nonessential” are furloughed indefinitely. “Essential” employees continue reporting to work during the shutdown (though sometimes without pay). Essential personnel are those considered necessary for the protection of life and property, including operations within law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.

According to the Department of Justice, “All operations of the FBI are directed toward national security and investigations of violations of law involving protection of life and property,” so they are considered “essential.” In fact, almost every employee that supports the NICS is deemed essential and will continue to work during a shutdown.

In addition, under the Brady Act— a handgun carry permit serves as an alternative to the background check for some states. For example, a Texas LTC qualifies for this exception. So, in the unlikely event of a NICS shutdown, your state’s handgun carry permit could take the place of an FBI background check when you’re purchasing a firearm.

A government shutdown may cause most federal operations to stop in their tracks, but the FBI will remain hard at work, and as a result, so will your Second Amendment rights. Congress’ most recent compromise will only extend through early-February so, another shutdown may be on the horizon. But, there’s no reason to worry about purchasing firearms. Those in charge of processing your Form 4473 will be working, even when other federal employees are not.

-Kassidy Montgomery, Independent Program Attorney U.S. & Texas LawShield

TACTICAL SLINGSHOTS ARE MORE THAN A MERE TOY

The slingshot has undergone radical improvement over the years from the days of a forked tree branch and some rubber bands to more technically advanced tactical models capable of serious damage. Some models are even used for hunting.

Modern tactical slingshots utilize ergonomic design and high-tension elastic materials to deliver high velocity and maximum force at impact with the target.

Check out these tactical slingshots that won’t break the bank.

POWER OF A SLINGSHOT VS. HANDGUN

More recently, the slingshot has undergone technological advancement to the point that it can be considered a serious, tactical weapon, beyond merely a use for hunting small game. The modern tactical slingshot is military grade and capable of providing self-defense with an almost endless supply of available ammo.

Compared to the ballistic characteristics of a handgun, a tactical slingshot is surprisingly powerful, and in some case, more powerful.

To test the force of a slingshot compared to a gun, a slingshot was put to the test against five different calibers of handgun ammunition—the .22, 9mm, 357 SIG, the .45ACP, and the .44 Magnum. The test was simple—measure the impact of a slingshot launching a 1” steel ball compared to that of the various rounds of ammunition fired from a handgun.

To see the video results of this test, click here.

The test results may surprise you. The slingshot outperformed all ammunition with the exception of the .44 Magnum. Of course, the slingshot used in this video is not one that a person would carry around for self-defense, but it is an example of what a powerful tool the right one can be.

ARE TACTICAL SLINGSHOTS LEGAL?

Not all slingshots are created equal, and therefore, not all slingshots are legal in every state.

In New York, for example, slingshots with a wrist-brace are illegal under § 265.01 of the New York Penal Code. Possession this style slingshot (often referred to as a “wrist-rocket”) is a misdemeanor, regardless of its intended use.

In New Jersey, slingshots are considered per se dangerous weapons. Title 2c – The New Jersey Code Of Criminal Justice Section 2C:39-3(e) makes possession of any type of slingshot without “any explainable lawful purpose” a felony of the fourth degree. What non-weapon, lawful use is not explained in the statute and is up to the judge.

The following are some states and cities make possession of a wrist-rocket illegal:

  • Massachusetts
  • Duluth, Minnesota
  • Louis, Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Knoxville & Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Salt Lake County, Utah
  • Falls Church, Virginia
  • Madison, Wisconsin

There may be other municipalities that ban possession of these devices, so it is important you check with local authorities before acquiring a slingshot with a wrist-brace.

LEGAL FOR HUNTING?

Tactical slingshots are suitable for hunting small game, but their use may be regulated by state and local laws. Some states permit their use in hunting small game and birds or non-game or unprotected species only.

Florida, for example, permits hunting non-game animals and furbearers only. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Texas, to name a few, do not permit hunting with slingshots at all.

Currently, 32 states permit hunting with slingshots in some capacity. For a summary of the laws in all 50 states, click here.

 

Rear-Ended Then Defended

Rear-Ended Then Defended Part 1

After a busy day at work, dad Jeremy just wanted to take his son to the park to play, but things went terribly wrong after he was rear-ended at an intersection.

Watch the video below to see Member Ambassador Sherry Hale, share another amazing U.S. LawShield member’s story.

 

Sherry: “Imagine you are driving with your family during your daily routine, when all of a sudden you are rear-ended. As you attempt to exchange information, the driver and passengers behind you become hostile, surrounding your car. In this story, our member Jeremy found himself defending not only his own life, but the life of his infant son.”

 

Jeremy: “I had just picked up my son from day care. After a long day of work, I was excited to finally be able to spend some time with him and decided that we should head to the park.

Suddenly, as I stopped at an intersection, I noticed a car going a bit too fast behind me. I tried to change lanes but it was too late. The car rammed into the back of me.

Just as I was about to get out and exchange information, 3 men surrounded my car, one of them smashing my back window!

Fearing for mine and my son’s safety, I quickly grabbed my gun from the glove compartment and warned them to back off.

As they began to slowly step away, I got out of my truck and forced them into their vehicle until they left. After I called 911, I contacted the LawShield emergency hotline for immediate legal help.”

 

Sherry: “Jeremy took swift action to defend himself and his child. And after calling our emergency hotline to get immediate legal help, he was neither arrested nor charged with any crime. However, was the decision to leave his vehicle with a firearm in hand legal in your state?

Stay tuned for PART 2 when an independent program attorney will address the law where you live.”

 

Rear-Ended Then Defended Part 2

As you saw, no one was hurt, and our member Jeremy was neither arrested nor charged. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Next time, we will dive deeper into the law, where Independent Program Attorneys will explain the road rage self-defense laws from your state. Don’t miss Rear-Ended Then Defended Part 2!

 

What do you think?

Have you ever been in any sort of road-rage incident? What would you have done if you were in Jeremy’s shoes? What do you think about our Members’ Voice videos?

Let us know in the comments below, we love to hear your opinions!

 

Our First Official Member Range Day Outside Texas 

Now Introducing Range Days in Florida

We are so excited to finally bring Member Range Days to the sunshine state!

Join Us Next Time Yourself

Don’t miss our next Member Range Day! Be sure to look out for announcements in our newsletters and on social media so that you don’t miss out. And check out our Member Perks page to see what other great deals you’re entitled to just for being a member of U.S. LawShield. 

Watch The Fun

Click the video below to see Germaine our brand ambassador have a blast at Shooter’s World in Tampa.

 

Hurricane brings the best and worst out of people

During the recent storms that struck Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, your attorney hotline has been busy helping members that have been forced to abandon their guns as they leave their flooded homes, who were worried about the threat of gun confiscation, or have had to defend their property from looters. Texas & U.S. Law Shield was there to help.

“Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma devastated the Texas and Florida coasts causing unprecedented damage. During difficult times like these, we tend to experience the best out of people, as seen in countless heroic images of neighbor helping neighbor.

However, these events can also bring out the worst out of people, seeking to take advantage when you are the most vulnerable.

From the moment rain and wind started, calls have been pouring into our attorney answered emergency hotline from members who were forced to abandon guns in their homes overtaken by flood waters as well as members who have had to protect their property from looting. Our member, John, was one of those callers after he was forced to use his gun.  Here is his story.

During Harvey, John and his son were combatting the water that continued to rise in their home. Suddenly, John noticed a truck driving up and down the street, creating wakes. Each time the truck passed, it pushed more water into John’s home.

As the truck was coming back around, John’s son went out to confront the driver and ask him to stop. John didn’t recognize the truck as being from the neighborhood and was worried the driver might be casing the street looking for an opportunity to loot empty houses. Responsibly and legally armed, he followed his son outside.

As John walked toward the truck, the bad guy started accelerating straight at his son. John, fearing for his son’s safety, fired a single shot in order to startle the driver and give his son time to move.

When police arrived, they intended to arrest John for Deadly Conduct. He called the LawShield emergency hotline and was immediately advised by his Independent Program Attorney. After the attorney talked to the police, they determined that a crime had not been committed because John acted in lawful defense of his son.

Thank goodness John is a LawShield member and knew exactly what to do when the police arrived.  We were there for John when he needed us most and we are here for you 24/7 with our attorney-answered emergency hotline.”

Hurricane Irma: Evacuating from Florida with Firearms?

Hurricane Irma

As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, we thought it important to remind our Members of the laws regarding firearms that may apply to them as they prepare to evacuate their homes and head to safety. In 2015, Governor Scott signed into law an “Emergency Concealed Carry” bill.

The new law is found in Florida Statutes 790.01 (3)(a) and in relevant part states that the law that makes it illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a license does not apply to:

(a) A person who carries a concealed weapon, or a person who may lawfully possess a firearm and who carries a concealed firearm, on or about his or her person while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to chapter 252 or declared by a local authority pursuant to chapter 870.

As used in this subsection, the term “in the act of evacuating” for Hurricane Irma means the immediate and urgent movement of a person away from the evacuation zone within 48 hours after a mandatory evacuation is ordered. The 48 hours may be extended by an order issued by the Governor.

Evacuation Ahead of Hurricane Irma

It is important to note that the law does not go into effect unless two things have happened:

1) The Governor or local authorities issue or declare a State of Emergency
2) There is a MANDATORY evacuation order issued.

If both of the above conditions have been met for Hurricane Irma, then a person who is evacuating within 48 hours of the order of evacuation may carry a weapon concealed during evacuation. The 48 hours may be extended by order of the Governor. This applies to people with or without a CWFL who have a lawful right to possess a firearm.

Getting Out Ahead of Hurricane Irma

Many of our members may be considering evacuating to a surrounding state because of Hurricane Irma.

Both Georgia and Alabama recognize Florida’s CWFL, however, the emergency evacuation law is not recognized and only a CWFL holder may lawfully carry concealed in these states subject to their laws and restrictions. Both Georgia and Alabama allow those without permits to carry in their vehicles as long as they are not a person prohibited from carrying by law. (Felony, under 21 etc.)

Georgia allows the carrying of a loaded handgun in a vehicle occupied by any who would qualify for a permit. Alabama only allows non licensed individuals to carry an unloaded handgun, cased and secured in the trunk or rear storage area. So if you do not have a CWFL and you are headed to Alabama ahead of Hurricane Irma, make sure to properly secure your unloaded firearm before you cross the state line. —by David Katz, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of Florida

 

An Open Letter to Our U.S. & Texas LawShield® Family

10 Tips for Handling a Traffic Stop Safely in Oklahoma

The state of Arizona has added language to its driver’s manual on how to respond to police during a traffic stop if drivers have guns with them. Here at U.S. LawShield of Oklahoma, we think that passing along such advice is a capital idea, and we wish to relate how Arizona is advising its armed drivers to react—and expand on that advice for our Sooner State Members.oklahoma traffic stop

The Arizona Driver License Manual now advises “… drivers with firearms in the vehicle should keep your hands on the steering wheel in a visible location, and when the officer approaches, let the officer know that you have a firearm in the vehicle and where the firearm is located. If requested, the officer may take possession of the weapon, for safety reasons, until the contact is complete.”

“This is fine as far as it goes,” says U.S LawShield Independent Program Attorney Robert Robles. “But I would like to expand on this. Here’s a checklist to keep you safe during a traffic stop when you have a gun in the car.”

1: Don’t Be Provocative

If you keep a firearm in your automobile, you should not allow yourself the luxury of losing your temper while driving. It is our experience that if you do, you are putting yourself at a significant risk of arrest even if you have done nothing illegal.

2: Don’t Display Your Firearm

Oklahoma law does not allow a person to intentionally display a firearm in response to being cut off by another car, being almost hit by another car on the freeway, or in response to provocation from another driver which does not amount to an immediate threat of death or bodily injury. In other words, if the other driver is just being a jerk, a bad driver, or both—you cannot display a firearm in response.

There have been numerous occasions where our Members have been involved in a traffic incident and the other driver calls 911. This driver then proceeds to speculate and make vague allegations. For example: “He pointed something that looked like a gun!”, “She put an object on the dashboard to intimidate me!”, or “I think they may have a gun!”

As a matter of standard procedure, the police will be dispatched. In our experience, if the police pull someone over under these circumstances and the driver does in fact have a legal firearm in their possession after this exchange of “roadway pleasantries,” they will likely be arrested with little or no evidence.

3: During the Stop

When you have an encounter in a traffic stop, keep your hands on the steering wheel.

4: Wait for the Officer

Wait for the police officer to come to the car, come to you, and ask you for your driver’s license, your liability insurance, your registration or any other official documents.

5: Disclose the Presence of a Firearm

Tell the police officer immediately, as you’re required under the Oklahoma statutes, that you are armed if, in fact, you are armed. If you’re not armed, you do not have to say anything about a concealed carry license.

6: Obey His Commands

When you tell the police officer you are armed, he will tell you either let me see your license or he will make some other response. Obey his command. Show him your license, as you’re required to have your license with you at all times.

7: Disclose If Passengers Are Armed

If you have passengers who are armed, tell the police officer. Always make sure that you know who is armed in your car.

8: Tell the Officer About Stored Firearms

If you have a gun in your car that is not in your possession, such as in the glove box or in the center console or in the trunk, feel free to tell the police officer if there are guns in the car, and he will ask you where are they and you tell them.  You only have to show the police your concealed carry permit when he asks to see it.

9: Don’t Display a Firearm Unless Asked

If you happen to wonder if you have to show the police officer your gun, you don’t have to show him your gun unless requested. Under the statutes the only time a police officer can take your gun, examine it, remove the bullets, anything like that, is when he believes that there are other crimes going on. The police officer has to have probable cause to believe that you are DUI, you have possession of contraband, or something illegal is happening, such as you’re a fleeing felon from the scene of a bank robbery or some major crime.

10: No Warrant Needed for a Search

The police do not need a warrant to search your car or search your person.  It’s called stop and frisk. It’s the Terry vs. Ohio exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. Do not tell the police officer to get a warrant because he’ll probably handcuff you, detain you, and do other unpleasant things. Remember, there is no warrant required for a police officer to stop and search, and this is an exception to the Fourth Amendment on that issue.

 

 

 

 

 

Upgrades for Self-Defense Coming Sept. 1

On Sept. 1, Texas Members will be able to open a big ol’ goodie bag of upgraded self-defense freedoms, courtesy of Gov. Abbott and the Texas Legislature. Click the video below to see Independent Program Attorney Emily Taylor alert you to some of the changes. Transcript appears below the video.

2017 Texas Legislative Session has come to an end and the Lone Star State has several new firearms and self-defense related bills that have been signed into law by Governor Abbott and will go into effect on September 1, 2017.

Knives

House Bill 1935 amends Texas Penal Code Section 46.016 to remove the term “illegal knife” and create the term “location-restricted knife.” Knives will no longer be specifically classified as daggers, dirks, stilettos, swords, so on and so forth. Instead, all knives that have a blade over five and half inches from guard to tip, are simply location-restricted.

Any knife that has a blade shorter than five-and-a-half inches is legal and unregulated. As of September 1st, so long as you’re over the age of 18, it’ll be legal for you to carry your location-restricted knife on your person anywhere that isn’t set out by law as being restricted.

What are these restricted areas? 51% establishments, high school, collegiate, or professional sporting events, correctional facilities, hospitals, mental hospitals, nursing facilities, amusement parks, and places of religious worship. Also the premises of a school are off-limits. Anywhere else you’re free to carry your location-restricted knife unless you’re under the age of 18, in which case you can only have that knife on your own property, in your own motor vehicle or watercraft, or under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian.self-defense

NFA Items for Self-Defense

We’ve got another bill this session that should delight those of you out there interested in purchasing and possessing NFA items. House Bill 1819 will remove suppressors from the list of prohibited weapons, if and only if, the Federal Hearing Protection Act of 2017 becomes law.

This bill also clarifies the murky issues surrounding the Mossberg 590 Shockwave. It amends Texas Penal Code 4605 to state that those weapons not subject to ATF registration, are not prohibited weapons under Texas law. This means that since the ATF has chosen not to regulate the Mossberg Shockwave, despite its 14-inch shotgun barrel, Texas will follow suit, and not consider this item a short-barreled shotgun.

Improvised Explosive Devices

For you amateur bomb-makers, the news isn’t so happy.

House Bill 913 has added improvised explosive devices to the list of prohibited weapons. This law defines IED as the completed and operational bomb, which means that the unassembled, non-military components, or explosive components used for target practice, for example, tannerite, still legal to possess.

Security Officers

If you’re a school employee, volunteer emergency service personnel, or volunteer church security, and you’ve got an LTC, your carry rights have been expanded and clarified through bills SB1566, HB435, and SB2065. Texas Peace Officers who are off duty have also had

their carry rights expanded through HB873. For more information on these lesser-known bills, call the Texas LawShield business line and ask to speak to an independent program attorney.

License Renewal Fees

Finally, if you’re looking to get your license to carry, or it’s time for your renewal, you’re in luck. SB16 reduces the application fee from $140 to $40, and the renewal fee from $75 to $40. SB263 also does away with the minimum caliber requirements for your firearm used to qualify during the range portion of your license-to-carry class.

If you’d like more information about any of these bills, contact Texas LawShield.

 

Can I Legally Shoot Someone If I’m Defending a Statue?

 

Big News on Big Knives

Senator Kid Rock? What That Might Mean for 2A Rights

 

When the media floated the idea that singer, songwriter, and musician Kid Rock was considering a run for the Michigan U.S. Senate seat currently held by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), certainly a good number of Americans took to social media to openly scorn the thought of the rocker showman taking on a three-term politician.

That is, until two polls actually showed Kid Rock leading Stabenow.

According to BreitbartNews.com“Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, leads Sen. Stabenow 48.6 percent to 46.1 percent, according to a survey of 1,078 likely voters released Friday by the Trafalgar Group. The rocker also leads potential Republican candidates in a hypothetical matchup 49.62 percent to 28.10 percent, the survey says.”

And consider this: “The Trafalgar Group, coincidently, predicted President Trump’s upset victory in Michigan over Hillary Clinton last November.”

A week before the Trafalgar Group poll, another poll had Kid Rock beating out Stabenow by a handful of points. 

Kid Rock has yet to officially decide whether or not he will actually run. But if he ran and won? The good news is, he is definitely pro-guns and pro-Second Amendment.

Kid Rock appears during Tiger Jam 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on May 18, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As Breitbart News noted“During an April 13, 2013, interview, then-CNN host Piers Morgan asked Kid Rock if he owned ‘a lot of guns’ and he responded, ‘Yes, tons.’ Morgan asked, ‘Do you need to have one for protection?’ Kid Rock responded, ‘I need to have one. When I go to Detroit, I am never in Detroit without my gun. Ever. Right by my side–loaded, ready.’ Morgan added, ‘And you wouldn’t hesitate to use it?’ to which Kid Rock replied, ‘No, not at all.’”

Senator Stabenow, it should be added, has supported all manner of new gun control bills ever since her election to the U.S. Senate in 2000. She not only gets a solid “F” grade from the National Rifle Association for her opposition to the Second Amendment, the watchdog group Political Integrity also noted that Stabenow was the top political recipient of direct donations from gun control groups from 2000 to 2013.

–By Brian McCombie contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog

 

Will Gorsuch Protect Your 2nd Amendment Rights? Give Us Your Take