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The following is a video transcript.
Sam Malone: Welcome to U.S. LawShield live right here on Facebook. I’m Sam Malone in Houston, Texas, and we are going through some very tumultuous times. Not just with the Coronavirus, but the “States of Emergencies” that are being enacted in cities, and counties, and states around America.
The biggest concern is how do they affect us? Me? Second Amendment? I’m a member of U.S. LawShield. I carry. We embrace 2A, but some people are getting a little crazy with it. Well, you could ask your cousin Fred down the street, or you could go to the best… Independent Program Attorney, U.S. LawShield, Emily Taylor. Emily, welcome to our Facebook Live with U.S. LawShield.
Emily Taylor: Well thank you, Sam. It’s great to talk to you.
Sam Malone: And it’s great to be back together again. Lots of anxiety going on around America. Let’s just start with how people are “quarantining” themselves, but they’re going to the supermarket. And when they finally get to the supermarket, they’re all edgy and stuff and they get toilet paper and towels, which I don’t know why people are stockpiling but anyway, there’s been some violent incidents.
We’re both pro-2A people. Does this get to the level of drawing down on someone if they grab your toilet paper, and you push them back, and they throw punches?
Emily Taylor: Well, I hope not. We have to keep in mind that even though we’re all really stressed out, things are chaotic. They’re more difficult now than ever. The rules of self-defense still have not changed, and you need to be able to be reasonable.
Now, the interesting thing about reasonable is that it is trying to take your subjective belief and make it something that’s objective. So, your jury ultimately – if you drew your pistol, if you shot someone over one of these grocery store altercations – your jury would be instructed to look at the situation through your eyes at the time, which would include the fact that we’re all under the threat of global pandemic.
Now, will that justify an overreaction? No, probably not. But, keep in mind that the stress of this current situation is something that your jury would be told they should consider. Is it worth putting your liberty at risk in that way? Absolutely not. We all need to stay as calm as possible.
Sam Malone: Let’s get to the next. Once again, it’s the current question. Sneezing never, before, used to be a very serious act, an aggressive act, a dangerous act. If I were to sneeze on you, have I committed some sort of offense that would require the other person to reach for their weapon in self-defense?
Emily Taylor: Absolutely not. Someone coughing on you, someone sneezing on you, this is not — still, even in the world we’re living in today — not an act of force, not an act of deadly force. It just does not present that immediate threat that’s going to justify actually harming someone or threatening to do harm.
Again, the best thing we can do in this scenario is try to prevent these instances from occurring in the first place. Make sure that you’re keeping a distance of three to six feet from other people out in public. That way, if they cough or sneeze, you are far enough away not to worry about it. But we have to keep cool, level heads here, and that is something that you need to have hit home. Someone coughing on you, someone sneezing on you, although terrifying now, not just unpleasant, is still not enough to justify your use of force or deadly force.
Sam Malone: Let’s see, how about this one: stockpiling. A lot of people, as you know Emily, when there’s maybe a hurricane coming, there’s been some sort of natural disaster, or in this case a virus from halfway around the world, people start stockpiling and they’ll go buy pistols, and shotguns, and ammo. Are there any special laws? Now we’re in Texas, but across America, anything we should keep in mind? Has anything changed, let’s say, when we’re stockpiling guns and ammo for protection?
Emily Taylor: Yeah. So that’s a great question, and anyone who’s tried to buy ammunition in the last week has probably seen that the prices have skyrocketed. We’re sort of in short supply because people are stockpiling. Now, this is something that is going to vary on a state-by-state basis. So, you really need to (depending on what state you’re in, if you’re a U.S. LawShield member) call in, ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney about what the rules are. Because some states just, as a matter of everyday course, it’s not a new law but something that’s already been put into effect, limit your purchasing of ammunition or firearms.
Now, here in Texas, thank goodness we are still very, very pro-2A. It’s not something we have to worry about. The only limitation in Texas is on an amount of black powder you can have in your house, and it is a huge amount. I would not worry about that. But, as far as firearms and ammunition, no laws here in Texas. But again, it does vary state by state. So, if you’re in another state, you should check with your Independent Program Attorney just to be sure.
Sam Malone: Red Flag laws were not something we were very fond of when they first came up. If someone’s going out now and they’re — I don’t want to say stockpiling — but they’re adding to their collection, should they be worried about any Red Flag laws?
Actually, first, Em give everyone a 15-second refresher on Red Flag laws. And then if you’re going out to keep your inventory current, is there anything you should be worried about?
Emily Taylor: So Red Flag laws are not something we’re fond of, and more and more states are passing them and it really is, it’s a scary thing for our Second Amendment rights.
The idea is that a person, and state by state it varies who that person can be, but a person can go petition the courts and say, “I believe that Sam Malone is a danger to himself or others, and he should be temporarily separated from his firearms.”
Generally that happens, it’s called “ex parte,” which means you are not there, you don’t get to respond, a judge issues an order, your firearms are confiscated. Then you get to go into court and try to argue to get them back. Now that is constitutionally all sorts of problematic and yet, here we are having to deal with them.
If you are out buying extra firearms and ammunition for this crisis, could that trigger a Red Flag action? That is the really horrifying part about these Red Flag laws is that it is so vague. What does it mean to be a danger to yourself? What does it mean to be a danger to others? There are anti-gun people out there who would say that stockpiling firearms ammunition is enough. You’re a danger to yourself and others, and they might be able to go file that petition.
The vagaries of the law are really disturbing. Is it possible for someone to go pursue a Red Flag action just based upon your stockpiling? Absolutely, it’s possible. Will a judge grant the Red Flag action based on stockpiling alone? Maybe. Judges are as unpredictable as any other humans. So, you hope not, but it’s definitely a possibility.
Sam Malone: There’s probably people, men and women, out there who have always had, let’s say a gun, maybe a pistol, but they don’t have their License to Carry. Is it okay now to carry? Because, after all, it is a State of Emergency. What advice would you give to a man or woman who likes thinking, “It’s getting crazy out there. I better start putting this gun in my belt.”
Emily Taylor: Yes. So, the best advice is assume that gun laws have not changed. Now, if you want to be 100% certain, you do need to check with your state’s Independent Program Attorney. But in most places, your firearms rights have not changed based on the State of Emergency, even here in Texas. Now, we actually do change our firearm laws based on States of Emergency, but it really doesn’t apply to what’s happening right now. Because what we do is we say, “When a State of Emergency has been declared, if you’re evacuating, you may carry without an LTC while you’re evacuating and when you’re returning.”
However, that’s really not the consequence of this State of Emergency. We’re not evacuating anywhere. I mean, maybe you are lucky enough to be going to your friend’s ranch house on 800 acres in the Texas hill country and you’re getting away from the city, and that’s great. In that case, if you didn’t have a License to Carry and you were hopping in someone else’s car, you could, in fact, carry without having to worry about not having that license.
However, most of us are being quarantined in, or self-isolating in, not evacuating out. So, even here in Texas where we try to be considerate of States of Emergency, our situation really hasn’t changed. Nationwide, definitely on the federal level, and probably on the state level depending on where you are, your gun rights are identical to what they were before. But you really do need to double check it.
Sam Malone: Interesting. And that’s the great thing about U.S. LawShield. Once again, when you’re a member, you can contact your Independent Program Attorney in your state with any questions.
Finally, you were talking about hunkering down and staying in, and such. If someone breaks in and, gosh forbid this happens, but I can see certain people are getting weird, someone breaks into steal your toilet paper or your bottled water and items of not a big value (versus a television, computers, and jewelry). Does it matter what they’re stealing if deadly force is used when someone is breaking into a home?
Emily Taylor: See, it varies state by state. Here in Texas, luckily, no. Many states have this sort of, what we call model Castle Doctrine, NRA model laws, and that’s really what we get to rely on, here in Texas. Someone just has to attempt forceful and unlawful entry, that triggers your Castle Doctrine protection. You get to use that deadly force with the presumption that your actions were reasonable and immediately necessary.
Some states, even under the State of Emergency, the person has to be committing a felony in your house, has to be doing something that endangers human life, has be actually attacking. We have states that are very unfriendly, even when someone’s coming into your home, and that’s something that, again, you need to check on a state level. Because it is not going to change, or it’s likely not going to change, based on the State of Emergency.
Here in Texas, it doesn’t matter, which is why it’s good to be a Texan. Someone makes that forceful and unlawful entry, or attempts that forceful and unlawful entry into your home, you get to assume they’re there to do something really awful, and your deadly force is going to be presumed reasonable under the Castle Doctrine.
Sam Malone: Excellent. Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney, U.S. LawShield. Become a member at USLawShield.com, so you can sign up and have people — Independent Program Attorneys like Emily — around the country answering your questions. The other thing is, for free, go on USLawShield.com/safe. You can learn more and receive five free downloads. Five free downloads to help you stay safe and prepared during crises like this.
All right, I know you’re super busy. Everybody keep your questions coming in for our next Facebook Live Town Hall with U.S. LawShield.
Emily, thank you so much, and get back to doing whatever you were doing before we interrupted you.
Emily Taylor: Thanks, Sam.
Sam Malone: America, stay safe. Keep your questions coming in. In Houston, Texas, I’m Sam Malone. Thank you for joining us on U.S. LawShield.
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