They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and this holds true for home security: Texans take both their personal property and right to bear arms very seriously. Mix the two, and it’s known as justifiable homicide: deadly force to protect your home, property and loved ones.
We’ve already discussed the Castle Doctrineand stand your ground laws, so let’s talk the Castle Doctrine and its impact in Texas.
Texas and 2007 Changes to the Castle Doctrine
In 2007, Texas expanded its Castle Doctrine law. Prior to the change, the law allowed deadly force against burglars and intruders, but first enforced a duty to retreat: the legal requirement to flee from imminent danger, if at all possible, before resorting to deadly force.
The 2007 changes eliminated the duty to retreat. In practical terms, this means that Texans can use deadly force (e.g. with a gun) to stop someone from stealing their property, regardless of whether their own life was in danger. To put this to example: Before 2007, if someone was stealing a lawn gnome from your front yard, you could only shoot the intruder if the intruder threatened your life during the gnome burglary. Today, that same burglar could be shot, regardless of whether s/he was threatening the homeowner.
Unsurprisingly, stand your ground laws have been linked to increased justifiable homicides. Since 2007, Texas has seen an increase in justifiable homicides, from 32 in 2006 to 48 in 2010 to 63 in 2013.
What You Should Know About Home Security in Texas
For Texans, stand your ground laws mean that, overwhelmingly, the law is on the side of a homeowner. If a burglar breaks into your home, the law permits you to do whatever you deem necessary to protect your belongings, your home, your family and your life.
And yet, taking a life, even in defense of your home, is very serious business. If you own or plan to purchase a gun, always practice gun safety. Take a training course, and go to the range for regular practice. Talk to a lawyer – or at the very least, inquire at your police station – about your rights as a homeowner (or renter), stand your ground laws, and justifiable homicide.