Remember Joe Horn? In 2007 he looked out his window and saw someone robbing his neighbor’s house (nobody was home, property loss only, there was no threat of bodily harm to anyone until Joe Horn stepped in). He called the police. Partway through the call, he announced he was going to go out and shoot the robbers. Again, there was no threat to any person up until that point.
The police told him to hold tight, police were on their way. Joe Horn was unswayed: he was gonna go out and shoot these guys that were robbing his neighbor. So he left his house, confronted them, and they stepped onto this property. He shot and killed two men with a shotgun which he had cocked while still indoors, safe, and on the phone with the police who assured him they were on their way.
Under the Texas “castle law” it seemed somewhat clear that he was, strictly speaking, within his rights since they were on his property. He was not brought to trial. The guys he killed, well, they’re not available to protest about what their rights ought to be, on account of they’re dead.
To my non-Texan (specifically: Californian) mind, this was appalling: really? In Texas you can tell the police you are going to go out and shotgun someone who is not any immediate threat to anyone, and then go cause a situation that puts them technically in shotgunning territory (which they were not in before), and not even go to trial over it? REALLY?
But I went and read the comments on the news stories in the Houston Chronicle, and they were very predominantly on Joe’s side: way to go, Joe; or, good for you, someone has to stand up and protect us good citizens; or I wish you were _my_ neighbor, Joe. Or, really often: those guys were from south of the border anyway, and illegal, so they had a killing coming. Go, Joe.
Really, Ask a Texan? REALLY? Is this how a lot of Texans think? That if you see a crime, and especially if it’s being committed by people of somewhat brownish skin-coloration, that you are doing the right thing by volunteering your services to go out and provoke a situation that lets you kill them?
Still Deeply Disturbed Years Later in a Place not Texas
Dear Deeply Disturbed,
I fear I am not going to be much comfort to you. Let’s be real: the State of Texas last week went up against international law, as well as the recommendation of the U.S. federal government, and went ahead and executed a Mexican national who had not been given access to legal aid from his consulate. Humberto Leal, Jr. had been convicted of the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, which nobody disputes is a heinous and evil thing to do, but also did not get the defense he was entitled to, by anyone’s reckoning except Texas conservatives, who you often get the feeling believe we have a U.S. Vengeance System and not a U.S. Justice System.
We’ve written before on Ask A Texan about Texas pride. As beautiful as Texas pride is, however, it has a dark side, and this is it. Texas is big, Texas is bold, and Texas kind of thinks it is above the law in some ways. For example, Texas thinks it knows better than pregnant women, because Texas believes pregnant women don’t realize they’re pregnant when they’re seeking abortions. But anyway, let’s get on to your question about Joe Horn.
I actually didn’t know about Joe Horn, or didn’t remember it as well as you if I did. So I read the Wikipedia page and now I am a super expert. My main takeaway, besides reading the script of that 911 call where Joe Horn says he’s gonna go kill some motherfuckers is that Glenn Beck is apparently on Horn’s side, so just ugh, everything is awful. One of the things specifically that is awful is internet commenting, which you’ve learned and which we already know, brings out the worst in people’s latent (or obvious) sexism, racism, whatever. So yes, there are Texans who believe Messicans and other Brown People need to go back to Messico or Wherever. There are so many of them, in fact, that Debbie “Terror Babies” Riddle is a public freaking servant in this state.
So, to answer your (repeated) question: Yes, REALLY. Really really, you can just shoot some people if they come into your yard, especially if they’re brown. Really. No problemo. Joe Horn proved it. And yes, REALLY, a lot of Texans think this is totally cool and in fact probably think Castle Doctrine doesn’t go far enough, like for example the folks in the Texas Minutemen Militia who consider their castle to be Texas, all of it, and really don’t think twice about playing po-lice with people crossing the border. And yes, REALLY, Texas just ok’d it for guns to be carried on college campuses, even though it’s ACTUAL PROVEN SCIENCE that eyewitness testimony sucks sweaty taint and people can’t really be relied upon to give accurate descriptions of criminals and so probably putting a bunch of guns in the hands of 21-year-old wannabe vigilantes on college campuses is a terrible idea but whatever. If you believe you’re entitled to carry around a deadly weapon for funsy cowboy playtime, it’s not really an intellectual leap for you to believe that literally every square foot of Texas is your personal domain.
If it’s any comfort, know that it horrifies this Texan that Joe Horn shot a couple of unarmed criminals (while they were RUNNING AWAY from him) with the official blessing of the State of Texas. And I do know there are many Texans, native and transplanted, who, like me, were not raised in a gun culture and who think less shooting by everybody at everybody, including police, military and civilians with grudges, is the way to go.