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Examining Texas’ Castle Doctrine Law

Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) - The “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman murder in Florida case has national some groups calling for review of so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Texas has a similar law called “The Castle Doctrine,” as in your home is your castle, and like Florida, it’s part of wider laws about self-defense.

“Stand your ground (but) don’t go following the suspect,” says Targetmaster’s Tom Mannewitz when he teaches the Concealed Handgun License.

Mannewitz says the Castle Doctrine allows someone to stand their ground in their home, in their car, or at their place of business.  But there’s a limit to this and self-defense. “Our teaching is when there’s a life-threatening situation then you use deadly force to preserve a life. But you don’t go following the guy.” says Mannewitz.

Dallas attorney Pete Schulte tells me there’s one major difference between Texas and Florida law – after a trial.

Here, Schulte says, a person found “not guilty” can still be sued in civil court.  “Actually, the law is very specific and says that what happens in the criminal courts doesn’t effect any lawsuits an alleged victim could file against a shooter,” he tells CBS 11 News.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for a review of “Stand Your Ground” laws everywhere.

State Senator Wendy Davis says there was talk of that when the legislature opened back in January, “But we certainly didn’t see any of those decisions percolate to the floor for a vote,” she said on Wednesday.

But Arlington State Representative Bill Zedler says changes are not needed.  “One of the things we saw when we passed the concealed weapons license they said ‘well there’s gonna be shoot outs in the streets and all this other stuff’ and basically that’s turned out to be totally false.”

Back at Targemaster, Jim Pearce is looking to buy a firearm. He says he needs one after he was jumped by a gang of young men who tried to rob him as he left a neighborhood grocery store. Like Mannewitz, he agrees there are limitations.   “If you can escape the situation, by all means do so if you can. But if you can’t you have no other option but to stand your ground.”

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