Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Houston DA Turns Vigilante

District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal has decided that a new Texas law is irrelevant, and will take the law into his own hands:

Motorists arrested for carrying pistols in their cars without a concealed handgun license will continue to be prosecuted in Houston, despite a new law that purports to give them a legal defense, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said Monday.

Although the sponsor said the law should reduce the number of arrests for unlawful handgun possession, Rosenthal said it won't change enforcement practices in Houston after it goes into effect on Thursday.

"It is still going to be against the law for (unlicensed) persons to carry handguns in autos," the district attorney said, adding that the new legal defense can still be challenged by prosecutors.


Rosenthal said the new presumption about "traveling" doesn't define what constitutes traveling and can be challenged in court by prosecutors, leaving it to juries to decide verdicts "based upon the facts of the case."

A prosecutor could summon witnesses to successfully argue that a defendant wasn't traveling because he was simply "driving around the corner for a carton of milk," Kepple said.
Wrong, Chuckie. This law came about exactly because of people like you, who made up their own definitions on the fly--definitions which varied from place to place and person to person. We now actually do have a clear and specific definition of traveling, and if you don't like it, I suggest you find another job. I'm sure you would do just fine driving the golf cart around the parking lot at your local Walmart.

As I have posted before, this law specifically states:

(i) For purposes of Subsection (b)(3), a person is presumed to be traveling if the person is:
(1) in a private motor vehicle;
(2) not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic;
(3) not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm;
(4) not a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01; and
(5) not carrying a handgun in plain view.
Intended destination or planned length of travel are not mentioned, and have nothing to do with it.

The Outrage Meter goes into the red for this one.

Related posts:
Some HB823 Details (6/18)
Representative Terry Keel's press release on HB823 (9/03)
HB823 in the news (9/03)

Submitted to Carnival of Cordite.

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