Texas gun rights activists are raising warning flags about a piece of legislation that would allegedly modify the state’s so-called “castle doctrine” and require citizens to “safely retreat” if possible before using force against another person.
Even Snopes, the fact-checking website, acknowledges that State Rep. Terry Meza’s HB 196 “would add a ‘duty to retreat’ clause to laws pertaining to private citizens’ use of deadly force when they are not on their own property.”
“It would also remove robbery and aggravated robbery from crimes justifying deadly force when they occur in a location that is not that person’s property,” Snopes detailed.
But social media has erupted with criticism of the legislation as the Texas legislative session looms next month. Meza took to Twitter in an effort to defend her bill and also declare last month that “my bill…has been misinterpreted in the news as of late.”
My bill HB 196 and my position on the Texas Castle Doctrine has been misrepresented in the news as of late.
It does not repeal the Castle Doctrine, and it does not restrict homeowners from using firearms in self-defense as applicable to current Texas stand your ground laws. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/CfDFJZedY0
— Terry Meza (@TerryforTexas) November 19, 2020
Section 1 of the bill states, “A person is justified in using deadly force against another if the actor: (1) is justified in using force against the other under Section 9:31; (2) is unable to safely retreat; and (3) reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary…”
The debate brings focus to a blurry misunderstanding about the difference between “castle doctrine” and “duty to retreat.” The former refers to self-defense on one’s own property, especially in one’s own home. The latter typically refers to defending one’s self anywhere he/she has a right to be, such as public places that would include shopping malls, supermarkets and their parking lots, public parks, or anywhere else they might be accosted.
But according to Politifact, a considerable amount of ire was generated by a satirical post that included fake quotes Meza never really stated. And this alleged satire ignited a firestorm from people who did not hold back with their fury, as can be seen here and here in links provided in the Politifact story.
When the controversy first erupted in mid-November, Meza posted the following message on Twitter:
“My bill HB 196 and my position on the Texas Castle Doctrine has been misrepresented in the news as of late. It does not repeal the Castle Doctrine, and it does not restrict homeowners from using firearms in self-defense as applicable to current Texas stand your ground laws.
“What my bill would do if passed, would require a homeowner to exhaust the potential of safely retreating into their habitation before using deadly force in defense of themselves or their property. I filed this bill because the castle doctrine as it currently exists emboldens people to take justice into their own hands.
“While theft is obviously wrong, we have laws to address that. I don’t believe that stealing someone’s lawn ornament should be an offense punishable by death.”