Here at Texas Law Shield, we always want to pass along to our members the experiences we encounter across the Great State of Texas. In this newsletter, we would like to offer practical advice for the real world if you carry a firearm, in order to keep you out of the legal system. If you keep a firearm in your automobile, you should not allow yourself the luxury of losing your temper while driving. It is our experience that if you do, you are putting yourself at a significant risk of arrest even if you have done nothing illegal.
Before we begin, let us remind you of some points on Texas law that we believe are crucial. Texas law does not allow a person to intentionally display a firearm (or a CHL holder to intentionally unconceal their handgun), in response to being cut off by another car, being almost hit by another car on the freeway, or in response to provocation from another driver which does not amount to an immediate threat of death or bodily injury. In other words, if the other driver is just being a jerk, a bad driver, or both – you cannot display a firearm in response. This article is not about people that have taken these illegal actions.
Over the last several years, experience has taught us that often all it takes to get arrested, and possibly charged with a crime, is the mere allegation from another driver that they believed someone might have had a firearm during a traffic altercation. There have been numerous occasions where our members have been involved in a traffic incident (i.e., both drivers flipping each other off), and the other driver (sometimes in fits of rage and paranoia) calls 911. This driver then proceeds to make vague allegations and speculation. For example: “He pointed something that looked like a gun!”, “She put an object on the dashboard to intimidate me!”, or “I think they may have a gun!” Upon listening to the actual 911 calls, these allegations can sometimes seem to be little more than mere conjecture by an irate motorist. To make matters worse, 911 operators often ask leading questions, possibly resulting in even more inaccuracies when the report is transmitted to the police (remember the information the police officer often has to initially work with on the scene can be inaccurate, incomplete, or just plain wrong). As a matter of standard procedure, the police will be dispatched. In our experience, if the police pull someone over under these circumstances and the driver does in fact have a legal firearm in their possession after this exchange of “roadway pleasantries,” they will likely be arrested with little or no evidence. Why does this happen? That answer can be studied from many different angles, and is beyond the scope of this article, but rest assured that it is happening.
Therefore, our advice to our members who carry a firearm in their car is: always do it legally and don’t let yourself get drawn into any form of a road rage incident no matter how minor. We have seen cases that were clearly incidents of people overreacting and calling 911. The other driver/caller may convey allegations that never could have physically occurred. But the falsity of these allegations can only be shown after an investigation, lots of grief, and involvement in the criminal justice system. These types of 911 calls can result in an arrest for what amounted to bad manners. However, it results in an innocent person getting thrown into the legal system. Frankly my fellow Texans, our legal system can be far from perfect and administered by people who sometimes do not possess the wisdom of Solomon. So our message is simple: Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the legal system just because you got angry in traffic. If you carry a gun, don’t flip the bird! It can happen to you.
Walker and Byington, LLP