What’s Trending on Social Media: Don’t Be Clowning Around

Schools across the country are beefing up security after another rash of threats on social media from accounts featuring creepy-looking clowns — which has prompted some Members to wonder what their self-defense options are if they’re confronted by one of these pranksters.

The threats have been circulating nationwide on websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, prompting a response from many school districts. Headlines:

  • 14-year-old arrested after terroristic threat against high school
  • Man wearing clown mask arrested in park
  • Student, 14, arrested in connection to clown threat
  • Threat posted on clownFacebook page prompts letters to parents
  • Clowns fight bad PR with clown commandments
  • Professional clowns worried that creepy counterparts will hurt reputation
  • What’s with the creepy clown sightings?
  • Creepy-looking clown wanders streets

In many of the messages sent to parents, school officials said investigators have determined that the threats are “not credible,” but extra measures were being taken to ensure the safety of students and staff as a precaution.

News about the threats have prompted a lot of member comments on the Texas Law Shield Facebook page. Here’s a sampling:

“Andrew Warren” wrote, “I gotta say, if one of those clowns approaches me and mine in an aggressive manner, whether they mean it to be a prank or not, I’m gonna probably at minimum make my sidearm visible.”

“Nancy Jo Poole Smith-Babbitt” said, “Only 3 reasons to ever be dressed as a clown: 1. You’re in the circus. 2. You’re a clown for hire. 3. It’s Halloween. So if a clown is in my yard and none of the above apply, he’d better be able to out run my dogs and bullets.”

“Paul Wooden” said, “So a clown said he would be visiting a school? Am I missing something? How is that a threat?”

“Johnny Crawford” said, “I’m kinda with Paul here. You can’t shoot someone because they are creepy.”

“Amy Purdom Delaisse” wrote, “Ok, serious question. If one of these [clowns] approaches you and you command them to stop, if they don’t, are you within your rights to shoot?”

Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker answered, saying, “Texas law DOES NOT allow a person to use deadly force against a trespasser. Texas Law does allow the use of deadly force against someone who is unlawfully and forcefully attempting to enter into or remove someone from an occupied habitation or vehicle.”

Walker added, “As tempting as it may be, please, please, please do not shoot a clown who is doing nothing more than standing in your yard” or otherwise isn’t making threatening movements.

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