(At least the Houston Chronical had the decency to label it a "commentary.")
I just read your commentary at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/falkenberg/5865045.html.
I have to say that I'm disappointed with your comments in general and in specifics.
"I'm halfway expecting Gov. Rick Perry to issue an executive order this afternoon granting the long-held wish of open-carry petitioners to grant their right to sport handguns in hip holsters.
But seriously, folks, nothing about the Harris County grand jury's refusal yesterday to indict Horn was surprising."
First, there many who consider open carry a serious issue. You dismiss them with a wave of the hand / pen / keyboard. The people who would like open carry in the state span every demographic Texas has: rich, poor, white, black, brown, conservatives, liberals, etc.
"Horn seemed to mistakenly evoke the recently passed "Castle Doctrine" in a 911 recording"
He didn't evoke it. Nothing in the transcript alludes to it. If he had, then it would have been mistaken and you would be correct. Here's a link to the audio (with an exerpt of the transcript): http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/posted/archive/2007/12/05/texas-shooting-joe-horn-s-911-call.aspx.
"But even if Horn hadn't created a situation where he needed to defend himself, a section of the Penal Code dealing with protection of a neighbor's property basically grants Horn the right to shoot if he thought the bad guys were getting away with it."
He didn't create a situation where he needed to defend himself. Ortiz and de Jesus created a situation which required him to defend his neighbors' property. It turned into a situation where he had to defend himself - exacerbated by Ortiz and de Jesus. To his credit, he was able to do both. You also failed to note that Horn gave Ortiz and de Jesus the opportunity to surrender.
You correctly state that he is covered by our laws but it should be noted that this is not part of the Castle Doctrine.
"Now, Texas law isn't known for its progressive trend-setting."
There is much that is wrong with that statement that it is hard to start. The abridged version is this: Laws do not set trends. People do. Texas law is a set by the Texas people. If the people of Texas do not want "progressive" laws, Texas will not have them. It also begs the question here, "What is 'progressive'?" Disarmament? Lawfully mandated indifference?
"Will some see it as a declaration of open season on all suspicious people who appear to be lurking around a neighbor's house?"
Perhaps. People should look after each other and their property. That is what builds strong communities. Some may. I doubt that you'll see any dead postmen or meter readers as a result of this. You can call me on it in the future if I happen to be mistaken.
"Are Texas gun owners suddenly deputized to take the law into their own hands?"
As I said earlier, this is OUR law. It is already in our hands. It always has been. It is the law set by the people of Texas. You even stated that he is granted the right to shoot. Had the law stated that he was to run to a closet and obey the 911 dispatcher, then he would have been taking the law into his own hands.
"If Joe Horn got away with it, can you? And should you even try?"
He didn't "get away" with anything. If he had done something illegal and not been prosecuted, they he would be "getting away" with something.
I've been in a very similar situation - although I had a pistol, not a shotgun. Since they did not immediately appear to be robbing my neighbors house, I didn't brandish the pistol. The lurking strangers happened to be friends of the neighbor's kid. Once the neighbor's kid verified it, I left. No one was shot. I doubt any of them even realized that I was armed.
Had this case not been as public as it is, I doubt it would have even been referred to a grand jury. I agree with the DA though that each case will stand or fall on its own merits.
"That message shouldn't get lost in all the celebrating from gun-rights advocates and armchair vigilantes who continue to proclaim Horn a hero and invite him to move next door."
I actually agree with you here. Ending another man's life is a very difficult thing for a kind man to do. I will continue to proclaim him a hero though.
"The little old man from Pasadena gunned down two men like dogs. For a bag of loot.
He escaped indictment, but he'll carry that burden for the rest of his life."
No. Dogs do not break into peoples houses and steal their televisions. He did not "gun them down" either; that act implies an execution without opportunity of surrender, or execution after they have surrendered. You sound unreasonable now.
He will carry it though. I will pray for him and his family. I will also pray for the families of Ortiz and de Jesus. The hope isn't that he won't do again but instead, that he'll never have to do it again.