Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My Response

This was my response to this commentary by a so called journalist.

(At least the Houston Chronical had the decency to label it a "commentary.")

Hi Lisa,

I just read your commentary at

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):

"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.

Shawn McManus


Weetabix said...

Please post her response should she prove courageous enough to make one.

cbrtxus said...

UPI did a hit piece about the Joe Horn case that was even worse.

UPI reported that he "went next door and shot the two burglars in the back as they left a neighbor's home."

They reported that Horn had claimed that he fired at the pair "when they came into his yard and threatened him. However, he shot them in the back."

The UPI article also said that the decision not to indict "served to expand the scope of the state's so-called Castle Doctrine law."

What UPI totally failed to mention at all was that a police office witnessed the shooting and corroborated what Mr. Horn said. Mr. Horn was not arrested.

The criminals were within 10-15 feet of him, in his front yard, and one of them made a run at Mr. Horn after he told them "Move and you're dead."

And UPI didn't mention that in Texas, a person would have been justified in using deadly force under those circumstances before the Castle Doctrine became law.

However, since it was his front yard, the Castle Doctrine might apply and shield him from civil harrassment.

The UPI claims to have gotten that version from a San Antonio radio Station WOAI. However, when I went to the station's web site it was a Fox affiliate and there wasn't anything to suggest that the quote came from them. They did conduct a poll in which 89.89% of the people responding said that Mr. Horn should not be convicted.

It is possible that the quote came from someone calling in to a talk show on that station. That might be credible enough for UPI to run with these days. This link is to audio from a WOAI interview of Mr. Horn that I converted to an MP3 file to reduce the size:

I talked to my next door neighbor who is a Houston Police officer. She thought that Mr. Horn did the only thing that he could do. She laughed about the claims that Mr. Horn was a racist and killed them because they were black. BTW, she is black. The fellow whose property he was trying to protect was Vietnamese.

She thought that Mr. Horn did what he had to do to keep them from killing or injuring him. They were way too close for him to do otherwise.

Clearly it was self defense. Whether you shoot them in the front or back is more important in TV westerns. If the reason for shooting was legitimate then which way they were facing at the instant your weapon discharged is not because of reaction time.

I suspect that the UPI writer would have been more comfortable reporting about a man beaten to death with the pry bar than having to report that a citizen successfully defending himself with a firearm.

Shawn McManus said...


I'll definitely post it if she replies.

Shawn McManus said...


The UPI has long since lost any credibility. Even a cursory internet search would tell them what the laws in this case are.

Question for you: Is CBR your initials?

I was with an artillery unit once and "CBR" meant "Counter Battery Radar".

cbrtxus said...

Shawn, it's my initials. I go by my middle name which is Bruce.

Yes. Once UPI has been caught in a lie, you see a story and then have to wonder what really happened. There have always been journalists that fudge stories of course. But now, with the Internet, it is mucn easier to catch them at it.

There is now a video available on the Internet that was made by the police right after the shooting. There were some differences between the video and the 911 call audio.

Of course, the benefit of the doubt has to go to Mr. Horn. Certainly not to two felons.

My own feeling is that Mr. Horn went out there expecting to see them walking down the street or getting in a car. I don't think that he intended to confront them.

When he realized they were there, they were only 10-15 feet away and in his front yard. That is a distance they they could cover in less than 2 seconds. Probably less than one second. He was in way over his head at that point.

No one could argue that he wasn't in grave danger at that point. If he was in danger, then it would follow that he had a right to use deadly force to defend himself.

Really it is amazing that he wasn't killed. A 12 gauge shotgun is a formidable weapon. Just the sound of the discharge might have stopped them. I think that three shots were fired.

You know, we might have trouble attracting new burglars to Texas in the future if the government won't gurantee their safety while the commit their burglaries.

Thud said...

He did fine by me...I wish it could be so in Britain but that time has passed for ever...i need to leave.