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Does the Castle Doctrine Work?

Jurors will continue hearing testimony in the punishment phase in the trial of a man who shot his neighbor later this month, but in the meantime, gun rights advocates say the Castle Doctrine here in Texas is working.


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The Castle Doctrine in Texas is similar to “Stand Your Ground” laws in other states. It’s the law at the center of the Treyvon Martin/George Zimmerman case in Florida.

And it was central to the conviction of Raul Rodriguez, who showed up at a neighbor’s party demanding they turn their music down.  

Rodriguez recorded his confrontation with the neighbors. He can be heard invoking Castle Doctrine language, saying things like “I’m standing my ground” and “I feel threatened.”

“He’s about to… he says he’s going to go in the house; he’s going to come out; he’s going to be more than equal than me. Now I’m standing my ground here, now these people are going to try to kill me.”

Larry Arnold is a Concealed Handgun License Instructor and on the board of directors for the Texas Concealed Handgun Association. He says critics don’t understand that the law is working.

“The two people that you just mentioned are both being prosecuted because they did not fit under the real Stand Your Ground. They were not defending themselves. So to me the law is working. But yea, we’re taking a lot of heat because of them.”

Jurors determined that Rodriguez provoked the situation by going to his neighbors home and later drawing a gun.

Arnold says the law gives people the right to not retreat, but sometimes retreating is the best idea.

“We try to stay out in the middle. We don’t want to see how close to the law we can get. We teach don’t provoke. If you can back away, back away fine.”

But critics of the Castle Doctrine say it operates as a de facto license to kill.

Several state representatives, including Houston lawmaker Garnet Coleman, say they will attempt to repeal the law in
the upcoming legislative session.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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