Proposed mandatory 10 years for gun crime draws warning at Texas Capitol
HOUSTON - Significant pushback emerged at the Texas Capitol against a proposed law mandating 10 years in prison for those convicted of a crime involving a gun.
"This I think will go a long way as a deterrent effect to try and stop some of the very violent crimes that are happening in our state with the use of firearms," said Houston State Senator Joan Huffman, author of SB-23.
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Criminal defense lawyers are opposing the harsh, mandatory punishment warning of "unintended consequences" if the automatic enhancement becomes law including police officers and armed citizens to prison for shootings that are not "clear-cut" cases of self-defense.
"We think that it throws such a big net that it catch a lot of people it really didn't intend to," said Betty Blackwell with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
"It really does scoop up people who are honestly protecting themselves and their families into this broad," said defense attorney Emily Taylor who represents both police and civilians involved in shootings.
During Thursday’s hearing before the Senate State Affairs Committee, the defense bar found an ally in the "gun rights" movement.
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"This bill will have the same consequences for law enforcement officers who believe they have acted in self-defense," said Wesley Virdell, Texas Director of Gun Owners of America,
SB-23 has the backing of Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who campaigned on the 10-year mandatory sentence for gun crimes.
Senate watchers say Patrick's support makes the passage of SB-23 likely in the upper chamber.