Legal gun owners under cloud as District Attorneys defy Texas Legislature Contact: Will Harrell 512-478-7300 x115 Contact: James Dark 972-979-9630 Contact: Scott Henson 512-417-0120 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 26, 2007 Legal gun owners under cloud as District Attorneys defy Texas Legislature Law abiding handgun owners who carry their gun in their car may still face arrest or confiscation of the gun because many district attorneys have refused to implement a law passed by the legislature last session over their opposition. â€œIt appears that some District Attorneys, and the District Attorneyâ€™s Association, think that they are above the law,â€ said James Dark of the Texas State Rifle Association. â€œThe law is now very clear that a person who is not a criminal can carry a handgun in the car, but District Attorneys have instructed police officers to ask a litany of invasive and unneeded questions, or even just make an arrest or confiscate the gun. If officers follow these instructions, they will clearly violate the rights of Texans carrying guns legally.â€ An unusual coalition of gun rights, criminal justice and constitutional rights groups today released a study of the stateâ€™s implementation of HB 823, a new gun law clarifying a driverâ€™s rights. The coalition filed hundreds of open records requests for any directives issued by District Attorneys to their local police departments. â€œWe launched this study because we had indications from the Texas District and County Attorneys Association itself that they were not ready to accept the passage of this new law,â€ said report author Scott Henson of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. â€œThey want to position themselves as tough on crime, but they are willing to sacrifice the rights of law abiding citizens. We saw what they said publicly, and wanted to find out what they were actually telling police officers.â€ The coalition found that some DAs are telling police departments to investigate gun owners using procedures developed before this law passed, when the status of â€œtravelingâ€ with a gun was unclear. One County Attorney advised police officers to arrest for â€œunlawful carryingâ€ as before and let the prosecutorâ€™s office â€œsort out the legal niceties.â€ â€œOur study found that some officers have been instructed to ask motorists where they are coming from and where they are going and how long theyâ€™ve been on the road,â€ said Henson. â€œThey have been told to look in the car for groceries or luggage. It simply doesnâ€™t matter whether you have groceries or luggage in your car, or whether you drove a mile or 500 miles.â€ â€œThese roadside investigations of law abiding Texans are unnecessary, intrusive, and could be unconstitutional,â€ said Will Harrell of the ACLU of Texas. â€œEspecially since it appears that a Texanâ€™s freedom to drive with a gun in the car may still vary from county to countyâ€”the exact problem that this new law should have fixed.â€ â€œWe strive for the greatest clarity in the law so that law abiding citizens and police officers will both understand and abide by that law,â€ said Ana Yanez Correa, Executive Director, Criminal Justice Coalition. â€œWe are happy to work with the District Attorneys to ensure that they fully understand motoristâ€™s rights under the law and respect those rights.â€ â€œThe intent of the new law is clear,â€ said Dark, â€œbut the coalition will support legislation to make it even more clear that law abiding Texans can carry a handgun in the car, if necessary. And we hope that the District Attorneys will learn that itâ€™s not their job to enforce the laws they wish were passed by the legislature, but only the ones that are actually on the books.â€ HB 1815 was filed last week to address the problem. For more information on HB 1815, contact the capitol office of Representative Carl Isett, 463-0676.