For Release: Tuesday, January 13, 1998
Texas Concealed Handgun License Holders Arrested for Crimes That Include Murder, Kidnapping, Sexual Assault, Weapon, and Drug Charges
Texas Concealed Handgun License Holders Arrested for Weapon Offenses at Rate More Than Twice That of State’s General Population Aged 21 Years and Older
More than 940 Texans holding concealed handgun licenses under the state’s “shall-issue” concealed handgun law have been arrested since January 1996 according to License to Kill, a new 23-page study released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The Texas “shall-issue” law was passed by the legislature in 1995. Licenses issued under the law became effective in January 1996.
The study cites Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) information showing that from January 1, 1996 to October 9, 1997 Texas concealed handgun license holders were arrested for 946 crimes. Of these, 263 were felony arrests, including: six charges of murder or attempted murder involving at least four deaths; two charges of kidnapping; 18 charges of sexual assault; 66 charges of assault, including 48 cases of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; and, 42 weapon-related charges. Six-hundred eighty-three were misdemeanor arrests, including: 194 weapon-related charges and 215 instances of driving while intoxicated. “Texas concealed handgun license holders don’t stop crimes, but all too many of them commit them,” states VPC Health Policy Analyst and study author Susan Glick, MHS.
The study also reveals that in the first six months of 1997 (the most recent complete data set available), the weapon-related arrest rate among Texas concealed handgun license holders was more than twice as high as that of the general population of Texas aged 21 years and older. Commenting on this statistic, Glick states, “The plain fact is that most Texans have more sense than to run around with a gun stuffed in their pants. But those who do carry concealed get into trouble involving weapons more often than other Texans.” In addition, family violence was involved in 42 of the arrests of Texas concealed handgun license holders, including: one arrest for murder; one arrest for attempted murder; and, seven arrests for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. “This shows once again the direct link between guns and domestic violence,” says Glick.
The DPS offers few details surrounding the arrests of license holders. But the VPC has been able to identify the circumstances of a limited number of the arrests reported, including one arrest for aggravated kidnapping and three of the arrests for murder or attempted murder. For example:
Aggravated Kidnapping, Seguin, Texas. On April 28, 1997 concealed handgun license holder Diane James was arrested by Seguin, Texas police in the aggravated kidnapping of a young woman in her 30s. James and her husband allegedly assaulted the woman with a stun gun and pulled her into their van. The woman was taken to their home where she was kept naked and in chains and told that she was going to be “trained” as a sex slave. The woman escaped the next morning and ran to a neighbor’s home. David James – armed with an AR-15 assault rifle – followed the woman. When the police arrived at the scene a shootout ensued in which David James was killed. Diane James was convicted of aggravated kidnapping on November 21, 1997 and was sentenced to 15 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Penitentiary.
Attempted Murder, Midlothian, Texas. On July 9, 1997 the Midlothian Police Department arrested concealed handgun license holder Stephen Ray Harrelson for attempted murder. Harrelson allegedly entered his estranged wife’s home and forced her into a back room. There, he allegedly stuck a pistol to her head. The woman’s children were able to alert police by calling 911. A struggle broke out and Harrelson left. A police pursuit of Harrelson who still had his pistol ensued. According to police, when he was located Harrelson threatened to kill himself. He eventually laid down his weapon and surrendered. Harrelson was released on bond and is awaiting trial.
In the study, the Violence Policy Center “recommends strongly against the adoption of `shall-issue’ licensing in any additional states and urges that states like Texas that have `shall-issue’ licensing repeal such laws.” Concludes Glick, “Texas is too big a state to be terrorized by a selfish minority of gun toters. It’s time to repeal this failed throwback to the past.”