Living in Texas and owning a gun go hand-in-hand for a huge population of residents, whether they have a firearm for protection, hunting or simply because the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms. If you own a gun -- and even if you don't -- you should know that there are numerous laws in place that dictate lawful gun use and ownership.
Recently, yet another bill was proposed with regard to gun use in Texas. A member of the Texas House of Representatives proposed the bill after he was injured by a stray bullet fired in celebration.
According to news reports, the bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor to fire a gun recklessly and without a reasonable target, which includes celebratory gunfire. If the shooting leads to an injury, it would be a felony.
Current laws prohibit celebratory gunfire, but as this article explains in greater detail, it is often considered disorderly conduct, which is a Class B misdemeanor. Sometimes firing a gun results in a Class C misdemeanor, which is the same as a traffic violation.
Rather than creating a new type of offense, the proposed bill would enhance the penalties that people already face for this type of offense. Instead of paying a small fine or spending fewer than 180 days in jail, a person could be looking at $4,000 in fines and the potential of a year imprisonment.
We want to note here that the bill does not change the fact that this type of crime can be difficult to enforce. Police responding to reports of gunfire may not know who fired a gun, where he or she was aiming or whether the discharge was accidental.
Whether or not the bill will pass remains to be seen, but this situation should be a reminder to our readers that gun-related criminal charges should be taken very seriously. Convictions have penalties, even when they stem from something as seemingly harmless as firing a gun in the air.