Pre-paid service offers gun owners legal guidance if they ever shoot to kill

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A unique, pre-paid legal service works to protect gun owners trying to protect themselves in instances of self defense and defense of property shootings.

It is not the sort of situation you ever want to find yourself in: a home break-in or maybe an active shooter at work. With their lives threatened, for those gun owners who pull the trigger for protection, the question often becomes not whether they are heroes but more so what kind of gun charges they will face.

Enter Houston-based company Texas Law Shield.

"Whether they have to use their gun in self defense, defense of third party, defense of property, then we are the lawyers that handle that case," said Michele Byington, one of eight attorneys with Texas Law Shield.

For a monthly fee of $10.95 a month, the pre-paid legal service pitches itself as peace of mind for the responsible gun owner.

"We've had several people who have had to use deadly force and have killed perpetrators -- and they're not trigger happy people," Byington said of the members who join Texas Law Shield. "They're the grandma down the street, it's not gun-toting people who are just quick on the trigger, not at all. It's really the last resort that these people find themselves in."

Texas Law Shield began eight years ago after the wrap-up of the Joe Horn case. In 2007, the Pasadena man shot and killed two men believed to have burglarized his neighbors home. Saying he fired out of fear for his life and property, Horn was no billed and the shooting ruled a justifiable used of deadly force.

Eight years later, self defense is still one of the most common gun charges Texas Las Shield defends.

"When you have to use deadly force, you are judged on what's called a 'reasonable standard,'" said Byington."Now, reasonable is not a defined term -- it's whether that jury thinks it's reasonable and those 12 people will determine whether you were justified in using deadly force, so it's not cut and dry whatsoever."

The horrific mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub touched off a flurry of phone calls to the Law Shield service that covers members in all 50 states. The question on the minds of many: What if a so-called "good guy" with a gun had been there to stop the shooter? Byington says places like nightclubs are recognized as soft targets because guns are usually prohibited inside. Yet, in Texas, something called the "defense of necessity" might cover a so-called "good guy."

"The argument would be look, jury, that individual broke the law of unlawful carry, absolutely," Byington argued hypothetically. "But think about what would have happened if he didn't, and that's the argument and I don't know if that's a winning argument."

Texas Law Shield has not yet represented a client in a major case of active shooter defense of necessity though Byington admits it could be a possibility in the future. The company's membership has grown from a just a few thousand to now nearly 200,000 since the company began in 2008.

"If you were to decide to go rouge and go hold up a 7-Eleven, we're not going to represent you," Byington said. "We're here for the good guys. We're here for the lawful gun owner."

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