Bud Kennedy: Gun law’s co-author was neighbor of man shot by police

Posted Friday, May. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy For nearly 20 years, Bill Carter of Fort Worth has championed Texans’ right to carry handguns.

This week, his next-door neighbor was armed when police shot him dead.

As a Texas House Republican and co-sponsor of the 1995 concealed-handgun law, Carter had to answer hundreds of questions that began, “What if ... .”

“If a law officer says put down the gun, you put it down,” Carter said this week by phone from a Hill Country vacation.

Carter, 84, wasn’t home early Tuesday when Jerry Waller, 72, was shot in his garage.

Police say a 23-year-old rookie officer went to the house after a burglar alarm went off across Havenwood Lane North in Woodhaven.

“The whole message in Texas” — for those licensed to carry a handgun wherever they go away from home — “is that it’s for self-defense only and you don’t just go walking and waving it around,” Carter said.

“It’s hard to believe Jerry would hold onto his gun. Even in his own home, you don’t hold it. You hold out your ID or your permit.”

In the original police radio call, officer Benjamin Hanlon is heard asking for help: “He wouldn’t put the gun down. He pointed it at [officer Richard] Hoeppner. Hoeppner fired.”

Then and now, some police oppose expanded gun rights because they fear such confusion.

(Fort Worth is an exception. Carter convinced the late police Chief Thomas Windham that more good than bad would come of the new law.)

Carter said if he’d been home, he wouldn’t have gone out armed.

But the original author of the law, now-Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, disagreed.

“I would get my gun and walk out to see,” he said.

He might have been shot.

“Did he raise the gun in any way that seemed threatening? If he did, then the officer did what they’re supposed to do,” said Patterson, a former state senator now challenging Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the March primary.

Patterson said Waller’s death “seems like a tragic confluence of several sets of circumstances.”

“If you don’t disarm, then that officer has a right to disarm you,” Patterson said.

“In your garage — OK, that means you’re not breaking the law.” But if you don’t disarm, “then you’re dead.”

Direct any complaints to Austin.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy Get alerts at RebelMouse.com/budkennedy

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