DALLAS (KRLD/CBSDFW.COM) - Nearly 80,000 gun-toting Texans are getting gun insurance. For an $11 dollar monthly premium, members insure they will be legally represented in the event they are criminally or civilly charged for using their gun – provided they used their firearm legally. Texas Law Shield opened its doors four years ago and claims it was one of the first firms in the country to offer such coverage.
"If one of our members has to use a firearm to protect themselves, another person or property, they do not owe any other attorney fees over their membership costs," explains Texas Law Shield attorney Michele Byington.
The Houston-based firm employs six full time attorneys and refers clients in other areas of Texas to a network of affiliated lawyers. Byington says the idea for the firm started after the Joe Horn case, in which a man shot and killed two men who had broken into his neighbor's home. Horn shot them on his property, and then went bankrupt paying the legal fees to fight the charges against him. Horn was eventually cleared by a grand jury in the shootings.
Texas Law Shield will represent members for a wide range of legal battles, everything from being charged with discharging a firearm within city limits to aggravated assault. In one case, the firm was able to get charges dropped against a man cited for killing a skunk on his property.
"But it just illustrates the hassle this guy would have had to go through if he didn't have our service," Texas Law Shield President Edwin Walker told those attending a seminar. "Whenever you do pull your firearm out, there are several bad things that could happen to you."
On any given week, Texas Law Shield members report 20 incidents to the firm, and lawyers work to get any charges dismissed before trial. But if the case proceeds to trial, the firm represents its members all the way through – a process that could rack up $50,000 or more in legal fees.
Texas Law Shield also sends out newsletters with updates or explanations of gun laws. Education is a key component of the business, says Byington. "We're trial attorneys who want to educated people about gun laws."
Since Texas Law Shield opened in 2009, the firm has branched out to other states – offering similar services in Oklahoma, Florida and Colorado - under the name U.S. Law Shield. Since 2012, U.S. Law Shield has signed up about 800 members.
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