TEXARKANA — A dinner at a local restaurant in October 2021 became food for thought for Texarkana elders’ advocate John Ross.
“My wife and I were having dinner at Zapata’s when a man ran right past the table and into the back of the restaurant and then a second man ran past the table. Moments later the second man came back in the dining room and asked if anyone had a gun,” Ross said.
The second man was an off-duty policeman who was not carrying his handgun. The officer used a restaurant customer’s gun to shoot the other man, who faces a series of charges stemming from an alleged armed robbery of a downtown vehicle.
The shooting was deemed justifiable, but it got Ross thinking about other kinds of liability.
Ross, a partner at law firm Ross and Shoalmire, is used to advising clients on asset protection in case someone needs to go to the retirement home. But the shooting at Zapata stirred his mind on protecting assets in the event after a shooting in self-defense.
“It made me think. What if I had my gun that night? What if I had to shoot someone?
“Asset protection can take many forms. If you have to use your firearm, you can be found not guilty in court and still be liable in a civil suit,” he said. . “In a civil suit, you can rack up legal costs, and whether it’s right or wrong, justified or not, you can rely on bankruptcy. That’s where asset protection comes in,” Ross said.
Ross and Texarkana criminal defense attorney Jason Horton recently hosted a free community law course for gun owners at City Hall in Texarkana, Texas. Thirty people took part. Legendary Firearms was also a sponsor.
“Gun owners practice regularly in case they have to use their gun, but usually have no idea what to do after using it,” Ross said.
Gun owners asked good questions, Ross said.
“Everyone seems to understand that the use of a gun in self-defense is a serious matter and that even when completely justified there will be negative consequences. So any gun owner really needs to not only knowing how to use your gun safely but also the legal and financial consequences that will ensue.
“The audience seemed particularly interested in ways to protect assets from a lawsuit following a vigilante shooting by asking some really good questions about asset protection trusts and how they work. Overall, it was a such a good program that we will probably repeat it in the future,” said Ross.
Horton talked about criminal charges and the differences between homicide, negligent homicide and manslaughter charges. He also spoke about the importance of speaking to a lawyer following an incident involving the firing of a gun.
Ross discussed different types of asset protection, such as internal and external liabilities, and the creation of trusts.
If you own property or a business or have money set aside for your retirement, you could be vulnerable,” he said.
“That’s why you need a plan to protect your assets so that if the worst-case scenario occurs, you know that personal resources will be available to you when the dust settles,” he said.