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February 13th, 2008
» Paul Velte's Guest Column: Proposed Hays County shooting restrictions an assault on tradition


I write to argue against the proposed shooting ban for Hays County. As I keep saying to everyone who will listen, there are just too many variables involved in shooting to be controlled for in writing–there are just too many ways to be stupid. Instead of regulating how one shoots, we should simply make it a legal requirement that no bullet shall pass your property line.

But wait, it already illegal under Texas law to shoot across a property line. But in Mr. Jose Espitia’s particular position, that is only one of many laws he broke. He was extremely, stupidly dangerous. Anyone who would do what Jose Espitia did will not be reading a new ordinance either, as a lawyer I am certain of that.

Consider Espitia was not hunting nor target shooting at a dirt berm–the standard for outdoor gun ranges–but only at a piece of plywood at or near his property line. What Espitia did was beyond the pale for conduct of any sane adult and should not be the basis of any new laws.

t is already against federal law for Espitia to even possess a firearm! An alien with a firearm carries 20 years in prison. But hey, what’s a little federal law? It was illegal for him to own land here too but he owned 1.01 acres of Texas prairie. Somehow none of these laws appear to matter but the next one will.

Now come some Democrats on the Commissioners Court — seizing the opportunity to impose more restrictions–to impose their answer to the problem of one illegal alien ‘target shooting’–and killing another illegal alien’s child, which is: Stop all citizens from shooting unless they own more than 2 acres of land. Hmmm. Using the criminal conduct of illegal intruders in our nation as the reason to make laws for all citizens to abide by… I see a trend here.

I ask you: How common is it to “shoot a target” and “accidentally” kill someone? One thing about “target” shooting is that you are trying to hit your target—you are very aware of what you are aiming at. This case is beyond negligence; it was at least reckless or possibly even intentional. Who knows? We never will unless Espitia stands trial. Which is why Espitia must be tried. Criminal laws do work to deter his type of conduct if only the justice system does it’s job.

Criminal laws already on the books alone outlaw most aspects of Mr. Espitia’s conduct: being here, owning land here, possessing the rifle, and shooting it across his property line; not to mention killing someone. The ‘problem’ he caused, is not systemic to Texas culture. Though it is to Mexican culture, because Mexico prohibits ordinary citizens from owning guns. It is backward and reprehensible to deny such a basic human right to its citizens—which is one reason they have always suffered under their form of government. But we are not Mexico, and there’s no need to adopt a prohibition upon ourselves here in Hays County.

The Commissioner’s court is set to ban shooting on land that has never before–in the history of man on Earth–been forbidden to shooting. That’s a sad thing to see happen. This has always been shooting land. Jack Hays is turning in his grave. And All because of an illegal invader of our land and our laws! We need to preserve our heritage, not kill it. Don’t let it be stolen by foreigners who break our laws. That is what is happening. Life in the USA is valuable, yet our government is letting millions steal it by simply moving in and setting up shop. Free hospital births, free WIC, no questions asked. One illegal is shot by another? OK, so let’s kill our traditions to solve that problem. That’s the solution being proposed for Hays County.

Not even Travis County has such a law. Is it ever wise to adopt an ordinance based on a sole incident? There’s not even been a trial yet. I’ve been following this case, and all publicly available information is very sparse. The DA and sheriff have all relevant data and neither is talking–I’ve asked. All details are kept secret and will remain a secret if the DA cuts a deal. All quite legal, I should add. But rational policy making–like an ordinance–requires facts for intelligent design. But we won’t have facts if this case gets plea bargained. Such is the problem with plea bargaining always–and why it was not allowed for the first 100 years of our state’s existence. (Yes, in the ‘old’ days, every case got tried to a jury.) After the facts are made known, then and only then should we consider making new laws to live by.

This case is clearly one that should be tried, not plea bargained. It is the district attorney’s prerogative to cut a deal or not. The DA does not have to plea bargain any case she does not want to. But for benefit of public policy–which is in part the purpose of public trials–not to mention justice–it MUST be tried. The whole community should have the chance to sit through a public trial of the events of that day when Mr. Espitia shot 7 year old Daniel Galicia. For the good of our community, this should happen before we pass new laws. That, my friend, is the basis of sound policy making. This is Jack C. Hays County, so let’s live up to our heritage please, and our traditions. Let’s keep this Texas hill Country safe for shooting for our children, and their children. It is the means to stay free.

Look at this map. It is a satellite image of the DPS range in the middle of Austin. On no more than 1/5th of an acre, for decades, the DPS has been shooting in the middle of a densely populated urban area. Why do we need to ban all shooting on two acres in Hays? Travis has a million people, Hays has about 130,000. Travis County has no similar ordinance, so why should we?

You tell me what’s going on in this culture we call Hays County? I really want to know. Are we not the defenders of liberty, the heirs to a long line of freedom fighters, from Jack Hays, Sam Houston, and going back to George Washington, the first patriot?

PAUL VELTE, an attorney who lives in Kyle, ran for district attorney in 2006 and is a member of the county’s task force on shooting restrictions.

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14 thoughts on “» Paul Velte's Guest Column: Proposed Hays County shooting restrictions an assault on tradition

  1. Very interesting. However, I wonder as to the validity of such “traditions.”
    First, our great Western American history is riddled with examples of local governments passing laws to prohibit firearms (or the discharge thereof). I’m thinking Tombstone, Dodge City, Abilene…
    Second, regardless of the legality of Espita’s alienage, the fact remains that a human needlessly shot a child. I fail to see how any tradition can outweigh the desire to protect the citizenry of Hays County. I do not personally believe the new laws will work; however, this should help foster a debate and I strongly urge Mr. Velte to try to come up with a better deterrent than merely citing the memory of Jack Hays or other “traditions” (I seem to recall that mob justice was once a tradition as well, although not necessarily in Hays County).
    Lastly, I urge Mr. Velte to suggest a solution based on reason and not some anti-immigrant ranting. “One illegal is shot by another?” certainly conveys the perception that Mr. Velte beleives government should only act when worthy (legal) lives are affected in the county. Only after first determining the legal status of these people should action be taken: this sounds a lot like Mexican law and rights.
    PS–I thought foreign nationals can generally own property in the US. I would be curious to know which statute Mr. Velte refers to when he says differently.

  2. I think Mr. Velte is very wrong because first of all DANIEL GALICIA and his family are NOT illegaly here. So for him to say that an illegal was shot by another is a false statement and I think he should appologize to this family. I thought Mr.Velte is lawyer not a racist. So next you want to say someething about DANIEL GALICIA and his family you should gather all your facts and measure all your words.
    So future refernce DANIEL GALICIA was not an illegal person living here. I hope you can clear it up, and this would not be a mexican law like other people say it take care of lives of different origins.
    P.S. I strongly say all this and know this that I said is not a lye beacause I my DANIEL GALICIAS’s cousin.

  3. First of all, I don’t think Mr.Velte has his facts straight. Daniel Galicia was not here illegaly, he was born here in the State of Texas and i know this because i am his cousin. So i don’t understand why he said something like that. The best thing that he could do is apologize to Daniel Galicia’s family. What Mr.Velte has said seems racist and biased. It doesn’t matter how many acres of land you have or what your ethnicity is we are all humans and that can’t be changed. I don’t think you’re supposed to be shooting around homes just because you feel like it, that’s why shooting ranges were created. Hopefully after reading this, Mr.Velte can double check his facts before making them public.


  5. I have to agree that Mr. Velte sounds like a scumbag. I’m not sure what gun safety has to do with immigration or why the citizenship of a child who was shot should matter.

    I kind of pity people who are so seething with racism that they can’t discuss anything without going on some sort of bigoted tirade.

    My sympathy is with the Daniel Galicia’s family and I would like to say that Mr. Velte is one of a dying breed of whom we can not rid ourselves too soon.

    That being said, I do question the need for more gun legislation.

  6. Hello,

    I found this site by accident.
    After reading the arguments and considering the sources of the alleged facts, I can only conclude:

    1. Mr. Paul Velte concluded that Jose Espitia was an illegal alien.
    2. Mr. Espitia acted with a total disregard for our community safety in committing the described acts, which included the killing of another person’s child.
    3. Mr. Velte suggested that America cannot financially support the looting, ethics and morality of the Mexican government upon American soil.
    4. Various people who assert that Mr. Espitia is a relative of theirs, have now attempted to defend Mr. Espitia’s ethics and manslaughter by alleging that Espitia is not an illegal alien.
    5. Mr. Velte has been branded a “racist” for his opposition to illegal aliens and their effect upon our American way of life.
    5. It may be concluded that every good thing we’ve attained in this nation was obtained through the barrel of a gun, and the howl of those who wish to silence Mr. Velte’s individual call for common sense, only hasten the onset of a return to gunbarrel tactics, for it now appears that words, reason, process and rule of law will not dampen the allegiance that certain people retain for known criminal behavior, -if the criminal behavior is the same color skin as their own.

  7. You should re-read more carefully, as you have clearly misunderstood everything that was posted here.

    Those are relatives of the child that was shot, who Mr. Velte asserts was the child of an illegal alien. As though that matters at all.

  8. You are correct that the shooting was criminal behavior and that some people, like Mr. Velte, appear to include skin color in making their determination as to whether the act was criminal or not.

  9. I pretty much said my peace on this subject in response to Jeff Barton’s March 24th editorial about his proposal to limit shooting on two acres or less. In addition to what I said about the dangers to power and telephone lines and the threats to me, my animals, and neighbors, I’d like to add that unless the sheriff actually sees the criminal shooting across property lines, they can do nothing. The best thing one can do is call the local Game Warden, and he can issue some serious fines if proper permits and licenses are not available. Otherwise, honk your horn and shout them down. Again, I wish to assure the Galatia family that Mr. Velte certainly does not speak for me, and I ask others to join me in protesting his presence on any future task force, board, or study group, much less elective office. Such blatant racism should have no place to hide in Hays County. Who nominated this racist to the study group anyway? I would welcome the chance to express my outrage over his ignorant and hurtful statements!

  10. I notice numerous charges of “racism” posted here against Mr. Velte. Seems hard to imagine a person who is married to a Hispanic female (as is Mr. Velte) being accused of being prejudiced against Hispanics.

    I think perhaps Velte was simply pointing out that the individual who killed Daniel was already breaking enough laws as it is, and that a Class C misdemeanor fine isn’t much of a deterrent to a person who doesn’t abide by more superior laws.

    Perhaps Velte is trying to convey the idea that changing our nation in order to adapt for the lack of gun safety education in OTHER nations isn’t exactly the proper methodology for running a Representative Republican form of Government.

    How many who take the time to consider the facts truly believe that a guy who is married to a Hispanic female is prejudiced against Hispanics? Rather I would imagine, he is prejudiced TOWARD them.

    Yes, I agree Mr. Velte was sadly misinformed about the nationality of young Daniel. And that is unfortunate, since the main point (i.e., that Mr. Jose Espitia was in the country illegally and acted in a reckless and negligent manner and it resulted in a young child’s death) is being ignored in order to avoid facing some rather cold hard facts.

    The reason the tragedy occurred is due to an individual acting recklessly due to (1) a total ignorance of firearm safety, or (2) a total lack of concern for the safety of others.

    The fact that a “plea bargain” (rather than a trial by a jury of 12 citizens) determined the issue will unfortunately now disallow any further chance the public will learn any of the actual facts, since there will be no public trial record, and the authorities have released virtually ZERO information about this issue.

    It is unfortunate the Office of the Hays County D.A. decided to handle the issue by “bargaining” with Mr. Espitia, and it tells us a great deal as to how dedicated Hays County is to insure something meaningful would be done to halt such reckless and illegal acts in the future. Instead, we get some ludicrous Class C misdemeanor proposal which would have meant ZIP, ZERO, NADA to Mr. Espitia, but would take away the rights of law abiding Hays County citizens to discharge firearms on their own damned property.

    You want to halt such tragedies in the future?

    Here you go. Try this. Article III, Section II of the United States Constitution (the Supreme Law of the Land) requires that “…the trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury”.

    Nowhere in that Constitution (which all personnel in the office of the District Attorney swear to preserve, protect, and defend) does it allow for government employees to nullify the right of the People to act as jurors in a trial to determine the will of the people in this matter. Is eight years enough for taking a life, when for instance, the same sentence is meted out for a DUI in some cases in which nobody was harmed at all? I don’t think one person should decide that. I think it is for a jury of twelve to determine. And so did our Nation’s Founding Fathers.

    After all, this is a “public safety” issue. And we are the “public” needing to be made safe. So it is OUR decision according to Article III.

    It is indeed unfortunate that a matter of this magnitude was “bartered” away by governmental employees rather than prosecuted and pursued by we the people in the manner prescribed under our Federal Constitution.

    In closing, I will say that I noticed one individual here posted a statement that he hoped Mr. Velte isn’t elected to public office, or allowed to serve on any future committees.

    I doubt if Velte was D.A., that he would consider striking a “plea bargain” with people who recklessly kill children, regardless of their origin.

    But as long as people are more concerned with political correctness than with running our system of government in pursuance of the Constitution, my guess is we will see the County deteriorate even further.

    I intend to vote for Velte if he again runs for that office. But then I am just a stickler for requiring our elected officials to follow the Supreme law of the land after they swear by oath or affirmation to preserve, protect, and to defend it.

  11. The problem is not that he was “sadly misinformed about the nationality of young Daniel.” The problem is that he implied, strongly, more than once, that Daniel’s nationality mattered and that shooting an illegal (or the child of an illegal) is somehow less egregious.
    Racist? It sounds like it, but maybe not. Scumbag? Yeah, it still looks that way.
    The fact that Mr. Espitia was reckless and negligent and killed a young child was not ignored by anyone here, except perhaps, Mr. Velte. In fact, that is the very point that people here have been trying to make.
    One person was reckless and negligent and killed a child. The rest is just noise, made by Mr. Velte.
    Whether the Hays County D.A. handled the case properly is immaterial to whether or not Mr. Velte’s comments were appropriate for someone who would wish to hold that office.

  12. Thank you Ted Marchut. That really means a lot of me, my family, and my little brother, Daniel.

    Thanks for all of your support everyone that cares about my family. The Galicia Family.

    -Sincerely, Julianna Galicia

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