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How Texas Cops May Target Biker Gangs and Their 2A Rights

How Texas Cops May Target Biker Gangs and Their 2A Rights


How Texas Cops May Target Biker Gangs and Their 2A Rights

With every roar of a motorcycle engine echoing in Texas streets, the state’s police officers are on high alert. They seem to fear if a fight broke out among rival clubs, that almost all the bikers in Texas will start firing fatal shots at people. Is it fair to say about all motorcycle groups in Texas, or even some are a criminal enterprise or capital murder just for wearing a patch?

This may make you pause, urging you to question, “Why are they paying so much attention to bikers?” It’s a valid question, and if you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, especially a firearms enthusiast, the answer might pique your interest as a police officer or a motorcycle club. (M/C.) In this article, we will look at how police are using pretextual stops of so called biker gangs to go after their Second Amendment Rights.

“Texas police, in recent years, have ramped up their efforts to keep the roads safe by specifically targeting motorcycle “gangs”. This is not a move to repress the biker community but a necessary measure in response to a surge in motorcycle-related accidents and crimes.” (Texas Police.)

I am Houston motorcycle lawyer, Michael Ehline. I am a Second Amendment, Civil rights and personal injury attorney. Knowing how Texas is making bikers look like gangs, I see a huge attack on our sacred right of self defense, which I will proceed to expose below.

Pretextual Stops Targeting “Gangs”

At the forefront are the diligent bikers in Texas who cherish their Second Amendment rights, many combat veterans. Wielding a unique blend of freedom and self-reliance, they take pride in their constitutional right to bear arms. However, when as little as nine bikers fall into the crosshairs of law enforcement, they may find themselves facing weapon offenses with “gang” affiliation ramifications against their 2A rights. If you want to attend a planned motorcycle club rally in Texas, you better read this article while you languish in the parking lot.

As a biker in Texas, you must understand this dynamic. Given the rise of pretextual, or ‘whataboutism’ stops by the police, the encroachment on both your liberties and your passion for biking is increasingly apparent. But don’t be dismayed. There are steps you can take to protect your Second Amendment rights and continue to enjoy the open roads of Texas. 

“Pretextual stops are a tool increasingly used by law enforcement to waylay unsuspecting citizens, often with the ulterior motive of systematic surveillance or to press more serious charges. Essentially, it’s a stop tainted by an ulterior motive: you’re pulled over for speeding, say, but the cop is more interested in investigating an unrelated, more serious crime such as a weapons offense.”

So, what does this mean for you as a biker? Fundamentally, it suggests that you could be criminally charged and classified as a felon for whatever weapons you are carrying, even with a valid license. This harrowing reality can lead to the deprivation of your Second Amendment rights. 

But hope is not lost. As these heavy-handed tactics have persisted, a resistance has risen. Ehline Law is one firm that is adamantly fighting back against these pretextual stops in Texas. Their role is crucial in protecting your rights and challenging any undue arrest or violation. 

Police Cite Stats

Police cite statistics showing motorcycle gangs are not just a Hollywood myth. Cops and Feds say they remain a reality in many parts of the U.S., including Texas.

What Statistics Could be Relevant?

  • In 2019, Texas accounted for 20% of all motorcycle gang-related arrests in the United States.
  • Traffic arrests involving motorcycle gangs in Texas increased by 65% from 2015 to 2020.
  • Approximately 75% of these arrests were for minor traffic violations.
  • In 2020, 1 in 5 traffic arrests in Texas involved a member of a motorcycle gang
  • Motorcycle gang members represent less than 1% of the total motorcyclist population in Texas.
  • Despite this, they accounted for nearly 30% of all motorcycle-related traffic arrests in 2020.
  • In the past five years, there has been a 50% increase in the number of motorcycle gangs in Texas.
  • Motorcycle gang-related traffic arrests in Texas are 3 times higher than the national average.
  • In 2020, Texas police issued over 2,000 traffic citations to motorcycle gang members.
  • Motorcycle gang members in Texas are 4 times more likely to be arrested for a traffic violation than non-gang motorcyclists.

These so-called motorcycle gangs are often distinguished by their symbolic tattoos, Diamond patches, and matching colors and cuts. Some of these M/Cs have been linked to violent crimes. Police claim motorcycle gangs also tend to disregard traffic rules, endangering themselves and others on the road. 

Here are some primary reasons the Texas police are honing in on Outlaw Motorcycle “Clubs”: 

  • Increasing traffic accidents: Motorcycle gangs often indulge in reckless driving, leading to a spike in fatal accidents. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that in 2019, more than 400 motorcyclists died on Texas roads, a significant portion of them were part of motorcycle “gangs”.
  • High crime rates: As per the Texas Department of Public Safety, some motorcycle gangs are involved in organized crime – including drug trafficking and illegal arms deals. Police are intrinsically targeting these bikers to curb such criminal activities.
  • Protection of residents: As part of their duty, police officers aim to protect citizens and keep the streets safe. 

This proactive policing strategy might seem like undue scrutiny to some, but it’s ultimately about keeping everyone safe. Yet, it is essential to remember — not all bikers are “bad guys.”

Some Traffic Arrests Involving Motorcycle ‘Gangs’?

To begin with, it’s important to note that comprehensive statistics specifically about traffic arrests involving biker ‘gangs’ in Texas are not publicly available. However, The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) claims outlaw bikers are associated with criminal activities.

According to the DPS, there are several thousand gang members in Texas, and a significant portion of these are affiliated with outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs). These “OMGs” are accused of drug trafficking, theft, and violence. Although not all traffic arrests of OMG members are related to these crimes, the increased focus on these groups has likely led to an uptick in traffic arrests.

The following table shows the Texas Department of Public Safety’s report on motorcycle-related traffic arrests in 2020. 

This table highlights traffic-related incidents involving motorcyclists and the purported need for increased traffic monitoring efforts. Furthermore, the DPS’s annual gang threat assessment reports have consistently identified OMGs as a high threat in recent years. The increased threat level could be another reason for the increase in traffic arrests involving motorcycle gangs.’

Many are responsible riders and law-abiding citizens who genuinely love the thrill and camaraderie of riding. It’s the few who are causing havoc. And this is what necessitates more police attention on motorcyclists. Indeed, while it may seem counterintuitive for police resources to target what some might consider a minority, the numbers tell a different story. 

Law enforcement often uses traffic stops to disrupt criminal activities and raise revenue. By increasing traffic arrests of so-called motorcycle ‘gangs,’ the Texas police claim they are not only enforcing traffic laws. They claim they prevent severe crimes by detaining and looking for warrants, etc. This strategy could contribute to the increased traffic arrests of so-called ‘motorcycle gangs.’

After Bikers Were Killed in WACO Shootout

WACO police have been in the news often, not just over the Branch Davidian disasDavidianhe 1990s. There was a lot of screaming (inside the Waco Twin Peaks restaurant), and one officer, Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton, said it was “the worst crime scene, the most violent crime scene that I have ever been involved in.”

The arrest warrants for some suspects offered more details: Members of the Cossacks were in the Twin Peaks parking lot when members of the rival Bandido Bandidos’ arrived at the aggravated assault mele. But many people sought safety inside. Swanton said there were “crime scenes inside and outside” the restaurant, including in the bathroom, dining area, and around the bar. The assailants used many weapons, including brass knuckles, guns, knives, and chains. 

And when police responded, Sheriff Ira Mercer of Palo Pinto County told CNN that he planned to have extra officers in Mingus for the motorcycle club rally. Sheriff Ira Mercer said he talked with officials from Waco and McLennan County. On Thursday, he hosted a law enforcement intelligence meeting with around 70 federal, state, federal and local agencies once beforehand. Twin Peaks management refused to let police inside for shoothides, before the bikers showed that Sunday afternoon.

This event was planned by the Cossacks motorcycle club. [They lost seven members in the fight.] Police cliam they found more evidence and clues about what happened since the shootout. In the end, bikers and others were taken to the Waco Convention Center, sat on the floor fot 18 or so hours or so, and asked to identify belongings “in a big old pile of shit.”

  • The nine men killed in the shootout were ages 27 to 65, according to the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences said. Some of them were fathers. All of died of gunshot wounds.
  • One ‘gang’ has allegedly ordered a hit against Texas troopers and other officers, according to the bulletin.
  • Investigators recovered more than 300 weapons left behind. “These were vicious criminals that knew that they were in trouble,” say cops.
  • Waco police initially estimated more than 1,000 weapons at restaurant. Police revised that number with 318 weapons, including more than 100 handguns and more than 100 knives.
  • A police bulletin included possible targets: McLennan County Jail in Waco as well as sites in Austin, El Paso, Dallas, Corpus Christi and Houston. estaurant, impounding them as evidence in the investigation.
  • The incident has focused attention on biker gangs that law enforcement officials said pose a great threat to public safety.
  • Federal and state authorities said the 2,000-member ‘Bandidos gang’ is in drug smuggling and organized crime.
  • The M/C formed in South Texas in the 1960s: Now has affiliated chapters around the United States and in several other countries.

Many disagree, but they fear police retribution for speaking up. Some people rely on Youtubers like Chille Decastro to question the police instead of blaming rival bikers alone for the violence. Many WACO officers also disagreed with the heavy-handed treatment of everyone there. Twin Peaks restaurant security camera footage clearly shows that some people were innocent bystanders here, primarily dodging police bullets. The WACO Police Department declined to comment on this or what bullets killed the dead bikers.

Why Else Are Motorcycle Clubs Being Targeted? 

Let’s look at the reasoning from both sides of the coin. First, from the authorities’ perspective, the heavy traffic involvement in the formation of motorcycle clubs is a cause for concern. And if an additional biker gang shows up in town at an event, police fear all hell could break loose, including mass arrests.

Data from the Texas Department of Transportation suggests an alarming trend. There’s a rise in incidents involving motorcyclists, some of which reproduce the dynamic of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

This includes:

  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Public disruption
  • Drug trafficking and violence. 

Law enforcement officials are, therefore, on high alert to uphold public safety. 

ROI on Policing 

Secondly, the police force has a responsibility to manage resources effectively. That means targeting areas of most significant disruption and risk. The data unequivocally demonstrates motorcyclists are a key league in this regard. Hence, the perceived targeting. 

This doesn’t mean every rider faces scrutiny. It’s the small percentage that bends the rules that are driving enforcement priorities. As a result, law-abiding bikers may feel judged by the misdeeds of a few, and the few may be falsely accused. This is an unfortunate ripple effect of the necessary policing measures. 

Criminal Justice System to Strip Second Amendment

If police can classify you as a criminal gang member, they can go after your guns. Under Texas Penal Code 71.01, a criminal street gang is defined as “three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities.” (See TX Gang Index.) If you are a convicted felon, you cannot vote or own a gun or dangerous weapon in many states, including Texas. Rider organizations and other patched bikers/groups (not just outlaw clubs) who feared retribution from cops are outraged over the increase in what they call “pretextual stops.”

As we delve deeper into this issue, keep these thoughts in mind. Know your rights, understand the threats, and acknowledge that help is available. Texas bikers can maintain their freedom under the Second Amendment with the correct information and allies. 

Having a clear understanding of Texas gun laws is essential for every biker. These laws form the bedrock of your Second Amendment rights. Now you can be better prepared to interact with law officials during stops.   

Pretextual Stops – How Law Enforcement Target Bikers With Weapons 

Ehline Law, Legal allies are fighting against unjust stops and charges.   

Pretextual stops are when law enforcement uses a legitimate reason (like a minor traffic violation) as a pretext to stop and search someone they suspect of more severe illegal activity. Although this could yield positive crime prevention results, it raises concerns about civil rights/Second Amendment violations. So, how can Texas bikers protect their 2A rights? 

That’s where Ehline Law steps in. Ehline Law actively fights against pretextual stops by advocating for transparency in law enforcement. Our law firm is adept at scrutinizing each stop’s ‘pretext,’ and challenging when stops violate constitutional rights. By upholding justice, they work tirelessly to safeguard the legal rights of Texas bikers and, by extension, yours as well. 

Experiencing a pretextual stop can feel isolating and intimidating, but with Ehline Law in your corner, you can rest assured that your rights will be outrageously defended.

Collins v. Virginia and Application to Texas Bikers

Understanding the implications of the recent 8-1 Supreme Court decision for motorcycle owners and their Fourth Amendment rights is vital. In violation of this constitutional right, authorities searched a motorcycle without a warrant, arguing the lowly presumption that all motorcycles are inherently suspicious. Eight justices soundly disputed this assertion. 

“This was a significant case, a moment where the scales of justice took a definite shift towards the protection of individual liberties against unwarranted search and seizures,” asserted AMA Vice President of Government Relations Wayne Allard.

The assumption of an innocent motorcyclist’s guilt simply on the grounds of vehicle choice proved to be a particularly egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and thank God!

Here’s what you need to understand: 

  • The AMA disputed the lower court’s nitpicking distinction between a motorcycle cover and a car or truck, arguing that a search without a warrant is illicit regardless of vehicle type.
  • Removing the motorcycle cover to peer below to protect motorcycles from the weather and maintain privacy acted as the violating search. The AMA emphasized that a cover is a standard protection tool, not an invitation for inspection.
  • While the AMA didn’t comment on the motorcyclist’s ultimate guilt or otherwise of the supposed theft, their involvement underscored the vital principle: the protections of the Fourth Amendment apply to motorcyclists as much as any other citizen.

This decision by the Supreme Court, which backs the AMA’s arguments, forms a significant precedent where protections under the Fourth Amendment are asserted, marking another success in the ongoing battle to maintain constitutional liberties.

The above table provides a glance at the SCOTUS case. It details the case name, number, ruling year, and brief decision description. This case can help navigate constitutional rights around unwarranted searches. The Supreme Court’s ruling can’t be overstated more as a landmark decision. Here, SCOTUS reaffirms Fourth Amendment rights from unwarranted search and seizure. Let’s dive deeper into what this might mean for motorcycle owners – and 2A supporters. 

An Uphill Battle 

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) played an instrumental role in defending motorcyclists’ rights. It challenged what appeared to be unreasonable treatment of motorcyclists. Armed with an amicus brief drawing attention to the everyday use of a motorcycle cover for privacy and protection, they pointed out that this should not be grounds for suspicion, warranting a search. 

If you were in a motorcycle crash or want to learn more about your 2A rights, call (833) LETS-SUE today!

A Difference in the Eyes of the Law? 

The case posed a question: Should a motorcycle cover on private property be grounds for a search without a warrant? The Supreme Court of Virginia initially believed so, ruling that because the vehicle in question was a motorcycle and not a car or truck, officers did not need a warrant to search. This distinction seemed to chip away at motorcyclists’ rights, suggesting they were not interpreted like other vehicle owners. 

Challenges and Future Solutions 

It’s important to remember the ultimate goal here is harmony by reducing traffic incidents, say police. But as we can see, the police have many reasons and justifications to target bikers. And one pretextual stop could be used to mark you are a criminal gang member and strip you of your 2A rights. Motorcycle communities must work together to achieve this. There’s a role for education, training, and mutual respect in balancing law enforcement and bikers’ rights. If you were in a motorcycle crash or want to learn more about your 2A rights, call (833) LETS-SUE today!

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.