A Dallas Gem Dealer Fired on His Robbers, but Now He's Fighting for His Gun License

Howard Marcon had just finished stowing shopping bags in his trunk following a trip to the Russell Stover store in Oklahoma City when he was stopped by a man approaching from the front of his car. The man was dressed in all black and wore a mask, and he demanded that Marcon hand over the sapphires and rubies, some $350,000 worth, he was carrying in his pocket.

Marcon refused. The masked man pulled out a gun, put it to Marcon's face, and again demanded the jewels. As Marcon backed away, he was grabbed by two other men, also wearing masks. He tried to force his attackers into the candy store, where he could get help, but they managed to reach into his pocket. Jewels in hand, they threw Marcon to the ground and jumped into a car driven by a fourth man, who gunned the engine and pulled away.

Marcon, 66, has been an independent gem dealer for more than three decades. He's heard any number of stories from colleagues and news reports of South American gangs that target dealers such as himself, robbing them as they travel around the country carrying large quantities of precious stones.

In other words, Marcon was prepared. He pulled out his concealed handgun, for which he had a Texas license, stepped into the street, and got off five rounds, two of which struck the fleeing vehicle and one of which hit one of the occupants. Another bullet struck a passing Porsche. Soon after, police found the car abandoned in a parking lot a few blocks away.

Police never solved the gem heist. The Oklahoma County District Attorney, however, did come to the conclusion that, though Marcon was legally in possession of the gun (the two states recognize one another's gun permits), he had behaved recklessly. He was charged and subsequently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct while in possession of a firearm. He was given a five-year deferred sentence, forced to pay $343, and barred from carrying a firearm in Oklahoma.

Marcon lives in Dallas, so the latter punishment wasn't a huge deal until the state of Texas got wind of his case. Texas has numerous provisions in its concealed carry law shielding licensed handgun owners from prosecution when they fire their weapon in self-defense, in defense of their property, or in any number of other situations, but it also mandates automatic revocation when a carrier is convicted of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor.

Marcon is appealing the revocation. He claimed in a filing yesterday in Dallas County court that his plea agreement means his criminal charges will be expunged from his record upon completion of his deferred sentence. Since he hasn't done anything to violate the terms of the agreement, he argues that he should be allowed to keep his Texas license. That's the only way he'll be able to continue working, giving that carrying a gun is more or less a necessity for a traveling gem dealer.

The law seems to be on the state's side. His guilty plea amounts to a misdemeanor conviction, which is grounds for automatic revocation under the law.

Marcon feels like he's gotten railroaded. Reached briefly today by cell phone, he lamented the irony of a situation in which he was getting charged with a crime while the men who robbed him got off scot-free. He acted in self-defense, and he thinks Texas should recognize that, no matter what Oklahoma court records say.

"I .... think Texas law ought to have a little more leeway."