Guns

You can’t be a judge very long without having a trial that presents concerning situations. We handle them by talking them through with the marshals…. This sounds like something that could have happened at any courthouse, at any time.

– Chief Judge Marsha J. Pechman (W.D. Wash.), commenting on yesterday’s courthouse shooting in Salt Lake City, in which a defendant was shot and killed after rushing a witness.

Ronan Farrow: a former Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree turned contest judge.

Since 2012, the list-loving folks at Forbes have been publishing “30 Under 30″ compilations for various fields of endeavor. The 2014 lists just came out, and they include, of course, a 30 Under 30 for law and public policy. We noted the news in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs.

Such lists generate great traffic, but they also exhibit a somewhat arbitrary character that can be criticized, even mocked. The New Yorker, for example, took inspiration from Forbes to create 3 Under 3: Entrepreneurs, Intellectuals, Toddlers.

A list of notable legal eagles under 30 presents additional problems. Unlike, say, sports or the arts, where people over 30 might already be “over the hill,” law doesn’t lend itself to super-young prodigies. As Miguel Morales of Forbes points out in introducing the list, “It’s never easy for FORBES staffers to sniff out the 30 best and brightest Millennials making an impact on their fields. In law and public policy, where most people are barely out of law school by 30, let alone blazing trails in their fields, the task sometimes felt farcical.”

Whether it’s farcical or not, we know you want to see the list. Let’s have a peek, shall we?

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The United States stands alone in its permissive laws regarding gun ownership among major industrialized powers. But the United States is also one of the most heterogeneous countries on the planet. Are those two factors related? Could it be that our fear of each other inspires pro-gun laws that one doesn’t see in less diverse cultures?

There’s an argument that the Second Amendment itself was adopted to defend slavery. Please note: I don’t agree with this argument. I think the Second Amendment was adopted because we’d just fought a war that we couldn’t have won without the martial powers of citizens militias. That’s why “A well regulated Militia” is right in the text of the Amendment (a phrase modern gun nuts are quick to gloss over). But it’s clear that widespread gun ownership helped white plantation owners keep control of their slaves. And the right to bear arms was certainly useful when it came time to “settle” additional territory away from the people who were already living there. Gun rights, who has them, and who does not, are inextricably tied to our history of racial oppression.

Do these “race-war” justifications for gun ownership still apply to our modern understanding of the right? A new study suggests that they could…

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That sounds awesome! A bank robbery with a sawed-off shotgun, a high-speed chase, and shooting blindly at the authorities. Best GTA mission ever. Way to go Trevor!

Wait… that wasn’t a GTA mission? You’re telling me the crazy bastard in this story wasn’t Trevor, but a 64-year-old attorney turned amateur bank robber? I’d heard of bank robbers becoming lawyers, but the other way around is a new twist. Maybe Spencer Mazyck can make a new “Stealth Lawyer” video about it. Except I guess this guy wasn’t all that stealth since he got caught. He probably didn’t realize there were no more Pay ‘n’ Sprays.

Armed bank robbery. Man, those “million-dollar law degree” guys are really working hard to prove how much you can make with a J.D., aren’t they?

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In Washington, D.C. on Monday, Aaron Alexis gunned down twelve people. As if designed to preempt the scripted reactions of those who fight for an anemic interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Navy Yard massacre included no assault weapon. Alexis committed his crimes in a virtually gun-free zone. His background had been checked in order to gain the active security clearance he held prior to the shooting. While I’m usually game for a good discussion of the proper limits of the Second Amendment, that alone cannot sensibly be the focus here.

Neither is the matter so simple as switching the sound bite of choice from “gun control” to “mental health and gun control.” Most states, as well as the feds, already substantially limit lawful access to firearms by the mentally ill. Even Texas does.

If the law can deprive felons of their Second Amendment rights, gun control measures that restrict the rights of entire classes of potentially dangerous citizens are not off the table. Even as a conservative, my defense of your individual right to bear arms stops right about when you start having auditory hallucinations. But it’s long past time to start responding to horrors like what occurred this week at the Washington Navy Yard with less talk about guns and more talk about mental illness . . . .

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Andrea Pellegrini

The old saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” and it usually preaches that people are different on the inside, and generally for the better. That’s kind of a stupid saying when you think about it because a cover is an image specifically selected by the author and a publisher to entice people to read the book. It’s designed to reflect the book. If anything, a cover misleads the consumer into buying a book that’s not as good as the cover. So if you’re judging a book by its cover, there is only a risk that the reality is going to be worse.

This is all a roundabout way of pointing out that a business structured around a couple of guys who affirmatively choose to dress up like evil clowns and sing “F**k Celine Dion and f**k Dionne Warwick, you both make me sick, suck my dick,” have been sued for sexual harassment.

The allegations are kind of crazy, and claim other criminality as well….

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Here’s your fact pattern. You’re a young prosecutor and you get assigned a file for a troubled young woman.

She’s charged with a number of crimes, mostly revolving around meth, because it’s Oklahoma and there’s nothing else to do but meth and trade complaints about Texas.

But then you study the file a little more and see that the woman was caught with a loaded gun. Nothing too surprising there.

In her vagina.

Wait, what?!?

You know what they say, if you outlaw guns jammed in vaginas, only outlaws will have guns jammed in vaginas…

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The third week of June is a frustrating time to follow the Supreme Court.

If there’s any institution in contemporary America that understands ceremony, it’s the Court. Such a self-consciously dramatic institution is, in no way, going to underestimate the importance of timing in issuing opinions. The Justices know that there’s a big difference between a story — or a history book — that starts “On the last day of the Term, the Supreme Court decided,” versus “On the third to last day of the Term….”

There is, in short, just about zero chance that this close to the end, yet not quite at the end, the Supreme Court is going to issue an opinion in the Texas affirmative action case, the Voting Rights Act case, the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, or the California Proposition 8 case.

And yet, the Court still issues opinions. And we still line up to hear them, or push SCOTUSblog’s liveblog viewer-count to even higher numbers, even if we all know, or should know, that the opinions we get are not opinions that will resonate through the ages.

Today, the Supreme Court did issue three opinions. And one of them is important, if only for disaffected teenagers. The rest you may not care about, unless you’re a felon with a gun or you ever signed an arbitration agreement….

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In a story that seems to magically combine almost everything I care about, a person who was attending a University of Montana Law School party apparently shot himself “through the foot” on Wednesday.

Guns, random law schools, self-mutilation… if the dude had been a black guy who did it so The Man couldn’t hobble him first, I’d probably spontaneously combust….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.

In Houston last weekend, the National Rifle Association held its 2013 national convention. Although Houston is my once (and future) home, I did not attend the convention. I did, however, watch videos of several of the Leadership Forum speakers, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Governor Rick Perry, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin. You can watch them online too if you (a) care to hear the NRA’s platform articulated by people with very nice hair, (b) wish to entertain your morbid liberal curiosity, or (c) want to see Glenn Beck get choked with emotion about freedom — again.

Also in the last few days, the website Neighborhood Scout released a list of “the most dangerous neighborhoods in America.” The rankings relied on the violent crime rate per 1,000 residents, 2011 census tracts and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and violent crime statistics from the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice, and local law enforcement agencies. They defined “violent crimes” as murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, and forcible rape. (You know, the legitimate kind of rape.)

Two of the neighborhoods in the top 15 on that list are areas where I have lived, worked, or studied. In one of those neighborhoods, the 2011 violent crime rate was 91.27 per 1,000 residents. A resident there has a one in 11 chance per year of becoming the victim of violent crime.

I was never the victim of violent crime in those parts of town, though I experienced several thefts and one burglary while living nearby. Even so, taking advantage of Texas’s option of a concealed carry permit and a manageably small-caliber handgun seemed like a sensible option to at least consider. Why should I be the only one who thinks a responsible, safety-conscious response to a high-crime urban neighborhood is to purchase and carry a firearm?

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