A tried and true trope of conservatives faced with the grim outcomes of their cockamamie schemes is to attempt to shame everyone into ignoring the human cost of their policies — ironically — out of respect for the people hurt. Something horrible happened, but it’s unseemly to try to explore why it happened, just sit back and let the moment pass and enjoy some bread and circuses until you forget.
We’ve seen it countless times before. It’s rhetorical standard operating procedure. After Sandy Hook, the usual suspects from Senator Rand Paul to the Washington Times decried the “cruel” and “shameful” “exploitation” involved in pointing out that putting military assault rifles on the street makes it easy for someone to kill a lot of kids very quickly. The tactic worked as it always does and time passed, people forgot, and nothing happened. It was only a week ago that Senator Ted Cruz suggested it was disrespectful of Trayvon Martin’s mother to lobby for changes based on her son’s death. I guess it was disrespectful to… Cruz? One would have thought his mom would be the right barometer of how to honor her son.
Now this trope is the subject of Tamara Tabo’s criticism of my article yesterday regarding the recent shooting of Renisha McBride because I noted the uptick in the “shoot first” culture brought on by Stand Your Ground laws (regardless of the fact that the law isn’t technically at play here).
Let’s unpack this and also look at some other misdirection being flung my way, shall we?
As Joe wrote yesterday, a 19-year-old Detroit woman named Renisha McBride was fatally shot last weekend on the porch of a Dearborn Heights home. Her death has received national media attention because of the speculation that, as Joe put it, it follows “the same basic pattern of an African-American in a predominantly white neighborhood at night running afoul of a gun-toting homeowner.”
The family members of Renisha McBride issued a press statement last night asking for peace while they mourn and promising to meet with activist groups after Renisha’s funeral. The funeral is scheduled for today at 10 a.m.
Authorities have slowly released details related to the young woman’s death. Some of these details match the statements made by Renisha’s family. Some do not.
Before leapfrogging over the specifics of Renisha’s case and launching a politically motivated rant, let’s look at what we do and don’t know about the tragedy that occurred on that Dearborn Heights porch. If Renisha McBride is more than a political prop, she deserves at least that much . . . .
So it’s happened again. Another state, another neighborhood, another young black person shot to death by someone based on a loose, subjective “fear.” This time it’s Michigan, and it’s a young woman instead of a teenage boy, but otherwise it’s the same basic pattern of an African-American in a predominately white neighborhood at night running afoul of a gun-toting homeowner.
There will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the prevalence of “Stand Your Ground” laws (which Michigan boasts), followed by the equal and opposite reaction loudly pointing out that Stand Your Ground doesn’t apply to this particular case (which it doesn’t).
However, while what happened in Michigan may not invoke the state’s Stand Your Ground law, the existence and high-profile nature of laws that lower the standard for legally forgivable gunplay has everything to do with what happened in Michigan…
Laura Law Student is ejected from a bar late one night. As she passes a nearby public library, Laura witnesses a group of people that she suspects of painting graffiti on the library. Laura confronts the vandals and they punch her, steal her phone, and tag her car. After the attack, Laura gets in her freshly tagged car and tries to run down the vandals.
Unfortunately, Laura’s car strikes a bystander during the chase, and Laura attempts to leave the scene of the accident.
It sounds absurd, but this is actually an account of what police claim a real-life law student did on Saturday morning….
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?
You’re young; you’re strong; you’re a fighter. You dream of big money, shorter hours, real courtroom experience, and the feeling of lifetime membership in an elite group. Either you want to be a Biglaw partner or a member of the street gang MS-13.
In researching my latest legal thriller, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the world’s most dangerous gang and the world’s most prestigious law firms. Here’s a comparative analysis of the riches that lure kids in, the perks that make them stay, and the organizational structure that makes it almost impossible to quit.
Now, I know your firm’s litigation department just won some National Law Journal award for the take-no-prisoners style in which it litigates even the most trivial of civil discovery disputes. But National Geographic calls MS-13 “the world’s most dangerous gang,” and this gang really takes no prisoners — its preferred method of alternative dispute resolution is to cut off someone’s head. This is no West-Side Story Sharks and Jets. MS-13’s motto is “Kill, Rape, Control.”
Yet both the street gang and the law firm can be a young person’s path to power, money, and prestige in this world….
I was raised to never hit a girl. I was raised at a time when you had no concept of a girl doing that. In the 1950s, girls didn’t snatch purses. They wore petticoats.
– Jonathan Damon, a Michigan lawyer, in remarks made after subduing Mikayla Danielle Hull, an alleged purse snatcher. During the course of the struggle, thinking that Hull was a man, Damon punched her in the face repeatedly after she bit his wrist, breaking the skin. Damon will not be charged for hitting Hull.
(Want to see the video of this lawyer’s heroics? We’ve got it, after the jump.)
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 . . . .
* The death toll of the latest mass shooting at the Navy Yard is 13 (including the gunman, military contractor Aaron Alexis), and people are rallying for stricter gun control laws before we’ve even had time to mourn. When will we ever learn? [New York Times]
* Today is Constitution Day, and Justice Antonin Scalia would like to remind you to celebrate — except if you think it’s a living document. If that’s the case, you can just “[f]ugget about the Constitution,” because that thing is dead, baby. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Please sir, we want some more! The Judiciary Conference has been forced to plea poverty to President Barack Obama due to its teeny tiny itsy bitsy post-sequestration budget. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Congrats to Kimberley Leach Johnson, the first woman to climb to the very top of the ladder at Quarles & Brady. That makes her the only eighth woman currently leading a Biglaw firm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* And congrats to Matt Johnson, outgoing chief counsel to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), on his return to the private sector. He’ll be taking his talents to the lobbying firm, McBee Strategic Consulting. [The Hill]
* From second career choices to no career choices: if you want to go to law school after working in another field, you should consider if it will help or hinder your applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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