Guns Have Nothing To Do With Art-All-Night Shootings

Another week, another mass shooting, this time in New Jersey at a festival called Art All Night.

I can already here the mating calls of the 2nd Amendment Republicans:

Too many doors!

Why do they let people were baggy clothes on a summer night?

This is what happens when liberals get together at festivals that value lefty things, like art!

We’ll propose a ban on doors, baggy clothes, and art to save the people just as soon as we find a way to stop all this criticism that keeps happening to us despite the fact we’re only exercising our 1st Amendment rights!

Call your representatives and senators and insist that they vote for the ban on doors, baggy clothes & art! Don’t let them take away your guns! Freedom first!

Fuck.

Would you believe that the CNN story on this this morning included the line:

Authorities have heard that as many as 1,000 people were in the area at the time of the shooting, Onofri said. The festival entrances had no metal detectors, he said.

Yes. Yes of course you would.

As for the people, there’s still one victim in “extremely critical” condition – probably still in surgery. Twenty people were injured. It appears that “one killed” is in reference to a suspect that was killed, probably by police. Unusually for situations like this, there was actually another suspect as well, that one taken into custody alive.

I hope the final death toll doesn’t get any higher.

The Threats to Free Speech are From Right Wingers, Not From Trans* Advocacy

Trans* advocates do not advocate any new type of restriction on speech. They do sometimes argue that restrictions that already exist on speech when that speech targets specific types of groups should also apply when such speech targets trans* folks. This is not in any way stretching what limitation on the rights of free expression the constitutions of Canada or the US (or any other country) will tolerate. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t serious threats to free expression in the US and Canada today.

I’ve written previously about how changing “loser pays” presumptions in defamation lawsuits can impact the related freedoms of the press and personal expression (though focussing primarily on the impacts on press freedoms). But compromises around such details as when the plaintiff has to pay a press outlet’s legal costs aren’t the only constitutionally permissible actions that the governments of the US or Canada might take that would have an impact on free speech, and there are even other, likely impermissible actions that the government might still try to take.

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That’s it. Take his guns away forever.

Florida passed somewhat interesting legislation in the aftermath of the MSD High School shootings. Although I and my reader would both have preferred dramatic restrictions on private gun ownership and access and hate crazy-blaming, there still could be some utility in the statutory provisions which allow police to assume that when one makes threats that one is at least potentially a danger to others. To that end, the law allows police to deliver those who make what appear to be serious threats (and some others who give indications of being a danger to the public) into the hands of mental health professionals.

The law has complex ramifications for a number of aspects of civil society, including the operation of the First Amendment’s protections of expression generally and the media specifically. Until I see more about how the courts interpret the state legislation and how local authorities mis/use its provisions, I’m going to have trouble  determining whether I find it a net positive or not. Still, the first person they picked up under the law was probably a reasonable choice and doesn’t foreshadow abuse. That person is Christian Nicholas Velasquez.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, cops initially keyed on Velasquez

after getting reports from the [University of Central Florida] community about a user on the online social media platform Reddit called “TheRealUCFChris” who called Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz and Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock heroes.

In an interview with police which happened either immediately before (more likely) or immediately after (it’s not entirely clear) a relatively short evaluation confinement in a mental health institution, Velasquez was clear that although he did make those comments, he couldn’t really see himself following in their footsteps:

“I can’t imagine myself ever doing that. It would take a lot to push me over the edge.”

Still, despite that and similar statements as well as not being found dangerous to the point of requiring confinement by the evaluating doctor, cops felt concerned enough that they applied under a new provision of the law to ban Velasquez from owning a gun for a period of one year. The civil order also prevents or penalizes certain other behaviors, and amounts to a new type of restraining order sought not by a victim but by a law enforcement agency. This new type of restraining order is known as a “risk protection order”.

The Florida judge responsible for deciding whether the emergency order authorizing the hospital say and other very short term measures thought Velasquez’s initial detention was well in-line with the wording and intent of the new law, saying (according to the Sentinel):

“I don’t disagree with the issuing of the initial temporary injunction. I think that’s exactly what the statute provides for.”

Nonetheless, the judge did not believe that the state met the legally required burden for a longer term injunction and declined to convert the emergency order into the new risk protection order with a duration of one year.

People will have different feelings about the law, though I think it’s pretty clear in this case that the authorities acting under the law were interpreting it reasonably and not abusively exploiting the margins of the power granted under statute. It was being used as intended, whatever you think about the intent. I don’t know if the judge had the law right, though it’s likely he did. So the first attempt at use of the law probably went about as well as anyone could hope.

After the hearing was concluded and the decision rendered, Velasquez’s attorney expressed disappointment with the law and its use against her client. Why would the government even want to take away – even temporarily – her client’s right to access guns? After all, she said, quoting her client, he just

wanted to look like a badass on Reddit.

Huh.

 

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About US Gun Rights, Part 1

This post grows out of a discussion on Mano’s blog about gun rights and the US constitution. If you like, please read the beginnings of this discussion where it originated. However, in response to questions raised by EnlightenmentLiberal, I felt the need to write a comment whose length kept increasing. (No, Crip Dyke! Say it isn’t so!) Ultimately, I thought this history/argument was better presented as its own post here.

The real problems in the interpretation of the 2nd amendment can be found in a Commerce Clause case about the growing of wheat on private property and the anti-slavery reconstruction amendments.

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