An 8-1 in Jonnson v. U.S.. The ACCA provides for increased prison terms for an offender with three priors for certain offenses. The offenses are listed, with a residual clause, a crime that "otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." In construing that, the Court had held that you look at the legal definition of the offense, not at the facts of a particular offense, and so it covers flight from an officer and attempted burglary, but not DUI.
At issue here was a past conviction for possession of a short barreled shotgun. The majority rules, per Justice Scalia, that the whole thing is simply too vague to pass muster. The case law required courts to think of the "typical" offense of a given type, and guess how much danger that posed. That requirement was simply too vague to be constitutional.
His Swiss Guard has halberds and swords for show; for serious work they pack:
"SIG P220 pistols
Steyr Tactical Machine Pistol
SIG P220 (P75)
Heckler & Koch MP5A3
Heckler & Koch MP7A1
SIG SG 550
SIG SG 552"
Not a bad assortment: handguns, subguns, assault rifles. They've retired their Mauser 98s and Suomi KP-31s in favor of modern firearms.
at New York Daily News, he goes into the claim that the US has such a high rate of mass slayings.
"Norway had the highest annual death rate, with two mass public shooting fatalities per million people. Macedonia had a rate of 0.38, Serbia 0.28, Slovakia 0.20, Finland 0.14, Belgium 0.14, and the Czech Republic 0.13. The U.S. comes in eighth with 0.095 mass public shooting fatalities per million people, with Austria close behind.
"To see this isn't just a problem for the U.S. or a few small countries, Obama doesn't need to look any further than reports released by his own State Department. Between 2007 and 2011, there were an average of 6,282 terrorist attacks per year outside of Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.S. The number of people killed, injured or kidnapped averaged more than 27,000 per year.
On Friday, Obama claimed once again that, "You don't see murder on this kind of scale, with this kind of frequency, in any other advanced nation on Earth."
Among developed countries, however, the U.S. isn't anywhere close to having the highest homicide rate. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the arbiter of which countries are considered industrialized, ranks Russia and Brazil far ahead of the U.S., with homicide rates that are respectively 21/2 to five times higher than ours. Our rate was tied with Chile's, and just slightly above the average for developed countries."
Here is the take of Politifact, not exactly a pro-gun site. They rate the claim as "mostly false."
Hat tip to Alice Beard.
It's a good time to call upon Maryland to ditch its State song. In fact, that was my reaction when I first heard of the song, decades ago.
"The despot's heel is on thy shore,
[The despot being Abraham Lincoln, not George III]
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
[Said gore being that of Baltimore street mobs that attacked Union troops moving through the city]
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!
. . . . . . .
Dear Mother! burst the tyrant's chain,
[A reference to one A. Lincoln again]
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain-
"Sic semper!" 'tis the proud refrain
[Not a quote from John Wilkes Booth when the song was written, but certainly one when it became the State song in 1939]
That baffles minions back amain,
Maryland! My Maryland!"
The tune is rather weak, the cadence too slow, and, given its present attitude toward freedom (esp. of the 2A variety), the State government has little standing to expect its citizens to sing about their freedom.
Inspired by Instapundit's note about a reactionary president's questionable playlist -- that is, Lincoln's 1865 request that a band play "Dixie" from him. But what can you expect from a fellow who was given his first oath of office by Jefferson Davis?
Over at Reason Online, Brian Doherty joins in the fun. I have an article, accepted and in edit, on how the grant-induced wave of medical studies (published in medical rather than criminology journals, so the editors and peer reviewers have no idea what they are dealing with) plays with the books. It's been a problem with medical articles in general, where the author sometimes has a vested interest in promoting some therapy or drug, and there the editors at least know what they are dealing with. One editor notes many different ways to cook the books, for example: run your study and use survival data from one, three, and five years out. If one and five years show no result, report only the results from three years, and never admit that you ran the other periods. Or ignore confounding variables (was this therapy only given to the less sick patients?). This "study" seems a clear example of those problems. It ends in 2005, for no convincing reason, and when extensions to 2010 or even 2014 would have found gun homicides rising. It compares CT, not to easily chosen controls (the region in which it is situated, or the entire nation) but to an artificial CT composed of parts of several States. With that sort of liberty, I'm sure you could have created an artificial CT that showed homicides went up, or down, or stayed the same.
About 44,000 have been registered, which is perhaps 4% of the total.
The high point of the Battle of Waterloo. Commemorated yesterday with a major re-enactment.
I've read a few sources that argue that Wellington spent the rest of his rewriting history, to play up the role of his army, and especially its British components, and play down the role of the Prussians, who were coming down on the French right flank, forcing Napoleon to divert part of his reserve against them, and to launch an attack on the Allied center with the remainder in an attempt to win before his time ran out.
1864 case, Chief Justice Taney sitting as circuit judge (in those days Justices did double-duty as circuit judges). In the opening days of the Civil War, the movement of Union troops down to defend Washington led to fatal rioting in Baltimore, where troops had to shift trains and move between train stations to do so. Lincoln reacted by authorizing Union commanders to suspend the writ of habeas corpus (and thus to take and prisoners without being subject to judicial action). The governor ordered militia units to destroy railroad bridges, and Union troops arrested a militia lieutenant Merryman for his role in that, and took him to Fort McHenry, in Baltimore harbor.
A district judge issued a writ of habeas corpus, which the fort commander refused to honor. An appeal was taken to the Circuit, and CJ Taney issued a writ of attachment (!) for Lieutenant Merryman, but the US Marshal bearing it was denied entry into the fort. Taney then issued an opinion finding that the suspension of the writ was unconstitutional, and in particular that only Congress had the power to suspend.
The traditional view has been that Merryman marked Lincoln's defiance of the Court (although it never came to the Supreme Court) and inter arms enim silent leges -- in time of war, the law falls silent. But Seth Barrett Tillman, of the National University of Ireland, recently raised an alternate interpretation. Essentially, Lincoln cannot be said to have defied a court unless he disobeyed an order from it: an opinion is not an order, it is an explanation of or a predicate for an order. In Merryman Taney issued one order -- the writ of attachment -- and since his marshal never got into the fort, he had no chance to serve it on the fort commander. Taney was thus engaging in an exercise in futility, and knew it. He could have upped the ante -- e.g., ordered the marshal to arrest anyone who impeded his entry into the fort -- but wisely decided to fold his hand. In this interpretation, the case is not about Lincoln defying judicial authority, it is more about Taney backing down from a trial of strength.
UPDATE: I wonder if the major D.C. and Baltimore newspapers had anything to say about the confrontation, at the time when it was occurring. Absent that, Lincoln's knowledge of the affair might have been sparse. The fort commander would not have reported directly to him, and the commander's superiors would have been a bit busy there, as Lincoln himself was. A person could consult Lincoln's papers, but I suspect there wouldn't be much there.
I recall reading a history of the 2nd Michigan Infantry, which had to pass through Baltimore in this period. The head of the city police offered to give them a guard, and the commander replied that if they wished to be guides, it would be appreciated, but as far as guarding them, he'd already given the order to load with ball and buck.
"It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, give the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order which counsel should have known would be outside the authority of this court."
UPDATE: Lucky Gunner has announced that it will donate the entire of its fee award to a group that defends the Second Amendment. Which group it is will be settled by an online vote -- you can cast yours here.
It's hard to predict an outcome from an argument, and impossible with an en banc. Eleven judges, half of whom did not ask a question, and several who did grilled both sides equally.
The good guys faced a very big problem: the Ninth is 2/3 Demo appointees (party of the appointing president is the only way to judge their political feelings, and is rough enough). Odds of winning 6 out of 11 are not high.
The good guys thus posed the question narrowly. We aren't attacking the licensing system as such. We are attacking the fact that the two sheriffs here employ its broad "good cause" term to exclude anyone who doesn't have an exceptional need for self-defense, one not shared by the average person. Heller suggests, at the very least, you cannot demand that. (I think a licensing system of that type is unconstitutional, and they certainly do as well. But an advocate's job is to win THIS case, not to debate broad principles and lose on them).
This put the State in a very interesting position, which at least one judge probed. It's moving to intervene -- but why, this late in the game? It could have joined the suit years ago. It didn't even join before the panel decision came down. California didn't want to say "Heck, we thought the sheriffs would appeal it farther." Instead it tried to argue that the suit started out as a challenge to the sheriffs' exercise of discretion, in which the State had no particular interest, and developed into one where the State statute itself was under attack. But if the good guys say that isn't the case... And if the State isn't granted intervention, the appeal dies, since the sheriffs didn't ask for further appeal, and that leaves the panel decision standing.
I did like it when in rebuttal Clement zinged the better of the two California advocates. The guy had said -- this is a rural county. The ban on open carry doesn't apply to 95% of it except in restricted areas, so a person can carry open and unloaded in the great bulk of it. The rebuttal response: "except in restricted areas." Under the statutory definition, those include virtually anywhere you cannot discharge a gun, which in this context means almost anywhere, a road, anywhere near a house, etc., etc.
Streaming video should be here. It's set to start at 3:30 Pacific, 6:30 Eastern.
California had a system where handgun carry licenses are "may issue," and that extends to all carrying, not just concealed. A three judge panel struck that down, finding that a government cannot entirely prohibit unauthorized carry and also make the permit system "shall issue." There was a motion for review en banc, which was granted, hence this argument. (In theory, en banc means by all the judges of the Circuit; the Ninth is so large -- 28 active judges, last I counted -- that it sets them before a panel of the chief judge and ten randomly selected judges).
I worded that in the passive voice, because of another quirk. The defendants did not move for review en banc, but announced they would start issuing permits on a "shall issue" basis. The State of California had, early in the case, been notified, but refused to intervene. Now, with the original defendants dropping out, it filed a motion to intervene so as to file a motion for rehearing en banc. I don't think the court has ever acted on that. I assume the California AG's office will argue for the other side -- which means the court will hear argument from an attorney without it ever having been determined whether their client is a party to the appeal!