Well… SOMEONE missed a point or two

Sunday morning, I ran across a real WTF opinion column from University of Wisconsin student newspaper. I don’t expect much quality from student newspapers, but this call for “red flag” laws was…

Read it for yourself.

The red herring in the red flag debate: Conservative opposition to common sense gun control misses the point
A red flag law, proposed by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, aims to address these flags. It would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a judge, temporarily removing firearms from an individual who is a possible threat. Despite intense disagreement about the limits of the second amendment, red flag laws and universal background checks, among other proposed restrictions, are supported by a significant majority of Americans.

Why do we need the “red flag” ERPOs? Julia Brunson tries to explain that they’re to fix loopholes.

“Despite federal restrictions on gun ownership by convicted domestic abusers, the ban does not apply to those charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.”

WTF? 18 USC § 922(g)(9): “who has been convicted in any court of a MISDEMEANOR crime of domestic violence” (emphasis added)

Ms. Brunson is a senior, so she’s likely 21 or 22 years old. That means those convicted of domestic violence, felony or misdemeanor, have been prohibited persons for her entire life. How did a history major miss that bit of history?

“This loophole, among other vulnerabilities in the system, allowed the Sutherland Springs shooter to possess several firearms and kill 26 churchgoers in Texas last year.”

Again, WTF? The Sutherland Springs chumbucket had a felony-equivalent court-martial conviction for domestic violence, and had been involuntarily committed, both of which made him a prohibited person. The only “loophole” was that USAF failed to report him to NICS, an on-going problem for the DOD.

Now that we’ve established this “historian’s” lack of knowledge of recent history, let’s test the extent of her ignorance. I emailed her with a counter-proposal to ERPO laws.

Allow me to propose an alternative to “red flag” orders which only allow “due process” AFTER rights have been violated.

Let’s try a law that allows _anyone_ to call the police and tell them a person may be at risk. The responding officer could see the subject and make a determination that the person does seem to be dangerous and is empowered to take the subject to a hospital for evaluation for as much as 72 hours. During that period, the subject remains in custody, but has the right (just like an accused criminal) to legal representation.

If a doctor finds the person is at risk, he informs a judge. The judge then makes the final determination and, if the person is at risk, is so adjudicated and becomes a prohibited person who cannot possess firearms. The judge can specifically order the person surrender any firearms possessed. The subject is placed under appropriate treatment.

I find this scenario preferable to ERPOs in that 1) due process is protected throughout, and 2) the potentially dangerous subject is in custody WITHOUT weapons; whereas ERPOs merely take one class of weapons, and leave the dangerous person on the loose with anything he can get his hands on, from kitchen knives, to baseball bats, to cars.

Would you support my legal version?

I’d be willing to bet that my regular reader(s?) knows where I’m going with this. Will Brunson know enough to avoid the trap?

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About those “refugees”

I see the ACLU is in a tizzy over Trump’s asylum rules, and are suing.

Several civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block the Trump administration’s new rules that effectively end asylum protections. Under the rules, migrants who pass through another country on their way to the U.S. will be ineligible for asylum.

They’re suing the wrong people. They need to sue the United Nations. Because… well…

“This is the Trump administration’s most extreme run at an asylum ban yet,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt in a statement. “It clearly violates domestic and international law, and cannot stand.”

… Gelernt doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Trump didn’t make up that rule about coming through other countries to claim asylum. That’s straight out of the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Article 31

Refugees unlawfully in the country of refugee

1. The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence. (emphasis added)

One of them manages to fly directly from Bumfuck, Wherever into JFK International? Fine; directly.

But hops a ship or flight to Brazil, hikes up through Central America, camps in Mexico, then jumps the border into Texas? That’s pretty damned indirect. They could make a claim on Brazil. Not the USA.

Alexa Delenda Est

If you are foolish enough to have an Amazon Alexa device in your home, I suggest you immediately take the following steps to correct a serious security bug.

  • Turn it off
  • Unplug it from any power/phone/etc interface
  • Take it outside
  • Obtain the largest available hammer (8LB sledge is suitable)
  • Pound the device into its elementary constituent particles

If you hadn’t already been warned off the digital spies, perhaps this will convince you. Because if this report is correct, Amazon is either lying about Alexa, or it has yet another major security bug.

Alexa calls cops on man allegedly beating his girlfriend
A New Mexico man was arrested for allegedly beating his girlfriend and threatening to kill her — after Amazon’s Alexa called police, authorities said.
[…]
During the assault, Barros waved a gun and threatened to kill the woman before he allegedly asked: “Did you call the sheriffs?”

The question was inadvertently picked up by the smart speaker and the voice-powered virtual assistant recognized the phrase as a command — prompting it to call 911

Is it good that the woman was saved? Sure. But how did that happen?

First off, there doesn’t ever seem to have been an Alexa “attention word” spoken. I looked at several reports on this; none mention the trigger word being used. So the system apparently listens to everything… and just happens to interpret a question about the sheriff as a command to dial 911.

Second, according to Amazon, calling 911 is impossible.

Note: Alexa Calling does not support calls to the following types of numbers:

  • Emergency service numbers (for example “911”)

So… Alexa, without prompting, interprets a question as an order to place an impossible call, and does it.

Right.

Let’s consider another possible scenario. One of the thousands of Amazon workers listening to Alexa conversations hears the domestic incident, because the microphone is always active. Well-intentioned employee looks up the owner data, gets the phone number and location, and places a 911 call for her.

Don’t you feel safer knowing someone is always watching over you?

Now imagine some busybody overhears a conversation about guns, decides you’re planning a shooting, and SWATs you.

Or maybe the baby pictures you and you spouse are discussing might be child porn. Another call.

Perhaps you decided to cancel your Amazon Prime, and instead of programming Alexa to call you a “shithead”, they decide to SWAT you for that.

Or you were watching a movie or newscast with a domestic violence scene.

More innocuously, Alexa might start placing long distance calls on its own, running up your phone bill.

The best case is that the Alexa system is so buggy as to be physically dangerous.

The worst case? Consider Alexa’s alleged left-wing bias, and think about it — or those listeners — acting on it. Do you own guns? Vote conservatively? Oppose abortion?

No rights were violated in the making of this travesty of justice.

So sayeth the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Because we find no violation of a clearly established right, we need not reach the other qualified immunity question of whether a constitutional violation occurred in the first place.

That’s the money quote. But let me tell you what it is in reference to.

From the “Factual Background” of this ruling we learn that

  • Cops were after a perp.
  • Perp entered someone else’s property.
  • Cops followed.
  • Cops put one adult and six children — all innocent bystanders, as the Court notes — on the ground at gunpoint, and cuffed the adult bystander for no reason.
  • Perp was in custody.
  • Dog came out, and was in no way perceived as a threat; not even by the cops.
  • So one cop — Coffee County Deputy Michael Vickers — shot at the dog, and missed.
  • Dog hid under the house.
  • Dog came back out, and still everyone agrees it was not a threat.
  • So Coffee County Deputy Michael Vickers shot at the dog again. And missed again.
  • Excuse me; he missed the dog. He shot a ten year-old boy, who was only 18 inches away from him.

You might think that using unnecessary force would taint the cop’s defense. You might think that negligently shooting a kid just inches away from him would be a bad thing. You could even wonder about the Coffee County Sheriffs Office marksmanship training. No prob, says the 11th Circuit.

We don’t even have to worry about any of that because shooting innocent children is “no violation of a clearly established right.” Qualified Immunity!

Well now. That certainly clears the way for post-birth abortions.

If you must be in Coffee County, Georgia, be on the lookout for this psychopath.

Reportedly, Vickers has an extensive history of violating rights um… excessive force ah… acting firmly and shooting at dogs. Protect yourself appropriately.

Cops and courts really need to consider the ramifications of their acts should hunting season ensue.

Know your opponents

Here’s a little test. Without resorting to a search engine, can you tell who said:

  • “We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.”
  • “You can’t talk about, much less take, bombs and guns onto airplanes.Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted.”
  • “believes in no unsupervised youth access to guns, period.”
  • “every firearm should have a guardian who knows where it is and keeps it safely stored.”
  • “we support mandatory penalties for juvenile criminals caught carrying guns.”
  • “if violent juvenile felons get a second chance at going straight, they should never get a second chance at owning a gun.”
  • “We support restoring full and perpetual funding for the National Instant Check System, which was the product of [our] determined effort.”
  • “we advocate that records of court-declared mental incompetents be unsealed and made available to the instant check system.”
  • “We will consider instant checks at gun show”

Answer

Were you right?

Remedial Practical Civics 100, Lesson 7: Declaration of Independence 4 Dummies

Lesson 1: Sausage-Making

Lesson 2: The Constitution. You may have heard that word.

Lesson 3: Let’s Party!

Lesson 4: “A Hunting We Will go”

Lesson 5: “Voting for Dummies Democrats”

Lesson 6: Supplementary Reading: Remedial Journalism 100


Declaration of Independence 4 Dummies

The preamble to to the Constitution says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And what did the founders see as the “Blessings of Liberty”?

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Unanimous. We all agreed to it. None of this “rule by 50.00001%” stuff. Continue reading