Sep 26 2016

Liberty Update: NC Riots, MA’s “Illegal Guns,” & Free Speech Blamed For Everything

Transcript as follows:

Riots in NC come this week after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott outside an apartment complex in Charlotte. Police were present on an unrelated call and say they saw Scott get into his car with a gun and approached, demanding he drop the gun and get out of the car. Though police have said they cnnot verify if Scott actually pointed his gun at an officer, Brentley Vinson opened fire and shot Scott. Scott’s family says he didn’t own a gun and was reading a book in the car waiting for his son to be dropped off after school. Police have refused to release the video of the shooting stating it would harm the investigation.

Protestors appeared on the scene Tuesday night, some of the protests turning into violent riots that several police officers injured, one civilian shot dead, and destruction to several local businesses. Riots continued Wednesday night. Fires were set and some reports claim that the crowd tried to throw reporters and photographers into the fires. Protestors blocked off local highways for several hours and public transportation and was suspended overnight. The city has declared a state of emergency and the National Guard is now also on the scene.

Scott’s death came the day after the dash cam footage from another controversial shooting was released. Terence Crutcher was unarmed and had his hands in the air when he was shot by police last week. Officer Betty Shelby has now been charged with manslaughter. Officers had been in the area on an unrelated call when they saw Crutcher and his stalled car. Police claim he did not listen to their commands and was subsequently tazed and shot. Protestors gathered at the county couthouse on Monday and city officials state that the protests have been peaceful.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court also threw out a gun conviction when they ruled this week that black men who run from police may have good reason to do so and that fleeing from the police shouldn’t automatically be considered indicative of guilt. Meaning, the simple act of refusing to comply with voluntary police procedures – which is a right already protected by state law – should not, on its own, be considered a crime.

Jimmy Warren was arrested in December 2011 by police investigating a break-in in Roxbury. Warren wasn’t involved in the case, but he and his friend matched the vague description of “black men in dark clothing or hoodies” in a predominantly black neighborhood. When police approached the men, they ran. Warren was arrested, searched, and no contraband was found on him, though police found an unlicensed .22 in a nearby yard and charged Warren with unlawful possession of a firearm. He was convicted, and the case was appealed until it reached the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The court pointed out that state law allows individuals to end encounters with police and even walk away from them as long as they aren’t being detained. The court added that black men especially might want to run from the police, citing not only recent big media cases, but studies by both the ACLU and Boston PD that revealed racial profiling in the Boston PD. Therefore, fleeing from the police is not grounds enough to warrant a stop or arrest. This, coupled with the vague descriptions of the suspects, caused the court to throw out the gun conviction on the grounds that Warren should never have been stopped in the first place. There’s been a lot of anger around this ruling with critics saying it will 1. encourage illegal gun use and 2. Afford special rights to blacks.

Gun issue – having an unlicensed firearm in MA shouldn’t automatically make someone a criminal because an illegal gun in MA isn’t the same thing as an illegal gun in Vermont or Texas or Colorado. Ma has several laws that make guns legal in one context and illegal in another, even with a license. MA also has an arbitrary list of legal vs illegal guns. For example, a gen 4 Glock is illegal, but a Gen 2 isn’t. An AR-15 with a pistol grip was legal for two decades, provided it didn’t have any other features listed in the assault weapons ban, and then all of a sudden the Attorney General decided overnight that no AR-15s were ever legal in the first place.

Getting a license in MA is purely at the whim of your city or town’s Police Department, many of which don’t think every day people should have guns, and so many cities flat out refuse to issue gun licenses. The ones that will issue them require police interviews, letters of recommendation, and essays of intent where you’re supposed to prove you have a legitimate reason for wanting a gun. The process is supposed to only take 40 days, but it takes MONTHS. And if you move to another town, you have to re-apply with no guarantee that your current license will be reciprocated.

Meanwhile, let’s look at some of the crime rates in MA:
Roxbury – 1 in 24 chance of being victim of a crime
Brockton – 1 in 25, 181 crimes per square mile
Springfield – 1 in 21, 232 crimes per square mile – crime rate 66% above nat’l average
Holyoke – 1 in 16, crime rate 121% above national average
Fall River: 1 in 28, New Bedford: 1 in 21, Dorchester, 1 in 26
For comparison – Chicago – 1 in 25, 35%

All of the cities I mentioned are cities I either lived, worked, or went to school in all of the cities I just mentioned. All of these cities are plagued with gang violence, but keep in mind that only a small percentage of the population is actually involved in these crimes. So you have the criminals, and then you have everyone else, who often are told they do not have a right to defend themselves, or else they have to wait months to do it. If you believe you or your loved ones are in danger, are you going to wait 3 to six months to defend them? No, of course not.

When I lived in one of the worst neighborhoods of Dorchester during grad school, I’d have to walk home from the subway station at midnight after working a closing shift at my job. I carried pepper spray my Nana gave me, knowing full well that it was illegal at the time. It was before I owned any guns, but in the 10 months I lived there, almost half of my small building of 12 people were jumped coming home from that same subway station. In that time, I was followed home twice. I’ve known people that grew up in these bad neighborhoods, who decide they want to look into getting a gun, and their mothers have said, “I know a guy.” In these areas, going through the proper legal channels aren’t often even a thought, just because it either takes too long or the local police simply don’t allow it.

Now I’m not saying everyone in MA should go out and get a gun illegally. I’m only pointing out that MA makes it difficult to be law-abiding. You cannot change the rules literally overnight, like Attorney General Maura Healey did in July this year, and expect everyone to scramble and follow the right protocols. You can’t heap law after law on the gun community and not expect it to create a black market. If there were less gun laws, more people would probably go through the process legally, and therefore create less crime.

Race issue – this ruling on the Jimmy Warren case doesn’t actually create or change any laws. All it does is reinforce current law that you do not have to consent to police questioning unless you’re under arrest and that law enforcement should not approach you without probable cause. The ruling doesn’t state that police can’t apprehend or arrest a fleeing suspect, as long as they have evidence or reasonable suspicion BEYOND the person fleeing in order to stop them. The ruling doesn’t say that blacks get to do this more than whites, or be afforded a free pass because they are black. The ruling merely acknowledged that in today’s climate, guilty or not, black people probably don’t want to interact with the police. The only reason this is a race issue is because if Warren wasn’t black, the case probably wouldn’t have made the news.

Bad news for Defense Distributed this week in a court ruling of it’s own. In a 2-1 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that distributing copies of files used for 3D printing guns is not protected by the First Amendment and is outweighed by national security concerns. The lawsuit began when Defense Distributed published designs for the Liberator and, soon after, received a letter from the government accusing the company of violating federal arms export law. The company removed the files, and instead applied to the government for special permission to repost the designs. Two years went by, and Defense Distributed, along with the Second Amendment Foundation, attempted to sue the State Department for prior restraint, meaning that the State Department was purposing preventing future publication of the files. The lawsuit also rides on the varying definitions of public domain, and the original laws around federal export were written before the internet, and therefore don’t explicitly recognize the internet as public domain and certainly can’t explain what to do with the files that have already been downloaded thousands of times. Nonetheless, the 5th Circuit Court decided that, because the files could potentially be downloaded by terrorists outside of the US, First Amendment claims hold no ground in the case.

Also in the realm of free speech, it was revealed this week that North Michigan University has “the most dangerous college speech code I’ve seen in my career.” This statement was made by the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, citing school code that forbids students from sharing what the school calls “self-destructive thoughts.” Last year, a student who had been sexually assaulted sought help from the school’s counseling department. She was told not to discuss the matter with other students, and, that if she was feeling suicidal, she was not to speak about it at school or would face disciplinary action. The student was told that any self-destructive feelings would hinder other students’ education.

The story circulated around campus, dozens more students with similar stories came forward, and the event inspired a petition calling for the school to revise their policies. The university promised to do so, but as recently as this summer was still telling new students that expressing any suicidal thoughts to their peers was strictly forbidden. The Foundation has sent a letter to the school reminding them that they are a public university and are therefore bound to protect free speech, but has not yet received a response.

Finally, the campaign trail doesn’t fail to disappoint in its continued quest to stop freedom and liberty. Both Trump and Clinton came out early this week to blame free speech and freedom of the press for the attacks in New Jersey and New York last week. Trump blamed magazines that supposedly publish bomb-making plans and Hillary blamed Trump, calling him an ISIS recruitment tool and comparing his campaign speeches to treason. Trump also suggested that the entire country sidestep the constitution in order to adopt racial profiling and stop-and-frisk policies in order to combat terrorism. He claims the programs have worked wonders in NY, despite several reports that the programs have largely failed at anything remotely terrorism-related. Both candidates will be present for the first Presidential Debate on Monday the 26th. Libertarian Gary Johnson was, of course, not invited to attended. After all, presidential elections aren’t typically the bastions of change that voters claim them to be. I think South Park is really on point this season with the battle of the giant douche vs the turd sandwich.

That is your liberty-related new for the week. Thanks for watching my second episode. If there are any stories throughout the week that you’d like to see in my videos, feel free to post them in comments or send them to me on Facebook. Don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share

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