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States with stand-your-ground laws have seen an increase in homicides, reports task force

September 4, 2014 Comments off

States with stand-your-ground laws have seen an increase in homicides, reports task force
Source: American Bar Association

“Stand your ground” laws hinder law enforcement, are applied inconsistently and disproportionately affect minorities.

Those were the main findings from the ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws. In a preliminary report (PDF) that was officially unveiled during a Friday session at the ABA Annual Meeting, the task force found that states which have some form of stand-your-ground law have also seen increasing homicide rates.

The task force, which was co-chaired by Leigh-Ann Buchanan of Berger Singerman and Jack Middleton of McLane Graf Raulerson & Middleton, conducted its investigation throughout most of 2013. It also found that stand-your-ground laws carry an implicit bias against racial minorities. In terms of the laws’ effects, the task force found that there was widespread confusion amongst law enforcement personnel as to what actions were justified and what were not.

The task force recommended that states either repeal stand-your-ground laws or refuse to enact them. Additionally, it encouraged the ABA to adopt an educational initiative to provide accurate information about these laws, as well as to correct the misconception that these laws provide carte blanche for people to use deadly force in public areas.

“We’ve heard nothing good about stand-your-ground laws,” said Middleton. “In fact, the more you look at them, the more problems you find. It’s our hope that the ABA as a whole will take a position against these laws.”

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CRS — Gun Control Legislation in the 113th Congress (August 1, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Gun Control Legislation in the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. The mass shooting in Newtown, CT, along with other mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Tucson, AZ, restarted the national gun control debate. The Senate had considered a range of legislative proposals, including several that President Barack Obama supports as part of his national gun violence reduction plan. The most salient of these proposals would (1) require background checks for intrastate firearms transfers between unlicensed persons at gun shows and nearly any other venue, otherwise known as the “universal background checks” proposal; (2) increase penalties for gun trafficking; and (3) reinstate and strengthen an expired federal ban on detachable ammunition magazines of over 10-round capacity and certain “military style” firearms commonly described as “semiautomatic assault weapons,” which are designed to accept such magazines.

CRS — Body Armor for Law Enforcement Officers: In Brief

May 19, 2014 Comments off

Body Armor for Law Enforcement Officers: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Firearms are one of the leading causes of deaths for law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty. Since FY1999, Congress has provided funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them purchase armor vests for their officers. The Matching Grant Program for Law Enforcement Armor Vests (hereinafter, “BPV program”) provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to purchase armor vests for use by law enforcement officers and court officers. The BPV program was first authorized by the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-181). It has been subsequently reauthorized four times. The most recent reauthorization expired in FY2012. Since FY1999, appropriations for the program have generally been between $25 million and $30 million, with the exception of FY2012 and FY2013, when appropriations were less than $23 million.

Congress is considering legislation that would reauthorize the BPV program. S. 933, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2013, would, among other things, reauthorize appropriations for the program at $15 million for FY2014 and FY2015 and $30 million per fiscal year for FY2016-FY2018.

Armor vests can only save lives when they are actually worn. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that an increasing percentage of police departments and sheriffs’ offices have instituted “mandatory wear” policies. Several factors can affect whether a law enforcement officer will wear an armor vest. Safety concerns are the most significant, followed by whether the officer’s department has a mandatory wear policy. Comfort and fit are also a factor.

Firearms and violent crime in Canada, 2012

May 13, 2014 Comments off

Firearms and violent crime in Canada, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

While firearm-related violent crime accounts for a relatively small proportion of all violent crime in Canada, it can have considerable physical, emotional, and psychological effects on those who are victimized, on families, and on communities (Hahn et al. 2005). As a result, firearm-related violent crime is a significant social concern. In addition, about one in five (21%) firearm-related deaths in Canada is the result of a criminal offence, while the majority (79%) are the result of suicide, accident, or legal intervention (Statistics Canada 2012).

The analysis of firearm-related violent crime in this Juristat relies on two separate data sources. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey provides data on firearms and police-reported violent crime while data on firearm-related homicides comes from the Homicide Survey. Quebec is excluded from the analysis of UCR data due to data quality issues; specifically, a large proportion of incidents where the most serious weapon present was reported as unknown. The analysis of firearm related homicides, however, includes all provinces and territories in Canada. As there are differences in coverage between the two data sources, they are used as separate yet complementary sources of data in order to analyze firearm-related violent crime in Canada.

Information on the types of firearm most frequently present and most frequently used in the commission of an offence, the relationship between the accused and victim, the level of injury, and the involvement of youth is presented. These findings are compared to violent crime committed without a firearm to further understand the nature of firearm-related violent crime in Canada. In addition to data from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey and the Homicide Survey, the Integrated Criminal Court Survey is used in this Juristat to examine court case processing of violent offences involving a firearm.

Indoor Firing Ranges and Elevated Blood Lead Levels — United States, 2002–2013

May 13, 2014 Comments off

Indoor Firing Ranges and Elevated Blood Lead Levels — United States, 2002–2013
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Indoor firing ranges are a source of lead exposure and elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) among employees, their families, and customers, despite public health outreach efforts and comprehensive guidelines for controlling occupational lead exposure (1). There are approximately 16,000–18,000 indoor firing ranges in the United States, with tens of thousands of employees. Approximately 1 million law enforcement officers train on indoor ranges (1). To estimate how many adults had elevated BLLs (≥10 µg/dL) as a result of exposure to lead from shooting firearms, data on elevated BLLs from the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program managed by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) were examined by source of lead exposure. During 2002–2012, a total of 2,056 persons employed in the categories “police protection” and “other amusement and recreation industries (including firing ranges)” had elevated BLLs reported to ABLES; an additional 2,673 persons had non–work-related BLLs likely attributable to target shooting. To identify deficiencies at two indoor firing ranges linked to elevated BLLs, the Washington State Division of Occupational Safety and Health (WaDOSH) and NIOSH conducted investigations in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The WaDOSH investigation found a failure to conduct personal exposure and biologic monitoring for lead and also found dry sweeping of lead-containing dust. The NIOSH investigation found serious deficiencies in ventilation, housekeeping, and medical surveillance. Public health officials and clinicians should ask about occupations and hobbies that might involve lead when evaluating findings of elevated BLLs. Interventions for reducing lead exposure in firing ranges include using lead-free bullets, improving ventilation, and using wet mopping or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuuming to clean (1).

The Second Amendment as Ordinary Constitutional Law

April 28, 2014 Comments off

The Second Amendment as Ordinary Constitutional Law
Source: Tennessee Law Review, forthcoming (via SSRN)

In recent years, the Second Amendment has gone from a subject of scholarly and political debate with no real judicial role, to a clearly established individual right that is being enforced in lower courts. This Essay, the foreword to a forthcoming Tennessee Law Review symposium on the Second Amendment, explores how that happened, and what is likely to come next.

School Shooters: History, Current Theoretical and Empirical Findings, and Strategies for Prevention

April 23, 2014 Comments off

School Shooters: History, Current Theoretical and Empirical Findings, and Strategies for Prevention
Source: Sage Open

Situations involving active shooters in schools have increased in recent years. We define an “active shooter incident” as an occurrence where one or more individuals participate in an ongoing, random, or systematic shooting spree with the objective of multiple or mass murders. Attempts to build a profile of active school shooters have been unsuccessful to date, although there is some evidence to suggest that mental instability, social isolation, a self-perception of catastrophic loss, and access to weapons play a role in the identification of the shooter in a school shooting incident. This article details theories and after-the-fact findings of investigations on previous school shooters, and we offer an application of Levin and Madfis’s Five Stage Sequential Model to Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, 2012. Prevention strategies, suggestions for positive school climates, school security for the physical plants, and threat assessments are discussed, and implications for future research are offered.

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