Archive for January 8th, 2013

TMQ Watch: January 8, 2013.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Yeah, we know. We got caught up in a bunch of stuff around January 1st, and last week’s TMQ totally slipped away from us. We figure we’ll do this week’s TMQ tonight, loop back and catch up with last week’s TMQ tomorrow (we’re doing them out of order because there’s some stuff we want to address in last week’s column), and then we should be in good shape all the way through to the end of the season.

At least, we hope so.

After the jump…


Gun show update.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Austin Rifle Club sent out an email late last night stating that the Travis County Commissioners Court was considering the gun show ban today. I didn’t see that email until this morning, otherwise I would have considered going down to report.

According to the Statesman, the commissioners “discussed” the proposal, and heard testimony from residents, but did not take a vote. So you still have time to contact them.

A ban would not apply to an upcoming show on Jan. 26 and 27 and County Judge Sam Biscoe said that if a ban is approved, he would want it to apply three or four months down the line.

So Judge Biscoe thinks gun shows are a threat to public safety, but not one that we need to act on immediately? One that can wait “three or four months”? Option two is that Judge Biscoe is a political hack who wants to be seen as “doing something” when he’s really doing nothing. But that can’t be true: political hackery on the commissioners court? Why, that’s unheard of! (Option three is that Judge Biscoe figures things will blow over in “three or four months”, we can return to the current status quo, and voters will forget his actions. My message to Judge Biscoe: “He’d seen how ‘civilized’ men behaved. He never forgot and he never forgave.”)

…so-called “gun show loophole,” where private citizens selling firearms at gun shows can do so without requiring background checks, something licensed dealers are required to do.

And, again, I’ll make the points that:

  • Any dealer with an Federal Firearms License who sells guns at a gun show has to do a check, just as if they were selling guns in a physical store.
  • Any person who regularly sells guns at a gun show, or any place else, is required to get a FFL. Not getting one is a Federal crime, if you engage in the business of selling guns. If a relative dies and you engage in a private sale of a few of his guns, that’s not a crime. But if you sell guns regularly at the gun show without a license, the BATFE will come after you, and you may do time.
  • Those same private sales will take place in supermarket parking lots, subdivision driveways, and other places even if the county restricts gun shows. There’s nothing the county can do to stop that.

The Statesman does not give a breakdown of how many people spoke at the meeting, nor does it give any indication how many supported or opposed the measure.

Travis County does not have authority to regulate firearms sales, but Biscoe believes it can ban a gun show from being held at county facilities.

And, once again, I’ll mention that Judge Biscoe is wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong! Here’s some legal precedent from the 5th Circuit for you, Judge Biscoe. The tl;dr version: the city of Houston tried something similar and ended up paying $50,000+ in legal fees to a gun show operator.

The commissioners were discussing the possible ban after Biscoe received messages from about 200 people asking for a ban of gun shows at the Expo Center following a similar request at a commissioners court meeting by Ed Scruggs, an Austin Democratic activist.

Keep that in mind. The opposition managed to get 200 people to support their illegal proposal. I think we can do much better.

Edited to add: Forgot something else I was going to mention: I updated the .CSV files of the county commissioners and the city council members with fax numbers, just in case anyone finds that useful. Someone yesterday (and I forget who it was) made the comment that they can ignore emails, but they have to answer the phone and they have to put paper in the fax machine. I am slightly dubious about the latter, what with modern technology and all, but the fax numbers are there if you can use them.

Edited to add 2: Updated story from the Statesman:

Travis County commissioners delayed a vote Tuesday on banning gun shows on county property, as county lawyers appeared to cast doubt on the legality of such a move.

You don’t say?

After emerging from a private meeting with attorneys, County Judge Sam Biscoe said the prospect for a ban was “not good.”
Biscoe added that county lawyers will need to research further whether the county can legally ban gun shows ahead of an expected vote next week. A county gun show prohibition would shut down a regular, well-attended gun show at the county-run Exposition Center. Biscoe declined to comment further on the discussions from the closed session.

The Statesman reports eight people spoke in opposition, and two in favor.

And edited to add again: by way of Lawrence over at Battleswarm, ““If Austin or Travis Co. try to ban gun shows they better be ready for a double-barreled lawsuit.” Click through to find out who said that. Hint: it wasn’t someone who runs gun shows. Hint 2: it was someone who can unleash hell on the city and county.

Random notes: January 8, 2013.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Those of you who have been following Radley Balko and The Agitator know that Balko’s been on the story of Mississippi forensic pathologist Dr. Steven T. Hayne like flies on a severed cow’s head at a Damien Hirst exhibition.

For those of you who don’t follow Balko (I don’t click through as regularly since he moved to the Huffington Post), the NYT summarizes the story:

The filings, based on new information obtained as part of a lawsuit settled last spring, charge that Dr. Hayne made “numerous misrepresentations” about his qualifications as a forensic pathologist. They say that he proposed theories in his testimony that lie far outside standard forensic science. And they suggest that Mississippi officials ignored these problems, instead supporting Dr. Hayne’s prolific business.


In one case, Dr. Hayne performed an autopsy of a young boy and concluded he had been suffocated. Some weeks after the boy was buried, his 3-year-old brother told the police that he had been killed by his mother’s boyfriend. Officials exhumed the body, and Dr. Hayne had a cast made of the boy’s face. By comparing his initial notes of face wounds with the cast, Dr. Hayne testified, he found it probable that the boy had been suffocated by a large male hand. The boyfriend was convicted.

Worth noting for the record: the Innocence Project has also been involved with Dr. Hayne. Dr. Hayne and the project settled a lawsuit out of court last year, and the project paid him $100,000. The NYT article touches on this some: one key point is that, in the process of preparing their defense, the project claims to have discovered new evidence that contradicts Dr. Hayne’s sworn testimony in various cases.

Bob Dylan: The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1. No, that’s the real title.

…the point of the release was to keep the recordings under copyright protection in Europe, where the laws are in flux. Currently, recordings can be copyrighted in Europe for 50 years, a much shorter term than in the United States, where recordings made since 1978 will remain copyrighted until 70 years after the death of the last surviving author.