A Florida inmate who was let out of jail due to coronavirus concerns is accused of committing a murder the day after he was released.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, deputies arrested 26-year-old Joseph Edward Williams for a homicide that happened in Tampa, Florida on March 20.
He is facing a second-degree murder charge along with resisting an officer with violence, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A surveillance video showed a trio of men busting into a Florida apartment just before 6 p.m. Tuesday.
What changed their minds so quickly?
Well, the break-in victim at the Park Place Apartments in Neptune Beach had a gun — and used it.
What are the details?
The station said the suspects were in the apartment for about eight seconds before the resident opened fire with five gunshots.
A 24-year-old man told Philadelphia police that three teen males attacked him aboard a bus around 1 a.m. Thursday, after which the victim pulled out a gun and opened fire on the trio.
“Preliminary information is that 24-year-old male who was being physically attacked did pull a handgun and fire at least three shots,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small told KYW-TV.
Police added to KYW that the man has a license to carry and was cooperating with investigators.
Bronx, NY – A 29-year-old man whom the state of New York released from prison on March 28 over fears of the coronavirus pandemic taking over correctional facilities was arrested again after he robbed and beat up a 62-year-old man.
Vargas was in prison in March for parole violations when he was released because of fears about the novel coronavirus in the state’s prison system.
His criminal record showed he had been arrested at least a dozen times for assault, robbery, weapons possession, and burglary, the New York Post reported.
Greg Offner never wanted a gun. Growing up, Offner, 38, attended military school in Wayne, Pennsylvania, where he was first taught how to safely operate firearms. As an adult, he was no stranger to the firing range, but he happily relinquished his rented handgun or shotgun to the clerk at the end of every session.
In mid-March, however, Offner’s feelings started to change. The coronavirus pandemic swept through the country, closing down bars, restaurants, and shops in Philadelphia, where Offner lives. When the Philadelphia Police Department announced a temporary delay on arrests for non-violent offenses, like theft, fraud, and narcotics infractions, Offner sensed a shift in public order was imminent. If the city were to erupt in lawless pandemonium, Offner wanted to ensure his home was protected. A few days later, Offner drove to a nearby gun store and purchased a handgun. (The shop was sold out of his first choice of firearm, a shotgun.) “My wife is pregnant,” Offner tells Rolling Stone, “and this was the impetus to say alright, based on where we live now, it’s something I would rather have and not need, than need and not have.”
All across the country, Americans are buying guns in record numbers. A New York Times analysis showed nearly two million guns were purchased in March, the second-highest month ever for gun sales. In March, the FBI processed over 3.7 million firearm background checks.
Center for American Progress
As Americans struggle with fear and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new disturbing trend has emerged: an increase in purchasing of guns and ammunition. Some gun dealers and online retailers have reported an uptick in sales, and stories abound of individuals motivated to buy their first gun in response to this pandemic.
But in a time of crisis, it is crucial to resist the impulse to make decisions driven by fear and anxiety. The threat posed by the new coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, is not the only relevant public health crisis to consider when deciding whether to buy a gun. Gun violence is already an urgent public health emergency in this country that takes the lives of nearly 40,000 people annually. Putting more guns in more hands is certain to exacerbate that problem.
Below are four data-informed reasons to think twice before buying a gun during the coronavirus crisis:
- A gun is more likely to be stolen than used in self-defense
- Unsecured guns in the home create risks of unintentional shootings by children
- Guns are the most lethal means of suicide attempts
- Guns in the home increase risks to victims of domestic and family violence
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed multiple anti-gun measures into law late last week during a global pandemic and, as a record number of Americans buys guns to protect themselves.
“I was proud to work with legislators and advocates on these measures, and I am proud to sign them into law,” said Northam in a press release.
One of these bills establishes Extreme Risk Protection Orders, otherwise known as red-flag laws. Other new laws include a one-handgun-purchase-per-month policy, so-called “universal” background checks on all gun sales, and requirements for gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms in two days or less. These bills take effect on July 1.
Northam also signed into a law a bill allowing localities to create so-called “gun-free zones.” This will undermine the Commonwealth’s preemption laws. It will also leave law-abiding citizens unable to defend themselves against criminals who ignore these restrictions.
The Virginia governor also took this time to reiterate his desire to push more extreme anti-gun legislation in the future. “We can’t stop here. We need to keep working on this issue. It will be year after year,” Northam said on a call with the press. Northam is likely referring to his hallmark legislation against the Second Amendment: a ban on the most-popular semi-automatic rifles sold today. A previous iteration of this ban was defeated during this year’s legislative session.
Can a uniformed officer remain silent and go about a duty that is repugnant to the Constitution?
Some years ago, I led an 18-member department in a small town as chief of police. I was ordered by the mayor, my boss by statute, to summarily seize another officer’s property (long story, I will spare you). I advised the mayor that to do so without probable cause or a warrant would be a Fourth Amendment violation that I refused to be a part of.
I was fired for disobeying a direct order.
I have always been convinced that no chief should serve without being willing to be fired. Should no police officer serve unless they, too, are willing to stand between the Constitution and an unlawful order?
Weighing the state and local response to COVID-19
State and local governments are currently taking dramatic and sometimes unprecedented action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including “shelter in place” orders, bans on public gatherings, and business shutdowns. What’s the legal basis for such sweeping actions?
In the U.S. constitutional system, each state possesses a traditional authority to regulate in the name of public health, safety, and welfare. Known as the police powers, this authority has deep roots in Anglo-American law. In his landmark Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765), the British legal theorist William Blackstone defined the police powers as “the due regulation and domestic order of the kingdom, whereby the inhabitants of a State, like members of a well-governed family, are bound to conform their general behavior to the rules of propriety, good neighborhood, and good manners, and to be decent, industrious, and inoffensive in their respective stations.”
Citing Blackstone, the American legal theorist Thomas Cooley, in his influential Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations Which Rest upon the Legislative Power of the States of the American Union (1871), said the police powers of a state “embraces its system of internal regulation, by which it is sought not only to preserve the public order and to prevent offenses against the State, but also to establish for the intercourse of citizen with citizen those rules of good manners and good neighborhood which are calculated to prevent a conflict of rights, and to insure to each the uninterrupted enjoyment of his own, so far as is reasonably consistent with a like enjoyment of rights by others.”
As one example of the police powers put to appropriate use, Cooley pointed to “quarantine regulations” and related measures designed to protect the public from persons or property “infected with disease or otherwise dangerous.”
Government is only valid when it respects individual rights that the U.S. Constitution protects
“If the provisions of the Constitution be not upheld when they pinch as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned.”
— Justice George Sutherland (1862-1942)
In his 2008 book “Taking Rights Seriously,” the late professor Ronald Dworkin explored the origins and governmental treatment of human liberty. He argued that Thomas Jefferson — who wrote the Declaration of Independence — and James Madison — the scrivener at the Constitutional Convention and the author of the Bill of Rights — were clear in their articulations that the premise of America at its birth is that our rights are personal and natural because they come from our humanity, not from the government.
Dworkin also recognized that government, which is essentially the negation of liberty, is only moral and valid when it enjoys the consent of the governed, respects individual rights as inalienable and interferes with them only after it proves fault to a jury at a fair trial.
This argument — that a popularly elected government can trump individual liberties — is utterly repugnant to the concept of natural rights and accepts as somehow lawful the horrific acts of popularly elected governments for which the 19th and 20th centuries are well known.
Other Articles Of Interest
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