Massachusetts Taser ban draws legal challenge
The Center for Individual Rights, a libertarian public interest law firm, filed a federal lawsuit to challenge a Massachusetts law that prohibits private citizens from owning stun guns and other forms on non-lethal self-defense weapons. CIR recalled that the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a Massachusetts court’s ruling that upheld the Taser ban, noting that it is still being enforced.
Florida doctors’ gun gag is overturned
A Florida law that prevents doctors from asking patients about guns they keep in their homes was struck down as an infringement of First Amendment speech rights after an en banc review by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 2011 Firearms Owners’ Privacy Act was struck down by a district judge, but restored by a three-judge appeals court panel that produced three separate opinions, thus setting the stage for review by the appeals court’s 11 judges. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of several Florida doctors, called it “a landmark decision with national repercussions.”
DACA isn’t a get-out-of-jail card
The apprehension of a teenager in Washington State who was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status became a flashpoint for left-wing protests against President Trump. But the Department of Homeland Security said the arrest was routine. DHS said the protestors failed to acknowledge that approximately 1,500 DACA registrants have been taken into custody since the program began in 2012.
Gun moll goes to prison
Ariana Ramirez, 26, of Phoenix, Ariz., was given a 30-month prison sentence for attempting to smuggle weapons and ammunition into Mexico, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said. She and Andrian Alvarez-Valdez, 23, of Mexico, a co-conspirator who was earlier given a 46-month sentence, were stopped at the Nogales Port of Entry. Border agents found two AK-47 style assault weapons, 3,000 rounds of ammunition, and a tripod mount for a .50 caliber machine gun in their vehicle. Also, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that Marlou Mendoz, 61, of Long Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty to illegally shipping 131,300 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition to the Philippines.
Navy commander caught in widening scandal
U.S. Navy Commander Mario Herrera, 48, of Helotes, Tex., became the 17th person charged in a bribery scandal that has so far produced 13 guilty pleas, the Department of Justice said. Herrera was accused of accepting luxury travel, elaborate dinners and the services of prostitutes from the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia. DOJ said Herrara directed ships to take alternative routes that led to GDMA’s facilities in Singapore and added $3.6 million in extra ship maintenance costs.
Same-sex couple prevails in suit against florist
The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state’s anti-discrimination law prohibits a commercial enterprise from refusing to provide service to a same-sex couple. The ruling came in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a gay couple whose order for wedding flowers was refused on religious grounds by a florist in Richland, Wash. “Religious freedom is a fundamental part of America. But religious beliefs do not give any of us a right to ignore the law or to harm others because of who they are,” ACLU attorney Elizabeth Gill said. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief, said the argument used by the florist to justify discrimination could have applied “in virtually any context.”
Opioid addiction fueled by emergency room physicians
Research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals wide differentiations in the drug prescribing habits of emergency room doctors who write prescriptions for opioid painkiller drugs. The research, which examined more than 14,000 physicians, found that one-fourth of the doctors gave opioid prescriptions to just 7% of the patients they saw, and that the top quarter of doctors gave opioids to 24% of their patients. “That’s an enormous amount of variation just from walking through a door and getting assigned to one doctor instead of another,” study author Michael Barnett said.
Lifting the payroll tax cap can save Social Security
The Center for Economic and Policy Research said that raising or eliminating the $127,200 payroll tax cap for calculating Social Security contributions would restore the Social Security Trust Fund to long-term solvency. According to CEPR, eliminating the payroll tax cap would affect 5.4% of taxpayers; raising the cap to $250,000 would affect the top 1.6% of taxpayers; and raising the cap to $400,000 would affect 0.7% of taxpayers.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Thursday, February 16