News Roundup

3-D printing is in the news this week. You know, 3-D printing, where a machine makes “a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model . . . using an additive process, where successive layers of material [basically, melted plastic] are laid down in different shapes.” It is now possible to 3-D print a gun – specifically, an assault weapon – or a bong. 3-D printing is rapidly falling in price and its wide distribution seems inevitable. This raises interesting and complex legal and law enforcement issues. For example, most federal gun laws are built on the foundation of the Commerce Clause. But if you print your gun at home, can Congress regulate that? Sounds like a good law school exam question. In other developments:

Gun news in Raleigh, and online. Speaking of guns, the legislature has recently considered gun rights in a couple of ways. In HR 63, the state house has been asked to “express[] support of the inalienable right of the people of this State to keep and bear arms and oppose[] any infringement by the federal government” upon that right. The News and Observer story about the resolution, which seems to have been approved by a committee but not yet by the full house, is here. Second, H 246 would expand the scope of concealed carry rights to include parades, restaurants, and other locations, and would enshrine concealed carry rights in the state constitution. Finally, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be doing a webinar on gun rights and gun control in a couple of weeks. It’s free, but registration is required and we are close to capacity. Learn more here.

Death penalty polling. Maryland’s on the brink of repealing its death penalty, and the Colorado legislature is now considering a bill to do the same. Meanwhile, Iowa’s thinking about reintroducing the sanction. Any momentum for change here in North Carolina? You might think so, based on a recent survey conducted by left-leaning Public Policy Polling, which showed support for replacing the death penalty with life without parole by up to a 68-22 margin. But the poll questions weren’t exactly down the middle, as you can see here.

Quick items. Check out this article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin about approaching the issue of prostitution from the perspective that most prostitutes are victims of human trafficking, not criminals. And note this piece in the Boston Globe about the booming legal, consulting, and manufacturing businesses connected to the medical marijuana industry. Finally, this post at Crime and Consequences discusses a case of truly accidental, unforeseeable felony murder and considers how the law ought to treat such incidents.

Immortality at Wake Forest University. I recently had the opportunity to talk to a class at Wake Forest law. It was my first trip to the law school, and I was impressed with the people and with the facility. Little did I know that in exchange for a modest donation, I could have had part of the building named after me. For example, for $5,000, I could have secured the naming rights to . . . a student locker. Yes, the “Jeff Welty locker number 17-B” could have been a reality. Check out the cost of other naming rights at Wake Forest here. I think $350,000 for the Hall of Fame sounds like a pretty good deal, though a bit outside my budget. But if the school’s willing to offer a discount, I might be in for a trash can or a doorstop, or something. Hey, every little bit helps, right?

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