News Roundup

Once again, the leading news story of the week is a mass shooting. This one occurred on Monday during a Fourth of July celebration in Highland Park, Illinois, a neighborhood dubbed Chicago’s “Mayberry.” The gunman reportedly shot from a rooftop, killing seven people and wounding more than 30 others. Officials recovered 83 bullet casings from the scene. Twenty-one-year-old Robert Crimo III has been arrested in connection with the shootings and has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. Keep reading for more news.

Red flag laws. News outlets, including the New York Times, have reported that Crimo was able to obtain a firearms license and purchase several guns despite local law enforcement’s documented concerns about his dangerousness and Illinois’ red-flag laws. Red flag laws, sometimes called gun violence restraining orders or extreme risk protection orders, are a key feature of the recently enacted federal gun legislation, which provides funding for states to implement such measures. Illinois officials have pointed out that the effectiveness of such laws depends not just on law enforcement but also on the vigilance of family members and friends closest to the person of concern. WRAL’s Dan Haggerty explores local attitudes about red-flag laws, including those of leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly, in a piece available here.

Gun laws, generally. Having trouble keeping up with the constitutional and statutory status of gun laws? Jeff Welty’s pithy explanation of the potential impact in North Carolina of the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, 597 U.S. __ (2022), and the new federal gun legislation may help you sort it out.

New legislation. Several new bills were chaptered yesterday, among them S.L. 2022-47 (H 607). Provisions of that act effective August 1, 2022, halt the automatic expungement of dismissed charges, not guilty verdicts, and findings of not responsible pending stakeholder recommendations regarding how to resolve issues that have arisen in connection with the implementation of G.S. 15A-146(a4).

Brittney Griner pleads guilty. CNN reports that WNBA star Brittney Griner pled guilty in a Russian court to charges that she smuggled less than a gram of cannabis oil into the country. Experts have suggested the plea might result in a shorter sentence and that such an admission would be required before Griner could be returned to the United States as part of a potential prisoner swap.

Snakes in the city. A few years ago, I analyzed what I thought was an interesting (and hoped was an obscure) issue: Is it legal to keep a King Cobra as a pet? I expressed then my dismay that apparently such pets were lawful in my home city of Raleigh. Well, that answer changed this week. The News and Observer reports that following the notorious escape of a Zebra Cobra (a reptile that spits venom) in Raleigh last year, the Raleigh City Council adopted an ordinance this week banning people from acquiring inherently dangerous animals within the city. The banned animals include lions, tigers, and “medically significant” venomous snakes (i.e. the kind that can kill or inflict serious illness on a human). There is an exception for existing pets; their owners may keep them, but must register them with the city.