News Roundup

Police in Boone may have narrowly averted a mass shooting this week. According to WRAL, Peter Gabaree was asked to leave a popular bar in the college town. He went to his vehicle in the parking lot, where two patrons noticed that he was holding a handgun. They told the bar’s security staff, who called police. Officers responded and ultimately charged Gabaree with going armed to the terror of the public. In his vehicle, they found “a tactical vest, a shotgun, the pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.” The police chief described Gabaree as “preparing weapons.” Keep reading for more news.

SCOTUS not buying what Zackey Rahimi is selling? The Supreme Court of the United States held oral argument this week in United States v. Rahimi, the case in which the Fifth Circuit deemed unconstitutional the federal statute barring individuals subject to a DVPO from possessing a gun. I wrote about Rahimi here. Suffice it to say that the defendant isn’t a very sympathetic character. Pundits seem to agree that the Court is likely to reverse the Fifth Circuit and uphold the statute, but exactly how the Court will address or revise its recent Bruen decision remains to be seen. SCOTUSblog has a piece on the oral argument here.

License plate reader company has NOL. Flock is a leading provider of license plate readers, which can be mounted on poles, buildings, or police vehicles, and which can “read” license plates in order to assist police in finding fugitives and solving crimes. But Flock may have to fly the coop as far as North Carolina goes, because WRAL reports that a judge in Wake County has determined that it has been operating without a proper business license. After the ruling, UNC cancelled its contract with Flock that would have brought license plate readers on campus.

Public support for the death penalty slowly eroding. Gallup just completed its annual poll on the death penalty and summarizes a top result as follows: “For the first time since Gallup started asking about the fairness of the death penalty’s application in the U.S. [since 2000] more Americans say it is applied unfairly (50%) than fairly (47%).” Overall support for the death penalty was 53%, the lowest since 1972. However, a plurality of Americans say that the death penalty is not imposed often enough. As has been the case in recent years, there is a substantial partisan gap in the perception of and support for capital punishment.

Contrasting reports on retail theft. The National Retail Federation just released its 2023 National Retail Security Survey. The report, which is based on a survey of loss prevention professionals, begins: “Retail crime, violence and theft continue to impact the retail industry at unprecedented levels.” It contends that there is more theft, more organized theft, and more violence than ever before, leading retailers to adopt new security strategies and to reduce store hours or close stores altogether. By contrast, the Council on Criminal Justice just released Shoplifting Trends: What You Need to Know, a report that paints a more optimistic picture. It suggests that shoplifting “generally followed the same patterns as other acquisitive crimes (except motor vehicle theft) over the past five years,” and is not markedly different from pre-pandemic levels. It does acknowledge that felony-level thefts and the use of violence seem to be increasing.

Shon Hopwood. I attended the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference this year, where I listened to a panel that included Shon Hopwood, a professor at Georgetown who is widely known for his unusual personal story. He spent 12 years in prison for bank robbery. While incarcerated he worked as a jailhouse lawyer and got two inmates’ certiorari petitions granted by the Supreme Court of the United States. He subsequently earned his law degree, and after his release from prison, completed a federal judicial clerkship and entered academia. He was thoughtful and engaging on the panel, but Above the Law reports here that he was just charged with multiple counts of assaulting his wife. The alleged assaults reportedly resulted in significant injuries. I am unfamiliar with District of Columbia law but wonder whether felony charges may be forthcoming.

“Florida man busted with 5 alligators in his bathtub.” That’s the headline of this article, and it pretty much sums up what happened. An anonymous tipster reported that the man had alligators in his home, and the intrepid officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded. The man admitted having captured the alligators in a “nearby pond.” The officers seized the creatures as evidence and issued the man a citation “for the personal possession of wildlife without a Class II permit.”

Finally, today is Veterans’ Day. Or Veterans’ Day (observed) anyway. Thanks to all who have served.