8 months, 2 weeks ago
We’ve already discussed a couple of horrible embarrassments uncovered in the ruling on the New York SAFE Act gun ban recently issued by Judge Skretny, but more on that in a moment.
My brother Keith is a graduate of Emory Law School and practicing attorney in Georgia, and clerked for a federal judge. I know that he has fealty to scholarship and takes his commitment to study, hard work and defensible and logical prose very seriously. That said, lawyers take it on the chin, and properly so, and my brother once told me the best lawyer joke I ever heard (“99.99% of all lawyers give the rest of us a bad name”). We’ll come back to this later.
“The decision relied heavily on testimony by George Mason University criminology professor Chris Koper, who argued ‘that the criminal use of assault weapons declined after the federal assault-weapons ban was enacted in 1994, independently of trends in gun crime,’” Lott wrote. “But Koper’s two studies on the 1994 federal assault-weapons ban don’t support his claims.”
“[T]he evidence is not strong enough for us to conclude that there was any meaningful effect [of the weapons ban],” the initial study reported.
“[W]e cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence,” the second study concluded. “And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”
John Lott and I had an odd run-in several months ago, and he has with Mike Vanderboegh as well. But not being trifling or holding grudges, let’s observe that Lott’s analysis is important. So one important feature of the analysis is that the very studies cited by the Judge do not bear out the claims. But then there is this gem. The ruling also cites the online magazine Mother Jones. Just so that you heard that, let’s repeat it. Judge Skretny’s ruling uses information from … Mother … Jones!
Earlier we learned from Kurt Hofmann that there is logical contradiction in the ruling. The very logical process the Judge uses to deem the magazine cartridge limit in the SAFE law “arbitrary” isn’t applied to the guns themselves, and should have been. Furthermore, we’ve seen that the Judge Skretny’s ruling invokes the ridiculous and laughable notion of spray firing from the hip (for semiautomatic weapons, no less) to rule pistol grips on long guns to be legitimately within the sweep of the law, ignoring (or simply not learning) that no one, not military or civilian, spray fires from the hip, and such a practice would not only be the most ineffective thing a rogue shooter could do, it would get you permanently kicked out of every range in America, and for very good reason.
So the list of silly, ridiculous, sophomoric stunts in the ruling is growing. First, there is the notion of pistol grips and spray firing from the hip; second, the failure to consistently apply the same logic to guns as he does magazines; third, misinterpretation of the very studies he cites to support his conclusions. Finally, the use of anything from Mother Jones in a legal ruling certainly must be a tacit admission of bankruptcy of thought and ability to do analysis (and for the record, even with my admittedly incomplete assessment of mass shootings, I do take issue with the completeness of the Mother Jones assessment which leaves out the Hartford Beer Distributors shooting, the Geneva County massacre, the Texas Tower shooting [Charles Whitman, who used bolt action long guns] due to the dates of inclusion, and others).
The ruling is quickly becoming a laughingstock. I am wondering if these Judges just turn over their hardest work to juvenile clerks who get their news from Jon Stewart, Daily Kos and Mother Jones? So returning to the joke my brother told me, there is sometimes profound truth in humor, no?