Archive for October, 2012

10/25/2012

[Ir]Rational Basis

by wfgodbold

Via Sebastian and Prof. Volokh, we learn that the Fifth Circuit held in NRA v. BATF that the federal statute forbidding FFL sales of handguns to 18-20 year olds is constitutional.*0

I’m not going to delve into the analysis here,*1 but the Court eventually decides that,

In harmony with well-developed principles that have guided our interpretation of the First Amendment, we believe that a law impinging upon the Second Amendment right must be reviewed under a properly tuned level of scrutiny—i.e., a level that is proportionate to the severity of the burden that the law imposes on the right.*2

The Court applies intermediate scrutiny, and ultimately holds that the prohibition on FFL sales of handguns to 18-20 year olds is constitutional (there is a “reasonable fit between the law and an important government objective”*3). Congress determined that the purchase of handguns by minors*4 is a safety problem (in that it exacerbates their impulsive, violent tendencies, or something), and that prohibiting such purposes is the best way to address that problem is to prevent FFLs from selling handguns to minors.*5 The Court lays out this determination and Congress’s narrow response to it succinctly:

Overall, the government has marshaled evidence showing that Congress was focused on a particular problem: young persons under 21, who are immature and prone to violence, easily accessing handguns, which facilitate violent crime, primarily by way of FFLs. Accordingly, Congress restricted the ability of young persons under 21 to purchase handguns from FFLs. [emphasis in original]*6

The Court defers to Congress’s determination, and upholds 18 U.S.C. § 922 (b)(1)’s prohibition on FFL sales of handguns to those under 21. The government interest is sufficiently narrow, and the means are reasonably adapted to that interest, so intermediate scrutiny is no bar.

The Court then looks at the NRA’s claim as an equal protection matter, and that claim fails under rational basis review (because, unlike race or sex, age is not a suspect classification*7).*8

However, possession/ownership of handguns by those aged 18-20 is (in most states, and under federal law) not illegal. Congress only prohibited (and only intended to prohibit) those persons from buying their handguns through FFLs. If you’re 18 and you receive a handgun as a gift, you’re fine.*9 If you’re 19 and you buy a handgun from a private person, you’re still fine.*10

Hell, you can even tell someone 21 or older to buy the handgun and then pay them for it!*11

Well, two out of three ain’t bad, I guess.*12

So it’s legal for 18-20 year olds to possess handguns, but it’s illegal for them to actually try to buy them from an FFL, or to get someone else to buy them from an FFL.

If you’re 18-20, I hope you know someone who’s generous or looking to sell a handgun they already have – if not, there’s not really any other way for you to legally acquire one.*13

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you “irrational basis.”*14

*0 Just for the record, I’m still a law student. None of this is legal advice. If you take any of this as legal advice, then on your own head be it.

*1 For reasons I am not currently willing to go into, but will eventually explain. In mid-March/April of 2013, I think.

*2 N.R.A. v. B.A.T.F., No. 11-10959, slip op. at 18 (5th Cir. 2012).

*3 Id. at 33.

*4 The Court in N.R.A. looks at age of majority throughout common law history and determines that it has traditionally and historically began at 21.

*5 And lo, the 1968 GCA and its prohibition on FFL handgun sales to minors heralded the end of youthful violence, and an era of peace and goodwill towards all descended upon the land. Truly, we live in an enlightened age.

*6 Id. at 35.

*7 Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 83 (2000).

*8 N.R.A. at 40.

*9  So long as you’re not a prohibited person and it’s legal in your jurisdiction, of course.

*10 Same disclaimer as before, but with an added disclaimer about the legality of private sales in your jurisdiction.

*11 DO NOT DO THIS. This is a felony straw purchase, and both you (the actual buyer) and the person you get to buy it for you (the straw buyer) will be awarded an all-expenses paid trip to federal prison. Again, DO NOT DO THIS.

*12 Now, aren’t you glad I didn’t link to a Meat Loaf song?

*13 It’s like if  18-20 year olds could possess/drink booze, but were prohibited from buying it or getting others to buy it for them. Sure, it’s technically legal, but it’s a major PITA to actually do what you’re legally entitled to do.

*14 It’s the Chewbacca defense of standards of scrutiny!

10/21/2012

In the immortal words of Paul Phoenix…

by wfgodbold

Bring it on, ya aliens! (also, be careful; the embiggened screenshots may have mid-game thpoilerth)

I’m about ready to wrap up my first* playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and you’ll be happy to know that Earth has been saved from the alien menace.

This time.

Firaxis’s update makes XCOM play a lot like Valkyria Chronicles;** your soldiers can move and then shoot/defend/item/grenade/etc. Different classes (assault, heavy, sniper, medic) use different weapons and have different special abilities. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of who does what – in X-COM, I had to change the characters’ names to indicate what they were best at, which led to soldiers like Col. Wolfgang Krauser 70TU 80AIM.***

The red armor is three times faster than the usual armor.

The strategic layer is more streamlined, too. I would have preferred being able to have multiple available teams (if you build multiple Skyrangers) so that you don’t have to choose between missions. More UFO attacks wouldn’t hurt, either. As the game progresses, it seems like you do a lot of waiting at the geoscape for something to happen (whether it’s an abduction, a terror mission, a council mission, or a UFO). In the original X-COM, the longer the game went on, the more frequent the UFO attacks became, until you ended up getting overwhelmed.

I know 1994 was a different gaming era, but I think that really added to the tension.

Taken as a whole, the updates are generally good. The game is still hard, the aliens are still unforgiving, and your soldiers still die heroic (and sometimes, unheroic) deaths. I’ll probably play Classic next, and then I might even give Impossible a try.

I let a third of the civilians die and it rates my performance as “Good.” Yeah, this is X-COM.

You know, when I have copious free time (which means I can pencil it in for December, I guess).

*For certain values of “first.” I restarted my Classic difficulty Ironman game several times while trying and failing to get a grip on the changed systems, before finally caving in and dropping the difficulty back to Normal (though still Ironman).

**Which played a lot like Sakura Taisen, which in turn played a lot like X-COM: UFO Defense. The circle is now complete!

***Yes, I know Wolfgang Krauser is an SNK character. It seemed like most of the random soldiers I got ended up being German with random German names, and this was all I could think of.

10/17/2012

If you liked Taken…

by wfgodbold

You’ll probably like Taken 2.*

It’s the same style of movie – Liam Neeson is the implacable, righteously angry man on a mission to protect his family, and nothing is going to stop him.

Not even an entire Albanian town.

Though I liked it, I didn’t think it was quite as good as the first movie.

I still recommend it, though. It’s worth it just to see how Liam Neeson’s character MacGyvers his way out of captivity.

*I know I said I’d post this last weekend, but I have been incredibly busy. It turns out that those people who said moot court and law review at the same time was too much might have been right.

10/14/2012

And now, from Popehat…

by wfgodbold

A year’s worth of blasphemy stories from various countries.

This ties in with what had me incensed the other day:

Saudi Arabia wants an international internet censorship body.

Now, I’m a reasonable man (generally). If I were to try to give this proposal the respect it deserves, I’d say something like, “They’re out of their damn minds if they think they can control the internet. If any Saudi-sponsored blue-helmeted goon wants me to quit blaspheming, then they can take my retorts about Mohammed’s predilection towards prepubescent girls from my cold, dead hands.”

Which statement, of course, I would normally be too polite to actually say.

Normally.

But I tend to get my hackles up when people go around suggesting we implement price controls in the marketplace of ideas.

10/11/2012

In lieu of the post I am too incredulous/furious to write…

by wfgodbold

Here’s a video of Jake Solomon, the lead designer for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, trying to convince people in a game store they should buy his game:

I’ll post my review of Taken 2, and the post that would have been here but for my hunch that I’d say something I might regret, this weekend.

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