Every Wednesday, Miami personal injury lawyer Justin Leto makes an appearance as a legal analyst on nationally synidcated radio talk show, America Now with andy Dean. During this past week’s segment, Justin and Andy discussed an array of topics, including the following:
1. California Congressman’s attempt to tax the sale and purchase of guns and ammunition. Andy Dean is an avid protector of the 2nd Amendment and resists any call for laws that would restrict or inhibit gun ownership. Amid the recent tragedy in Connecticut, there has been a call for increased gun restictions. One such restriction that is being proposed by a Democratic congressman from California. The proposed legislation would impose a 10% tax on any concealable firearm and the revenue would be used to fund a national gun buyback program.
Andy argued that such a tax would be unconstitutional because it would frustrate the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. However, Justin explained that Andy is incorrect in his interpretation of the Constitution and that such a tax, iof approved by the House and Senate, would be permissible. The United States Constitution allows the government broad powers to levy taxes. In order for this tax to be legal, the bill to impose the tax would have to originate in the House of Representatives. If the bill passed the House, then the Senate would vote. If the bill also passed the Senate, it would be sent to the President for either signature or veto. As long as this procedure is followed, there is nothing unconstitutional about this tax. The cases on the government’s broad ability to tax date back centuries. And most recently, in the healthcare debate, Justice Roberts wrote that Obamacare was constitutional because it fell under the federal powers to levy taxes.
While Andy and others that oppose any restrictions on guns may not like this proposed bill, its introcution to the House is being done to the letter of the Constitution. Now, realistically, there is little chance that any such bill would get through the House of Representatives, so most of this is theoretical discussion. But purely as to whether such a law could pass constitutional muster, the answer is clearly “yes.”
2. Cannibal cop convicted. In NY, a former police office was convicted of plotting to kidnap, murder and eat the remains of his wife. The case centered around his wife’s discovery of the former cop’s internet searches and chat room discussions. In these discussions, the officer discussed his desire to torture, kill and cook his wife. The jury convicted him, but as Justin discussed with Andy, the verdict is doomed for reversal on appeal. While the cop is clearly depraved, the legal question centers around whether he actually threatened his wife and whether his internet rambling were criminal or just pure fantasy. Had he directed these thoughts to his wife or had done anything to set his devious plan in motion, than a conviction would be warranted. But in these days of interent fantasy, it is difficult to conceive that these thoughts would amount to a crime. Certainly, the Courts have their work cut out for them as the digital age expands, and clarity is necessary to determine what is, and what is not, a crime.