Sunday, December 11, 2016

Maryland

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transgender-inmate

A Maryland inmate named Neon Brown–who prefers to be known now as Sandy–just won a key legal victory that will give her some new special privileges in the screening system.

Brown was sent to the state prison in Patuxent, Maryland, in February 2014–where she was placed in solitary confinement for 66 days, even though the warden had ordered staff not to segregate her.

Brown claims that, during that time, guards made fun of her while she showered and, at one point, even told her to commit suicide.

“She told me I should kill myself, that I’m not a woman, that I’ll never be heard,” Brown said, about the corrections officer she claims harassed her.

Brown adds that she was called “it” and “some kind of animal” by other guards, as well.

The judged who ruled on Brown’s case, Denise Oakes Shaffer, ruled that Brown’s treatment violated the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and she ordered the prison to “effectively and professionally communicate transgender inmates.”

So far, Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correction Services, says there’s been a “total shift in agency thinking” since Brown’s ordeal, and that it won’t happen again.

Brown’s fight is just another in the nationwide push for more recognition and respect for transgender Americans–who have become increasingly visible in 2015.

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armed-guard

Donald F. Scott, 50, the armed guard who protected Geraldo Rivera as he covered the Baltimore riots last month was arrested on May 1 because he did not have a license to carry a gun in Maryland.

According to The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Rector, the guard “has been in jail since May 1 for carrying guns around Baltimore protest w/o an MD carry permit.”

The Sun reported that Baltimore Officer John Potter “spotted a man holding handcuffs and an ammunition box” on May 1 and kept watching as Scott allegedly “open the rear hatch of a Chevy Suburban and pull a Glock handgun from his waistband.”

According to Potter’s statement of probable cause, Potter then “signaled to other officers after spotting the Glock and Scott was detained. The Glock had one bullet in the chamber. Officers then found a loaded Cobra revolver in a second holster on Scott’s waist.”

Scott told the officers he left his permit to carry the weapons at home, according to the statement but police later determined that Scott did not have a license to carry in Maryland the statement said.

Police immediately arrested Scott on “two gun charges”. He remains in jail on a $350,000 bond.

According to Rector, “Assistant Public Defender Anthony Strollo, who was appointed Scott’s attorney after Scott was deemed indigent, said in a motion seeking his release that he lives with his wife in Washington with their seven children. Scott is a former law enforcement officer, bus driver and “the breadwinner for the family,” Strollo wrote.”

Rector reported that Scott was working as security for FOX News during the unrest in Baltimore on May 1. Fox spokeswoman Dana Klinghoffer referred questions to a security contractor used by Fox during the Baltimore unrest. Officials with that company didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

Breitbart News noted in their report on the incident that Fox’s decision to provide Geraldo Rivera with armed protection during the riots was peculiar is this respect. Breitbart News previously reported that on August 28 Rivera described the Second Amendment as “blind and stupid”. Breitbart reprinting his entire statement which reads:

“Like I’ve always said, the Second Amendment, the provision that gives every American the right to keep and bear arms, is blind and stupid. In its relentless pimping for the gun industry, the NRA has unleashed an avalanche of deadly weapons on this gun-crazy country.

Just as [it] protects access to weapons for cops and hunters, it also protects access to weapons for domestic abusers, mental patients, jerk-offs on the no-fly list, all-around dim bulbs, and now little children.”

“Yet he had an armed security guard while in Baltimore,” Breitbart opined.

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Maryland Gun Laws

In Dante’s Inferno, the gates of Hell are inscribed with the Latin phrase, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.” Translated into English, the iconic phrase reads, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Today, however, this phrase would be quite apt on all signs announcing the crossover into the state of Maryland, with one little tweak: “Abandon all hope, gun owners who enter here.”

One year ago last week, Florida-resident John Filippidis and his family were traveling through Maryland when his vehicle was pulled over by a Maryland Transportation Authority police officer. Filippidis, a concealed carry permit holder in his home state, was unsure of the reason for the stop, but as he quickly discovered, little about what would happen next had to do with his driving. According to Filippidis, as reported by the Tampa Tribune, the MDTA officer tailed his vehicle for 10 minutes before eventually signaling for him to pull over. After taking his license and registration for a check, the officer returned with demands that Filippidis exit the vehicle, assume the position, and tell him where his firearm was located. Meanwhile, his family was separated in the back of police cruisers while officers ransacked his car looking for his personal firearm that he had thought ahead of time to leave at home, in case of this very situation.

An internal review of the incident by the MDTA determined the stop to have followed protocol, and the search of Filippidis’ car to be “reasonable” based on nothing more than the “conflicting” statements made by his shaken wife about the location of the gun, as well as the officer’s belief that he smelled the odor of marijuana in the car. Not surprisingly, the exhaustive search of the vehicle turned-up neither firearm, nor marijuana or related paraphernalia. Instead, Filippidis was let go, after hours of harassment, with merely a warning for speeding.

As the Washington Times notes in its recent coverage of this incident, there are a growing number of stories from Maryland in which out-of-state concealed carry permit holders have been subjected to the same harassment as Filippidis; raising suspicion that the state with a long-standing reputation for being hostile to gun rights, is using the Second Amendment as a basis to harass otherwise law-abiding citizens for purposes that have little, if anything, to do with actual law enforcement. Rather, this outrageous behavior is yet another example of police departments motivated by a need for greater control, and more power to justify their existence.

As I noted last month about the death of Eric Garner, government at all levels has become so big and so costly, that revenues are never deemed sufficient to meet those perceived “needs.” This is a major reason why police departments such as the MDTA are driven to find ever more creative – and liberty-stifling – ways to justify their existence; such as outlawing the selling of a cigarette by one person to another, or arresting people for traveling with a legally owned firearm that, when crossing the border, suddenly did not adhere to Maryland’s anti-firearm policy.

The proliferation of police departments we see in recent years — not only every geographic entity has to have one, but every state school and many state government departments and transportation authorities — increases this pressure to prove they are “real” cops and thus enlarge their budgets; and what better scalps to tack on the wall in Maryland than those of gun owners.

Since the 2008 landmark Supreme Court decision in Heller v. District of Columbia, which for the first time in modern case law defined the Second Amendment as an individual right, opponents of constitutional gun rights have faced a number of setbacks in courts and local legislatures. To compensate for these setbacks, gun-grabbers have sought to push their agendas through means such as legislative chicanery or outright deception in public relations campaigns.

Regulations and state-sanctioned intimidation to curb speech rights are said to have a “chilling effect” on speech rights. What we appear to be witnessing in Maryland, and no doubt in other anti-gun states across the nation, is a deliberate attempt to “chill” Second Amendment rights as well; by making the legal exercise of one’s natural right to keep and bear arms so confusing and legally treacherous that many citizens choose not to do so. Yet, rather than surrender this precious right to the bullies in government who twist and contort their authority in pursuit of a political agenda, we should take the fight to the courts and the voting booth. At the very least, out-of-state travelers can refuse to give Maryland revenue by avoiding the state altogether.

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