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So Can I 3D Print a Gun, or What?

A few weeks ago, the Department of Defense settled its legal battle with the designer of 3D-printed firearms, allowing the company to re-release its CAD files to the public. That announcement sent state lawmakers scrambling in an effort to keep 3D-printed guns off the market. Eight states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the federal government (11 more states have since joined that lawsuit), and last week a federal judge blocked the publication of those blueprints.

According to Defense Distributed, the company who originally created a published the 3D plans, the blueprints had already been downloaded more than 400,000 times before they were removed for the first time in 2013, and while the company had re-uploaded the files to its site prior to the judge's ruling, it has since blocked access to comply with the court order.

So, what does all this mean for you, the person who wants to 3D print a gun?

Gunned Down

"Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet," the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox asserts, "undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years." In order to comply with this law, blueprints for 3D-printed guns still require a metal firing pin and a six-ounce piece of steel to enable metal detectors to spot the guns.

Plans for plastic guns also lack critical components, like bolts, barrels, stocks, or other parts, so they're not firing live rounds hot off the 3D press. Additionally, California required that all 3D-printed guns be registered two years ago, and other states may have followed suit -- so even if you manage to print and assemble a gun, you'll probably need to register it like any other firearm.

All the Guns That Are Fit to Print

Currently, Defense Distributed's website relating to its "Liberator" 3D-printable gun reads: "This site, after legally committing its files to the public domain through a license from the U.S. Department of State, has been ordered shut down by a federal judge in the Western District of Washington." So, unless you downloaded the files pre-2013, snagged them in the short time between the settlement and the new injunction, or don't want to go elsewhere on the internet for the plans, you'll just have to wait on your 3D-printed gun until courts can balance the First and Second Amendment issues with the public safety concerns.

"There are 3-D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm," U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik wrote last week, temporarily making publication of 3D gun printing files illegal under federal law. And you surely can't sell those guns, even if you can manage to make one.

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

Immigrants Scrutinized Over Foreign Addresses

Jose Nicolas Ramos-Portillo lived in a Salvadoran village where literally everybody knew him.

But he fled the village in fear of gangs, and found his way to the United States. When immigration officials asked for an address, he gave them the village address because his family would get his mail for him there.

He didn't expect it to become a federal case, but a lawyer had to argue about it to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. That's because the government issued a deportation order against him without sending any notice.

Foreign Addresses

Ramos-Portillo appealed the deportation order, saying he never received it. The officials admitted they never sent one, but said it was his fault and it was too late to appeal.

In oral arguments covered by Courthouse News, the Fifth Circuit judges pointed out Ramos-Portillo didn't check with federal authorities for 20 years. Attorney Richard Harris responded that his client was waiting for them to contact him.

"He relied on the government's assurances to him, written and oral," Harrist said.

Justice Department lawyer Raya Jarawan said Ramos-Portillo should have given the government a U.S. address. She said the issue was whether the Board of Immigration Appeals abused its discretion when it denied his appeal, not the foreign address question.

"So we don't have that proper, beautiful case in front of us to decide if this statute is truly ambiguous or allows for...a foreign address," Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod commented.

Immigration Enforcement

However, mailing address problems leave room for many immigration cases to fall through the cracks. Another one fell to the Fifth Circuit on the same day.

In that case, Melida Teresa Luna-Garcia lived in a Guatamalan village. She also gave her village address for correspondence from immigration enforcement.

Her attorney, Nadia Dahab, said foreign nationals do not have to give a U.S. address to border patrol or immigration officers. "This statute requires only that she's able to provide an address that she could be contacted and that the government requires written notice," she said.

Even so, it is getting more difficult for immigrants all around to come to America. The latest administration policy limits asylum and gang and domestic violence victims.

By William Vogeler, Esq

Florida 'Stand Your Ground' Shooter Charged With Manslaughter

Last month, Pinellas County sheriffs declined to press charges after Michael Drejka gunned down Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot, claiming the shooting was "within the bookends of 'stand your ground' and within the bookends of force being justified." Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at the time, "I'm not saying I agree with it, but I don't make that call."

Pinellas County prosecutors, however, did make that call this week, charging Drejka with manslaughter. Why the change of course?

Threatening Past

According to Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe and Pinellas sheriff's Detective George Moffett, Drejka had quite a history confronting people on the road he didn't like, often threatening them with a gun. The Orlando Sentinel reports that two different drivers reported that Drejka waved a gun at them during road rage confrontations in 2012. Officers stopped Drejka both times and found a gun in his car, but he denied threatening other drivers with it.

Then, three months before Drejka (who is white) shot McGlockton (who was black), a black man who drives a septic truck told investigators he parked in the same handicapped-accessible spot at the convenience store as McGlockton's girlfriend, Britany Jacobs. The man claimed Drejka began yelling at him, said he would shoot him, and shouted racial slurs as he drove away. Drejka later called the man's boss, telling him "that he was lucky he didn't blow his employee's head off."

Drejka was not arrested or charged in any of the previous incidents, but they may provide insight into whether his belief that using deadly force against McGlockton was reasonable under Florida's "stand your ground" statute.

Reasonable, Justifiable?

Florida's manslaughter laws, on the other hand, define the crime as: "The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification." Drejka will likely argue that he was justified under the "stand your ground" law, and the confrontation that preceded the shooting will be essential evidence.

Jacobs claims Drejka confronted her for being parked in the handicapped space while McGlockton had gone into the store with his 5-year-old son, also named Markeis. McGlockton apparently got wind of the altercation, and surveillance footage shows him leaving the store and shoving Drejka to the ground, away from the car window. Drejka pulls a handgun and McGlockton backs about 10-12 feet away from him. Drejka fires anyway, hitting McGlockton in the chest. McGlockton then retreated back into the store, where he died in front of his son.

Drejka was being held at the county jail on $100,000 bail, and could be facing 9-15 years in prison if convicted.

by Christopher Coble, Esq.

Nike Sued for Gender Discrimination After Self Correcting

A recent class action lawsuit filed against Nike alleges the company has discriminated against its employees by failing to pay, promote, and treat women equally. The plaintiffs are alleging that Nike demeaned and devalued women employees.

The lawsuit comes nearly a month after the company announced that it would be giving roughly 10 percent of its employees pay raises, which according to a CNBC, and any casual observer for that matter, was done to remedy the past discrimination and mistreatment of women employees that was revealed within the last year.

Remedial Measures Don't Provide a Remedy

Law students coast-to-coast are taught in torts that remedial measures are not evidence of liability. However, like most everyone knows, no one fixes nothing that isn't broken. And as lawyers, when a company takes drastic actions to fix past problems, you know there are likely a few cracked eggs that have a good case, particularly as Nike waited nearly a decade to comply with the law (the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed in 2009).

Notably, in March of this year, brand president Trevor Edwards and vice president Jayme Martin both resigned over "behavioral issues that are inconsistent with Nike's values." In today's world of #MeToo and #TimesUp, that's pretty much code for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The complaint, filed by two former employees, alleges that:

  • "Women's career trajectories are blunted because they are marginalized and passed over for promotions."
  • "Nike judges women more harshly than men, which means lower salaries, smaller bonuses, and fewer stock options....Male bad behavior is rarely penalized."

The suit claims that the company failed to handle sexual harassment complaints, and routinely denied women opportunities.

Shoot!

For companies trying to remedy past business practices that violate the law, it's might be best to heed the advice of Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez, from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: If you're going to do something, do it, don't talk about it first (especially if there's exposure).

George Khoury, Esq.

Contract Clauses Buyer and Sellers May Miss

When a buyer and seller enter into a contract, the law treats both parties as if they read and understood all terms, even if they just gave the contract a quick skim.

This can be a significant problem if one of the parties fails to notice a provision that impacts that party’s specific transaction until after the contract is executed.

Here are just a few questions we hear on the Legal Hotline that illustrate a few of these blind spots. For this article, we’re looking exclusively at the most popular contract for residential transactions in Florida, the residential contracts prepared by the Florida Realtors and Florida Bar. All sections discussed in this article are the same in the “AS IS” version and the inspection and repair version of the contract.

  1. What happens if a buyer isn’t approved for a loan but neglects to cancel by the loan approval deadline?
    The main purpose of the financing contingency in section 8 is to allow the buyer to cancel the contract without penalty if the buyer is unsuccessful in getting loan approval by the deadline. The default loan approval deadline is 30 days unless the parties negotiate a different number. But what if the buyer doesn’t have loan approval and misses the deadline to send a written cancellation notice? Section 8(b)(v) provides that if the buyer doesn’t deliver a written message that either terminates the contract or waives the loan approval, then “Loan Approval shall be deemed waived, in which event this Contract will continue as if Loan Approval had been obtained …” This can be a big problem for the buyer if the loan is later denied, since the buyer waived the loan approval by failing to cancel in time.
     
  2. What personal property can a buyer force the seller to leave?
    Many sellers get distracted by listing photos or conversations negotiating the contract when thinking about what personal property is included in the purchase. What they should primarily focus on instead is section 1(d) and 1(e) of the contract. Section 1(d) provides a default list of items the buyer is entitled to at closing, such as refrigerators and ovens, provided that those things are “owned by Seller and existing on the Property as of the date of the initial offer.” There is additional space to write in specific other items the buyer and seller want to specifically include or exclude as part of the sale.
     
  3. When can a seller deny access to a buyer who wants to conduct inspections?
    Sometimes sellers feel like buyers are overstaying their welcome with inspections and appraisals. So, who controls this issue? The contract has a broad provision that favors buyers. Section 18, standard L provides that “Seller shall, upon reasonable notice, provide utilities service and access to Property for appraisals and inspections, including a walk-through (or follow-up walk-through if necessary) prior to Closing.” Therefore, once the buyer notifies the seller that they would like to conduct any inspection(s) or appraisal(s) permitted under the contract, the seller has already agreed through this contract clause to provide utilities and access.

By Joel Maxson

Real estate Q&A: Why Won’t My HOA Board Listen to Me?

Question: I live in a beautiful community that is well maintained by the board and its various committees. All is great, except for the roads – they are ugly with oil marks and patched areas. I have asked after this, but it does not seem to be a priority of the board of directors. How do I get the board to address this issue? – Philip

Answer: Most people who want to get their board's attention try to bring up a new issue at the public board meeting. This is not a good idea and will most likely not work.

A board meeting is a business meeting and should be run from an agenda of items known to all in advance so that the members and directors have ample time to research and consider the issues to be dealt with during that meeting. The common tactic of trying to embarrass or ambush the board at the meeting almost always backfires. Simply, the board meeting is not the time to introduce a new issue.

The better method is to send your board a letter outlining your concern. Try to be detailed and propose solutions. Explain why you think it is an essential use of the community's resources, bearing in mind that other residents may have differing priorities. Send the letter by certified mail to ensure it gets the attention it deserves.

If it still does not make the agenda, try again, or even better, get some neighbors to write in, too. Many voices will hold more sway than just one.

Finally, if, after all of these efforts, the existing board does not share your priorities for the community, you should consider running for the board at the next election. When you are a board member, you are able to help set the agenda and get your ideas pushed through. At least, that is, if enough of your neighbors agree with you.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

source: Sun Sentinel

Average mortgage rates rise again: 30-year at 4.6%

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose for the second straight week, continuing to dampen prospects for potential homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.60 percent this week from 4.54 percent last week. Long-term loan rates have been running at their highest levels in seven years. The average benchmark 30-year rate reached a high this year of 4.66 percent on May 24. By contrast, the rate stood at 3.93 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans increased to 4.08 percent this week from 4.02 percent last week.

Higher mortgage rates combined with steadily rising home prices have restrained home sales this summer despite the robust economy and job market.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday left its key interest rate unchanged but signaled further gradual rate hikes in the months ahead as long as the economy stays healthy.

As prices for U.S. Treasury bonds have dropped, the yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose to 3 percent this week for the first time since mid-June. The rate was at 2.99 percent Thursday morning. Higher yields on Treasurys tend to push interest rates higher on mortgages and other loans.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.

The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 0.4 point from 0.5 point last week. The fee on 15-year mortgages was unchanged at 0.4 point.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 3.93 percent from 3.87 percent last week. The fee dropped to 0.2 point from 0.4 point

source: AP