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Supreme Court weighs ‘straw’ gun purchases challenge

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The US Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case about legal provisions intended to prevent the “straw” purchases of guns by one individual for other buyers.

In the case — the second taken up by the justices in a week concerning gun laws — former Virginia police officer Bruce Abramski was a straw purchaser who bought a gun for an uncle.

Although both men were legal gun owners, Abramski indicated on a federal form that he was the gun’s actual buyer.

At the Supreme Court, his lawyer Richard Dietz said the transaction was legal because the men’s legal and mental background allowed them to purchase a firearm.

“It doesn’t matter if the ultimate transferee is Al Capone or somebody else,” said Justice Elena Kagan.

“The purpose is to take away guns from (persons with) mental illnesses.”

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Justice Samuel Alito also stressed that controls meant to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill would be “meaningless” when the purchaser who undergoes background checks is not the final user.

US Attorney Joseph Palmore said the plaintiff’s argument “would greatly impair the ability of ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) to trace firearms and to have an accurate record of who that first purchaser of the firearm was” in order to prevent “anonymous sales of firearms”.

In a first case take up January 15, the Supreme Court addressed whether carrying a weapon could be authorised at the federal level if there were a state-level conviction for minor domestic offenses.

In both cases, decisions by the court are expected by the end of June.

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People are calling Denver’s newest city council member a communist — but she’d rather be called an anarchist

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On April 10, Candi CdeBaca’s 33rd birthday, Denver’s second “bomb cyclone” of the year brought snow and heavy wind, and knocked out power in some areas, including at CdeBaca’s house in Elyria-Swansea. When CdeBaca, then a Denver City Council candidate, finally got power back and turned on her phone, she saw she had an unusually high number of missed calls and messages. Birthday wishes, she assumed.

“There was a death threat,” she said. “There were two of them within an hour. One of them said, ‘I was trained to kill commie shit like you.’”

The context: At a candidate forum on April 7, CdeBaca offered some remarks that, to many, sounded like she was advocating a Communist form of government.

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Honduran forces fire on students, 5 hurt: officials

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Honduran military police opened fire on protesting students at a university on Monday, wounding at least five, campus and hospital officials said.

Hundreds of students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras were demanding the resignation of the country's president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, after demonstrations against him intensified last week when three people were killed in protests.

"About 40 military police entered the university campus without authorization," Armando Sarmiento, director of institutional development at the Tegucigalpa-based university, told AFP.

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Health care price transparency: Fool’s gold, or real money in your pocket?

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The news is full of stories about monumental surprise hospital bills, sky-high drug prices and patients going bankrupt. The government’s approach to addressing this, via an executive order that President Trump signed June 24, 2019, is to make hospitals post their list prices online so that patients supposedly can comparison shop. But this is fool’s gold – information that doesn’t address the real question about why these prices are so high in the first place.

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