Monthly Archives: September 2019

“Country Roads” and Maryland

Today I learned [via Lori Wysong, WETA “Boundary Stones”]: “Country Roads” was written after a drive along then-rural Clopper Road in Montgomery County, but songwriters Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert couldn’t get “Maryland” to scan and swapped in “West Virginia,” a state in which they’d never set foot. And then they shared it with John Denver….

It’s often been pointed out that the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River, both mentioned in the song, are much more closely associated with Virginia than with West Virginia. I’d explained those to myself as being landmarks that the singer passed and felt warmly about while driving home to West Virginia from points east. Either way, imagine a future archaeologist trying to reconstruct the geography of the area with only this song to go on.

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In miniature, September 22

  • “Maryland Court of Appeals Will Hear Challenge to Baltimore’s Food Truck Rules” [Andrew Wimer, IJ press release]
  • Four of eight members of Maryland House delegation (Reps. Raskin, Cummings, Sarbanes, Brown) would eliminate private health insurance [Allison Stevens, Maryland Matters]
  • A view from the Left: “Why I support single-member districts” [Richard DeShay Elliott]
  • Maryland legislature should address outcome of Court of Appeals case in which 16 year old girl was brought up on child pornography distribution charges for “sexting” video of herself engaged in sex that was both consensual and legal [David Post, Volokh Conspiracy]
  • Ban on foam packaging “did not encourage” staying around: Dart Container closing Carroll, Harford County warehouse and distribution centers [Jon Kelvey, Carroll County Times, earlier on polystyrene bans here, here]
  • Looking for an alternative to the pro-secessionist lyrics in “Maryland, My Maryland”? There’s a competing Unionist version [Todd Eberly, Free Stater last year]

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My Washington Post letter on Maryland’s red flag law

My letter to the editor at the Washington Post last month on red flag gun laws:

August 13, 2019

Red flag’ laws can have deadly consequences

The Aug. 9 front-page article “Results of ‘red flag’ gun laws uneven across 17 states, D.C.” quoted critics of Maryland’s “red flag” gun-confiscation law who find the law lacking on due process grounds. It might also have mentioned another kind of collateral damage done by the law this past November in its second month of operation, namely the death of 61-year-old Gary J. Willis of Glen Burnie, shot dead by Anne Arundel County police who had come to his door at 5 a.m. to present an order to confiscate his guns. Willis answered the door with a gun in his hand. He set it down but then became angry, picked up the gun, and, in an ensuing scuffle with an officer over the weapon, it went off without striking anyone. A second officer then shot Willis dead.

In the aftermath, because of confidentiality rules, neither press nor public could view the red-flag order that had set police on the fatal encounter. Defending the shooting afterward, the county’s police chief described any possible threat from Willis to others in the vaguest of terms, telling the Capital Gazette, “We don’t know what we prevented or could’ve prevented.” Family member Michele Willis, speaking to the Baltimore Sun, took a different view: “I’m just dumbfounded right now,” she said. “My uncle wouldn’t hurt anybody. … They didn’t need to do what they did.”

Walter Olson, New Market

It is true that in principle “red flag” laws can draw on the same respectable historic taproots of judicial power as, e.g., domestic violence restraining orders. [David French, National Review] One problem with that is that it’s not clear the current use of domestic restraining orders inspires confidence, due-process-wise. In two posts last month (firstsecond) Jacob Sullum, who also cites the work of Dave Kopel, critically examines the shortcomings of the red flag gun laws enacted so far, while California lawyer Donald Kilmer looks at his state’s existing law. [cross-posted from Overlawyered]

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