Sports Illustrated has a recurring feature called “Sign of the Apocalypse.”  In this feature, SI brings readers mind-boggling vignettes from the world of sports in an attempt to show that the End Times are, indeed, upon us.  Recent Signs of the Apocalypse include:  The Green Bay Packers are selling a 22-inch kielbasa smothered in beer cheese and sauerkraut called the Horse Collar at Lambeau Field this season;  Robert Morris has become the first school offering athletic scholarships for its varsity video game team; this fall a musical entitled I Am Stephon Marbury, about the former NBAer’s life in China, will open in Beijing, with Marbury playing the title role.

Not to be outdone, we here at the Liberal Gun Club are compiling our own signs of the impending Apocalypse.  Over the past week, we have studied the signs and portents and submit the following as proof that perhaps it is time to get right with the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

Backtracking on Scary Black Rifles:  In an interview for an article published last week, Shannon Watts, the top Demanding Mom, told ProPublica that an assault weapons ban is no longer a priority for Everytown/Moms Demand Action.

“We’ve very much changed our strategy to focus on public safety measures that will save the most lives,” she told ProPublica.

It’s not just that the ban proved to be what Watts calls a “nonstarter” politically, gaining fewer votes in the Senate post-Sandy Hook than background check legislation. It was also that as Watts spoke to experts and learned more about gun violence in the United States, she realized that pushing for a ban isn’t the best way to prevent gun deaths.

The usually reliably anti-gun New York Times published another piece by the same ProPublica writer, noting that the 1994 assault weapon ban’s only real effect was to get Republicans elected.  The article notes what we all already knew:  Murders involving any kind of rifle are exceedingly rare; half of the Americans murdered on any given day are black men; the 1994 assault weapon ban had, at best, a negligible effect on murder rates.  The article observes that root cause mitigation would be a far better solution:

{New Orleans Mayor Mitch} Landrieu and Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia are founders of Cities United, a network of mayors trying to prevent the deaths of young black men. “This is not just a gun issue, this is an unemployment issue, it’s a poverty issue, it’s a family issue, it’s a culture of violence issue,” Mr. Landrieu said.

More than 20 years of research funded by the Justice Department has found that programs to target high-risk people or places, rather than targeting certain kinds of guns, can reduce gun violence.

David M. Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, argues that the issue of gun violence can seem enormous and intractable without first addressing poverty or drugs. A closer look at the social networks of neighborhoods most afflicted, he says, often shows that only a small number of men drive most of the violence. Identify them and change their behavior, and it’s possible to have an immediate impact.

Shocker!  Scary black rifles don’t cause crime!  Root cause mitigation, not hardware bans, is the potential solution!

Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress is likewise backing away from advocating for an assault weapons ban.  To be sure, the CAP still doesn’t like scary black rifles.  In a new report, the CAP advocates for treating long guns like handguns with respect to interstate sales and for requiring permits to buy modern sporting rifles.  But at least the CAP is recognizing that AWBs aren’t the answer.

Hm.  The Center for American Progress, the Demanding-Mom-in-Chief, and the Gray Lady, all backing away from AWBs in the same week.  Reality setting in?  A cynical election-year admission that gun control equals lost votes?  Or something else?

Delay in prosecution of Shaneen Allen:  NRA News and several gun blogs are reporting that the prosecutor in the case of New Jersey v. Shaneen Allen has asked for a continuance of the trial while he reviews the proper resolution of her case.  I haven’t seen confirmation of this in mainstream media, but if true, this could be another herald of the End Times.  For those of you not familiar with this case, Shaneen Allen is a 27-year-old Pennsylvania woman.  After a home burglary, Ms. Allen purchased a handgun and obtained a Pennsylvania concealed carry license.  She was driving in New Jersey when she was pulled over for an improper lane change.  She disclosed to the officer that she had a gun and was promptly arrested for illegally possessing a gun.  No, New Jersey doesn’t recognize Pennsylvania concealed carry licenses.

Ms. Allen is a single mom and a health care worker.  She had no prior arrests.  She didn’t fire the gun.  No one was injured.  Yet the “best” offer the prosecutor would give was 3 1/2 years in prison.  The prosecutor refused to consider probation and a deferred prosecution.  Ms. Allen, if convicted, faces a prison sentence.

So, you would say, she didn’t know the law.  She should suffer the consequences!  But as Lee Corso of ESPN College GameDay is fond of saying, Not so fast, my friend.  Seems the very same prosecutor, the one who refused Ms. Allen’s request for a deferred prosecution, agreed to probation and a deferred prosecution in another case.  Namely, Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back who beat his then-fiancee unconscious in a casino elevator in February.  The NFL originally gave Rice a slap on the wrist – a two-game suspension – and the Ravens originally did nothing.  Until last Monday.  When the tabloid website TMZ released footage of Rice bludgeoning his then-fiancee in the elevator.

Suddenly the NFL and the Ravens did an about face.  The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely from the league, and the Ravens informed Rice they were no longer in need of his services.

Meanwhile, there have been cries that in New Jersey, apparently domestic violence is a far less serious offense than merely possessing a lawfully purchased gun with a lawfully obtained concealed carry permit.

And now we have reports that the prosecutor – the same guy who let an NFL star off with a slap on the wrist for beating his woman senseless – has asked for a delay of the trial so that he can review the case.

Coincidence?

Rocket docket for marriage equality:  Turning from the G part of LGC to the L part:  It appears that at its “long conference” of September 29, the Supreme Court of the United States will review no fewer than seven petitions for writ of certiorari in cases holding same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.  All of these cases were decided by Circuit Courts of Appeal within the past few months.  The Tenth Circuit decided the Utah and Oklahoma cases on June 25 and July 18, respectively.  The Fourth Circuit decided the three Virginia cases on July 28.  The Speedy Gonzalez award for speedy justice goes to the Seventh Circuit, which heard oral arguments on August 26 and rendered its opinion on September 4, only a week after oral arguments.  The petitions for cert in the Seventh Circuit cases were filed on September 9, only a day before cases were distributed to the Justices for the September 29 conference.

All parties in the seven cases have agreed that the Court should take up the issues now.  The issues are, 1) whether state laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman are unconstitutional with respect to same-sex couples; and 2) whether it is unconstitutional for a state with a law limiting marriage to one man and one woman to refuse to grant full faith and credit to a same-sex couple married in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages.

This speed is almost unheard of.  Particularly with regard to the Seventh Circuit cases, in which the Seventh Circuit’s decision was issued on September 4, less than a month before the “long conference.”

A note on the “long conference”:  First, it’s called the “long conference” because it is the first time the Justices will meet to review cases since the Court began its summer recess at the end of June.  Second, the Court will not hear oral arguments or issue decisions at the “long conference.”  The Justices will be reviewing pending petitions for review and will decide which petitions to grant, which petitions to deny, and which petitions to hold for further review.  Granting a petition means merely that the Court has decided to hear the case.  A briefing schedule and oral arguments will be set, to take place between October 6 and sometime next year, and the Court will (probably) decide the case by the end of June 2015.

So.  There you have it.  This past week’s signs of the Apocalypse.  Time to get right with the FSM?  RAmen.

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