News, Terrorism In France, How Our Habitat Makes Us

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Gov. Walker has asked the State Attorney General to review any possible challenge to President Obama’s new gun control measures – a legal expert weighs in. Researchers say the longing for a home is a defining human characteristic. Our guest explains why a home is so important, and how our habitat makes us human. We also discuss terrorism in France on the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

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  • Professor: Walker's Response To Obama Gun Rules Is Half-Cocked

    On Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker requested that state Attorney General Brad Schimel consider challenging President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on gun sales. In a brief statement, Walker said he had directed Schimel to “take any and all legal measures available” to challenge what he called the president’s “illegal act.”

    But according to University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor and legal expert Howard Schweber, Walker is the one who’s off base when it comes to the legality question.

    “No court has suggested that background checks, in and of themselves, are unreasonable and a violation of the Second Amendment. So the idea of extending background checks to a broader range of categories of guns sales would somehow violate that standard seems very hard to support,” said Schweber.

    More broadly, Schweber is skeptical that states have the right to bring a legal challenge on constitutional grounds. According to him, states don’t have constitutional rights — only individuals have them.

    “Some individual who’s threatened with a prosecution or a fine, that person could have standing to challenge this in court … but it’s very difficult for me to see how the state of Wisconsin gets that standing,” he said.

    Critics of Obama’s action, including Walker believe the president is exceeding his authority as chief executive, as he did with his immigration orders which are successfully being challenged in the courts. Schweber however, believes the two cases are very different.

    Obama’s immigration orders not only established certain discretion in the enforcement of the law, Schweber said, but also distribution of benefits, among other things, that could be seen as altering or even disregarding the law as it existed.

    “This one is much simpler. Congress left this very vague, and when the legislature leaves law enforcement terms vague, it’s up to law enforcement to determine what they mean,” he said of the law permitting background checks.

    As Schwerber sees it, current law allows the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to impose on those “engaged in the business of dealing in guns” to require a background check on buyers. Yet the term is undefined, and well within the president’s authority to clarify.

    He did add that Congress, however, could further define that if they wanted.

  • How France Prosecutes People Who Associate With Terrorists

    Thursday is the anniversary of last year’s terrorist attack against Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo. Since the attack, worries of Islamic extremist terrorism have only risen, with over 150 people killed in Paris in November and 14 in the San Bernardino shooting in the U.S.

    The debate rages on over how to confront extremists who would do harm, whether from Iraq and Syria or in the United States and Europe. And some critics say that measures taken to fight terrorism actually breed further extremism.

    That is one criticism of French anti-terror efforts, which include prosecutions of people who are suspected of planning terrorist attacks or associating with the people who plan them. And one of those imprisoned suspects is actually thought to have helped plan the Charlie Hebdo attack from behind bars.

  • Homo Sapiens At Home: Our Habitats Make Us Human

    Our home–and our desire for a place to call home–is a fundamental part of what makes us human, according to an anthropologist who says our brains evolved with a strong desire for a home base.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • KP Whaley Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Howard Schweber Guest
  • John Allen Guest

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