BB Guns, Safety, & You:
A Tragic Lesson

Young Man Dies Following BB Gun Tragedy


Pictured: A BB Gun and box of BB-pellets. People have treated these as toys for years, but they can be used to kill.  

BB guns are a type of rifle that are treated as toys since they only use air to shoot small metal balls, rather than relying on the explosive force that gives bullets their fatal speeds.

An unfortunate incident involving a BB gun in Tampa, Florida led to a 17 year old dying after he was shot in the eye with one.  Although the majority of accidents involving BB guns are the result of the gun handlers failing to use eye protection, that wasn’t the case here.  The young man died as a result of his family-friend in the back seat – who was 8 years old – accidentally causing the gun to go off.

The two had been riding in the car with the 17-year-old friend-of-the-family in the front seat, and the adult driver’s children (including the 8 year old) riding in the back.  The incident began as the adult driver pulled up to an ATM and exited the car, leaving the minors unsupervised.

The youngest in the back seat, the 8-year-old was attempting to move the BB gun not knowing that it was loaded.  When the child moved the gun, it fired off a BB striking the 17-year-old front-passenger in the eye.

BB guns are widely seen as toys.  In reality, they are capable of major damage to property and (as is the case here) to lives. The companies that manufacture these devices often recommend the use of eye protection and to keep them out of the reach of young children.  Keeping a BB gun in the back seat of a car and accessible to unsupervised minors is a scenario that is not recommended.

The 8-year old who caused the gun to go off didn’t mean for it to do that.  Reports say the child explained they had been moving it out of the way so that they wouldn’t step on it and cause it to break when the incident occurred.

Regardless of the circumstance, there is a 17-year-old boy who lost his life because of an oversight of the adult in the car keeping a BB gun in their back seat.


1: Why should someone be charged – or why shouldn’t they be charged – in the death of the 17 year old in this case? Who is really to blame if anyone: the 8 year old, the adult driver who had left the BB gun in the back seat to begin with, or no one? Explain your answer.

2: If the adult driver had left a real firearm in the back seat, what would change about the case – how might it be handled differently? 

3: In the state of Nevada, what are some of the minimum and maximum consequences would the adult face for leaving a minor in the back seat with a loaded firearm accessible?

4: If the boy had been an adult themselves and shot a minor, what are the maximum and minimum charges they could face, if any? 

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers.  For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here


Contributed by: Joseph Motta

ICYMI: President Lincoln’s Act
to Encourage Immigration


President Lincoln passed The Act to Encourage Immigration, July 4, 1864—the first, last, and only major law in American history to encourage immigration. Approved on July 4, 1864, the act was ultimately repealed. The repeal of The Act to Encourage Immigration could not, however, remove the effect it had upon immigration.

According to Time.com, “The Act, in 8 sections, authorized the President, by and with the consent of the Senate, to appoint a Commissioner of Immigration for a term of 4 years at $2,500/year; and a subordinate Superintendent in New York at $2,000/year. Section 2 provided that emigrants pledge their wages for no more than 12 months to cover their transportation here, but barred “any contract contravening the Constitution of the United States, or creating in any way the relation of slavery or servitude.” (Basically, it said immigrants could have other people pay to bring them here, but those people couldn’t treat them like slaves and only take the money the new immigrants earned for one year – after that the immigrants were free to do whatever they wanted).

Section 3 exempted all immigrants arriving after the passage of the act from compulsory military service unless the immigrant voluntarily renounced under oath his allegiances to the country of his birth, and declared his intention of becoming a citizen of the United States.   That promise (called a waiver) was a big deal at the time, since the military was drafting many American men into service to fight in the civil war!



1) Since there are many active debates about immigration these days yet this historical fact revolves around an act thaw was ultimately repealed, do you think this bit of history should be taught in classrooms? On one hand, it is a way to tie the past to the present which could help to bring history lessons home for students like you.  On the other hand, the fact that the act was repealed takes away from its relevancy.  

2) Do an online search for ‘American Immigration During the Civil War’, and then report back: What people and cultures may have been encouraged to emigrate to the United States as a result of Lincoln’s order? 

3) Using your response to #2, answer this: How did the effect of Lincoln’s order shape the world we live in today? In other words, what about our daily American lives might be traced back to this specific order of President Lincolns?   

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

The World War II Era
Italian-American Immigrant ‘Threat’


An Executive Order is a type of ‘lawful order’ that a president can create without that ‘law-ish thing’ having to be a bill or get approved by congress first.  It’s not exactly a law, but people have to follow it anyway.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a very famous Executive Order: E.O. 9066.   That order – issued during World War II – led to America’s internment of its Japanese-American citizens during.  What is less well known about that order is the fact that it also forced over 10,000 Italian-Americans to relocate, and that it prevented an additional 600,000 Italian-Americans from being able to freely travel in the country!

The modern-day debates on immigration in America tend to focus on supporters asking for equal treatment of all people, while detractors (people against immigration) being concerned about immigration in general, but also expressing more focused concerns about people from Central America, South America, and the Middle East.

As the WWII order illustrates, immigration policies have affected all types of Americans throughout the country’ s history.  At the time of EO 9066, information from the US Census Bureau was used to target Italian-Americans within hours of the executive order being signed!  Events like that have even led to people being afraid of the census today (though they shouldn’t be – there are many new legal preventions in today’s world that would prevent that kind of abuse of census information).



1) What feelings do you have about how modern day America handles immigration?

2) A rare ‘There is a wrong answer to this question’ warning: Responding with ‘It doesn’t/hasn’t’ is 100% wrong.  So – How does America’s identity as ‘A Nation of Immigrants’ directly shaped / impacted your life?  Give at least three examples.

3) Read the original article that inspired this one (at the link below) and then explain: Why were Italian’s singled out during WWII along with the Japanese? What made them ‘a threat’?

BONUS :: A second rare ‘There is a wrong answer to this question’ warning: Responding with ‘It doesn’t / hasn’t’ is 100% wrong.  So – Explain how at least one American immigration law or policy directly shapes or impacts your life today. 

Here is an example (that you cannot copy or use):  The author of this article’s life is impacted by passport rules.  They want to travel to India, but first they need to renew their American Passport, which is pretty expensive!  

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:


3 Assassinations, International Intrigue,
& Your Right to Remain Silent…


“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you. You have the right to an attorney….”  Those words – which you may recognize from shows or movies – are the words used to inform someone who is being arrested if their Miranda Rights.   They’re not just for entertainment though – they are very real rights every American is entitled to, but they have only been read to suspects since 1966.  That process came about as a result of a Supreme Court decision, but their origins date back much earlier. In fact, the process of reading a suspect their Miranda Rights is rooted in a historical event that took place in 1919.

That year, a triple murder of foreign diplomats occurred in Washington D.C. (a diplomat is someone who acts as the representative of a foreign government). The three victims all worked for the Chinese Educational Mission before being assassinated. When there were no leads or clear motives, the police focused in on the only suspect they had.

On the day of the assassinations, a young Chinese student named Ziang Sung Wan had been seen at the house where the killings had occurred. The police went to his home in New York and after searching it without a warrant, pressured Wan (who was suffering from a flu at the time) into going back to Washington D.C.  with them.  Upon their arrival, the authorities isolated Ziang in a hotel room and held him without formally placing him under formal arrest.  After extended periods of isolation and interrogation that lasted more than 9 days, they eventually pressured him into making a confession.

During trial for the murders, Wan took back his confession, saying that he only confessed to make the detectives’ interrogation come to an end. The judge refused to acknowledge Wan’s statement despite the conditions that were used to obtain his confession.  Eventually, Wan was found guilty of first degree-murder.  At the time, the penalty for a guilty first-degree murder conviction was death-by-hanging.

Wan’s case was one of many at the time that had stirred debate among judges and lawyers in the country over which police conduct and interrogation methods were lawful, and which of those methods and behaviors were unlawful.  At the same time, Ziang’s attorneys were filing appeals and pursuing their client’s acquittal relentlessly, knowing that his life was on the line.  Eventually Ziang’s lawyers managed to get his case heard by the Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS).

As a result of the raging national debate in the law community over police tactics and the constitutional questions raised by Ziang’s case, one justice was tasked with drafting up a decision that would lay the groundwork for the Miranda Rights we know today.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote the court’s decision, in which the court interpreted the Fifth Amendment as permitting only volunteer confessions as being admissible as evidence in federal court proceedings, and that a confession could be coerced involuntarily even if an explicit threat had not made.

If that’s too wordy, think about it like this: The police didn’t tell Ziang “If you don’t confess we’re going to break your legs”.  Because they held him for 9 days though – while he was sick, in uncomfortable conditions, and without telling him when they would stop –  they had basically forced him to confess to end the torment he was experiencing.

Unfortunately, because Wan had been tried in Washington D.C. (which is a federal jurisdiction) the new standard only applied to cases in federal courts. The ruling wouldn’t apply to states or local court proceedings for years.  The standard created by Justice Brandeis’ ruling also ended up being interpreted in a variety of ways for decades after it was first issued.  For years after the ruling, cases ended up before SCOTUS that would produce rulings which added more specificity to Justice Brandeis’ initial court opinion on Ziang’s case.

Eventually, in 1966 Chief Justice Earl Warren would mandate safeguards for suspects dealing with police in the opinion he issued for SCOTUS in the case of Miranda v. Arizona.  Those safeguards would eventually develop into the Miranda Rights most people are familiar with today. His writings leaned heavily on the court opinion issued in response to Wan’s case, making it clear the Ziang Sung Wan v. United States is the legal soil from which the Miranda Rights we know today grew from.

Thanks to the Wan and Miranda decisions, today suspects are informed that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say may be used against them in the court of law, that they have the right to counsel, and that if they are unable to afford one, an attorney will be appointed for them.


1) Now that you know some of the history behind Miranda Rights, do you have any feelings about your right to remain silent? What questions do you have about your right to remain silent?

2)      TV may lead you to think that the right to remain silent is only used by criminals who are done talking to police and want to leave the interview.  That’s not the case at all though.  What are some situations that could lead someone to exercise their right to remain silent?

3)      Suppose you found yourself needing to exercising your right to remain silent.  What would that look like?  Simply saying “I wouldn’t talk” isn’t enough: Tell us Why you might have decided to exercise your right, what you would do while exercising that right, how you would be treated while exercising the right, and the possible benefits and consequences of remaining silent.

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:


Contributed by- J. Plummer

Grand Theft Auto IRL…
featuring an 8-Year Old?!?


YouTube can teach people a lot of different things: cooking, gaming, music… even lock-picking!  If there’s a skill you would like to pickup, YouTube probably has a video about it!  Just because someone teaches you how to do something on YouTube, that doesn’t mean you should actually do it.

In Ohio, an 8-year-old boy (who is not identified by name due to his age) used YouTube to watch a video for people learning how to drive. After watching the video, he decided he was well prepared and decided to go out and try out his new skills. Unaware that he was doing something wrong, the rookie NASCAR driver invited his sister to tag along with him on a drive to McDonald’s.

Generally it is common knowledge that the legal age to drive is generally 16 years old throughout the United States.  Most people closer to that age know better and know not to get behind a wheel. However according to police, this little boy did not know any better, which led to his having a bit of an adventure in the driver’s seat of a car.

According to the boy’s statement, the parents had not been monitoring the situation, which iw what led to his being able to get ahold of their keys and bringing his little sister along for the joyride.

According to reports, the unnamed child-driver managed to steer the family car to a McDonald’s drive thru in search of a cheeseburger. When he arrived at the window, the employees were overcome with a combination of shock, laughter, and confusion as they saw a little boy driving a car with his little sister in the vehicle as well.

Police questioned the boy and had discovered his research into driving a car and that he did not know he was doing something wrong. Witnesses had even told the officers that the boy had driven  the 1.5 mile route perfectly and obeyed all traffic rules (well, except the fact that he was 8!).

Even though he lacked criminal intent and regardless of the fact that he drove the car well, the child still took his parents car without their knowledge.  As a result, he had placed his little sister and himself in grave danger.

Authorities have begun looking into violations relating to parenting and child protection laws. After all, how could two parents not notice their son take their keys, grab his sister, and then proceed to get in the car and drive away?  Although early reports did not point to child neglect, authorities planned to continue investigating to ensure they children are being raised in a safe


1: Whose fault is it? The boy who took the car? Or the parents who weren’t paying enough attention for him to be able to take it?

2: Had he been an adult without a license, should he have been arrested? Why or why not?

3: Should the boy have gone to juvenile hall and faced real consequences for choosing to break a rule? Why or why not?

4: If you broke a law that you didn’t know existed, should you still be charged normally or given a warning? Why or why not? 

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here::


Contributed by: Joseph Motta

Driverless Cars, Accidents, & You:
Who Gets Sued?!


(Pictured: You see kids, when two self-driving vehicles fall in love they make robot-babies…. and those robot-babies grow up to become our FUTURE ROBOT OVERLORDS. But hey, Tesla cars are cool!)

When someone breaks a law, they generally get in trouble – that’s just the way the world work. Systems of law have been managing the conduct of nations and their citizens as long as civilizations have been in place.  With the technology renaissance of the 21st century, a new form of life has been participating in society, and just like humans some of them have begun to break laws.  We are talking about – of course – robots.

In 2015, a self-driving car created by Google was operating in the area around the company’s headquarters.  The driverless vehicle had been on a road near ‘the company campus’ when it ended up getting pulled over – for going 10 miles an hour below the speed limit!  Basically, it had been violating traffic laws by holding up traffic without a good reason.

News outlets report that the officer after discovering that there was no one driving the car, contacted the operators responsible for programming the vehicle. The article also reports that several cars in the Google self-driving fleet have been in accidents, although none of them have been reported to be the self-driving car’s fault.  The incident comes on the heels of many people questioning the safety of self-driving vehicles.

For many years now, electric car manufacturer Tesla has touted its self-driving initiative and how much safer it is than actually driving.  Tesla’s critics are still skeptical of the company’s self-driving vehicles’ capacity to be safe at all, pointing to a National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) investigation of a 2018 fatal accident that involved a self-driving Tesla.  In that incident, the car’s driver life being lost (instead of steering the car, the ‘driver’ had handed control over to the vehicle’s self-driving computer when the accident took place). The NTSB  report found that the Tesla vehicle had actually acted in a way meant to try the driver, however the vehicle still ended up crashing.   Many skeptics of self-driving vehicles point to that crash in particular as a reason that driverless cars and trucks should not be allowed on the roadways.

Instances like the fatal Tesla crash and the slow self-driving  Google car provide examples of a significant issue that goes beyond just general safety – one that will become more relevant as technology continues to evolve:

So, when a robot or AI commits a crime that puts humans or other lives in danger, who is responsible in a legal sense?

Technology has and will continue to develop at a rate that the law can’t keep up with. If there are robots used to make work easier in a factory for example, who is responsible if a ‘thinking’ machine harms a human worker in a workplace accident –  the programmer, the actual ‘code’ of the machine, the company, or someone (or something) else entirely?  As companies, manufacturers, and even governments are beginning to make the push for automated processes like self-driving vehicles that include the use of Robots, AI, and other ‘driverless’ technologies, we will all begin to be faced with these questions.


1: Who should be held civilly and/or criminally accountable when a robot is involved in  crime?  Explain your choice(s)

2: What laws should be put in place to ensure that the right entities (people / companies / robots) are held accountable for Artificial Intelligence related problems, and how will they help prevent or address those problems?

3: What are some things that a robot could do to break a law? 

4: Should a person who built a robot that commits a crime, be charged to the same level as contributing to the crime or aiding in it? Explain why you think they should or should not.

Be sure to explain the thinking behind your answers, and for more details, you can read the articles this piece was sourced from here: 



Contributed By: Joseph Motta

D’oh! Nuts!
Donut Champion Dunked Into A Jail Cell


Pictured: Artist’s interpretation of suspect being detained at the local jail…or not.

A North Carolina man was arrested for stealing and breaking into a Dunkin’ Donuts. According to police he is being charged with felonies including breaking and entering and larceny (meaning the theft of someone’s property). It wasn’t specified if any donuts were taken during the theft.

In 2014, the same man won a donut eating contest while being wanted on suspicion of multiple break-ins. After competing in the donut event, Bradley Hardison (the suspect) prompted closer watch by investigators which led to him being convicted. Ironically, he won the contest at the police department’s “National Night Out Against Crime” event.

Hardison was held on a $7,000 bond for his latest charges of breaking and entering and larceny.


1)What punishments could Hardison face for the breaking and entering charge in Nevada?

2) What punishments could he face for the larceny charge in Nevada?

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

Pizza For Parking


Pizza is one of the most universally enjoyed dishes and a food most people won’t turn down. An alleged story about the temptation to eat the baked dough topped with delicious proteins, cheeses and veggies ended up costing four officers their jobs.

Jeff Clegg is one of the officers who was fired.  Clegg claimed that employees of a pizza shop would park illegally and place menus visibly in their car window.  When a parking enforcement officer saw the menu, they were not to write a ticket.  If a parking ticket did happen to be issued, it was usually voided.

Clegg’s allegations also say that the officers didn’t write tickets to the employees for over two years because of the deal.  Apparently the parking enforcers would frequent the pizza shop so often that they were on a first name basis with the workers.  Some of the officers would even enter through the back and just grab their own meal!

The officers were in a situation where they could have issued 3 tickets a day to the pizza parlor’s problematic parkers, with each ticket having a fine of $25.  At first, $25 per ticket may not seem like that large of an amount.  Over the course of 2 years however, $75 in parking tickets each day would have amounted to over $19,000 in missed fines!

Following an investigation by a city official who’d heard about Clegg’s allegations about the parking-for-pizza scheme, Clegg and three other officers were fired.  Shortly after that happened, the pizza restaurant’s owner complained directly to the city in person about how upset he was about the officers being fired.  At the same time though, he denied that there was ever a free meal deal happening.

A second investigation was launched by a police agency, but no charges ended up being filed against the pizza parlor’s staff nor the 4 officers that had lost their jobs.



1) Keeping in mind that this deal could have cost the city up to $19,000 in missed fines, if charges had ended up being filed as a result of the investigations, what laws would the enforcement officers have been accused of breaking and what penalties might they face?

2) Keeping in mind that this deal could have cost the city up to $19,000 in missed fines, , what charges could be brought against the pizza restaurant owner, and what penalties might he be dealt?

3) Suppose the allegations were eventually proven to not be true though: Could the officers take action against the city for being fired over false accusations?   If you think they could, explain how you think the officers would benefit from suing the city – what would they get out of it?   If you don’t think they could, explain what makes you think they’re prevented from filing a case against their employers.

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

Contributed by – J. Plummer


Golden Answers & Golden Knights:
Questions About Laws and Fighting!


When two players get into fight in hockey, when two boxers hit each other during a boxing match, and when two UFC fighters engage in combat during a bout, they have all agreed to participate in the fight.  When they are done fighting, no one is arrested.

If two people at a social gathering start to argue and agree to ‘step outside’ to fight each other, the police may be called and each of the combatants may end up facing charges including assault, battery, malicious mischief, breach of peace, challenges to fight, or provoking assault.


1) What laws or policies allow for two people that fight during sporting events to not face criminal charges (even though the fights are witnessed by thousands of people), yet two people who consent to fight each other and engage in violence outside of a sporting event will probably face many different criminal charges for their fight? 

2) What policies exist specifically in Nevada related to the last question about fighting in sports?

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:


Seriously Stupid:
Swatting a School Shooting Survivor


A quick note for the olds: Swatting is when emergency services (like 911) are called by someone who hides their identity and falsely claims an incident that requires an immediate and armed response from law enforcement is taking place at an address.  Swatting is a way to harass – and possibly harm – an intended victim by fraudulently provoking a police raid at their location.

During Spring 2018 in Parkland, Florida, local police responded to a call that claimed Parkland shooting survivor and anti-gun activist David Hogg was being held hostage.  The caller claimed Hogg and his family were being held hostage by someone armed with an AR-15. Police showed up to his house “prepared for a shootout with an armed menace”.  Shortly after arriving at the scene, the responding officers discovered that not only had the caller been lying, but that Hogg was actually out of town at the time.

On social media Hogg downplayed the incident, describing it a poorly-thought-out prank.  Hogg had a reason for playing it cool though – after surviving the slaughter at his school on Valentine’s Day in 2018, he’s been a target for harassment from gun rights activist and conspiracy theorists.  By downplaying the swatting incident and acting like it’s no big deal, Hogg was communicating to swatters that they are wasting their time trying to provoke fear or anguish in him.

Despite how Hogg reacted to the incident publically, swatting is an extremely dangerous act that needs to be taken seriously.  It wastes police resources that might be needed somewhere where a real emergency is taking place, and the so-called prank can even result in death.

In December 2017, a 28 year old was killed by police that were responding to an emergency call.  In a call to 911, a swatter claimed that a man had killed his father and was holding the rest of his family hostage in their home.   When a young man opened the door at the house that was being ‘swatted’, police shot him thinking he was the gunman that had been reported.  He died shortly after that.  Given that the December 2017 swatting death was national news at the time, the person who attempted to swat David Hogg just a few month later knew there was a chance Hogg (or a member of his family) could have been inadvertently shot or injured by police.


1) Though the specific definition changes by jurisdiction, generally speaking ‘attempted murder’ is when someone has intent to carry out a murder or takes a substantial step towards committing a murder.  Considering the circumstances of the attempted swatting of David Hogg, do you believe the swatter – if he or she were ever identified – could be convicted of attempted murder?  Why or why not?  What other charges might a person face if they were identified as being a person behind a swatting call to police?

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here::

Contributed by- J. Plummer

Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you

-Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

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Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you -Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time.

- Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

Project Real
Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time. - Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity.

- Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]
Project Real
My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity. - Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]
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