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Facebook Posts New Rules for Gun Sales

Facebook is cracking down on posts for illegal gun sales, and other social media outlets may soon follow suit. On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it would step up its enforcement efforts regarding gun sales on its social network -- especially when the seller is trying to evade the law. What are Facebook's new rules for gun sales? Stopping 'No Background Check' Gun Sales Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, laid out several "educational and enforcement efforts" that Facebook and Instagram would be implementing as part of a shift in policy. Among those efforts is a prohibition against posting offers to sell firearms with "no background check required." Although there are some loopholes that allow private sales of guns without a background check, Bickert stated that Facebook will encourage users to follow the law. Since there are no laws requiring background checks in these "loophole" private gun sales in most states -- more than 30 states to be exact, according to Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence -- Facebook may be requiring more of sellers than their states' laws might. Facebook will also be cracking down on offers that support gun sales across state lines. These federal regulations on interstate gun transfers won out over challenges in federal court in February, and Facebook seems happy to side with them. Not Just Guns, 'Regulated' Items Covered Too Although Facebook's new rules are aimed at curtailing questionable gun sales, the new rules technically cover private sales of any "regulated items." Surprisingly, some drug dealers have taken to social media to sell their illegal wares, and Facebook and Instagram have been popular venues. Despite the sale of pot being illegal (outside of a state-licensed retail center or medical marijuana distributor) in every state in the nation, Facebook's ad policy doesn't allow advertising for any "recreational" or illegal drugs. While that may sound provincial to some, Facebook is a private company and can determine what types of content it chooses to host. When Facebook tackled hate speech last spring, it faced claims of First Amendment and free speech violations, and no doubt gun advocates will not be far behind. Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, said he was not deterred by Facebook's new rules. Cox noted the NRA and its members "will continue to have a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of their Second Amendment freedoms," reports Reuters. Related Resources: Facebook to delete posts for illegal gun sales (The Associated Press) NY Passes 1st New Gun Laws Since Sandy Hook (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Is It Legal to Mail Marijuana? (FindLaw's Blotter) Legal to Buy Prescription Drugs Online? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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5 Common Legal Problems With Subleasing

Subleasing might be a good option if you need to move before your lease is up, but a few legal problems can potentially arise. Subleasing, or subletting, allows the current tenant to lease the property to another person, rather than having the subtenant lease directly with the landlord. But as the original tenant, you need to be careful. Here are five legal problems that commonly occur in subleasing situations: Subletting may be illegal where you live. Before you think about subletting, you may want to check to see if it's even legal to sublet in your city or state. Some states don't allow subleases under certain conditions. For example, it's illegal in New York to rent out a single-family home, apartment, or room for less than 30 days if you aren't living there. Your lease may not allow it. Besides complying with the law, another legal problem when subleasing is whether your rental agreement allows it. Some rental agreements include a clause that limits the renter's ability to sublet or allow guests to stay for an extended period of time without the landlord's approval. So review your agreement or talk to your landlord before you sublet, otherwise you could be breaching your lease. The subtenant doesn't pay rent. Even though the subtenant is responsible for paying rent and complying with lease terms, the original tenant still ultimately responsible for the terms of the lease. So if the subtenant doesn't pay the rent, the landlord could sue you for payment. The subtenant destroys property. Just as the original tenant is still responsible for the rent if the subtenant doesn't pay, the original tenant will likely be held liabile if the subtenant damages the rental property and doesn't fix it. Security deposit issues. You may want to ask the subtenant to pay a security deposit for the property in case they don't show up or if they damage the property. Having a bad subtenant could cause you to lose your own security deposit with the landlord, so the security deposit from the subtenant could help ensure you get your deposit back from the landlord at the end of the lease. Need more legal help with subleasing your place? Consult an experienced landlord-tenant attorney for a better understanding of your legal rights. Related Resources: Legal How-To: Subletting Your Apartment (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Top 5 Airbnb Home-Rental Horror Stories (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Co-Signing a Lease? 5 Legal Considerations (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Find all of your Landlord/Tenant needs at LegalStreet (LegalStreet.com)(Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)
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How Do Cell Phone AMBER Alerts Work?

Cell phone AMBER alerts are becoming more common, but they're still catching many mobile users off guard. How exactly do they work? Sending AMBER alerts to cell phones in a particular area is relatively new, but the system has been in place for more than a year now. Just this week, smartphone users in parts of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma received such an alert, many for the first time, Wichita's KAKE-TV reports. Here is a brief overview of the laws and programs which undergird cell phone AMBER alerts: Wireless Emergency Alerts The AMBER alert system is regulated by the federal government -- specifically the Department of Justice -- to disseminate information about abducted children. These alerts appear on electronic highway signs, in radio and television announcements, and as many cell phone users are now aware, on mobile phones as well. Sending AMBER Alerts to mobile phones is made possible by the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) program. This program allows public warnings to be sent to WEA-enabled phones across the country and is also utilized by agencies like FEMA to warn of dangerous weather or national emergencies. According to the DOJ, beginning in January 2013, all AMBER alerts are sent automatically through the WEA system to WEA-ready mobile phones. However, this service does not cover all wireless users. According to the Federal Communications Commission, participation in the WEA program is voluntary for wireless carriers, and it is possible that your carrier or even your cell phone may not support receiving WEAs -- including AMBER alerts. Those who are able to receive these alerts can receive government-approved alerts sent directly to their mobile devices. Cell phone AMBER alerts appear just like text messages, but they do not impact a mobile user's text message plan and are entirely free. Can You Turn AMBER Alerts Off? AMBER alerts and some weather-related alerts may be turned off on many cell phones. Each phone may be slightly different in its settings, but only a few taps are necessary to disable AMBER alerts on iPhones and Android devices. Although AMBER alerts can be disabled, not all WEAs can. Under the WARN Act passed in 2006, the FCC does not allow mobile users to disable messages issued by the President of the United States. While these messages may be jarring or unexpected, take a moment to consider leaving them on. Californians received their first real test of the cell phone AMBER alert in August, and it eventually led to an abducted 16-year-old girl's rescue. These AMBER alerts may be annoying, but for a culture that perpetually endures online ads and spam on our cell phones, it's a small irritation for a powerful tool. Related Resources: Amber Alert message caught many off guard (Wichita, Kansas' KSN-TV) AMBER Alerts Now Showing Up on Google Maps (FindLaw's Blotter) Kidnapper Thwarted by Amber Alert, Driver (FindLaw's Blotter) AMBER Alerts (FindLaw)
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Va. Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down by Fed. Judge

Virginia's ban on gay marriage was struck down by a federal judge late Thursday night. But the judge placed her own ruling on hold pending an appeal. U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that the commonwealth's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violated the 14th Amendment's rights to equal protection and due process, Reuters reports. As another state marriage ban falls to a federal court ruling, how does this new case add to the background of gay marriage law? Virginia Is for All Lovers, State Atty. Gen. Says Judge Allen's ruling is being hailed as a triumph for gay marriage supporters. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who made waves in late January by refusing to defend the gay marriage ban in court and filing an opposition brief against the law's enforcement, called Thursday's decision "the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians." While attorneys general are charged with defending the laws of their state and nation, they also owe a duty to the U.S. Constitution, which Judge Allen ruled was violated by Virginia's gay marriage ban. As you may recall, Virginia was also home to one of the most important cases regarding the fundamental right to marry -- Loving v. Virginia. Decided in 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court, Loving struck down laws which prevented people of different races from marrying. State Legislatures v. Court Decisions Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to be legally married. Many of those states began with voter-approved marriage bans like Virginia's that were struck down by a federal or state court. California, for example, had its state Supreme Court rule that gay marriage was legal in 2008, only to have voters amend the California Constitution by initiative months later. That initiative was eventually invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. Still other states have affirmed gay marriage by passing new marriage laws in their state legislatures. New York approved gay marriage in 2011 with its Marriage Equality Act; Washington state passed its gay marriage bill by popular vote in 2012, and now one in six marriages there are same-sex. Virginia's gay marriage ban has been stayed until the case can be heard by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Virginia now joins Oklahoma and Utah in waiting on a federal appeal to decide its marriage law's fate. Related Resources: Federal judge declares Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional (The Associated Press) Utah's Gay Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional: Federal Judge (FindLaw's Decided) Fed. Govt. to Recognize Utah Gay Marriages (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Okla. Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down; Decision Stayed (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Get a Different Name Day: Why and How to Do It

It's Get a Different Name Day! As Juliet famously proclaimed to Romeo, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But what if you feel otherwise and believe names carry special significance? You certainly wouldn't be alone. People change their names for a variety of reasons. And the legal process for doing so may be easier than you think. Here are a few reasons why people change their names and how you can change yours: Why People Change Their Names People change their names for a wide variety of reasons, including: Marriage and divorce. It's common for one spouse to adopt the other spouse's name after marriage. On the flipside, when things go south, ex-spouses change their names back after divorce. It's also not unheard of for custodial parents to change their kids' last names after a divorce, particularly after a contentious one. Personal preference. If your parents bestowed upon you a name that's a little too special for your liking -- like, ahem, North West -- you can change it. But you generally must wait until you're 18 or get emancipated. Publicity. Folks with a flair for eccentricity might change their names as a publicity stunt. For example, cannabis connoisseur Ed Forchion tried to change his name to "NJWeedman.com." Unfortunately for Forchion, your name change may not pan out if it risks creating unnecessary confusion or condoning illegal activity. Notoriety. Some people with notorious last names, including members of the Sandusky and Madoff clans, have sought to change their names to get a fresh start and to distance themselves from negative associations. Personal or political reasons. Sometimes a name change can carry personal, professional, or political significance. For example, San Francisco 49ers' safety Donte Whitner plans to change his name to "Hitner" for his fans (but it's been delayed until he can be present in court, ESPN reports). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio changed his name twice to honor his mother's side of the family. How People Change Their Names The most important thing to do to legally change your name is to just start using your new name. Use it on forms and with friends, family, employers, and schools. Though most states don't require court proceedings to make name changes official, it can be helpful. Common forms include a petition to legally change your name, an order to show cause for the legal change, and a final decree. Not all name changes will be approved, however. For example, you can't change your name to hide from creditors or police, and you can't take another person's name to create confusion. Courts also won't approve name changes deemed obscene or offensive. Since every state varies on their name change rules, you may want to consult an experienced family law attorney on your state's requirements. Related Resources: Changing Your Name (FindLaw) What's In a Name? How to Legally Change Your Name (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Fla. Man Takes Wife's Last Name, Accused of Driver's License Fraud (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Baby's Name Can't Be 'Messiah,' Tenn. Judge Rules (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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