Legal System

The Legal System Channel features information related to how society deals with crime, criminals and law enforcement. Learn more about how governments operate their legal systems.

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The Brady bill of 1993 established mandatory background checks for firearms purchases. But that only applies to Federal Firearms Licensees, not to private sellers. What's involved in a background check – and would expanding them lessen gun crime?

By Julia Layton

You've heard the stat reported by the Mother Jones team: Since 1982, there have been 62 mass shootings in America, crimes like the one that James Holmes is accused of. Only one of those shootings was carried out by a woman. Why?

By Kate Kershner

Most people sentenced to death in the U.S. get at least one stay of execution. In one case, the stay came a minute too late because of a misdialed phone number. Here are 10 of the most unusual cases.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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It's not always easy to convince a jury that someone didn't know right from wrong. Here are 10 of the world's most notable insanity defenses.

By Maria Trimarchi

It's a pretty straightforward question with an obvious answer, right? Well, yes, until you start peering at both federal and state laws. That's when things start to get interesting.

By Nicholas Gerbis

Numerous high-profile mass killings across the U.S. have made the debate over gun control even more heated. With so many studies and arguments out there, we inject some impartial facts in the gun control debate.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Copycat crimes aren't a 21st-century phenomena. Some of the first ones were documented during the late 19th century, when cases like Jack the Ripper held the world's attention. What's new is the inordinate media attention. Does it change the game?

By John Perritano

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Ask a card-carrying member of the NRA and you'll get one answer. Ask a member of Everytown for Gun Safety and you'll get another. We look at the research that underlies this controversial topic.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Nicholas Gerbis

The terror network responsible for 9/11 has been around for decades, but it underwent a rapid transition after the death of its original leader, Osama bin Laden. What does the third act look like for al-Qaida?

By Kate Kershner

In Nov. 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington state voted to legalize marijuana, even though use of the drug is illegal under federal law. How will this be resolved and what's happened in previous cases with these kinds of contradictions?

By Becky Striepe

Dive into the darkest corners of the world’s aging legislation and you’ll find statutes that will puzzle even the most lawful citizen. Case in point: prohibiting pretzels with beer.

By Chris Opfer

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Sometimes the things that fascinate us most are dangerous. Attractive nuisances draw the attention of children and often cause injuries or even death. What everyday neighborhood features are likely to harm kids?

By Beth Brindle

Riots may garner attention for people who feel frustrated and oppressed, but are they really effective? Here, we'll examine how riots work.

By Molly Edmonds

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had a profound effect on the United States -- and the world. Trace the progression of events in this timeline.

By Nathan Chandler

Drugs are serious business, especially in Mexico. In fact, Mexican cartels have gone to great lengths to protect their turf, building Mad Max-style armored vehicles. What's the deal with these so-called narco tanks?

By Lance Looper

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The confusion and terror following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center left many searching for answers. Some conspiracy theorists point to conflicting reports and murky political agendas in their alternative versions of the event.

By Jane McGrath

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, left America and much of the world wondering who could have been responsible for the devastating attacks. Who exactly hijacked and flew the planes, and how did they get involved with the plot?

By Jane McGrath

If Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the United States, why is so much money still being made to sell others into bondage? Here, we'll examine how human trafficking works.

By Molly Edmonds

Police sketches may be a routine part of law enforcement investigations, but they've been key to solving some extraordinary cases. How do forensic artists create these renderings, and how reliable are they, really? Find out in How Police Sketches Work.

By Cristen Conger

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Say you're a government agency or a company of some sort and you want to negotiate the terms of a working relationship with another group or agency. However, you're not too enthused by the idea of lawyers, contracts and legalese. That's where Memoranda of Understanding come in. What are these MOUs, exactly, and who uses them?

By Nathan Chandler

In the starkest terms, abuse and addiction cost money. It's expensive to treat and rehabilitate addicts, and it's costly to help the children affected. So, why have efforts to sterilize addicts come under fire?

By Josh Clark

Eyewitness testimony can play a big part in a criminal trial. The problem is that eyewitness accounts aren't always accurate. What makes them so faulty?

By Charles W. Bryant

In murder-mystery TV shows, detectives look for clues to find the killer. Part of that involves getting into the murderer's mind-set. What factors make it easier for one person to take the life of another?

By Jonathan Strickland

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The word "justice" appears in many of the United States' most important documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But for a word that's used so often, its precise definition is still a topic of debate.

By Molly Edmonds

Terrorists work very hard to remain undetected. After all, if we knew where they were, we could stop them from attacking. But they usually work in small groups, or even alone. How do law enforcement officials track them down?

By Jonathan Strickland