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September 18, 2008

Proof of aphorism "no good deed goes unpunished"?

Here is another notable example of how gun laws prohibiting felons from possessing guns can lead to strange developments in the federal criminal justice system.  This local story, headined "Felon aided woman but kept gun and gets jail: Man not faulted for stopping suicide, but keeping weapon," starts and ends this way:

A man who stopped a woman from harming herself with a handgun was sentenced to 12 months in prison this week by a federal judge.  Bryant K. Ervin ended up with prison time not because he stopped a potential suicide, but because he was a convicted felon and was barred from possessing a firearm.

In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Weede said the government was seeking jail time because Ervin kept the weapon for more than a week afterward, not because of the way he came to possess the silver handgun.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for a prison term between two and three years. Weede recommended a sentence of 15 months, or about half the guideline range, because of the circumstances.  Ervin's defense attorney, Kier Bradford-Grey, asked District Judge Sue L. Robinson to give him a sentence of time served, or about seven months....

U.S. Attorney Colm F. Connolly said the message from this case is, "Felons and guns don't mix and we have a zero tolerance level for convicted felons possessing weapons." However, he said if his office encountered "an extreme case where a felon did take possession of a gun to save the life of another individual, and that person called police immediately [to turn in the gun,] we wouldn't prosecute that person."  In this case, Connolly noted, the defendant kept the gun for more than a week by his own admission. "And that is a crime."

September 18, 2008 at 07:55 AM | Permalink


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There was some additional information in the newspaper story, including the fact that the gun was "disassembled" and the Defendant's prior was about 9 years ago when he was seventeen. What really popped out in the article was this: "While Ervin has had no more criminal convictions since his 1999 arrest, Robinson noted he has not had regular employment and has shown a lack of responsibility with the many children he has fathered by several women.
She made parenting classes a part of his sentence adding, "This is your opportunity to grow up."
Why he still had to go to jail to take parenting classes is beyond me and how a year in jail will make him more responsible for his kids is also unclear. But more to the point, the person who he prevented from committing suicide is the mother of at least one of his kids. I'd say that was acting responsibly and will help that child far more than some parenting class he takes after he is released from jail. The judge was a Bush I appointee.

Posted by: D | Sep 18, 2008 9:01:27 AM

There is no room for "zero tolerance" in a civilized country. Brains are in place to be used! This is like kicking a kindergartener out of school for kissing a girl (sex offense) or for bringing a squirt gun shaped like a bunny to school (gun offense).

There are not enough details to say if the charge or sentence was fair. Did this felon have a conviction for a non-violent crime, or a gun related crime or crime of extreme violence?

Did this felon know about guns or was he naive?

Dis this felon have an IQ above a bug?

Why did he keep the gun and did he turn it in or was it found in his possession?

Putting everyone in the same pidgeon hole is plain stupid and un-American.

Posted by: Dr. Linda Shelton | Sep 18, 2008 9:06:31 AM

The judge was a Bush I appointee.

Is anyone really surprised here? Just like Bush, this man was given a brain but refuses to use it.

Posted by: babalu | Sep 18, 2008 10:14:54 AM

This is a great example of how being legally correct makes no honest sense whatsoever. Certainly, both the prosecutor and the judge were withing their legal right to do this. But it was stupid. So, he kept it for a week. If I had saved someone for death I might be so shook-up I'd have saved it for a whole month. Undoubtedly that would have left me in prison for the rest of my life.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 18, 2008 12:22:26 PM

Just another example of the american citizens paying for someone who should not be in jail. What a bunch of crap!

Posted by: BS | Sep 18, 2008 8:14:39 PM

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