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December 3, 2008

Starting to make the Second Amendment case for Plaxico Buress

I am very pleased to discover gun rights guru David Kopel starting to make a Heller-based Second Amendment argument for Plaxico Burress in this Wall Street Journal opinion piece.  The piece is titled "Free Plaxico Burress: New York City's gun law is unconstitutional," and here are snippets:

New York Giants star receiver Plaxico Burress is facing a mandatory 3½ years in prison and the end of his football career. His crime? Not having a license, which New York City never would have issued him, for the exercise of his constitutional right to bear arms....

Mr. Burress's behavior was bad. However, Mr. Burress is not facing prosecution for carelessness, but simply for carrying a weapon. This is unjust and perhaps unconstitutional....

The Second Amendment might not require New Jersey or New York City to issue as liberally as Connecticut does. But with a population of several million and only a few thousand (consisting mainly of politicians, retired police and celebrities) able to get permits, New York City's licensing process is almost certainly unconstitutional on a number of grounds, including sheer arbitrariness.

Some commentators contend that Plaxico Burress should have hired bodyguards, instead of carrying a gun himself. Mr. Burress might now agree. But people who aren't as wealthy as he is also deserve to be safe, and they don't have the money for bodyguards. New York City needs to regularize its carry permit system so that law-abiding people can protect themselves, especially if their circumstances (such as being a witness to a gang crime) place them at heightened risk.

The Burress case also shows why mandatory sentences are a bad idea. He was careless but had no malign intent. Legislators and mayors like to appear tough by pushing through such draconian laws. Yet the victims are people like Mr. Burress whose conduct may have been improper, but who do not deserve the same sentences meted out to robbers and burglars.

Related posts on the Plaxico Burress case:

December 3, 2008 at 09:58 PM | Permalink


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"New York City needs to regularize its carry permit system so that law-abiding people can protect themselves...."

Regularize? Cute word. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a law-abiding person does not break the law. Slight contradiction here with that argument. While there should be no charges or punishment, a stiff administrative fine would do, the argument that a person breaking the law by carrying a firearm should be able to carry a firearm because he is law-abiding needs some more thought.

As the saying goes, if guns were outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. The NRA never cared about the mountains of felonies accumulated in statute books over the last 20-30 years and now it might be too late.

Posted by: George | Dec 3, 2008 11:35:28 PM

We need to inject some humor here. The Wall Street Journal did the country a good service with this article on the football player. The related article on the smug Mayor also deserves scrutiny.

The NFL football player is a bit different from the run of the mill criminal defendant in a gun case. The cases we see are usually: felon in possession, solid citizen carrying without a license or solid citizen carrying concealed. These have morphed into: misdemeanant in possession and domestic violence civil case respondent in possession. Heller was solid citizen having a gun in his own home.

The football player who accidentally shot himself (or had a bad aim) is a bit different from the mere solid citizen possessor of a firearm.

It is useful to explore the contrasts between the football player who accidentally shoots himself while out in a public bar enjoying the wildlife with his drinking buddies in the wilds of NYC versus the high ranking Republican office holder first name Dick, who accidentally shoots his drinking buddy while out lawfully killing innocent wildlife for "sport" in the wilds of Texas.

The Mayor of NYC (a Republican) wants to give the football player 3 and a half years in prison! The Mayor was mute when his pal Dick shot the drinking buddy down in Texas.

It would be fair to eliminate any "gun permits" in NYC. That includes the permits held by the Mayor's body guards. Let the citizens pay for cops to guard the Mayor. Other celebs will have to walk around without any guns or knives-- either on their person or on the person of a permit holding body guard at their side. Make things fair. We should all be "fair game" in NYC.

I for one would take my chances on the mean streets of NYC over the wilds of Texas in the vicinity of an armed high ranking Republican politician with first name Dick.

Posted by: mpb | Dec 4, 2008 5:15:36 AM

First, Mr. Burress let his pistol permit lapse in Florida, so he does know about permits. Seemingly, he didn't think it necessary to apply for one in New York or New Jersey. Second, do you think law abiding people walk around with their gun in their waist band, with the safety off? Third, he knew there were metal detectors in the club to prevent guns from coming into that business. Apparently, Mr. Burress used his fame to avoid going through the magnatometers.
The fact that the gun went off gives us a world of information about Mr. Burress and his intentions. He is not some working guy delivering a load of jewelry to a legitimate business with a gun in a holster for his protection.

Keep your Heller-vision for Ohio.

Posted by: Peter Carter | Dec 4, 2008 11:11:10 AM

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