August 20, 2009

The Punishment Should Fit The Crime

Now, I think there's no problem with a law that requires you to register your guns. And Plaxico Burress owned a gun that he had not registered. And it went off when he carried it into a club in New York City, discharging into his own foot. So he pretty clearly violated the gun registration law. I think that deserves punishment. And sports fans and gun owners all over the country couldn't understand how someone could possibly carry a weapon so incompetently that he literally shot his own foot. "Shooting yourself in the foot" is a turn of phrase for everyone but Plaxico Burress, who instead turned it into a way to get the attention of the bouncer at a New York nightclub.

What the hell was he thinking, trying to get a gun into a nightclub in the first place? Don't clubs in New York have metal detectors?

But the punishment for violating a gun registreation law, absent proof of some other crime being concurrently committed involving the illegal firearm, should be a fine. I had mistakenly thought Burress had a prior conviction but upon looking into it, it seems his criminal record was clean. (Sad that I simply presumed that an NFL player would have had a prior conviction on his record, isn't it?) Other than failing to register his weapon, then, Burress was not committing any crime.

And literally shooting yourself in the foot is undoubtedly quite painful; that pain seems sufficient punishment for stupidity and/or carelessness while handling a firearm. Not to mention that Burress, as a wide receiver in the NFL, needs to have healthy feet in order to make his living and earn his prodigious salary. Had he been fined on top of being hurt, endangering his career, and being publicly humiliated, I would have said that was sufficient. Two years in prison is a bit much in terms of sentencing for this particular crime, no matter what his attitude about the whole thing was.

The punishment should fit the crime. This punishment seems aimed more at making an example out of Burress precisely because he's a big-name celebrity, which I think is a bad reason to deprive someone of more liberty than would have been done to Joe Schmoe in the same situation.Stumble Upon Toolbar

1 comment:

His Lordship said...

Simple possession shouldn't be a crime, because it doesn't hurt anyone. If however it 'has' to be registered because of local attitude/philosophy towards firearm ownership, I agree with you, the maximum penalty should be a fine, not prison.

But personally, and I may be wrong, but I think registration is not going to help solve crimes, because no one in their right mind would use a registered weapon to commit a crime. Isn't it a lot simpler for the police to assume that anybody is potentially armed?