Stop the injustice of draconian gun control laws
The following column was first written and posted in 2008 near the time of Burress’s victimization by the out of control gun control fiefdom of New York City and its band of mobsters led by Michael Bloomberg. The sad irony is that instead of coming out of his ordeal and standing up for his natural and Constitutional rights of self-protection, and ours, Plaxico has become an apologist for the Prosecutocracy that violated them… and which effectively ended his athletic career. What do they call the syndrome when a terrorist’s victim comes to love the terrorist?
Gun prohibition laws are like drug (or alcohol) prohibition laws: first, they’re massively unjust violations of the Sacred Nonaggression Principle, and second, they don’t work. Today, I’m taking a breather from discussing multiple libertarian and antiwar anxieties pertaining to the Obamanon, and instead commenting on the misfortunes of one talented wide receiver who plays for the NFL Champion New York Giants football team: a troubled and apparently not very well worked-out gentleman named Plaxico Burress.
Or he did have a job with the New York Giants. His imminent future is in doubt as he made the mistake of carrying an unlicensed pistol in the Big Apple in defiance of the mandatory minimum 3 1/2 year prison sentence for conviction of same. From the Wikipedia document on Plaxico:
On November 28, 2008 Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg while in a nightclub. He turned himself into police the following day and was charged with criminal possession of a handgun. Burress is scheduled to return to court on March 31, 2009, to enter a plea to the charges. Burress was subsequently suspended without pay from the New York Giants. He is currently free on $100,000 bail.
My initial take
Actually, I’ve been aware of serious draconian and punitive gun possession restrictions in New York City, Washington D.C., and elsewhere. But I had no idea the punishments were so extraordinary to carry 3.5-year mandatory minimum sentences in NY. As residents of the Free State, gun freedom is as natural for us as breathing, and we all know that the citizens’ legal ability and inclination to carry pistols makes crime—which is to say real crime (that violates real people’s life, liberty, or property)—consequently, is pretty much a nonissue in New Hampshire. Here was my first message to my VIP list:
… To hear the little tyrant of New York (Bloomberg is it?) pontificate, the law enforcement prosecutocracy of that city is licking its chops to be able to throw a celebrity like Plaxico into the slammer in the prime of his troubled career… to teach everyone else out there a lesson, presumably that if you disobey your little G-man dictators there will be hell to pay.
The Constitution be damned! In fact, no one seems to bring the Constitution up anymore… for anything. I’ll have a column on the Plaxico business by next Monday; I believe it represents some real opportunity for promoting the freedom movement.
(All right, so I was a little bit emotional; I need to watch my blood pressure.) This is that column. Instead of doing this all from my head, let me convey what my thoughts are in an e-conversation that transpired after the above. One of my VIP readers, James, a good friend of my nephew and a conscientious, thoughtful political person, came back with:
I’m sorry, did i misunderstand you? Are you saying that it is somehow unconstitutional to put a man in prison for breaking the law of carrying an unlicensed gun in public in NY?
Which surprised me a bit because I had thought James was with me, being a thoroughgoing liberal—in the sense of wanting the widest distribution of human rights—on the gun issue. But I didn’t really want to make a 2d Amendment deal out of the incident because my focus was more on the excessive punitiveness of the city edict:
Well, I’m not going to get into the Second Amendment argument, but basically, yes, the (I believe it’s been ‘federalized’) right to keep and bear arms is certainly being abridged here. I can see some role for municipal ordinances restricting possession, but nothing of a felony nature is consistent with the Bill of Rights. Also, the Eighth Amendment applies:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Three and a half years for a crime where there is no victim/no aggression is outrageous. Which of course is a Bill of Rights argument against all consensual crimes, right?
Certainly a prima facie case can be made that felonization and prison sentences—not to mention excessive sentences—for victimless crimes constitute a cruel punishment, leaving aside for the moment whether punishing people for acts that are noncoercive and consensual is unusual. Such punishment is certainly usual in the sense of commonplace. But James didn’t think that what Plaxico did on the day after Thanksgiving was not aggression:
Not only did he carry a gun into a public place, it was an illegal gun. Why does someone do that unless they are truly up to no good? Really, what is going though his mind, doing something like that. 3.5 years? That’s nothing for a gun toting thug. And besides, it might be a wake up call for others who think it’s cool to carry guns around. I mean, seriously, what is the Constitution going to do for me surrounded by thugs with illegal guns, form a force field around me to protect me? Carrying a gun like that is aggressive, it’s an act of aggression, why else carry it? For protection? From whom? Other gun toting thugs?
From this response, it was clear James has strong feelings about carrying guns in public, at least unlicensed guns, and he feels Burress is a “gun toting thug” whose possession of a firearm in contradiction of the applicable New York City fiats is “an act of aggression.” Which leads to the most general point I would like to see taken home from my column: the tremendous importance of understanding the nature of aggression… the better to move society forward by banning it. My latest comeback to James summarizes my judgment on the PB case:
You seem to have deep feelings about this, and I respect your feelings. But I don’t share your inclination to deny sports figures their right to self defense or their freedom from being prosecuted for an action that harms or aggresses upon no one. (Respectfully, if you feel Burress is violating the nonaggression principle, then I don’t think you are using the proper definition of aggression.)
These guys are targets: As the sports writer for the Free Press points out today (12/06/08):
It has been a year since home invaders murdered Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in his Miami bedroom. Since then, Jacksonville offensive lineman Richard Collier lost a leg and remains paralyzed after being shot 14 times in what police classified as a retaliatory incident. Oakland receiver Javon Walker was beaten senseless in a robbery while walking the Las Vegas streets. And last month, New York Giants receiver Steve Smith was robbed at gunpoint, allegedly by the limousine driver he paid to safely drive him home to his insulated suburban community.
Noted athletes are no different than the publicly anonymous. They enjoy every right of self-defense…
The writer, Drew Sharp, then goes on—in my opinion mistakenly—to argue for gun possession laws and presumably the draconian punitive (yes, IMHO, unconstitutional) one New York City threatens Burress with. But I think it’s unwarranted to call Burress a thug for arguably an unwise act. I agree with the author, John Lott, who argues that more guns mean less crime… and that restrictive gun laws means more (real) crime. I think if you check into the actual statistics, liberal—widely distributive of freedom—gun control laws are a barrier to both criminals and to state tyranny. (Dictators always confiscate private weapons in order to come to full power.)
On a practical level—and I see this in the Free State where probably half the men and perhaps 20% of the women in the freedom community pack unconcealed heat in public (esp. .45 automatics)—I’ve become quite comfortable with it. It was sort of jarring initially, but it really makes sense to me now, and gives me a substantially improved feeling of security. For one thing, anyone who tries a massacre at a libertarian event in New Hampshire will be gunned down pretty quick. Here’s what I write in New Pilgrim Chronicles:
“I’m convinced part of the reason [for a sense of security from crime] is every adult citizen has the right to carry a pistol openly in public places, not to mention keeping one in his home. As they say, ‘An armed society is a polite society.’ Even the major newspaper here, the Union Leader, has editorialized in favor of open carry and against cops who remain ignorant of the law.”
Anyway, it may not be intuitively obvious, but liberal—widely distributive of freedom—gun laws that enable American citizens to arm themselves with appropriate firearms in public consistent with the Constitution are an essential quality of a free, civilized country. I believe if you saw what it’s like in the Free State, you would feel the same way. As I also point out in NPC this quote from L. Neil Smith:
“Armed people are free. No state can control those who have the machinery and the will to resist, no mob can take their liberty and property. And no 220-pound thug can threaten the well-being or the dignity of a 110-pound woman who has two pounds of iron to even things out.
“…civilized people go armed to say, ‘I am self-sufficient. I’ll never burden others. They’re also saying, ‘If you need my help, here I am, ready…!’”
— L. Neil Smith, The Probability Broach
Then I ended that message with a reference to my own situation— because of my conviction for a victimless crime of another nature I have restrictions on my own 2d-Amendment rights—stating that I have decided based on prudence to obey these restrictions… until they are removed by civil action. Prudence would have produced a better outcome for Burress, too. I mean really, if you’re going to a club where you think you might need protection, why would you want to go there? And if you’re a multimillion dollar athlete, wouldn’t it make more sense to pay for an armed, licensed security detail than to defy the tyrants of NYC. Duh!
Opportunity for “fully informed jury” acquittal
So probably Burress is a bonehead for hitting the clubs with an illegal gun or hitting the clubs at all, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be deprived of his liberty or his livelihood by an egregious act of state aggression. And frankly it disturbs me that not a single voice has been raised in the mainstream media mind-control industry (M3I) in favor of Burress’s Constitutionally recognized rights… or against the petty incipient third-world tyranny of New York officialdom.
Should Plaxico have to go to trial and the evidence shows he possessed an illegal gun, the jury should refuse to convict based on not being willing to enforce bad law. As a matter of Constitutional law and the writings of the founders, juries have always had the right to acquit if they feel a law is unjust. Now would be a good time to create a groundswell, a mass movement to cease to convict—not just celebrities like Plaxico—but every single defendant in a drug case, in a tax case, in any case where the alleged crime has no victim of coercion or aggression. Call it an incentive program to end the parasitical prosecutocracy and prison planet.
Enlightened citizens and political leaders realize the practical solution to crime and gun violence is a thoroughgoing implementation of the Sacred Nonaggression Principle. Simply legalizing and regulating drugs would cut violent crime in half, and decisively, immediately end all the collateral damage—the gangs, the drive-by shootings, the drug pushers and their organized crime connections (many of which connections are in government btw), and this whole ostentatious-loser celebrity-gang-jive subculture—overnight. A mighty small step in the right direction. Obviously implementing more government aggression regarding the firearms prosecutocracy and prison planet is the wrong direction.
People are smart, and they will figure these things out.
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