Friday, January 6, 2012

- I Am Meredith Graves Too

Kevin D. Williamson relates one of his many "concealed carry" stories from his days as a Newspaper Editor in Philadelphia, and at the risk of setting off an "I am Spartacus" sort of movement, declares that he too is Meredith Graves.

Kevin is now a resident of New York City, as I was for a decade and a half, and as are many people who would otherwise be gun owners. We are no less responsible for having lived there. We are no less capable of safe handling of a firearm. And yet, New York City writes it's gun laws to accommodate a Napoleonic little butt-insky of a mayor who famously feels capable of directing the diet of his constituency, instead of his otherwise responsible and very much law abiding constituents.

There is an echo in Kevin's piece of the recent VDH article I mentioned where Prof. Hanson explained that the police in California's San Joaquin valley have stopped arresting felons because it costs the system too much, and instead spend their time handing out traffic tickets to law abiding citizens because it still generates income for the state. This NYC gun law too is a law that is selectively enforced, and only those people with something to lose are forced to comply with it.

New York city's gun laws aren't used to give mandatory 3.5 year sentences to every felon arrested with a gun, but they are used to constrain the behavior of law abiding citizens like Kevin and I, and to throw the less cautious of us like Meredith Graves in jail. The simple fact is, law abiding citizens would be in no greater danger if Kevin Williamson were allowed to carry a firearm. They would be in no greater danger if I were allowed to. (On the contrary - the data indicates they would probably be safer) And they were in no greater danger because Meredith Graves did.

I don't mean to cast a disparaging eye toward policemen, almost all of whom are in my experience pro-gun. But in some respects I think this may be a question of courage.

Democrats are famous for being cowards, and Democrat politicians, especially so. A white, middle class, southern woman like Meredith Graves looks like a soft target to someone like Bloomberg. There is no ACLU or southern poverty law center to defend her. There is no "La Raza" or racial grievance industry to back her up and help with her defense. She's a woman alone - forced to bear her own costs in her fight against the bureaucratic behemoth. So she's a good target for enforcement of an unjust law.

To a politician like Bloomberg, she represent a small political risk. Policemen are not politicians, but they do work for politicians. Put them in a circumstance where 'some people' are OK to arrest and others are less so, and they do figure out the lay of the land pretty quickly. I still hear stories about people who were to be 'left alone' during the Dinkins administration.

The prosecutors that the police work with are usually managing their own political careers, so they want victory not justice. And since success is the drum that law enforcement marches to, the most stringent enforcement of the law will naturally gravitate to the easiest marks - those that best serve the political interest of those controlling the state. Where NYC gun laws are concerned, those are middle class law abiding citizens.

All this says nothing to the fact that New York City's gun laws are in place contrary to all the latest data on gun safety. Let someone like Kevin Williamson (or in all humility me) carry a gun, and you make New Yorkers safer not put them at greater risk. But Bloomberg, and all the judges in New Jersey don't care about that. Safety isn't really the issue. the issue for them, it seems to me, is to keep the relationship of the people and the government one where the government retains all control.

It's been suggested, by both readers of this blog and elsewhere, that Ms. Graves circumstance was a setup, designed to put public pressure on Congress to approve the federal concealed carry reciprocity act. I'm unpersuaded. Ms. Graves isn't acting like someone interested in making a public stand and neither is her attorney. She's acting like someone who now knows she acted foolishly, but doesn't deserve the treatment she's getting from Mike Bloomberg's law enforcement bureaucracy. I think she's far more victim than criminal, and represents a perfectly honest place for an "I am Spartacus" movement to begin.

These laws should be changed both in NY and NJ. They don't accomplish the goal they set out to, and they are being arbitrarily enforced against people who represent no danger to the general public. That's the very definition of injustice. And that's been made abundantly clear by both the academic data and the steady news flow of stories of people being unjustly treated. How many law abiding Americans have to go to jail before Mike Bloomberg and his anti-gun political allow the law to be changed?


ikaika said...

I went to Africa in 2001 on a hunting trip.

this was months pror to 9/11.
We flew out of Kennedy.

When you go on a trip of a lifetime, you pack your best rifles and your best ammo: mostly if not all handloads.

We brought various calibers ranging from .300 wby to .416 NE

I even brought my bow.

So here we are in Kennedy Airport with luggage and multi gun case etc: enough for 20 days.

We wheel in and my older brother asks the kind lady where we check our firearms.

It was like EF Hutton just spoke.

She panicked and called PA cops over.

The PA cops kept asking us for our Registration information.

They were clueless.

We tell them, "We're going to Africa on a hunting trip. Normally at Newark Airport if we go somewhere to hunt in the US, they check them seperately.."

The two cops were baffled and a crowd began to assemble.

One cop asks for our licenses.

We explain that we don't need licenses or registration..

He insists that he needs to take our names addressess and the ake model and serial numbers of the rifles.

In the middle of the busiest airport in the NE, we had to remove each rifle from the case and describe each one to the cop.

If we did not comply with this bizarre request, we would have missed our flight as these idiots were hell bent on detaining us.

I don't think we gave them the correct serial numbers, but my brother decided to put on a show and describe the virtues of each firearm and the history and effecacy of the calibers etc...

They let us go to our flight.

We arrive in Joberg RSA. an official is sitting at a desk and aks us too fill out forms identifying our purpose for visiting RSA.
He then hands a seperate form to us to ID each of our rifles: not again!

The official indicated that the paperwork would be more efficiently processed if accompanied by a gratuity.

This is probably where we'll be heading in the USA

Tom said...

The stories of trying to bring a gun on a plane for a hunting trip are widespread and demonstrate a legendary stupidity on the part of the staffers and the cops; particularly in a ‘no guns’ area.

Pick up any copy of Sports Afield, and they usually have a whole section on coping with Airlines, cops and customs people.

I hear that if you make a stop over in Canada on your way to Alaska, it’s so bad that you’d be better off just shipping your guns ahead of time.

I have a good friend who is a PA Cop. (Port Authority – for you non-New Yorkers, they are the cops at the airports, train stations and other transportation hubs in the broader New York – NJ area) He’s also an avid hunter, a member of my gun Club, and comes out on our Pheasant Hunt every year.

The stories he can tell you would blow your mind. I think you were lucky to get to South Africa so easily – many others have not done so well.

ikaika said...

I don't know if this is real, but that is Newark's Mayor:

Mark said...

The fact that guns can be lethal and menacing and dangerous is the whole point of having them and that's why the people--and not just our government--should have a right to bear them. Or, as the late Christopher Hitchens more pithily phrased it, " Of course guns kill people. That's why the people should take control of the guns."

I can say also, without breaching constancy in the least, that I simply can't relate to the terrific fear many people have of guns. After all, most gun-owning friends and relatives of mine know exactly how to handle them and take great care to use them safely. And they have the guns for sport--not self-defense. I think you've pointed out elsewhere that many people's horror at firearms is easily dispelled by a single trip to the range--what stingy soul would get no enjoyment whatever hitting a target?

Anyway, on the legality of this stuff--you could argue, as I perhaps would, that the deliciously named Ms. Graves is on firm constitutional ground here--a question that would rest with the Supreme Court, if the principle of judicial review is to remain in force. But she nonetheless seems to have broken a NY law--albeit a piddling, unjust, stupid one. And this sinister law did require the approval of New Yorkers' duly elected representatives, etc., so she isn't the "law-abiding" citizen 2nd amendment advocates keep saying she is. So at the risk of sounding like one of your aforementioned Alamo-campers, I'll ask--why not make open calls for widespread civil disobedience on the matter among otherwise law-abiding citizens?

In the absence of a federal carry-reciprocity law, issues like these always need an abundance of publicity and test cases for the courts, should they progress. This is not to say, as your Alamo-campers say, that I think Ms. Graves should martyr herself (how could anyone say that anyway? If you think she has a duty to be a martyr, go bring your own gun to NY and be a martyr yourself!). But if a number (the larger the better) of respectable, moderate, productive, generally law-abiding citizens had the courage to protest by publicly breaking these bad laws, the cause of justice would certainly be advanced, as lawbreaking protests have advanced other just causes (and unjust ones, I can't help but mention). Impossible or illogical, not a credible strategy, do I hear you add? Maybe so. But large numbers of people have in the past risked much on more trivial crusades, to be sure.

(I just had to edit out some ambiguity and re-post.)