Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gun Court

An interesting concept.

Right off the bat, hearing that Birmingham is treating this like the war on drugs was a bit unsettling, but hearing that 95% of the people that find their way into this court are on drugs can be telling.

Then again, what constitutes a positive drug test? Popping positive for pseudoepedrine or something similar doesn't count in my book, but there is often no rhyme or reason on how a court sets the bar for that sort of thing.

The concept is to not ruin someone's life over the carrying of a firearm, which I can agree with as long as that individual is not some violent scumbag. That seems to be the whole thing. There is one fellow quoted in this article that sounds like he might not fit the profile of what the court is looking for; that being "19- to 23-year-olds who carry a gun because they think it looks cool."

OK, so younger men and women who are looking to get into trouble, hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting arrested on a non violent drug charge or shoplifting and looky-here-they-have-a-gun. They drew attention to themselves by acting irresponsibly, they're young, and they were carrying a gun. I don't necessarily disagree with that at all; but as sure as the sun rises, some poor guy who doesn't fit the narrative will get hung up in the cogs of this machine, and what then? In a perfect world, the judge would be able to tell that these individuals are not trouble prone, and were not trying to impress their friends. But gun laws are hardly clear, and you can't just run everyone who violates every arbitrary law through a gauntlet of drug testing, anger management counseling, weekly spot checks and such. That's what sounds like will happen though, which may be the gripe of the afore mentioned fellow who ended up in that court:
Project ICE detectives screen every gun seized by officers in the city. Those that don't rise to the level of federal prosecution -- such as carrying a pistol without a license or presenting a firearm -- are referred to Gun Court.
Doesn't it sound like every gun "crime" gets scrutiny? That alone is pretty scary, as gun laws are written to be arbitrary so as to catch as many people as possible. I would be pissed to get hit by some bored cop on some sort of technicality concerning the carry of a gun, and then end up in this court. Fortunately, it seems like the successful navigation of the hoops that they want you to jump through give you a clean bill of record, which is far better than what tends to happen right now.

I have to agree with this particular line of thinking from a Birmingham police Sgt:
"There is a responsibility in carrying a gun," said Birmingham police Sgt. Ron Sellers, who oversees the police department's role in the program. "If you choose not to be a responsible person, then we are going to teach you there are consequences to your action."
Fair enough. Those who do not control themselves will be controlled - a maxim of law. Let's just hope that this doesn't end up as a way to control people who do not need controlling.

I am a skeptic, and will forever be one, but right at the moment there seems to be an all or nothing approach to gun laws. Get hit on violating one, and it's your ass. This is at least an attempt to find middle ground and not ruin someone's life with a felony for a victimless non-violent crime. It's all on the system now to not screw it up.
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