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Sunlight, the best deterrent

Massachusetts politicians are pretty much unanimous on one point: the commonwealth has a real problem with violent crime. And as they're also almost all Democrats (85% of both Houses of the legislature, every single statewide elected office, all ten US House members, and both US Senators), that means that they are also unanimous on the solution: tighter gun control laws.

In fact, Boston's mayor, The Honorable Thomas "Mumbles" Menino, is so hot for gun control he gets annoyed that we here in New Hampshire don't share his gun-grabbing fervor, he's lobbied hard for us to follow his example.

This solution, though, tends to run aground when it comes in conflict with another long-standing Massachusetts Democratic tradition: leniency and "compassion" and "sympathy" for those who, through circumstances utterly and completely beyond their control, end up violating those laws.

Well, a little while ago Boston police arrested an 18-year-old man for shooting a 20-year-old man in the back. He was charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

He was not charged with violating the state's Bartley-Fox law for using a gun while committing a felony.

He was not charged with illegal possession of a handgun. (I don't know for a fact that he wasn't licensed to have the gun, but knowing what Massachusetts is like, I have my sincerest doubts.)

He was not charged with attempted murder.

Instead, he was held on $250 bail -- even though he was already out on bail for a domestic-violence charge.

It was only after the Boston Herald raised a stink about Lyndon Scott's case that his probation officer reported that he had violated the conditions of his parole and had him hauled back behind bars.

Massachusetts has plenty of tough laws already on the books, but it's obvious that no one takes them seriously. The police don't. The prosecutors don't. The judges don't. The politicians don't.

And the criminals certainly don't.

So how, precisely, is passing more laws supposed to help things?

(Thanks to Bruce, the Ex-Masshole, for the tip.)


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Comments (6)

One only has to look at the... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

One only has to look at the Ted "hic" K. deal to see how long this has been going on.

Sorta like immigration laws... (Below threshold)

Sorta like immigration laws in the United States. Plenty of tough laws on the books. Just a lack of will to fully enforce them.

So how, precisely,... (Below threshold)
kbiel:
So how, precisely, is passing more laws supposed to help things?

You assume that their goal is to reduce crime instead of having more control over their subjects citizens.

Style over substance, Jay T... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Style over substance, Jay Tea - it's not important to DO anything, it's just important to SEEM like you're doing something. After all, passing a law is VISIBLE, and cheap. Enforcing a law isn't nearly so visible, and costs a lot more.

If your object is to be visible, then passing laws is what's important. Visibility is VERY important if you're going to be re-elected. And when the current law fails due to lack of enforcement, care to guess what will be done?

Yep - pass more laws!

And just maybe there's some magic number of laws that'll suddenly turn the criminal into a law-abiding citizen. Why not keep passing the laws, and see what happens?

In a democratic society, la... (Below threshold)

In a democratic society, laws which carry disproportionate punishments are routinely unenforced. The definition of "disproportionate" is the entire discretion of the police, prosecutors, or judges, depending upon the stage of the case. Now, this in many cases does not comport with our belief in "the rule of law" which applies equally to all, but it is a hard fact of life.

Evidently the powers that be in Massachusetts found the penalties for the other crimes with which this young man could have been charged to be too dire to suit his actual crime (at least in their opinion).

Of course, if a homeowner had shot an armed intruder with an unlicensed gun, the same authorities might well take a harsher view.

The moral of the story, of course, is to stay the heck out of Massachusetts - unless you are a criminal.

Oh, and Jay ~ the saying go... (Below threshold)

Oh, and Jay ~ the saying goes, "Sunlight is the best DISINFECTANT," most often referring to the full and public disclosure of actions by government entities.

It is of course also true that light - from any source - is one of the better "deterents" to crime, though.




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