Plaxico Burress Deserves Absolutely No Leniency
by Gus Jarvis
Aug 06, 2009 | 751 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Man, oh man, there are a lot of headlines in the world of professional sports that have little to do with, well…sports. Michael Vick is now a free man, old man Brett Favre is going to hang up the cleats one more time and, as of Monday, it would appear that former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress is going to be spending some time in jail, as well.

I guess for the sake of newsworthiness, I will stick to Burress’s gun problem. And what a problem he now has. On Monday, a grand jury indicted Burress on two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of second-degree reckless endangerment. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to three-and-a-half years in prison.

Monday’s indictment comes after Burress decided to arm himself with a large handgun while going out to a Manhattan nightclub last fall. While at the nightclub, with his .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol safely secured in the pocket of his loose-fitting, yet stylish sweatpants, he accidentally shot himself in the leg.

According to testimony that was reported in The New York Times, while Burress was hanging out in the second-floor of the V.I.P. area of the nightclub, where 20 to 30 people were mingling, the gun slipped down his pant leg and accidentally fired as he tried to catch it from falling to the floor. The bullet hit Burress in the leg and barely missed a nightclub security guard.

Honestly, Burress should be comforted by the fact that he is still alive after the incident. When I replay what actually happened in my head, it seems that he could have taken the bullet to his chest. We wouldn’t be talking about jail time. We would be talking about the tragic loss of an athlete’s life because of a stupid mistake in toting a loaded gun in an unsafe manner.

Even worse, that bullet could have hit that security guard or any one of the 30 who were in that area of the nightclub. Then we would be talking about homicide. As it is, we are talking about a man who accidentally shot himself with an illegal loaded handgun.

Unfortunately for Burress the facts of the case are piled up against him in his upcoming trial. He has admitted to carrying the gun into the nightclub. While he did have a license to carry the handgun in Florida, it had expired and did not allow him to carry a weapon in the state of New York.

And New York is not the place to get caught carrying a weapon illegally. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in running for his high post in NYC, has run on a platform of strict gun laws and it seems Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau will carry out Bloomberg’s desire for strict gun law enforcement in the Burress case. They have both publicly said they would seek the maximum prison sentence for Burress.

“When you have the mayor and the district attorney both publicly demanding a maximum prison sentence, it was perhaps too much to hope for the grand jury to conduct a sympathetic review of the unique facts of this sad case,” Burress’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said on Monday.

There have been a lot of people who have said that the mayor and D.A. are maybe asking too much with a maximum prison sentence. They believe that Burress, because of stardom, is going to be made an example of and he is being treated unfairly.

I mean, he shot himself after all, nobody got hurt except himself? Right?

Bullshit. I don’t buy any of those arguments at all.

First, it’s not the fact that the D.A. is trying to make an example of Burress; rather, what example would they be setting if they were lenient with Burress? His gun went off in a crowded room. With the millions of people that know and read about his case, if he were to get away unpunished, it would send the message that “Hey, it was stupid, but he got away with it. I will get away with it. I will bring a gun to the party.” Burress should be punished to the full extent of the law. That is why the law was written. It’s simple really.

Now I have also heard from the gun-rights advocates. They believe he had the right to carry that loaded firearm into the nightclub. Wrong. He did not have a license so he did not have the right to carry that gun in the state of New York. This is not an argument about the right to bear arms. Not at all. Burress certainly has the right to carry a gun. He has the right if he does it legally with a license to do so. He did not. Follow the rules and maybe he would be in some trouble, but probably not facing three years in prison.

Lastly, there are those who are saying the D.A. should be showing some compassion because it was just a stupid mistake. Yes, there are stupid mistakes that can be forgiven. I made a stupid mistake by not registering my car. Write me a ticket and be lenient. I made a stupid mistake and wrote some bad checks. It was stupid, I made a bad decision but please be lenient. There are hundreds of stupid mistakes where leniency is warranted.

When bullets are flying in a crowded room because of a stupid mistake, leniency is certainly not warranted. Bullets are flying out of control. Lives are in danger. Sorry, Burress, your stupid mistake is going to cost you prison time and that is the way it should be.
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