Counterpoint: It Be Like That, PlaxPosted: August 20, 2009
Posted an abridged version of this on THE ROOT.
Robert Littal of Black Sports Online feels as though Plaxico Burress is catching a raw deal, and outlines ten facts that are germane in the incident and why he feels the two years in jail seems too harsh a penalty. While I think he makes a few fair points, I have to disagree with Mr. Littal’s overall view on the situation and want to discuss his list piecemeal.
1. Plax had no prior convictions.
A county that frowns heavily upon illegal weapons possession is not going to be lenient about the fact that a person has no previous convictions, particularly in an instance where said illegal possession is coupled with the discharge of the firearm in a crowded enclosed area.
2. Plax’s friend had been robbed at gunpoint the week before.
While surely alarming, Plax is a man with resources and options. On the extreme side, he could just not put himself in harm’s way by going to places where his profile could put him in danger. In a more reasonable way, he has the financial resources to hire trained and licensed professionals to protect him from possibly dangerous situations.
3. Plax had a license that may or may not have been expired for a gun he owns in different state.
First of all, Plaxico Burress is grown man carrying a concealed deadly weapon out in public. Making sure his licenses were up-to-date isn’t exactly an unreasonable request. Second of all, when it comes to carrying a deadly weapon in public, wouldn’t it be prudent to perhaps see if your possibly-expired license can transfer?
4. Plax brought the gun to the nightclub.
Without checking to see if his carry permit was current and transferred? That seems like it would invite trouble should the gun happen to unfortunately discharge. Why not hire armed personnel?
5. Security at the club allows him to enter with the gun
That fact makes the security culpable in an entirely different regard. It doesn’t make Plax less guilty of bringing an illegal weapon into a crowded night club. Both parties acted with egregious irresponsibility.
6. Security thinks better of their decision and asks that Plax check his gun.
A reasonable attempt to consider safety, however late it may be. So what prompted them to ask for the gun? The fact that its owner was bombed out of his tree and posed a danger to other clubgoers.
7. In trying to hand over the gun, it went off.
While accidents do happen–and this is clearly an accident–Burress is drunk and attempting to do the right thing about six steps too late and, unfortunately for him, it cost him in a profound way. Don’t forget: Plax had broken SEVERAL laws before the gun went off.
8. The bullet grazed him but no one else.
Having already broken several federal and state laws, the fact that the bullet only grazed him makes Plaxico lucky not innocent. An illegal firearm discharged in a New York City nightclub. The bullet that struck Burress almost struck a bouncer upon ricochet. In the case of deadly weapons, “almost” counts for something.
9. Plax is a high profile public figure who makes a series of mistakes rather than just report it.
As a Super Bowl hero one year removed from glory, had he gone and reported the incident, wasn’t the possibility of leniency from New York greater? In fact, it was. Prosecutor’s offered Burress three months in jail as a plea deal. Burress rejected it.
10. Burress eventually owned up to the incident to police.
It was hard to hide the fact that he’d shot himself in the leg with his own gun and attempted to cover it up with the help of a teammate. “Owning up” doesn’t buy much after you’re so clearly dead to rights.
Here are the facts as I see them: Plaxico Burress had an illegal weapon on his person in New York City. While I empathize as to why he was carrying a concealed weapon, the above is a truth that cannot be avoided. Rather than hire armed professionals to ensure his safety, he, with the willful permission of a nightclub, entered the establishment with this concealed weapon. Even if he were able to carry the gun legally, the presence of the weapon increases the danger to others exponentially (For the record, I don’t feel any different about guns in the hands of police officers).
So, Burress has endangered the safety of others in a crowded enclosed space and done so illegally. After beomcing intoxicated, he attempted to handle this illegal firearm and it discharged, the bullet striking him in the thigh and almost striking a nearby bouncer. Upon realizing what had taken place, he and a teammate fled the scene and attempted to cover up the multiple crimes that Burress committed.
As the evidence mounted against him, Burress turned himself into police and began to plea bargain. The crimes he committed warranted a maximum fifteen years in prison and a minimum of three. Prosecutors offered him a plea deal of three months, which he refused. The state of New York had little choice but to move forward with its case which Burress could never hope to win. Upon realizing this, Burress took a two year plea deal.
In accordance with the laws of New York and the facts above, how exactly did Plaxico Burress catch a raw deal?