The Persecution of Plaxico Burress

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Plaxico Burress, the New York Giants wide receiver responsible for catching the game-winning touchdown in this year’s Super Bowl, accidentally shot himself in the leg with a gun he had in his pants last week in a New York City nightclub.

Since Burress’ pistol was unregistered in New York, he has been charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in what prosecutors call "a strong case." If he’s convicted, Burress — who apparently has never been in any significant legal trouble before — will face a mandatory minimum of 3 years in state prison for each count, with a potential maximum of 15 years for each count.

And, while New York doesn’t recognize registrations from other states anyway, Burress’ gun was also unregistered in New Jersey, where he lives, so it’s possible that he could face further charges there over the incident.

Burress appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, showing no limp or other signs of the injury. He didn’t enter a plea, was released on $100,000 bond, and was ordered to return to court on March 31.

The "crime"

According to The New York Times, "Burress arrived at the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan at 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning, with four others, including two teammates.

"The criminal complaint, released by prosecutors Monday, said that an onlooker then saw Burress near the V.I.P. area of the club holding a drink in his left hand and fidgeting his right hand in the area of the waistline of his pants. The witness then heard a single ‘pop’ sound before hearing Burress say, ‘Take me to the hospital.’

"Burress was on the ground, with his legs shaking, when a bloody gun — a .40-caliber Glock pistol — fell out of his pant leg and onto the floor, the onlooker said. The bullet, which broke through the skin of Burress’s right thigh and pierced muscle tissue, traveled through the leg before lodging itself somewhere in the club.

"Burress left the club by 1:50 a.m., the police said, and arrived at the hospital at 2:04 a.m., according to surveillance cameras at the hospital."

The parasites must have smelled Burress’ blood

Burress was driven to the hospital by teammate Antonio Pierce. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, "The cover-up, police sources said, began almost immediately. The .40-caliber Glock was placed in the glove compartment of Pierce’s Escalade and the teammates drove off, with a number of phone calls made before Burress arrived at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center at 2:04 a.m., the sources said. Burress gave an alias, sources said, and the hospital did not call police, though it was required by law to do so.

"Burress left the hospital at 1 p.m. Saturday, and when police called a short time later — alerted to the shooting by a television news report — an administrator claimed confidentiality laws prohibited her from discussing patients.

"Later, a high-ranking police official called the administrator and told her she was wrong, at which point the administrator acknowledged Burress had been admitted, sources said.

"The hospital said it is cooperating with police and is doing its own investigation."

Now, the Chronicle story reported, Pierce and some of the hospital staff who treated Burress may also face charges.

"’We are investigating both the hospital’s failure to report the shooting and Antonio Pierce’s role that evening,’ Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman, said after Burress surrendered and was charged with gun possession for accidentally shooting himself at Manhattan’s Latin Quarter nightclub.

"Pierce, meanwhile, seemed confident he did nothing wrong. ‘I don’t see myself getting arrested,’ he said Monday in an interview on WFAN Radio.

"Police said neither the NFL nor the Giants are fully cooperating.

"The NFL, Browne said, reneged on its promise to make Pierce available Monday and a similar promise to produce two Giants trainers went unfulfilled.

"The trainers, police sources said, might have been among those contacted by Burress and others to discuss treating him without police knowing.

"By late Monday, one member of the Giants’ medical staff did talk to detectives, as did a players’ union official.

"’You have a series of events, and there is a universe of silence after this shooting,’ Browne said.

"Previous reports described Burress as alerting club security to his gun and accidentally firing it as he tried to hand it to a security member. Police, however, said that was not the case."

New York News Day reported that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg "blasted Giants receiver Plaxico Burress yesterday, calling for him to be prosecuted ‘to the fullest extent of the law’ for accidentally shooting himself in the right thigh with an illegal handgun — particularly because as a sports hero, he is both a public figure and a role model.

“‘If we don’t prosecute [him] to the fullest extent of the law, I don’t know who on Earth we would,’ Bloomberg said. ‘It makes a sham, a mockery of the law. And it’s pretty hard to argue the guy didn’t have a gun and that it wasn’t loaded. You’ve got bullet holes in and out to show that it was there.’

"Burress’ attorney, Benjamin Brafman, asked people not to prejudge the case.

"’I think the mayor can at times influence pending legal proceedings,’ he said. ‘I am just asking the mayor and everyone else to take a deep breath … [and not prejudge].’

"Bloomberg has made his war on illegal guns a signature issue. He also had harsh words for the hospital where Burress was treated, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He said hospital management should be charged for failing to report the incident, and that the hospital workers involved should be fired.

"’It is just an outrage that the hospital didn’t do what they are legally required to do,’ he said. ‘It’s a lame excuse that they didn’t know — this is a world-class hospital in a city where we all know what goes on in the streets of our city, and we all should be working together to get guns off the streets.’

The statement "we all should be working together to get guns off the streets" is shockingly immoral and fascist — and laughably impossible, even if it were a lofty goal.

The News Day story continued, "Police didn’t learn what had happened until they saw it on the television news Saturday afternoon, several hours after the shooting occurred at a Manhattan nightclub, Bloomberg and police officials said. The mayor also blamed Giants management for failing to notify authorities.

"’The Giants should have picked up the phone right away, as good corporate citizens,’ he said.

Quick, somebody add "good corporate citizens" to the list of creepy fascist terms before we forget it.

In rebuttal to Bloomberg’s charges, News Day concluded, "Pat Hanlon, a spokesman for the Giants, disputed this. ‘In the early hours of Saturday morning, as we started to get a sense of what we were dealing with, we did, in fact, notify NFL security, which then contacted the police,’ Hanlon said in an e-mailed statement."

It’s understandable that any one person or organization doesn’t want to further provoke the State. But wouldn’t it be great, just once, for a large organization in a situation like this — like the NFL — rather than bowing and scraping before their masters and timidly pledging their "full cooperation" (with the State’s attempts to gather evidence to shake them down for money or even to lock them in cages for non-crimes), to tell the State — as the average 18th- or 19th-Century American likely would have — to f**k off?

Who’s the victim?

To summarize, Burress is being prosecuted not for damaging another person’s body or property, for which that person has filed a complaint, seeking restitution and/or damages; he’s being prosecuted for not having a permission slip from the State to carry his own property. And the people who helped him get medical treatment are being threatened for not turning Burress in to the State for not having a permission slip and because the piece of his property, for which he didn’t have a permission slip, involved in the victimless incident happened to be a gun; and for not cooperating with the State, once the non-crime came to its attention, in helping it gather evidence to prosecute Burress for the non-crime, and possibly to prosecute them for their involvement in the non-crime too.

The despicable treatment by the State of Burress, and the equally despicable threatening of those who went out of their way to help him with his accidental injury, is another example of the State’s hegemonic relationship with the people it "serves," as Butler Shaffer has quipped, "the way a cannibal ‘serves’ his neighbor."

In a free society, Burress would be responsible for paying his hospital bill and for any damage to the nightclub, after which he could put the whole unpleasant accident behind him and get on with his life.

Instead, the State is going to ruin Burress’ career and life, and cause unspeakable anguish for his loved ones, by locking him in a cage inside a socialist hellhole for a "crime" that hurt no one except for himself — and even that, just barely. The only victim in this "crime" is Burress.

State "justice"

The State is not what keeps the amorphous, ill-defined entity it calls "society" from descending into "chaos."

And its criminal "justice" system does not exist to make victims whole again; rather, it’s a giant make-work scam for parasitical "law enforcement" officials, politicians, and court employees. As the sickening Burress case shows, much of the State’s "law enforcement" consists of work that wouldn’t exist in a free society, prosecuting victimless crimes and trying to outlaw peaceful, voluntary behavior.

And much of the real crime that occurs (like murders and robberies) wouldn’t happen if the State weren’t creating black markets in commodities like narcotics; forcibly preventing people from defending themselves and their property through things like gun control laws; and socializing property like streets so that there’s no owner who has to be concerned about the safety of his paying customers.

And when one of those real crimes occurs, thanks to the wonders of socialism, the victim not only has to pay with his taxes for the police force that failed to protect him or his property (and may also fail to catch a suspect), but if someone is charged, the victim will suffer the further indignity of paying for the trial, and further still of paying for the perpetrator’s incarceration if he’s convicted.

There’s nothing the State can do that the market can’t do better, faster, cheaper, and fairer. If the persecution of Plaxico Burress is an example of the State’s "justice," how could free market courts be any worse?

Johnny Kramer [send him mail] holds a BA in journalism from Wichita State University. He is one of the authors and editors of the first-ever biography of Ron Paul, Ron Paul: a Life of Ideas. For more information on his work, or to hire him as a writer, editor, or to speak at your next event, please visit his website.

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