As a libertarian, it’s easy for me to get agitated about the theoretical burden of high taxes, wasteful spending, and costly regulation.
But even regular people should get upset when they get exposed to specific examples of individuals who are victimized by abusive government.
And now we can add Shaneen Allen to the list. Here’s some of what Glenn Reynolds of the University of Tennessee wrote for USA Today.
When Ray Rice beat his wife unconscious in an elevator, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael Donio and New Jersey District Attorney Jim McClain agreed to put him in a diversion program for 1st-time offenders to keep him out of jail. But when Pennsylvania single mom Shaneen Allen was pulled over for a traffic violation and volunteered to a New Jersey police officer that she was carrying a legally-owned handgun with a Pennsylvania permit, the response of Donis and McClain was to deny her the same opportunity as Rice. …she faces a felony conviction and a mandatory 42 months in prison. Both Donio and McClain have been unwilling to dismiss the charges, or send Allen to a pretrial diversion program. They seem to want to make an example of her.
How disgusting. A big-time athlete gets special treatment even though he brutalized another person.
But Ms. Allen, who didn’t hurt anybody and only wanted the ability to protect herself, is being abused by the heavy hand of government.
Professor Reynolds argues that this is a problem that merits federal intervention.
The problem is, she’s being punished for something the Constitution says — and the Supreme Court has agreed — is a constitutional right. …Shaneen Allen wasn’t committing gun violence, and civilians with gun permits are a very law-abiding bunch, who have passed a background check and undergone training; no sensible state would want to discourage them from visiting. …Under the Constitution, Congress has the power to protect civil rights via legislation, and this seems like a good subject for action. I would suggest a law providing that when people who may legally own guns under federal law are charged with possessing or carrying them in violation of state law, the maximum penalty should be a fine of no more than $500. This would allow states a reasonable degree of regulation, without subjecting individuals to life-ruining consequences just because some politico wants to make a point.
Speaking of politicos, I hope Governor Chris Christie intervenes and pardons Ms. Allen. Pre-emptively if that’s even legally possible.
A few years ago, he did commute the sentence of a guy who was similarly victimized by New Jersey’s awful laws, so he’s at least semi-reasonable on these issues.
Now let’s shift gears and review a more uplifting story.
Back in 2011, I wrote about the unfortunate plight of unarmed Brits who had very little ability to defend themselves when their neighborhoods were assaulted by rioters and compared that situation to what happened during the Los Angeles riots, when Korean business owners used guns to successfully protect their lives and property.
And I augmented that analysis in 2012 when I wrote about disarmed New Yorkers who were vulnerable to thugs during the chaos that followed Hurricane Sandy.
However, there are places where people can exercise their constitutional rights to self defense, so let’s look at a feel-good story from the Midwest.
Here are some excerpts from a report out of St. Louis.
After nightfall, what began as a community’s peaceful demonstration against the Ferguson Police Department’s shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown turned increasingly violent. Crowds plundered a QuikTrip and burned it to the ground, and local news began reporting brazen raids on other stores in the area. After hearing of the roving bands of looters, Mike Gutierrez knew he had to protect his tattoo shop. He brought a posse with him, including Adam Weinstein, owner of County Guns… Gutierrez, Weinstein and their group arrived to find thieves tearing through a Dollar General in the same strip mall that houses their business. Weinstein says the looters attempted moving toward the shop, but were scared off by the guns.
Hooray that these guys had the freedom to defend themselves.
And I love the accompanying photo. At the risk of stereotyping, I assume that guys who run tattoo parlors are bad asses. Give them some guns and it becomes very obvious why the looters stayed away.
Though even mild-mannered suburban dads can deter looters. At least when they’re armed.
Meanwhile, what happens to store owners that rely on the government to protect them when bad things happen?
Well, there’s not a happy ending.
At the other end of the same strip mall that houses Gutierrez and Weinstein’s business, 53-year-old Silas Chung arrived at his women’s clothing store, Up N Up Fashion, to find a pane of glass shattered and a mannequin lying on its back in the parking lot. Inside the store, racks of newly stocked clothing had been stripped bare. Chung has endured a couple burglaries in the past nine years of running the store, but nothing comparable.
I hope Mr. Chung has insurance, though I would recommend that he also buy some guns and learn to shoot.
Sort of like this honest liberal.
P.S. As I’m typing this, I’m looking at the cufflinks that I received as a birthday present from the PotL. Very appropriate, wouldn’t you agree?