A Project Not So Safe for liberty.(COMMENTARY)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 16, 2002 | Go to article overview

A Project Not So Safe for liberty.(COMMENTARY)


Byline: Paul Craig Roberts, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In 1999 Edward Tenner published "Why Things Bite Back," a provocative book about the unintended consequences of technology. Someone should write a similar book about law, because the unintended consequences are even more far reaching.

Gene Healy, a Cato Institute scholar, recently provided a thorough exploration of the unintended consequences of one law, the new Bush-Ashcroft plan to federalize gun crimes known as the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. The unintended consequences of this law are frightening.

The law originated in a strategy by the National Rifle Association and the Bush administration to forestall further anti-gun legislation by emphasizing tougher enforcement of existing gun laws. To this end, the legislation funds 113 new assistant U.S. attorneys and 600 new state and local prosecutors whose only beat is to prosecute gun crimes. And there lies the unintended consequences.

As Gene Healy rightly notes, one consequence is the overenforcement of gun laws and a "proliferation of 'garbage' gun charges - technical violations of firearms statutes on which no sensible prosecutor would expend his energy."

Conviction rates are the key indicator in judging the performance of U.S. Attorneys' Offices. Unlike other prosecutors whose bailiwicks cover all criminal offenses, the 713 Safe Neighborhood prosecutors are limited to one offense. Once they run out of serious gun crimes, they push on with technical and meritless indictments.

Meritless convictions were fast in coming. Last January the Des Moines Register asked, "What sort of country would put a man in federal prison for 15 years for possessing a single .22 caliber bullet? Ours would." Dane Yirkovsky, a drug user and sometime burglar, was sentenced as an armed criminal for forgetting to dispose of a bullet he found on a floor while installing a carpet.

Katica Crippen, a 32-year old woman with a drug conviction, posed naked for her photographer boyfriend holding one of his guns as a prop. Police found the photos while surfing Internet porn sites. Her nakedness was no offense, but prosecutors interpreted holding a gun as "being in possession." Miss Crippen was given an 18-month federal sentence for being an "armed felon."

Sentencing guidelines force judges to give unjust sentences for such non-crimes. Federal judge Richard Matsch, who presided over the Oklahoma City bombing trial, found Miss Crippen's case on his docket. Outraged at the lack of prosecutorial judgment, he asked: "How far is this policy of locking up people with guns going to go? Who decided this is a federal crime?"

Reporter David Holthouse examined 191 Colorado federal firearm cases. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Project Not So Safe for liberty.(COMMENTARY)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.