Let’s Stop With The Plaxico Sentencing Histrionics

After yesterday’s sentencing of Plaxico Burress to two years in prison, it seems like you couldn’t turn around without hearing another person wailing, “Donte Stallworth gets 26 days for killing a man and Plaxico gets two years for shooting himself? Where’s the justice! I thought this was America!”

Plaxico Burress

Okay. Back the truck up here. Stallworth and Burress’ cases have f–k-all to do with each other outside of the fact that both are in the NFL and they got sentenced in the same year. So let’s dispense with the flimsy comparisons of a DUI and a gun charge. And let’s also make one thing clear: Plaxico didn’t get two years for shooting himself.

No, the major factor in Burress’ lengthy jail sentence is the fact that he chose to carry a concealed weapon, one that he wasn’t licensed to carry in New York or New Jersey. Sorry, but that’s a major problem. Moreover, he chose to do it in New York City, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. You can imagine how fun that city would be without them.

Further, he didn’t have it sitting in a dresser drawer by his bed; he was carrying it as a concealed weapon. Guess what: he wasn’t licensed to do that either. His last license to do that (in Florida, which our maps tell us is not part of New York) had expired by the time the incident took place. That would also be a major problem–again, especially in New York City.

In fact, the most surprising fact of the Plaxico case isn’t that he got 2 years, it’s that he was offered a 3 month plea bargain to begin with a few months ago and that Antonio Pierce wasn’t punished for taking a gun across state lines. If anything, the judicial system tried, in multiple instances, to take it easy on Burress.

It’s absolutely infuriating to see so many mainstream media misrepresent the nature of Plaxico’s main offense here. Shooting yourself in the leg, of course, isn’t a crime that warrants two years in prison. So when that’s what Plaxico got, the natural reaction is to say he was made an example of, which is the wrong first reaction to have. The real question one should ask is “well, what makes Plaxico’s case so different and worse that it warrants a multiple-year sentence?” The answer, then, is that he did it with a gun he shouldn’t have been carrying PERIOD, much less concealed, loaded, and unlocked on his person in the middle of a city that drops spiked anvils of fire and punition on gun crimes.

And look. Two years in the joint is going to be rough, even though he’s probably going to be treated like the All-Star he is by his fellow inmates (seriously, do you actually think someone’s going to make a bitch out of Plaxico and not the other way around?). It’s especially bad because though he made a series of mistakes, none of them were with malicious intent, which makes the sentence look pretty rough.

But as Plaxico (accidentally) perfectly demonstrated, guns are incredibly dangerous weapons that - ideally - nobody would ever take out of their houses. They’re not to be trifled with, and they’re definitely not to be treated the way Plaxico treated his. Now, unfortunately, he’s going to have to deal with the consequences for the next two years instead of playing ball.