The Burress Case Redux

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 5, 2009

IOWA CITY (BASN) — Plaxico Burress is on his way to jail but here is my question, has his second amendment rights been violated? There are two parts to the Burress case. The first is reckless endangerment and there is certainly a case to be made that Burress may have put others at risk as a result of his own stupidity.

Then there is the crime of possessing a illegal firearm but what if the New York law is unconstitutional? Could the Burress defense team challenge New York law as denying their client of the right to bear arms?

Here is the case — Burress owned a firearm that he purchased legally elsewhere but he was not able to obtain a permit to carry or own a gun in New York. New York makes it virtually impossible for a non New York citizen to own a gun in New York Proper.

Considering that many who work in New York live outside of the city; the constitutional question that needs to be answered, are non New York citizen being denied assess to their constitutional rights to own a gun within New York City limits?

The Burress case raises some interesting questions. The first is whether a locality can deny those individuals who live in neighboring states their right to own a gun in their locality.

He may not live in New York but he does work for a New York concern (granted he actually played in the Meadowlands across the border in New Jersey, the team is still called the New York Giants.)

The second amendment gives individuals a right to own a gun and this is a Federal guarantee; not a right that a local government can take away. So far, no one has declared the right for governments to regulate the right to own a gun unconstitutional; just as waiting period to purchase a gun but they can’t deny a law abiding citizen the right to own a gun.

If a city law is so filled of obstacles that its virtually make it impossible the citizen the right to purchase the gun or carry the gun from beyond the state lines, is this unconstitutional?

Burress did a stupid thing, carry a gun into a bar and nearly killed himself in the process and with jail hanging over his head; he has ruined his career. As I have written in a previous piece, being stupid is not a reason for going to jail.

Michael Vick will spend less time for purposely killing dogs as part of a dog fighting ring that lasted years; whereas Burress had no intention of committing a crime, much less had any idea of hurting anyone including himself.

Burress is facing anywhere between three and 15 years, and there are thugs who are real murderers facing less time than what he may end up. There is a chance that Burress makes a deal for less jail time to avoid a trial.

But my contention is that Burress should never have been charged with the possession of illegal gun since the case can be made that his right to bear arms have been violated.

This is a case that being a celebrity hurts Burris, especially in a election year in which the incumbent Mayor is running for a third term and one of Bloomberg’s big issues was and is gun control within New York City limits.

Burress is that big celebrity that makes the point, no one is above the law in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York.

Burress got caught into a political web that have little to do with justice. Has New York gone too far in denying law abiding citizens the right to own a gun?