Quote of the day—Glenn Harlan Reynolds

The result of overcriminalization is that prosecutors no longer need to wait for obvious signs of a crime. Instead of finding Professor Plum dead in the conservatory and launching an investigation, authorities can instead start an investigation of Colonel Mustard as soon as someone has suggested he is a shady character. And since … everyone is a criminal if prosecutors look hard enough, they are guaranteed to find something eventually.

Overcriminalization has thus left us in a peculiar place: Though people suspected of a crime have extensive due process rights in dealing with the police, and people charged with a crime have even more extensive due process rights in court, the actual decision of whether or not to charge a person with a crime is almost completely unconstrained.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds
July 2013
Columbia Law Review: Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything Is a Crime
[This would appear to be the goal of those that wish to “prevent gun violence”. Government prevents there being a victim by prosecuting people for victimless crimes. An example is the prosecution of people for being in possession of gun in addition to prosecution of people who injure innocent people with a gun.

This makes a certain amount of sense but only if there is no value to the victimless act being prosecuted. The prosecution of severely drunk drivers has little downside because driving while drunk has a high risk of injuring innocent people with very rare benefits.

Even if firearm possession is legal the more laws there are regulating the possession of firearms all the better it is for government to “prevent gun violence”. When Huffman’s Rule of Firearms Law results in nearly every gun owner at risk for decades of prison time, without a single victim, we have serious potential for abuse and even a police state.

In order to claim prosecution of gun ownership is a net benefit one must demonstrate gun ownership has little value to society and/or a large societal cost. Small minds will present an argument of vigorous assertion that this is true. But a more compelling argument can be made that thoughts are more dangerous than guns. For example The Communist Manifesto and some religious books have been used as tools to kill and injure far more innocent people than firearms in the hands of private citizens.

The concept of “preventing crime” is a very risky and dangerous path to tread. We are already too far down this path and we should reverse course rather than continue to, what I fear is, a genocidal conclusion.—Joe]

11 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Glenn Harlan Reynolds

  1. Agreed. But I don’t think there’s a political party out there that would be able to pull a U-turn. We’re too far into the gravity well. I’m afraid that we’ve gone past the point of a safe and relatively quiet turn-around, and are to the point where the only option left available is going to be noisy, violent, and bloody…and the anti-rights crowd knows this, and are seeking to disarm as many as possible in order that they would be the majority with guns (whether their own, or their “bodyguards'”, or complicit police forces). I hope and pray it never happens, but the pragmatic, realistic (and slightly pessimistic) side of my soul fears that another armed conflict, or a complete re-make of the current government (similar to Tom Clancy’s “Executive Orders”).

    • Your analysis of the anti-gun movement’s motives is spot on, at least “at the top” of “the movement.”
      Those people are few, though they are very evil, as most are simply sheeple who have drunk too much statist koolaid.

  2. It might seem that prosecuting drunk drivers is a fine thing to do because there is little downside. But it has brought us to the point where, as a recent youtube video shows, cops believe that “there is no 4th amendment right at a traffic stop”. If the authorities actually operated on solid principles of individual liberties, there wouldn’t be all that much danger in the “little downside” approach. But the reality is that such respect for individual liberties is spotty if not outright nonexistent.
    From the point of protecting individual liberty, it’s safer to insists strictly on “no victim, no crime”.

    • I can draw a distinction between prosecuting drunk drivers and “no 4th amendment right at a traffic stop”.

      I think your principle of “no victim, no crime” will result in very few supporters in many cases. For example someone could drive 75 MPH through a residential or school zone, without hurting anyone or causing property damage. But it is not a safe thing to do. It is reckless endangerment, without a victim, and I don’t have a problem punishing such a person.

      • “Reckless endangerment” requires that someone is endangered. So if you believe that such a thing as reckless endangerment exists and is a crime, then clearly the bystanders in the situation you mentioned are the victims.
        That seems like a plausible direction to take — until you realize that victim disarmers claim that lawful carry by law abiding people is reckless endangerment. So you need a good way to distinguish real reckless endangerment from the fake kind. I’m not sure how to do that.

        • Well, to torpedo your traffic analogy altogether:

          Driving a motor vehicle on a public road is not a “right”. That’s why you can be required to get a driver’s license for the class of vehicle you are operating, and that license can come with specific direct instructions and restrictions stating HOW you will drive.

          To address your analogy directly, without addressing the fact that there is no Constitutional right to drive on a public street, whilst “keep and bear arms” is a specifically enumerated right:

          There is no safe, reasonable, way to race at 75mph through a residential street (unless that street has been specifically cleared, such as for a film production) or to drive drunk on public streets.

          The closer analogy to guns would be, “There is no safe, reasonable way to hunt caged deer in the petting zoo on a Saturday afternoon.”

          • That argument flies only if you believe the statist claim that driving is a privilege rather than a right. I don’t accept that. The right to drive is simply a particular application of the right to move around.

          • I agree with Paul.
            The only reason that driving (moving about freely, traveling, in one’s own conveyance) is classified as a licensed “privilege” is because the sheeple have allowed the state to dictate it to be so.
            Traveling freely, like free association, is a natural right, and should another be subject to the control of government bureaucracies.
            It’s amazing how many intrusions into, and regulations of. Their lives people tolerate today that would NEVER have been accepted 100 years ago, let alone inthedays of they Founders.

  3. I think I can sum up Joe’s excellent point by saying that Americans need to be more aware of the concept of justice and how it contrasts with the dangerously false idea that government’s job is to prevent crime rather than protect rights.

    RabidAlien’s point is valid, and there’s only so much we can do. Pointing out the all-important difference between justice (rights protection) and the lie of an enforced safety of some kind is extremely important, and here we are doing it.

    The other all-important point is that we must not allow ourselves to be dragged down into the pit of distraction, resentment, anger and dispair over the fact that society seems to have gone utterly insane. I submit too that a big part of “The Big Lie” against which we are pitted is that things appear far more hopeless than they are in fact. Be careful about that.

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