But What If David Gregory Shot the Pitbull?

Illeagl? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Illegal? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Another hybrid ethics tale has surfaced! Cross pitbulls (or whatever a reporter thinks passes for one) with the gun law debate and the District of Columbia’s refusal to bring charges against David Gregory for breaking its gun laws on national television,  and…bada bing! This (From the Washington Post) :

“The bloody paw prints travel the length of a city block, from a Northwest Washington street corner where police said an 11-year-old was mauled by three pit bulls to the welcome mat at the dogs’ owner’s home. Two days after the attack, in which police said all three dogs were fatally shot, the prints were a reminder of what happened at Eighth and Sheridan streets on Sunday afternoon. Police said a neighbor and an officer shot the pit bulls as they sank their teeth into the boy’s legs, arms, stomach and chest…An uncle of the victim’s said the boy was riding a new Huffy dirt bike with orange rims he had gotten for Christmas. The uncle said his nephew emerged from an alley onto Sheridan Street, where he collided with the pit bulls. D.C. police said the unleashed and unattended dogs attacked the boy before a neighbor who saw it went into his home, got his handgun and fired once, hitting one of the dogs. A D.C. police officer on bicycle patrol heard the shots, and authorities said he shot and killed the other two pit bulls…Of the shooters, the 34-year-old uncle said, “They did the right thing.”

“D.C. police said they are reviewing the incident and have left open the possibility that the neighbor could be charged with violating the District’s gun laws. A police spokesman would not say whether the gun was legally registered. Even if it was, using it on a D.C. street is illegal…”

Some Post readers were appalled that such a heroic action could result in prosecution. Wrote one, indignantly:

“That prosecutors would even consider bringing gun charges against the Northwest D.C. resident who saved an 11-year-old’s life by shooting one of three pit bulls that were brutally mauling the child speaks volumes about the mindless absurdity of the city’s gun laws, to say nothing of the zealous anti-gun sentiment that more broadly permeates officials’ thinking here…If the good Samaritan who acted quickly in this case to save a child possessed his gun unlawfully, police and prosecutors should by all means confiscate it. But contemplating further charges against him is as unconscionable as it is ridiculous.”

No, what’s ridiculous is to have gun laws that are enforced according to the policy that if a citizen does a good thing with his illegal gun, then it’s fine; only bad acts with guns will result in prosecutions. If that’s the theory, why have gun laws at all? Why not just prosecute people who used guns to do illegal things? The law, if it is fairly enforced, should apply to those who violate the law by their possession and use of the gun involved, not what their worthy goals might have been. Let’s see—no registration, fired the gun on the street…yup, those are violations, all right. What’s that? He saved a kid? Let him go. Shot a rabid skunk? Let him go. Shot a terrorist? Let him go. Shot his neighbor coming at him with a knife? How big was the neighbor? 5′ 2″? How big was the knife? Just three inches? Hmmm, tough one!

That’s no way to enforce gun laws. Of course, the D.C. General Counsel is already on record as saying that it’s OK for NBC’s David Gregory to commit a felony by possessing an illegal gun magazine, because he’s a famous, big shot journalist. He didn’t save any kids being mauled, either. Why should he get a pass, and the pitbull shooter have to face trial?

He shouldn’t, of course. If a citizen violates a gun law, then the citizen should be prosecuted, whatever his reasons for the violation or however justifiable the use of the illegal weapon may be. If such prosecution doesn’t seem sensible or just, then the law needs to be changed or eliminated. Both Gregory and the Eighth and Sheridan street hero should be prosecuted for their respective violations, or neither should, and if neither are, then D.C.’s gun laws are a sham.

_________________________________________

Facts: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

Graphic: Sheerinvestigations

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

13 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

13 responses to “But What If David Gregory Shot the Pitbull?

  1. tgt

    If such prosecution doesn’t seem sensible or just, then the law needs to be changed or eliminated.

    Remember that argument we used to have over prosecutorial discretion? Have you come over to my way of thinking now?

    • Ha…just won a bet with myself. I know this will drive you crazy, but law enforcement won’t work without the safety valve of some prosecutor discretion. I think the professional guidelines I listed in the previous Gregory piece (not the one linked) are good ones. Examples should be rare, and I’ll give you this…I think they should be much rarer than I used to. And “that was such a good violation that I can’t prosecute” can’t be one of the reasons. Just got a book on Prosecutorial Ethics by R. Michael Cassidy. I’ll let you know what he thinks…

      • tgt

        If there were clear rules for prosecturial discretion that were independent of the person involved, if the rules were were followed across the board, and if instances of discretion (on both sides) were reviewable by a board with teeth and predation (power and a desire to use it), I could back discretion. As it is, discretion is too ripe for abuse.

  2. But what if it was a SLOW skunk? (sorry – couldn’t resist! Obviously, you meant ‘rabid,’ not ‘rapid.’

    • No, of course I meant rapid. Skunks are usually slow, and often have rabies—but if you see a rare fast one, shoot quick, because it will run you down. In 1969, an angry skunk was clocked at 23.3 miles an hour (this was in Arkansas), mauled three children, a truck driver, a woman in a wheelchair, a puppet troop, and a pet ferret named Squeaky before Mrs. Clarice Palsgraff, 47, a yoga instructor, caught up to the thing on her Vespa and beat it to death with her shoe.

      All right, it was a typo. I fixed it. Thanks.

      • And obviously you also meant Vespa (the scooter) rather than the Gordon’s Gin Cocktail (Vesper).

        • Yup. And I had it Vespa in the first draft, but I hadn’t seen it for so long that it looked funny, so I changed it.

          • philk57

            Glad to hear that I am not the only one that does multiple drafts – I normally just delete them prior to posting because (like the one above) they add nothing to the discussion.

            I do want to let you know that I appreciate your good humor when one of us does point out a mis-spelled or out of context word. So ,,, Thanks.

  3. Dat last paragraph yo. Dayuuum.

  4. Michael R.

    “No, what’s ridiculous is to have gun laws that are enforced according to the policy that if a citizen does a good thing with his illegal gun, then it’s fine; only bad acts with guns will result in prosecutions. If that’s the theory, why have gun laws at all? Why not just prosecute people who used guns to do illegal things?”

    But this is exactly how gun laws are in many states. There are very few ways to have an “illegal gun”. The gun laws punish people when they do bad things with guns. Why should we waste our time going around trying to punish people who haven’t done anything bad? What is the point of prosecuting people and putting them in jail if they haven’t done anything bad?

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