I know that I’m not going to make a whole lot of friends in gun blogger circles with this post, but my sense of right and wrong compels me to make it anyway.
I’ve read two posts about the Compean/Ramos commutations, penned by two people I like and respect, and I profoundly disagree with the notion that the two former Border Patrol agents should have gotten a pardon–hell, shouldn’t have been charged!–for shooting a fleeing Mexican drug smuggler in the ass.
Here’s why I disagree:
Compean and Ramos were guilty of two major offenses: they shot a person without that person being a direct threat to them or anyone else, and they tried to cover up their actions by removing shell casings and lying about the incident in question, in writing.
Now, even if you think that drug smugglers should be executed on the spot–and Mexican drug smugglers twice, for good measure–the laws of this country still apply to all persons under its jurisdiction. There is no exemption for perjury and ADW for federal agents that shoot Really Bad People. If you argue that there should be, you open up a gigantic can of worms, because not only do you support a selective application of the law (the hallmark of an unjust legal system), but you also set yourself up for the same treatment when your particular demographic is declared Really Bad People by popular sentiment.
If Compean and Ramos should be let off the hook, then what did Lon Horiuchi do wrong? (Remember that 80% of the population didn’t see anything wrong with an FBI sniper shooting one of them thar compound-dwelling white supremacists in the face, that he fired the shot in question not at Vicki Weaver intentionally, but at Kevin Harris who was armed at the time, and that those who consider Lon Horiuchi a cold-blooded murderer of an unarmed mother are in the distinct minority in this country.)
I guess it boils down to this: do we want the laws of our country applied evenly, or do we make exceptions based on popular opinion? How many regular Joes are in prison because some prosecutor stretched the definition of “using a firearm in the commission of a crime” and got away with it?
Folks, if you don’t want mandatory sentences for firearms-related crimes, then don’t support them, and tell your Congresscritters to strike those laws. You can’t selectively support them when some crackhead gets jacked and tossed in the pen for ten years because he held up a Seven-Eleven with a .22, and then cry foul when the same laws trip up someone you like doing something you support. Forget about the drug smuggler aspect for just a second, and consider that Compean and Ramos shot an unarmed fleeing man in the back (it may have hit his ass, but using a firearm is always lethal force), and that they good and damn well knew they weren’t in the right because they picked up their fucking shell casings after the fact, and then lied about their actions. If they thought they were under fire, they should have left the scene alone, reported the event, and stood by their actions. Federal law mandates ten years for using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime (ADW in this case), and ten years is what they got tacked on to their sentences. I don’t agree with the law because I don’t agree with mandatory sentences (they take discretion away from a judge or jury, and they’re just as dumb as Zero Tolerance policies), but the law is on the books, and it applies to everyone.
Do we want our laws enforced objectively? Then we need to get our lawmakers to pass laws that can’t be interpreted loosely enough to convict people like Ramos and Compean, and let people like Lon Horiuchi off the hook. Otherwise, our legal system is not based on laws, but on whims and popular opinion.