RICO Gangs

Uncle is talking about a new senate bill GOA is alerting on that shows, once again, that GOA doesn’t know how to read legislation. Now, I’m absolutely no fan of this bill that Congress wants to pass here, mostly because I think gang activity is generally not a federal matter. But here’s what GOA is claiming about this bill:

At issue is section 215 of the bill. In essence, your family, gun shop employees, or even church bowling league would be considered an organized “gang” and subjected to draconian prison sentences if you did any of a number of things, such as:

  • having a gun (loaded OR unloaded) in your glovebox as you — inevitably — drive within 1,000 feet of a school, even if you didn’t know the school was there;
  • selling a gun out of your store while being entrapped in a Bloomberg-style “sting” operation;
  • teaching your son to shoot without giving him a written letter of permission (which must be on his actual person), even if you are standing right behind him at the range the whole time; or,
  • simply being one the 83,000 veterans whose names were illegally added to the Brady system by President Clinton (or, presumably, one of the thousands more who will be on the list if the current Veterans Disarmament bill passes), if you continued to possess a firearm.

But does it define what a gang is? Why, yes, it does:

(1) CRIMINAL STREET GANG- The term `criminal street gang’ means a formal or informal group, organization, or association of 5 or more individuals–

    (A) each of whom has committed at least 1 gang crime; and
    (B) who collectively commit 3 or more gang crimes (not less than 1 of which is a serious violent felony), 3 or more in separate criminal episodes (not less than 1 of which occurs after the date of enactment of the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007, and the last of which occurs not later than 5 years after the commission of a prior gang crime (excluding any time of imprisonment for that individual)).

But what is a gang crime? Surely that’s rife for abuse right?

(2) GANG CRIME- The term `gang crime’ means an offense under or State Federal law punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year, or a felony offense under State law that is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 5 years or more in any of the following categories:

In short, if you’re not already a prohibited person, you don’t have to worry about this bill. Like I said, I have federalism concerns with this, but I don’t have concern this is going to ensnare law abiding gun owners unjustly. Once again, GOA is scaring gun owners by misrepresenting legislation.

7 thoughts on “RICO Gangs”

  1. Especially in the light of the recent Joaquin Jackson controversy, folks keep mentioning how valuable it is for us to have the GOA (and JPFO) in addition to the NRA. But every time I’ve read anything from the GOA lately, they’ve got their facts dead wrong and, as you say, show they haven’t a clue about how to read legislation.

    I’ll keep looking for the “good things” that the GOA does for us pro-rights people, but I have to admit I’m growing some doubts about their usefulness.

  2. The smaller groups have a place in the movement, the problem is, they all too often try to find their place at the expense of other groups, or at the expense of the health of the movement as a whole. GOA’s legal defense fund payed out about 17k in money in 2004 (last year I could get their Form 990s). I’m not saying that any help isn’t appreciated, or shouldn’t be, but 17k won’t buy you very much legal defense.

  3. The real problem is GOA is obviously more aware of the systematic abuse of broadly written law. If you think their prediction is wrong, go do some serious research on RICO law prosecutions.

    If that doesn’t change your “it’ll never be abused” attitude then you are beyond reason.

  4. It’s not as broadly written as GOA is touting it to be. RICO is certainly prone to being misapplied, but what GOA is speaking of would take an unbelievable misapplication of the law.

    Sure, it could happen, but just about any criminal law is prone to overzealous prosecution. Like I said, I won’t defend the law, but I also wouldn’t put it on the top 20 list of things gun owners should worry about.

  5. For those that think “overzealous prosecution” wouldn’t happen, I have five letters for you: BATFE.

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