I've talked before about a proposal to criminalize crime victims in Connecticut--it would seem that this insanity is now gaining ground. The bill would make it a crime to fail to report the loss or theft of a firearm. That's right--if a burglar steals the .22 you keep around to shoot the occasional groundhog raiding your garden, and if you fail to report it, you are now a criminal (and in fact, on second and subsequent offenses, you become a felon--I can just imagine that conversation in prison: "What are you in for?" . . . )
A similar bill was passed in the Connecticut Senate last year, but failed in the House. This year, proponents of forcing crime victims to report their victimization are more hopeful, because new "compromise" language in the bill has won over some legislators who had previously had doubts.
[Representative William] Tong has high hopes this year's bill will survive because it has the support of the Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, state Rep. Arthur O'Neill of Southbury.Yeah, I suppose the British thought that winning Benedict Arnold over to their side was a pretty nifty accomplishment, too.
Tong said at "the eleventh hour" Tuesday, after a lengthy public hearing on the legislation, O'Neill proposed compromise language that he said would ensure his vote.
"To get him to flip on it is very, very significant," Tong said.
After yesterday's 36-3 committee vote, O'Neill acknowledged he has had an "A-plus" legislative rating with the National Rifle Association for years.Maybe I should set up a poll--after this "conversion," will O'Neill's grade from the NRA still be an "A-plus," fall to an "A," or plummet all the way to "A-minus"?
The "improvement" embodied in the "compromise" language would seem to be rather subtle, to say the least.
He said one compromise was specifying that gun owners file a report within 72 hours of "having discovered or reasonably should have discovered" a missing firearm. Last year's bill would have required a report within 72 hours when an owner "knew or should have known" a gun was missing.From "knew or should have known," to "having discovered or reasonably should have discovered"--I know I feel much better. Tell me (if, as a mere layman, I can be made to understand)--who is to determine when a gun owner "reasonably should have discovered" his gun was missing? I can't help but notice that Representative Tong didn't bother to even try to begin to explain to us laymen how to "parse the differences" (I had originally planned to title this blog post "We're the Only Ones parsing the differences enough," but I didn't know if that would be close enough to Mr. Codrea's use of "Only Ones" to use without seeking his permission first). For more about the "compromise," click here.
O'Neill and others said that language could have been used by over-aggressive prosecutors to build cases against vacationing gun owners or hunters with cabins who may not learn for some time of a break-in.
"It's not an unfounded concern," said Tong, who is an attorney. "I know in layman's terms it's tough to parse the differences, but there's a meaningful difference."
The bill (Connecticut Senate Bill 903) goes beyond mandating reporting of stolen firearms--it mandates "safe storage" of firearms (without defining what constitutes "safe"), meaning that even if the rightful owner does report the theft of his gun(s), he can face prosecution for not doing enough to prevent the theft.
The legislation approved yesterday also requires firearms to be stored safely and not in a manner considered "reckless and irresponsible" by investigating police.Since, as mentioned earlier, we are not told what kind of storage would be considered "reckless and irresponsible," this would seem to give zealous police and prosecutors rather a lot of leeway in making the decision whether or not to prosecute crime victims.
This bill, and any like it, transfers some of the responsibility for a crime from the perpetrator to the victim--that is not justice.