The BATFE and the federal prosecutors with whom they work to "protect" us from "gun criminals" like David Olofson and Wayne Fincher are not known for being particularly merciful with people who have broken (or can be portrayed as having broken) the myriad, byzantine gun laws on the books. Very often, the same can be said for the federal judges who preside over the cases.
In light of that, a man caught by the feds in the act of trying to buy machine guns and suppressors ("silencers," in popular, but inaccurate, parlance) on the black market, and who has several other illegally procured machine guns in his car with him at the time, and who is a convicted felon, and thus prohibited from possessing any firearms, would normally be expected to do a l-o-n-g time in federal prison.
That is, apparently, unless the man in question is a pro-Obama gangsta' rapper.
He is also a convicted criminal who under normal circumstances would be starting a 30-year stretch in a federal "Supermax" prison this week, following his prosecution for multiple illegal gun charges.Just what are these political connections?
But in the age of Barack Obama, T.I., aka Clifford Harris Jr, will serve less than a year behind bars, thanks in no small measure to the bad boy rapper's political connections.
Provided he surrenders at a prison in Alabama by noon on Tuesday, and remains on good behaviour, he should be rapping again about "gangstas, pimps and ho's" by next April.
When T.I., 29, from Atlanta, Georgia, is released in 10 months' time, there will be a quiet celebration at the Hip Hop Caucus, a lobby group that is unlike any other in Washington.Don't get me wrong--I stand by my belief that all gun laws are unconstitutional, counterproductive, and immoral, so "T.I.'s" light sentence offends me only in light of the contrast between it and sentences handed down to people like Fincher and Olofson.
Led by a retired air force chaplain, Rev Lennox Yearwood Jr, the Caucus is situated a few blocks from the White House and it unites high-profile rappers with activists in ways not seen before.
Its staff are becoming familiar faces in the West Wing and on Capitol Hill, lobbying on behalf of deprived inner city communities and deploying stars like T.I. to prise open doors to the corridors of power, where politicians fall over themselves to be photographed alongside a celebrity. Even a rapper with a felony hanging over him commands attention and gets access.
T.I., respectably dressed in a black Armani tuxedo, was recently presented with a Get Out the Vote award for his efforts during the election on behalf of the Hip Hop Caucus.
His colleagues said his work for the Caucus helped persuade the court to be lenient after he pleaded guilty to possessing enough heavy weapons to start a small war - and to attempting to purchase illegally a further three machine guns, complete with silencers.
Oh--this tempts me to want a large, heavy book thrown at him, as well:
"Where I come from, having a gun is just part of everyday life," he wrote in a blog.Lovely--now he's a citizen disarmament evangelist and a gangsta' rapper--and some hope he will "challenge the gun lobby."
"I hope that through my mistakes, young people can begin to learn, as I did, that we have to put our guns down and start to give our guns back."
The real question is what happens to him afterwards? Will he still be able challenge the gun lobby and remain part of the hip hop mainstream?As a dedicated "gun lobbyist," I hope that's the kind of "challenge" the other side comes up with.