Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court, led by Justice Gorsuch, struck down a case involving the “Violent Crime Law” which enhances penalties for violent firearm crimes. Federal prosecutors have used this law to add stiffer penalties for offenders who use a firearm during the commission of felony. This unfortunate ruling has taken away a valuable and powerful tool from federal prosecutors in which they use this law to leverage offenders to plead guilty and to cooperate with prosecutors against other offenders. Federal prosecutors are able to increase sentences under this law, which punishes ” violent crimes,” which can be defined as ” their nature may constitute a substantial risk that physical force against another or the property of another may be used during the commission of the offense. ” The decision is one of the latest in Supreme Court cases which strike down laws that are said to be too vague. This goes all the way back to Gorsuch’s predecessor, Justice Anthony Scalia’s, decision in 2015 in the Johnson v. United States. In this case, Justice Scalia stated there was similar language in another law which was rejected on the same grounds.
The current case involves the prosecution of two defendants who were caught in a string of robberies of stores at gunpoint in Dallas, Texas in 2014. The case led to high speed chase starting at a McDonald’s drive-thru and ended when they crashed their vehicle into a concrete ditch.
We as a society have to start putting pressure on our elected officials both at the state and federal levels to start doing their jobs and enacting laws that not only have common sense but are also able to stand up to challenges of constitutionality. As stated in an earlier blog, enacting laws that do not stand up in the court system are useless and wastes time. The only way to start having an effect on criminals and their use of firearms during the commission of crimes is to start enacting laws with harsher consequences and that do not have any room to lessen the sentences of those convicted of such crimes. Targeting law abiding firearms owners is not going to stop criminals from being criminals. It is just going to allow them to have more victims out there to target for crimes.
We urge each and every citizen not only in New Jersey but every part of our great country to contact their elected representatives and let them know that the time is now to get common sense laws not only on the books but also enacted that are actually going to have an effect on violent crimes.
Anyone interested in reading the article, the link is below.