Time To Junk This Doctrine

Gun Madness at the State Line | National Review Online

Ignorance does not constitute a defense…

This doctrine may have made sense when laws were sensible, logical, and few.  Today, when, unbeknownst to any of us, we are all in violation of some number of laws every breathing moment, the doctrine needs to change.

If some particular law is not obvious or easily apprehensible to a person of average understanding, then that should be allowed as a defense against the charge of breaking that law.

Posted in Junk Law permalink

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


Time To Junk This Doctrine — 2 Comments

  1. Although the particular “case in point” referenced and discussed at the link is not a very good example to be utilized*, I’d have to say that the whole basic premise behind the “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, nor any sort of useful defense…” idealism has been, in this Nation of ours, pretty shaky for a good, long time – quite arguably, since not long after the founding of the U.S. Republic – and has, due to the horrendous complexity and near-suffocating pervasive presence of interlocking and overlapping regulations, statutes and laws at all levels of Gubment, now deteriorated to be essentially meaningless. Even long-time, highly knowledgeable and skilled criminal lawyers, judges and prosecutors can all too easily fall prey to “ignorance” of this sort, and be victimized by it – how is the ordinary person, no matter how intelligent and generally-well-educated, to be fairly, reasonably able to discern what everyday legal hazards they may encounter?

    Moreover – is it, now, established that the real objective in this “you must/you must not” legal maze is to punish, rather than to primarily require or restrict? Because it simply does not appear to be anything else, if the level of complexity-plus-ubiquity of potential legal “offenses” continues to be as vigorously penalized for “first-offenders” – without any mitigation even considered for being entirely unaware of the potential offense – as it is for repeat offenders, those with prior records of arrests/criminal behavior/criminal intent, and similar scumbags.

    IANAL, of course – but it’s always been my understanding that the idea behind just about all criminal laws was, first, to deter the law-abiding from offenses, and only punish said offenses, on a case-by-case basis, where criminal intent – whether before or after the fact – has been established or can reasonably be discerned…not just try to “drop the jailhouse on ’em”, right up front. That – pretty clearly – is no longer the case, all too often.

    (*This case isn’t a very good example, as “…a 27-year-old medical professional named Shaneen Allen…”, who deliberately obtained a CCW valid in Philly, as well as the rest of PA – in addition to about 35 other States, through reciprocity agreements – should quite reasonably been well-aware of the fact that her CCW was no good in New Jersey, and that, unfortunately for her, crossing into NJ while carrying concealed was therefore putting her immediately at risk. In point of fact, I can’t see how she could even try to plead any sort of “ignorance of the law(s)” – a part of every legitimate CCW course I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen several in-person, plus seen the written materials presented for several others – I currently have CCWs in both FL and NC, myself) includes both a warning about being responsible for knowing ALL the pertinent laws and regulations, at ALL levels, for areas where you may be carrying concealed, and either a listing of the States/local areas where your CCW is not recognized or one or more references to where up-to-date info on this is readily available.

    In short: Ms. Allen screwed up twice – 1) She carried concealed in a State that is well-known for being generally deeply hostile to CCW by anyone, no matter how “well-qualified” and “properly licensed” they may be elsewhere, and 2) she was [apparently] willfully ignorant of NJ regs about CCW, about firearms possession of any sort AND about allowable/prohibited ammo. The best I think she can hope for, sad to say, is that Christie [or someone on a similar level in NJ] takes pity on her and intervenes, and she gets away with some sort of probation, a possible fine and the loss of her gun – what she’s got going for her is, she’s female, black and a Mom, but even that may not be enough to help her.)

    • but even that may not be enough to help her.)

      Because, obviously, the plain, simple, and easily understood language of the Second Amendment, the highest gun law in our land, that takes precedence over any state or local law, is of no help to her whatsoever.

      Have I mentioned how much I hate these bastards?

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