Friday, August 31, 2012

NY Judge Issues Himself A CCW, A Bang And A Censure Ensues

One of the many problems with the discretionary May-Issue Concealed Carry Permit systems prevalent in many states is the corruption or indeed the appearance of corruption inherent in such a system.

With a few people in power having essentially absolute discretion over whether other law abiding person may receive carry permits, corruption is rather inevitable whether it be issuance of permits to movie stars, big campaign contributors, or good ol' buddies of those with the discretion to issue the permits.

One judge's actions illustrate the problem with the system:

ABA Journal: NY Judge Rapped for Approving His Own Concealed Carry Permit, Accidental Gun Discharge in Chambers

A New York judge who has been threatened several times during his nearly 20 years on the bench decided he wanted to get a concealed-carry permit and take a loaded firearm into the Tioga County courthouse at which he worked.

However, although there was no rule against having a gun in chambers, Judge Vincent Sgueglia should not have approved his own concealed-carry permit, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct said in an opinion earlier this month.

So here we have a person with the discretion to issue, he's facing a threat so he decides, in his own discretion, to issue himself a carry permit. Rather understandable, I'm sure he's issued permits to ordinary civilians dealing with threats (perhaps or perhaps not - after all NY is rather stingy with issuing permits). He's used to using his discretion to issues so he issued it to himself.

Of course, he should have had a fellow judge issue it for him via the good ol' buddy system as above rather than doing it himself and no one would have even blinked in New York.

He likely would have gotten away with it had he not had a serious lapse in safety:

an accidental discharge of a revolver in chambers in 2010, as Sgueglia was trying to repair a faulty mechanism that cocked the .38-caliber Smith and Wesson and rotated the cylinder.

The judge, who is now 70, stopped bringing a loaded gun into the courthouse after the accidental discharge incident. He plans to retire at the end of 2012.

Once again, don't play with it if you're carrying it.

Don't try to "fix" a loaded firearm.

Respectfully, I also don't see how a "defective mechanism" could cock the hammer on a S&W revolver all by itself. More than likely, he inadvertently or deliberately cocked it and was trying to lower the hammer down on a loaded chamber and slipped, causing the hammer to fire off the round. Otherwise, something even stranger happened and the reporting of the incident is sadly typical for firearms reporting.

So a bad combination of a May-Issue regime that allows for this sort of unnecessary corruption and an avoidable accident brings a censure to someone who is most likely an otherwise perfectly upstanding and honorable judge.

Certainly it is past time for New York to move away from the corrupt may-issue regime to the far more honest shall-issue option. Unfortunately given NY politics, such reform is likely far off into the future.

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