Football player Plaxico Burress is getting two years in jail for accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a night club last year. Fellow receiver Donte Stallworth killed a guy while driving under the influence and was sentenced to thirty days in jail. Have we all gone mad here? I understand that Burress was carrying a loaded illegal gun tucked in his sweatpants at a nightclub, but the bottom line is that he only shot himself! Stallworth was driving wasted and actually killed someone...
The sentences are based on legal nonsense and gun laws with the result being two incredibly unequal punishments for unequal crimes. Societally, people have a problem with Burress because he could have killed someone. Since when are the possibilities of our actions so bad?
There's the possibility that when I walk down an escalator at the mall, I'll slip, tumble forward, smash into an elderly woman, and break my leg. Well I did fall on the escalator and break my leg, but I didn't hit the old woman! Is that a punishable crime? The possibilities were there, but it didn't happen, lesson learned, or at least that's what the people at the mall think. Now let's say tomorrow the same thing happens, but I do hit the old lady and kill her, shouldn't I suffer a more severe punishment than the nothing from yesterday?
Driving around with a 0.12 blood alcohol level is just as irresponsible as going into a nightclub with a loaded gun and even less excusable. In a crazy nightclub, you might have to pop a cap in someone if they get uppity. People at certain clubs know it's not a Girl Scout meeting in there, you take your risks to get crunk. You also take your risks while crossing the road, but you shouldn't expect someone to be flying by drunk. On the other hand, you can damn well expect someone in a nightclub to be packing heat!
I'm not disputing the belief that Burress deserves his time in jail, I just think it's more likely to kill someone by driving drunk than to have a gun tucked in your pants. That's all there is to it, and by continuing to punish the former with incredible lenience, you're not helping anyone. Accidents will happen, if you're going to punish them, it should be based on the actual damage done.