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Sharpton/Plaxico Burress

Cameron TurnerRev. Al Sharpton can feel sorry for Plaxico Burress if he wants to. I don't. The good reverend (and no, I'm not being sarcastic; I support Sharpton on some things and oppose him on others) feels that the former Super Bowl hero's two-year sentence for carrying a loaded gun to a club in Manhattan and accidentally shooting himself in the leg is "unusually harsh...for someone who was his own victim." I disagree.

First of all, one can hardly call the sentence "unusually harsh" when Burress was able to plea bargain down from the original charges of gun possession and reckless endangerment (which could've gotten him 3 ½ years in the joint) down to something called attempted weapons possession.

Second of all, Burress doesn't deserve credit for the fact that nobody else took a bullet because of his clumsy handling of a firearm that he shouldn't have had in the club in the first place. The fact that Burress shot himself and no one else was a matter of geometrical happenstance. The bullet that grazed Burress' thigh as the pistol dropped down his pant leg also ricocheted and barely missed another person. If the bullet's trajectory had been a little bit off, Burress would've had company in the hospital. Bottom line is that anytime anybody carring a loaded weapon into a place crowded with people they are putting other folks' lives in danger. That's why we have no-nonsense gun possession laws - to discourage folks from bringing deadly weapons out in public.

There was no excuse and no need for Super Bowl hero Burress to roll up to the Latin Quarter nightclub last November with an unlicensed handgun tucked into his waistband. Doing so was stupid. Or arrogant. Or both. Burress knew he wasn't authorized to carry a concealed weapon in the state of New York. (He used to be authorized in Florida, but his permit expired in May of 2008, five months before the fateful night in New York.) So, Burress knew that if he got busted with a gun he could go to jail. That knowledge should've made him leave his pistol at home. But he left the house strapped anyway. I'm sorry, but that's just ig'nant.

So, the question is why did Plaxico Burress carry gun - a loaded gun, mind you - when he went out clubbing? Did he take it for self-defense? Yo, Plax, if it's that dangerous for you in the clubs maybe you need to do your partying at the crib? Or hire a bodyguard. Or get the club security to escort you to and from your ride.

But perhaps it wasn't about protection. Maybe it was about image. Maybe Burress went out armed because he was trying to be cool? Maybe, like far too many of our young black men today, this Was he caught up in the psychology of the hip hop-popularized street culture that has glamorized gangsters and criminals to the point that guns are seen as must-have fashion accessories?

Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.



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