Punishment Based on Where, rather than When

      People have spent years in US prisons for marijuana possession, which is now legal in many states. Prostitution is illegal in most of the United States, but legal in many other countries. Even at the most basic level, the right to defend oneself from intruders to one’s home, there are huge differences among countries that are otherwise very similar. The US and England are both advanced first world democracies with similar levels of economic development, and they share a language and a culture. Yet their treatment of gun crimes is very different. In most US states, if an intruder has crossed the threshold of one’s house, the occupant has the right to repel that intruder by any means he or she deems necessary, including killing the intruder with a firearm. The situation in England is very different.

      Even within a single country, laws can vary quite widely. Some states such as New York have more European systems, with harsh penalties for possessing a gun; in other states, such as Arizona, one can carry a gun openly. Plaxico Burress, a New York Giants football player, spent almost two years in jail simply for carrying a gun into a nightclub, which was discovered when he accidentally shot himself. One might think he had been punished enough, but New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg urged that Burress be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, arguing that any punishment short of the minimum 3½ years for unlawful carrying of a handgun would be “a mockery of the law”, despite the fact that carrying a handgun is perfectly legal in many US states, and many people who actually shoot someone serve less prison time than Burress.

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