July 25, 2007
Felonious violation of existing gun laws being spun as "road rage" and "genocide"
There's huge front page story in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, with the issue of the shooter's race suddenly becoming relevant:
Nearly a dozen police officers could be seen posted outside the church as mourners arrived, more than funeral home staff remembered seeing at previous funerals resulting from homicides. The Police Department did not return a call for comment late yesterday.
I don't know whether it's fair to say that the case is taking on a life of its own, but in the earlier reports, I'd read about it as being a case of "road rage":
Law, who was described as a "model kid" by those who knew him, was riding with a group of friends in the 900 block of Federal Street around 4 p.m. Saturday when a burgundy Mazda sedan pulled up behind them.At the end of the story, the shooting is described as a "road-rage incident."
The officer, Joseph Acavino, radioed in the locations of the alleged crimes, Cooney said. He ordered Meyers and his two passengers to stay in the car until backup arrived. All three were taken into custody; Meyers was charged with murder, possession of an instrument of a crime, and firearms violations.This is rapidly morphing into a national story -- presumably from "road rage plus guns equals dead children" to road rage plus guns equals cultural genocide" -- so I thought the facts might be worth a closer look.
There are numerous references to the firearms violations, and I'd like to see exactly what the charges are. if the initial stories are any indication, the man's previous arrest record makes him appear to be a drug dealer (same story here):
Charles T. Meyers, the man held in the road-rage slaying of a 14-year-old boy in South Philadelphia, had been arrested twice on drug-possession charges since his 18th birthday in December, court records show.Since his 18th birthday? Is it cynical of me to wonder about whether this thug was arrested before then?
Acquaintances said Meyers, whose last address was on South Darien Street near Ritner Street in South Philadelphia, had been thrown out of his house by his mother and that his life appeared to be in a downward spiral.OK, there are plenty of felonies right there. For starters, it is a serious felony for any felon (or anyone arrested for a felony) to possess a gun.
Why isn't it being made plain that the man was violating existing gun laws, and that had these laws been obeyed, young Tykeem Law would be alive today?Instead, it's all about road rage, and cultural genocide -- caused by a lack of gun laws.
Then there's this detail:
Police said it appeared to be "road rage." Two other men in Meyers' car, ages 21 and 33, were questioned and released.Is it unreasonable to want to know exactly what was going on with this young thug at the time of the shooting? At 18, he was already a career criminal (or well on his way to that), and it just goes against common sense to declare a shooting by such a man who already had an illegal weapon in disregard of existing gun laws to be simple road rage.
Oh, and now it's genocide.
Or would that be "road rage genocide"?
I don't know the facts, and I strongly suspect we're not getting all of them.
UPDATE: When I said "arrested" above, I should have said "under indictment" -- as I meant to refer to this man's pending charges, not his arrest. I do not know what (if any) juvenile record he had, nor do I know whether he was under probation at the time. Again, I would like to know precisely what the firearms charges are.
UPDATE: Meyers was assaulted and beaten (apparently by other prisoners) in his courthouse cell this afternoon:
PHILADELPHIA - A suspect in the apparent road-rage death of a 14-year-old bicyclist _ a crime that has shaken even this violence-weary city _ was beaten up in a courthouse holding cell and taken to a hospital Wednesday.I'm still trying to find out exactly how many gun laws were violated, because many people see this case is an argument for gun control. But if he didn't obey existing gun laws, why would he have obeyed more?
UPDATE: Not only is the shooter's race being called relevant, but so is that of the companion passengers:
Some at the funeral said they believe that race was the aggravating factor in the shooting.Until today, I didn't think the race of the shooter mattered.
But now that everyone's race is said to matter, I guess we need to know the race of the passengers. Will it be reported, or are we just suppose to assume they were white?
UPDATE (07/26/07): More (but not much) on the origin of the gun:
Police said yesterday that they had not yet learned how Meyers obtained the weapon allegedly used in the slaying.It should be remembered that according to the news reports, the shooter turned 18 in December, and that his first adult felony arrest (mere possession of Percocet is a PA felony) was in March. What this means is that if he had no juvenile record sufficient to prohibit his possession of firearms, no history of reported mental health problems, and could honestly swear he was not a drug user, then it is theoretically possible for him to have legally purchased the gun between December and March. But since the police are now saying that the gun was not "registered to him," I think we can safely assume this did not happen.
What is not known is when or how he got the gun, or the gun's status.
If he obtained the weapon with felonies pending, there's an illegal transfer right there. Of course, had he obtained the weapon before turning 18, that would have required commission of a separate felony. Additionally, it is a Pennsylvania felony to possess a loaded firearm in an automobile without having a concealed carry license.
I am not an expert on firearms laws, but just what I've been able to find on the Internet convinces me that there were plenty of gun laws making it illegal for Meyers to possess of the gun allegedly used to shoot Tykeem Law.
The problem is that the laws were simply not obeyed, and I am unable to understand how this case can possibly be seen as an argument for more gun laws. Criminals do not obey gun laws, they never have, and they never will. In a murder case like this the firearms violations are lesser offenses anyway, and tend to be sidelined.
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link! Welcome all.
Please bear in mind that I am relying on news accounts, and I am not in a position to have all the facts, which are being reported erratically, from different sources. I am suspicious about the direction of the spin, but my suspicions are not facts.
I am left wondering, why this is being made into a national story?
Why is it seen as an argument for gun control?
UPDATE (07/27/07): I really appreciate the useful comments, which demonstrate that there were many more gun laws than the ones I found. Which were not obeyed, of course. (Therefore, we need more laws which will not be obeyed by criminals!)
posted by Eric on 07.25.07 at 01:15 PM
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