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article imageOp-Ed: Accidental Shooting Raises Questions

By Sadiq Green     Dec 1, 2008 in Crime
The circumstances surrounding New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shooting himself at a night-club this past Friday night is disturbing on many levels. Unfortunately it raises many questions about celebrities, partying and justice.
Plaxico Burress has told the team that he accidentally shot himself. What he did not report to his team management was that he shot himself in a nightclub, with a gun he was not legally permitted to carry. The incident took place at a popular midtown Manhattan nightclub, The Latin Quarter.
Thankfully, no major damage was done physically to the player, who scored the game winning touchdown in The Super Bowl earlier this year. Reportedly the bullet went through the skin and muscle tissue of Burress' right thigh and did not hit any major arteries, and that there were no broken bones. Burress was treated at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, observed overnight and was released at 2 p.m.
New York City Police have apparently concluded their investigation of the incident. According to Benjamin Brafman, an attorney Burress has retained, the Giants' receiver will be charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon. Brafman met with Burress for about an hour Sunday at the player's home in New Jersey. Brafman wrote in an e-mail to the AP that Burress will turn himself in Monday morning. Brafman said Burress "will enter a plea of not guilty." Brafman also wrote, "I do not expect that Mr. Burress will make a statement."
Brafman, a well-known criminal lawyer, has experience in dealing with high profile figures. He was part of a team of lawyers that defended hip-hop impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs on a bribery and gun possession charge in 2001, stemming from a shooting incident in a midtown Manhattan nightclub Club New York . Ironically, the case, which resulted in an acquittal for Combs, was supposed to have changed the way club security was handled in the city. While I can tell you first hand that security is tighter in general, due to the "Diddy" incident, 9/11 and some other cases involving rape and murder in and around clubs, celebrities and high profile figures with their entourages are commonly still spared such scrutiny.
"I would ask that his fans, the Giants and the media withhold judgment in this matter until all of the facts have been disclosed," Brafman wrote to the AP. But the judgement is apparently clear. Burress was carrying a weapon in a club where it should have been barred from occurring. NFL handgun policy prohibits players carrying weapons on NFL premises and NFL-related functions. It also prohibits any player having a gun without a proper permit or registration. The New York Post reported that, according to records, Burress does not have a permit to carry a gun in New York.
Burress had a concealed-weapon permit issued to him in Florida but records show it expired in May and New York does not recognize out-of-state permits, the New York Post reported. A report in the New York Daily News indicated the same thing. So Burress could face up to seven years in prison if convicted on the felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, even if the gun was his. He could face federal charges if it is found out that the gun he was carrying turns out to be the gun he was once permitted to carry in Florida, but has now made its way to New York.
I know that if I legally bought a handgun in Maryland but transported it to New York, as a so-called ordinary citizen, I would likely be subject to federal transporting firearms charges. If I were to attempt to bring a gun into a nightclub, I would probably be found out due to a proper search, detained and arrested and charged. It is refreshing to see that Burress may receive at least the latter. The Latin Quarter, a very nice spot mind you, has now opened itself up to law suits from patrons, even though none were hurt. They could be liable for endangering the welfare of patrons by allowing Burress to enter with a gun. How that happened must also be thoroughly investigated. You cannot give your celebrity clientele Carte Blanche to skirt the laws of safety.
The news is again disturbing because it came on a weekend when the Washington Redskins would be honoring their fallen star Sean Taylor, who was killed in his home a year ago. Ironically the Giants played the Redskins on Sunday after the ceremony.
ESPN The Magazine has run a very thought compelling piece about how NFL players are living in fear and the steps they are taking after the death of Sean Taylor and even the earlier killing of Darrent Williams in early 2007.But taking steps to protect oneself legally and illegally should not be blurred for celebrities as opposed to ordinary citizens.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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