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Saturday, July 30, 2005

How to create outlaws: make stupid legal decisions

A New Jersey state court of appeals reverses a lower court and holds Tour boat captains can't carry guns.
Tour boat captains voyaging on New Jersey waters cannot carry a weapon, even if they fear terrorists may try to commandeer the vessel and deploy it as a bomb like 9/11 hijackers did with jetliners in 2001, a state appeals court ruled Friday.

The decision involved a Hackettstown, Warren County, tour boat captain who skippers vessels for a company operating party boats off the coasts of New Jersey and the rest of the East Coast.

The man, Salvatore Atanasio, failed to show what the appellate division said was the legal "justifiable need" to carry a handgun, even though he said an attacker could storm his vessel.

The decision marked a reversal. When Atanasio first applied for the gun permit, Warren County prosecutors objected but lost in court. The state Office of the Attorney General appealed.
The reversal on appeal was based on this classic legal reasoning:
The court said that if Atanasio had the right to carry a gun, then other workers, "would be legally entitled to carry concealed firearms."
There is probably already a New Jersey law forbidding the take-over of tour boats by terrorists and using them as bombs, which I am certain will deter terrorists about as effectively as this decision will prevent concerned skippers from simply carrying weapons without the benefit of bothering the State of New Jersey for a permit. Not that any prospective terrorists might take note of this decsion and decide to test the waters to see if Captain Atanasio's concern over the use of his boat might, in fact, be a viable method of attack.

Note to tour boat operators: Better step up the passenger screening process, but make sure you don't pick on only young men of Middle Eastern might violate the law.

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