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Statists gonna act statist

There’s been a lot of hooroar about Indiana’s SB203, the summary of which is:

Firearms. Prohibits the: (1) sale; (2) trade; or (3) transfer; of a regulated weapon to a person less than 21 years of age. Provides that a dealer or person who knowingly or intentionally: (1) sells; (2) trades; or (3) transfers; a regulated weapon to a person less than 21 years of age commits a Level 6 felony. Provides certain defenses. Prohibits a person from possessing, selling, or offering for sale a magazine or similar device for a firearm with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Provides that a person who: (1) knowingly; or (2) intentionally; openly carries a prohibited weapon in a public place commits carrying a prohibited firearm, a Class A misdemeanor. Creates the crime of “unlawful possession of a multiburst trigger activator”. Provides that the possession or sale of a multiburst trigger activator is a Class A misdemeanor. Provides that the crime of unlawful possession of a multiburst trigger activator is a Level 6 felony if the person has a prior, unrelated conviction for the offense.

Filed by a jackhole Democrap senator from Indianapolis, of course.  And he can kiss the rest of the legislators’ asses if he thinks this is going to go anywhere this session with a majority GOP in both houses.  Unless of course the GOP falls on their own asses and lets this get passed.  But the word is it’s DOA in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But this other bill, SB219, is insidious, was filed by a fuckwad GOP senator, and may end up passed if people don’t wake up:

School bus stop arm. Permits the civil forfeiture of a vehicle if the vehicle is used to recklessly pass a school bus with an extended stop arm.

Now, wait a minute.  Didn’t the Supreme Court (the federal one, not the state one) recently have some unkind words to say about civil forfeiture in a case from Indiana?

Well, sort of.  The Supreme Court said that the Excessive Fines clause of the 8th Amendment was binding on the states (the legal term is “incorporation”), but rather than vacating the forfeiture as an Excessive Fine, they sent Timbs v. Indiana back to the appellate level to determine whether or not Timbs’ forfeiture of his expensive SUV (because it was allegedly purchased with money Timbs made from selling illegal drugs) was, in fact, an Excessive Fine as defined by the Eighth Amendment.  (For what it’s worth, don’t think for a moment that Timbs is a good guy who got screwed by the state — he’s not.  But he makes a good case that seizure of the SUV was excessive.)

Given that the appellate courts have not yet ruled on whether or not civil forefeiture is an Excessive Fine, you’d think a state legislator — especially a GOP state legislator — would hold fire on attempting to add to the Indiana Code a really fucking stupid civil forfeiture penalty for what is effectively a reckless driving offense that is already punishable by a fine.  Because if the Timbs forfeiture ends up being vacated because it’s determined to be an Excessive Fine, this piece of legislation if passed will be null and void.

Moreover, the specific code to which this penalty is intended to be added, IC 34-24-1-1, doesn’t actually say a word about school buses and whether or not disregarding an extended school bus stop arm is any sort of a crime.  (It is, it’s just not covered in this statute, and I don’t have time to go look it up.)  IC 34-24-1-1 discusses the specific criminal acts such as dealing in or transporting illegal narcotics, transporting bombs, driving recklessly while drunk, and suchlike, for which a vehicle is fair game to be seized.

Note that all of the offenses listed in IC 34-24-1-1 are criminal offenses, rather than civil.  I would argue that since reckless driving is already covered, there is no need to add the specific instance of disregarding an extended stop arm, other than to say, “Look, I DID SOMETHING ABOUT SOMETHING, so RE-ELECT ME.”  What this is normally called is “larding the bill of indictment with stuff that ought to be fucking obvious.”

So for the exceedingly subjective offense of passing a school bus while its stop arm is extended, any offender could be slapped with a reckless driving charge and potentially forfeit their vehicle.  The reason I call this “exceedingly subjective” is that school bus drivers often extend the stop arm before they come to a full stop.  If I am already in the act of passing the bus when the stop arm comes out, an innocent act at this time in history, I could be charged with an offense that actually makes zero sense to prosecute.  It’s “subjective” because it’s entirely up to how the cop sees the incident, which could be dependent on his viewing angle, but could also be dependent on how much coffee and how many doughnuts he’s had to eat today, or whether or not he was really paying attention or checking out the cute mom waiting for her kid at the bus stop.

Now, if I’m drunk, and the cop is chasing me, and I happen to whiz past a parked school bus with the stop arm extended, hell’s fire, he’s already got me for DUI and reckless driving, and possibly reckless endangerment of the kids getting on or off the bus.  IC 34-24-1-1 already says my vehicle is subject to seizure for those offenses (which is questionable pending the outcome of Tibbs v. Indiana).  Why do we need to lard on ANOTHER forfeiture clause that by the way is PROBABLY an Eighth Amendment Excessive Fine?

Because it’s really all about the plea bargain.  The prosecutor doesn’t want to waste his time on this, so he’s going to walk in and say, “Hmm, first offense, DUI, reckless driving, passing a bus with stop arm extended, so you’re going to lose your car to civil foreiture.  We’ve got you on camera.  Do you want to plead out now, or fight us on this?  Our deal is, you lose your car but we get you probation as a first-time offender, and you lose your license for 90 days and have to attend a diversion program.”

For which the prosecutor ought to be hanged, but that’s another story.

The point is, when you already have half a dozen ways from Sunday to prosecute the sort of offense that is envisioned by Sen. Ronnie Alting (R-Lafayette), a state senator of 22 years’ tenure who probably should have been primaried or term-limited years ago, you have to wonder when this cake of laws we’re baking is going to be done.  We are thus left wondering, as P.J. O’Rourke so trenchantly did:

Otherwise, only one important question is raised by the Constitution, a question implicit in its Preamble:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity . . .

The question being, “Are we done yet?”

— Parliament of Whores, p. 14

As P.J. noted in answer to his own question, “The mystery of government is not how Washington works, but how to make it stop.”  I’d suggest you could say the same about the Indiana General Assembly.