January 19, 2011

When the First and Second Collide

A Massachusetts man has had his firearms and ammunition seized by local police for a blog entry he wrote in the wake of the shooting of Arizona Congressional Rep.Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson on January 8.

39-year-old Travis Corcoran entitled a blog entry, "1 down, 534 to go."

Police are investigating the "suitability" of 39-year-old Travis Corcoran to have a firearms license.

"We certainly take this as a credible threat, and credible until we prove otherwise," said Arlington police Captain Robert Bongiorno.

In his blog Corcoran writes, "It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot indiscriminately. Target only politicians and their staff and leave regular citizens alone."

Police visited Corcoran's home and found a "large amount" of weapons and ammunition, which have been removed.

The length of the suspension, or whether Corcoran's license will be revoked will be determined by the outcome of the investigation.

A debate has broken out about limits of the freedom of speech has broken out in the comments of the news story that is worth reading.

If the media is telling the entire story—and with the site apparently down, there is no way to be entirelysure—I tend to agree that the police have done the right thing in this instance. While Corcoran is not directly making threats himself against elected officials, he is certainly inciting violence. He is not using hyperbole. He is not merely saber-rattling in some sort of rhetorical way. He directly says "Target only politicians and their staff..." which is about as a direct of an incitement as one can make without naming specific politicians.

In my opinion, this goes over the line.

Corcoran, a comic book store owner, tagged his now offline blog with the following tags:

Anarchocapitalism, guns, dogs, entrepeneurialism, science, science fiction, War on Terror, Catholicism, extropianism.

I'll let you infer from that what you will.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 19, 2011 11:01 AM

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that they took this man's weapons and ammo but didn't bother to charge him with a crime first? While his posting was as close to incitement as anything the left has come up with recently, how is it constitutionally appropriate for the .gov to seize his property without charging him with a crime?

Oh, wait. He lives in a communist state. Never mind, I guess...

Posted by: D.W. at January 19, 2011 12:20 PM

could it have been 2 am closing time psychosis? And agree about the lack of a charge. I don't know what to think.

Posted by: Douglas at January 19, 2011 12:39 PM

CY, I respectfully and civily disagree with your conclusion. People have been saying exactly this same thing for years without ever making preparations to carry it out. (no plane tickets to DC, no tial runs or rehearsals, no appointments with elected officials scheduled, no tracking down their home addresses and performing a drive-by recon, etc). A further example is the constant admonition to "kill all the lawyers". What do you call one lawyer at the bottom of the ocean?... A good start.

Nor can it be shown that the communication was directed to any person or group that would act on the instructions. It was a vent, nothing more. If that kind of vent is itself punishable in that jurisdiction, then so be it. But the weapons and ammo are not relevant to the process and should be returned

Posted by: Professor Hale at January 19, 2011 02:52 PM

As you pointed without the context of the entire blog entry it is impossible to decipher whether he crossed the line and acted criminally or just exercised extremely poor judgement in his choice of words and their timing in relation to the recent shooting. Either way D.W.'s point is really the question of the day was he charged before they seized his property?

Posted by: PapioMike at January 19, 2011 03:25 PM

Here is some context; an interview with the guy himself.

Posted by: raptros-v76 at January 19, 2011 04:29 PM

And how does this compare with the assisnation movie on GW Bush? Yet that was considered freedom of speech.

Posted by: Jprs at January 19, 2011 08:08 PM

That's why I won't live in Mass.
In free states you have to commit a crime to lose your rights.
In Mass you don't.

Posted by: Veeshir at January 20, 2011 10:49 AM

I have read and will continue to read his blog when it comes back online. Expressing an opinion that politicians should be hanged is exactly what our Founders wished to protect. See the Alien and Sedition Act for reference to shutting down criticism of the government.

The new standard seems to be to use one right from the Constitution to retract others. His rights to due process and reasonable search have been trampled as well. By yanking his permit, they confiscated his property. Perhaps those who agree with this policy would like to have their computers taken when their opinions make those in charge uncomfortable.

Posted by: Chris at January 21, 2011 01:47 PM

Travis Corcoran has only proven his rhetoric to be even more incendiary as time goes on:

"America was founded on the idea of shooting gov officials. Lexington Concord!" In another tweet, he writes, "I disagree with murder. ...but shooting politicians who pass illegitimate, unconstitutional laws is not murder." And in case there's any doubt about his sincery, he writes, "Nope, it's not a joke. I'm 100% serious."

I am troubled that MA has a system where you can have your guns snatched without even being charged with a crime, but suspect that authorities probably have a legitimate reason to being charges against him for repeatedly inciting violence.

He has exceeded the limits on the freedom of speech. I don't see a gray area here.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at January 21, 2011 01:59 PM

I don't see any gray area either. The Founders took up arms for lesser offenses than we are subjected to today. They're coming for Mr. Corcoran's guns today. What will they use for an excuse to come and get yours?

Posted by: Chris at January 21, 2011 05:05 PM

Despite what crackhead Cororan spouts, "shooting politicians who pass illegitimate, unconstitutional laws" is indeed murder, because we have a court system and electoral process as remedies.

When we lose those remedies--as the Founders did--then we have little recourse but revolution.

We aren't there yet, despite your misunderstanding of American history.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at January 21, 2011 05:16 PM

It's ironic that you say that, CY, because there was a long post at TJIC's blog explaining his stance which, in fact, included his explanation for opposing revolution at this time.

Posted by: raptros-v76 at January 21, 2011 06:54 PM