A federal corruption trial with charges involving two New York businessmen and the city's police, a private jet, a prostitute, Super Bowl weekend is the topic of a lively dispatch in the New York Times. One passage particularly grabbed my attention:
In 2014, Mr. Reichberg and Mr. Rechnitz decided they wanted firearms. So Mr. Grant, who went by the nickname Jimmy, got some help from a connection in the police department's licensing division — David Villanueva, one of the unit's supervisors. Mr. Villanueva pleaded guilty to bribery last year and is now a cooperating witness.
"I always did favors for Jimmy; he did favors for me," Mr. Villanueva testified.
Mr. Villanueva testified he helped Mr. Reichberg get a full-carry gun license in only two months, rather than in the year it usually takes to get one.
So what's the real scandal — that it takes a year-long application process to exercise a Second Amendment right? Or that given the existence of that process, the people who wanted to exercise the right and the people whose job it was to administer the licensing process fell into what prosecutors say was a mutually corrupt relationship to subvert the yearlong process?
Maybe they are both scandals. But if the government imposed a yearlong application process to exercise some other constitutionally guaranteed right — say, the First Amendment freedom of the press, or the right to vote that is referred to in the 26th, 15th, and 19th amendments, or even the abortion right or same-sex marriage rights that the justices found emanating from penumbras — you can bet that the New York Times would have its objections, and that people trying to speed up the process wouldn't be demonized as villains but rather depicted as heroes.
That's not to excuse or defend the behavior depicted in the story, which is cringe-inducing. But in addition to the other problems with excessive or unreasonable regulation, the temptation it offers to get around it with corruption is surely a peril.