The good news for Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers is that he didn’t shoot himself in the leg. The bad news is that this is where the differences to the Plaxico Burress gun possession case end.
Mike Garafolo of USA Today points out that the charge levied against Bowers is identical to the charge that sent former Giants receiver Plaxico Buress to prison for two years: criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.
The fact that Bowers wasn’t caught with the gun but volunteered to airport employees that he had the weapon in his bag may not matter. New York has tough gun laws, with a 3.5-year mandatory minimum for second-degree possession.
The only question for Bowers is whether the powers-that-be will choose to attempt to make an example out of the 2011 second-round pick. Since there’s no real difference between second-degree possession and third-degree possession, which has no minimum sentence, prosecutors could cut Bowers a break, if they choose to.
In the context of the Burress case, Sal Paolantonio of ESPN pointed out the wide differences that often arise in cases of this nature, with 24 percent of the defendants who entered a guilty plea to third-degree criminal possession of a weapon being sentenced to possession with no jail time.
Still, prosecutors could regard Bowers’ case differently. Burress took his gun into a Manhattan nightclub, securing it in the waistband of his pants and having it discharge in the building. Though he only shot himself, the end result could have been much worse.
Bowers, if he’d known the severity of the New York law, could have found a way to get rid of the gun short of handing it over and essentially confessing his guilt. Throwing the book at him seems grossly unfair.
Of course, it also seemed unfair to throw the book at Burress. For now, Bowers simply has to wait and see whether the inherently arbitrary wheel of Empire State justice lands on “skate” or “slammer.”