I’m a firm believer that our ancestors already passed most of the laws we need a long time ago and that most new legislation is redundant or unnecessary. Once you’ve covered coercion and fraud you’re basically just repeating yourself to keep on passing new laws against them in their various forms. Three bills scheduled to be heard by the Judiciary Committee this Friday seem to fit this bill. They are LB35, LB63, and LB508 – “gang” laws that, as far as I can tell, outlaw things that are already illegal and create some more bureaucracy to study the gang problem and recommend solutions.
Take LB508, for example. This bill is to outlaw gang initiation activities. Section 2 states “It shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly endanger the physical or mental health or safety of another person for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, promotion within, or continued membership with any criminal gang…” Isn’t endangering someone already illegal? What does specifying the purpose for committing the act add to the law? Does specifying the gang element add any deterrence here? Is a gang member going to read a law like this and say “Gee, I guess they’re really serious about this gang stuff, I better give it up”?
The list of “new” crimes in these bills goes on an on. LB63 contains this prohibition of grafitti: “Any person who knowingly and intentionally applies graffiti of any type on any building, public or private, or any other tangible property owned by any person, firm, or corporation or any public entity or instrumentality, without the express permission of the owner or operator of the property, commits the offense of unauthorized application of graffiti”. Isn’t making graffiti on someone else’s property already illegal in any jurisdiction where it’s a problem? Doesn’t vandalism cover it in places where “grafitti” isn’t specifically banned? Why do we need to (further?) codify this in state law?
I’m no lawyer but I’m pretty sure many of the things that these gangs are doing are already illegal, so what’s the point of cluttering up the legal code with these redundant laws?