Anytime you allow a bureaucrat to have the power to decide whether someone gets something or not, you introduce the potential for corruption into the system. In the case of guns in New York City, the government gets to decide who gets to own a gun and who doesn’t. Because of this, there’s always going to be those who don’t want to be told “no” and will do all they can to hedge their bets.
For those on the other side, it can be difficult to say no in the face of money that no one will know about, especially if you’re of less than stellar moral fiber.
Which may well be what happened in the Big Apple, where a former NYPD officer admits to taking money in exchange for granting firearm permits.
Paul Dean faces up to five years in prison for orchestrating a bribery scheme between at least three dealers and law enforcement officials in the city’s licensing department to fast-track applications for gun permits and overlook certain clients’ violent criminal histories.
“Paul Dean betrayed his duty as a former leader within the New York City Police Department to protect and serve the public,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a news release Thursday. “Instead of assuring the integrity of the License Division he oversaw – a division charged with protecting the public safety by restricting access to firearms – he sought to corrupt it by bribing the very officers once under his command.”
Dean joined the NYPD in 1994 and began serving in the licensing division in 2008, according to court documents. He oversaw the division’s operation from November 2014 until his retirement in January 2016 and held the “ultimate approval” when it came to gun licenses, according to a complaint filed in federal court last year. During his last three years with the unit, Dean admitted he and officers he supervised — including David Villanueva and Richard Ochetal — solicited and accepted bribes from “expediters” Gaetano Valastro, Frank Soohoo, and Alex Lichtenstein.
The officers accepted cash payments, paid vacations, food, liquor, prostitutes and free guns in exchange for fast-tracking gun licenses, often skipping standard protocol — such as conducting applicant interviews to verify supplied information.
While I think New York’s permitting system is draconian and Orwellian, it’s the law. I have zero problems with people who break those laws going to prison for a long, long time, especially when they do so due to bribes.
I might be able to appreciate Dean if he’d made a stand in defense of the Second Amendment. You know, something like, “Yes I granted all those permits. They’re law-abiding citizens and shouldn’t be denied a firearm just because politicians are scared.”
But he didn’t. He and his compatriots did it for money or other such considerations.
That’s not how things are supposed to work. Granted, gun licensing like New York City has isn’t supposed to be how it works either, but there’s a way to deal with that. A legal way.
Frankly, if Dean was willing to be bribed on something like this, what else would he have taken a bribe for?