Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thought Experiment : Use vs. Possession

When determining if something should be prohibited, at what point should it be illegal - when it is possessed, or when it is used criminally?

Suppose you had an object, that when used or stored responsibly, did not impact the lives of others or to the user (such as causing injury or property damage), but if used could lead to harm - either to self or others.

"Possess" means simply that - to have in one's possession, but not using.

"Use" means to use it for it's intended purpose - not a strange purpose. Umbrellas could be used as a parachute - a bad one, mind you, but it could. The danger of this definition is, of course, that some objects have more than one use - a claw hammer can both put in and pull out nails. So, you have to consider that as well.

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3 comments:

John M Reynolds said...

Oh no! They have a board with a nail in it! Run Away! (simpsons-esqe)

Or

No problem man. It is only a kilo of cocaine. I mean like I didn't know it was in my suitcase.

or

What do you mean I had weapons of mass destruction, but moved them to Syria? They aren't in my possesion now.

John M Reynolds

John M Reynolds said...

(had trouble posting)

Oh no! They have a board with a nail in it! Run Away! (simpsons-esqe)

Or

No problem man. It is only a kilo of cocaine. I mean like I didn't know it was in my suitcase.

or

What do you mean I had weapons of mass destruction, but moved them to Syria? They aren't in my possesion now.

John M Reynolds

Jim said...

You went straight for the nukes and cocaine ... what about a Civil War musket and an ounce of marijuana?

You snarkily arguing that possession is sufficient if the only possible intent was criminal.

Right now, possession of an ounce of marijuana is illegal, yet it's use only affects me.

Possession of an unregistered Civil War musket is in violation of the gun registry.

In both cases, I have not caused somebody else injury or property damage, yet I've committed crimes. Why?