Compean and Ramos controversy

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The Compean and Ramos controversy:

Two border guards were convicted under a law designed to punish criminals, which prohibits:

using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to the commission of a crime of violence or possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence

Defenders of the sentenced men protest that the law was not meant to curb over-zealous good guys. They note that the guards were not convicted of a "crime of violence" and argue that shooting the fleeing smuggler in the buttocks was not a "use of a fire arm" to further a crime.

Additional Information

The judge in this case was required by mandatory sentencing laws to impose a minimum ten years to each defendant. The sentencing laws did not grant an exemption to police and applied to anyone convicted of using a firearm in commission of a felony. Mandatory minimums have been championed for many decades by various people, including the Republican Party who said in their 1976 platform that "[m]andatory sentences for crimes committed with a lethal weapon are the only effective solution to this problem."[1]

18 USC Sec. 92(c)(1) states:

Whoever, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime which provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which he may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, be sentenced to imprisonment for five years, and if the firearm is a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, to imprisonment for ten years[2]


  1. 1976 Republican Platform: A Safe and Just Society