New York became the first state to pass what Gov. Cuomo described as “common sense” gun-control legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. And, just as gun-rights activists feared when the legislation was rammed through, the law seems to be doing nothing but turning law-abiding citizens into criminals. Such was the case with Gregory Dean Jr., the first person charged in Columbia County under the SAFE Act for carrying two extra bullets in an otherwise legal ammunition magazine. Reminder: a 7-round magazine, which is the law’s limit, does not exist.
Dean was pulled over by state police on May 12 for a license-plate bulb that was out. When his gun permit was exposed to the officer, he asked whether Dean had a gun. The next thing he knew, the officer was counting bullets. Dean was taken into custody and had his property impounded. “It was lunacy,” he says of the incident, adding that they took a law-abiding citizen and made him a criminal.
Fortunately, however, District Attorney Paul Czajka exercised his discretion and dropped the charge, which, as Dean’s attorney Jonna Spilbor explains, took the rug out from underneath the SAFE Act with respect to Dean’s case, essentially nullifying the legislation Cuomo enacted.
So how is the law making New York safer? Simply put: it’s not. Spilbor says she has yet to see a direct correlation between the SAFE Act and keeping New York citizens safer. After all, criminals already don’t care about laws. And Czajka echoed that point when he said that having been a prosecutor, D.A., judge and public defender, he doesn’t ever remember a criminal checking what the latest statute was before he or she decided to commit a crime. “The only conclusion you can draw [about the law] is that it’s about an agenda,” Spilbor said.
The New York’s Sheriff’s Association blasted the law in a public statement and thus far, nearly 60 New York Counties have passed nullification measures. The NRA, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, other sportsmen’s groups, firearms businesses and gun owners also filed a lawsuit in March challenging the SAFE Act, according to Fox News. Spilbor and Dean believe these organizations are essential in the fight or else the voices of ordinary citizens will never get heard.
“This country’s built on people who fought the oppressors the whole way through and if we stop now, we won’t have pistol permits anymore, the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms,” Dean says.