A 64-year old man who used his late father’s handgun to defend himself against two home invaders has seen charges of illegally possessing a firearm dropped by a prosecutor months after his arrest.
Ronald Stolarczyk never faced any charges in connection with the fatal shootings of Patricia Talerico and Nicholas Talerico as the pair were breaking into Stolarczyk’s home. Instead, the 64-year old faced a felony charge of possessing an unregistered handgun in the state of New York. Now, according to Stolarczyk’s attorney, the homeowner won’t be facing the possibility of years in prison for possessing his dad’s handgun without registering it with the state.
The charge against Stolarczyk was dropped in Deerfield town court Monday night after the Oneida County District Attorney’s office made a motion to dismiss the charge and the judge agreed, Mark Wolber, Stolarczyk’s lawyer, told Syracuse.com | The Post Standard today.
Wolber said he has asked from the outset that the charge be dropped “in the interest of justice” and had numerous conferences with the DA’s office on the subject.
Today, Stolarczyk is “very relieved,” Wolber said. “He’s not a very emotional person, but is very happy this is over with.”
Under New York’s SAFE Act, passed in 2013, all handgun owners in New York were required to re-register their handguns with the state, and individuals like Stolarczyk, who came into possession of a Rossi revolver after his father passed away, were required to register those firearms as well. As the original deadline approached in January of 2018, there were still hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who had not complied with the law. The prompted the New York State Police and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend the deadline until January of this year.
Oddly, when the new deadline was approaching this year, there was utter silence from the media, the governor, and the NY State Police. No public reminders about the deadline, or the fact that anybody who hadn’t re-registered their previously registered handguns could be arrested on a felony charge. It’s like everybody just decided to quietly drop the story, rather than remind folks of the massive non-compliance. Nor is there any indication that huge numbers of New Yorkers re-registered their pistols between January of 2018 and January of 2019.
There are still plenty of people being prosecuted under this provision of the SAFE Act, but most of the charges are coming out of New York City. Back in 2017, Politifact claimed that was because more people in upstate New York were complying with the law, but there’s no actual indication that’s the case. Meanwhile, Slate’s Emily Bazelon recently reported on Brooklyn’s “gun court”, where many SAFE Act cases are heard, and found that hardened criminals weren’t involved in the majority of cases being heard.
I thought I’d find horrific stories of gun violence and hardened evildoers, like de Blasio said. Instead, over many months of my reporting, I found hundreds of teenagers and young people, almost all of them black, being marched to prison not for firing a gun, or even pointing one, but for having one. Many of them had minimal criminal records. To be precise, when I went through 200 case files, I found that 70 percent of the defendants in gun court had no previous felony convictions.
That’s what gun licensing and gun registration laws bring in New York; years in prison for simply possessing a gun without the government’s permission. Gun control activists and politicians who love to push anti-gun legislation may want to desperately avoid talking about the unintended consequences of their laws, but that doesn’t mean that those problems have disappeared. Despite the good news for Mr. Stolarcyzk, you can find plenty of other non-violent offenders in New York who are still facing felony charges for exercising their rights without a governmental permission slip.