I know I’ve written a lot about New York today, but I just couldn’t pass up this particular story given the animosity towards legal gun owners that we’re seeing from the state’s Democratic politicians. While anti-gun officials like Attorney General Letitia James are fighting like hell to make it as difficult and legally dangerous as possible to exercise your right to carry a firearm in self-defense, prosecutors in Rochester, New York are allowing a violent felon to walk away on probation after firing a gun into the air and threatening a police officer’s life.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has maintained that New York’s new Concealed Carry Improvement Act will be strictly enforced, including the five-year prison sentence that can be handed down to any concealed carry holder who accidentally strays into one of the dozens of “sensitive places” where guns are banned; from public parks to the Manhattan streets in and around Times Square. Meanwhile, individuals who aren’t legally allowed to possess a gun are getting “Get out of jail free” cards from judges and prosecutors who are more than willing to cut violent felons another break.
A Rochester man was sentenced today to 5 years on probation for his conviction on charges stemming from a shooting in downtown Rochester four years ago.
42-year-old James Grant earlier entered guilty pleas to charges of illegal possession of a firearm and terroristic threats through a plea agreement that led to the dismissal of a felony count of reckless discharge of a firearm and another terroristic threats charge. In addition to probation, he was given a stayed prison sentence of five years.
Grant was arrested on September 6, 2018, after he was seen firing a handgun into the air while arguing with his girlfriend on a sidewalk near the Mayo Clinic Dan Abrams Center. Mayo Clinic surveillance camera videos were used to identify the couple and court records indicate a search of their nearby apartment led to the discovery of a 40-caliber handgun and ammunition.
After he was in custody, Grant allegedly told an intake officer at the local jail that the next round he shot would be aimed at the officer’s head.
KROC reports that when the plea deal was finalized back in August, prosecutors said they intended to ask for a 15-year sentence for Grant. So what happened here? Did the D.A. agree to this sentence, or were prosecutors blindsided by the judge? Was there any discussion in the D.A.’s office about taking the case to trial after all, given the potential for a probationary sentence in what was a pretty serious offense; certainly more serious than a concealed carry permit holder wandering through a public park with their holstered firearm.
What makes this even more egregious is that Rochester is currently in the midst of a surge in shootings and homicides. Last year the city had one of the worst homicide rates in the nation, and 2021’s total of 81 murders could easily be matched or surpassed this year. Right now Rochester has had 65 homicide victims, putting the city at a modest decline in the per capita homicide rate; from 38.4 per 100,000 people in 2021 to 31.7 per 100K this year. Instead of vigorously pursuing a case against a violent felon who recklessly fired a round on a city street, or even referring the case to federal prosecutors, the D.A. ended up taking a deal that allowed Grant to walk free at a time when the city is seeing historic levels of violent crime involving guns.
Don’t expect to hear a word of complaint about Grant’s sentence from the likes of Kathy Hochul or Letitia James either. They’re too busy strategizing on how best to keep the law-abiding from bearing arms in self-defense to be bothered about a violent felon getting a slap on the wrist for popping off a round during a fight with his girlfriend. Besides, if Grant’s not occupying a prison cell that just opens up a little room for the concealed carry holder who dared to believe his right to bear arms extended to a New York City subway or a Rochester city bus.