Simeon Mokhimber served his nation proudly. The Iraq War veteran served with the 82nd Airborne Division, one of the more storied units in the United States Army. However, that veteran status doesn’t help a whole lot when you run afoul of a law like New York’s notorious SAFE Act.
Mokhimber dodged a bit of a bullet, however, since he received no jail time despite three felony convictions, one for each 17-round Glock magazine in his possession.
An Iraq War combat veteran who served seven years in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division avoided prison time and received a conditional discharge Wednesday for his three felony violations of New York State’s gun control law.
Simeon D. Mokhiber, 42, still plans to appeal his conviction.
A Niagara County jury convicted the Niagara Falls resident of possessing high-capacity ammunition magazines, which are illegal under the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, commonly known as the SAFE Act. Police found the items in his car during a traffic stop in April 2016 in North Tonawanda.
“I think that the SAFE Act is clearly unconstitutional,” Mokhiber said after his court hearing. “The Second Amendment is only one sentence long. It’s written in plain English, that one sentence, and the SAFE Act clearly violates it. It’s not a complicated matter.”
Mokhiber testified in his own defense at the trial. He said he hoped the jury would ignore the SAFE Act, even though the judge in the case instructed jurors to follow the law whether they agreed with it or not.
Mokhimber was hoping for something called “jury nullification” where the jury can find someone not guilty of breaking the law if they believe the law is unjust. However, it was a ridiculous gamble to make.
As it is, Mokhimber is fortunate. While the SAFE Act’s magazine restrictions are idiotic and unconstitutional, they’re also the law and he was convicted of violating that law, despite there being no firearm in the vehicle. The fact that he isn’t on his way to prison for a very long time counts him as a lucky man.
Despite the text “shall not be infringed,” it’s not a smart move to count on that to protect you from the legal ramifications of violating the law.
To be clear, the SAFE Act is horrible legislation that inhibits the rights of gun owners but does nothing to actually inhibit criminals…just like every other gun law on the planet. I oppose it with every fiber of my being.
Yet that doesn’t mean Mokhimber made a smart move with his defense. Jury nullification of what was a pretty clearcut violation of the law, even a stupid law, is a losing gambit almost every time and that was his best shot at walking on this one.
However, Mokhimber’s troubles may well be New York’s gain. Since he’s already said he plans to appeal the conviction, then this may well serve as the kind of case that could make its way to the Supreme Court, thus potentially leading to a smackdown of the SAFE Act. If that happens, not only does Mokhimber’s record become clean, but a lot of New Yorkers can stop hiding their illegal magazines.
If it ever gets that far, that is.