I don’t expect sanity from New York. It doesn’t matter which political subdivision you’re talking about, either. The phrase “New York” generally applies to something either stupid or crazy, especially when it comes to guns.
But it looks like someone may be having an acute case of sanity up that way.
More than seven years ago, Iraq War hero Benjamin M. Wassell became the first person to be criminally prosecuted under New York State’s SAFE Act, a controversial gun control law that has been applauded by advocates for victims of violent crimes but attacked by defenders of the right to bear arms.
State Police arrested Wassell, of Silver Creek, after alleging that he sold two semiautomatic “assault weapons” to an undercover investigator. Wassell, who suffered a brain injury from the explosion of an improvised bomb in Iraq, claimed he was confused by differing information that people gave him about the SAFE Act.
Wassell expects to walk into a Chautauqua County courtroom Monday morning and find out that the charges filed against him have been permanently dismissed, never to be pursued again by state prosecutors.
A state appeals court overturned Wassell’s convictions in April. Wassell’s attorney, James Ostrowski, told The Buffalo News Sunday that the State Attorney General’s office recently sent him and the court a letter, saying they will seek no further appeals.
Now, let’s understand that this should never have been a thing. The SAFE Act is a bad law, and it needs to be repealed. However, that’s not likely to happen.
Wassell’s case being dropped is clearly good news for Wassell, but his life became a bit of a trainwreck because of this law.
“Yes, it’s a win, but my life has been turned upside-down for almost seven years now,” the Marine Corps veteran said in a telephone interview Sunday evening. “This whole thing has been hell for me and my family. We’ll never get those years back.
“I got fired from the job I had when I got arrested. I was also under consideration for a job with the federal government, and I was told I was no longer under consideration, because of the arrest. I tried to get back on active duty with the Marines and was turned down. And with all that has happened, there was no ruling in my case on whether the SAFE Act is unconstitutional or not.”
And he can’t get any of that back. Yes, the Marines and the federal government may consider him in the future, but both of those opportunities are closed to him for now. They may never open back up.
To make matters worse, what’s happening now is more of an “Oops. Our bad” than anything else. It’s not an apology. There’s not likely to be an effort by the state to try and make this right. After all, the state can stomp all over someone’s life and never be held accountable.
I’m glad Wassell’s case is being dropped and that he’ll be free to go about his life. I also hope some of these opportunities open back up for him so he can rebuild his shattered life.
He damn well deserves it.