The first man convicted under the New York SAFE Act has been cleared of all charges, 2AWNY.com announced last week.
The Western New York gun-rights group filed a lawsuit back in 2013 on behalf of their client, Marine Corps veteran Brian Wassell, and appealed their case all the way to the New York State Supreme Court. After securing a unanimous victory in the Supreme Court, 2AWNY asked that the case be dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning that Wassell can never face the same charges again.
The New York Attorney General initially filed a motion to move the case up to the Court of Appeals, but soon reversed course and agreed to 2AWNY’s request.
“Six years ago, my life was turned upside down by a law that politicians enacted for political reasons that does absolutely nothing to protect the citizens,” Wassell said during a press conference. “These laws are turning people’s lives upside down, like mine, every day.”
“I urge everybody, if you don’t understand these laws, you need to learn. You need to educate yourself because, if you just listen to what these politicians say, they’re going to run railroad over everybody,” Wassell continued. “Today, it’s finally over for me, but there’s a lot of other people that still have to deal with this. We have to stop criminalizing good people and passing laws that are based on sentiment and have absolutely no effect on crime.”
Days after New York passed the SAFE Act in 2013, Wassell was caught in a sting by the New York State Police. Wassell, who had recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, still owned several now-banned “assault weapons” and was approached by someone at a gun shop who wanted to purchase his rifles. After agreeing to the sale, Wassell was charged with multiple violent felonies.
His case was dismissed by the State Supreme Court not on Second Amendment grounds but because the State Attorney General “failed to demonstrate legal authority to prosecute the case,” according to 2AWNY.
2AWNY’s Civil Rights Advocate Steve Felano said in a recent interview that he believes the Attorney General withdrew his motion to move the case to the Court of Appeals because he feared an eventual appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could rule on the Second Amendment issues the state courts failed to address.
“[The Attorney General] knew all along that if the Court of Appeals heard this, we could bring up all the Second Amendment arguments that we made initially that the New York State Supreme Court just ignored, and then we could appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. They didn’t want that to happen,” he said.
Wassell’s dismissal doesn’t mean the U.S. Supreme Court can no longer consider the constitutionality of the SAFE Act, however. Felano noted that there are “dozens of attorneys” across the state who are actively litigating their own SAFE Act cases, and they hope to move these cases up the chain towards the highest court in the land.
“The end of New York gun control is coming,” 2AWNY concludes in a press release announcing its most recent victory.
The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (SAFE Act) is among the most restrictive gun ban schemes in the country. The legislation (among other things) bans “assault weapons,” standard-capacity magazines, and private firearm sales.