Traffic stop leads to SAFE Act arrest
LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) - Lockport Police are coming under fire, following the arrest of a gun owner. Lockport Police made an arrest this weekend, when a man had too many bullets in his pistol clip. Police admit there are even some city employees not happy the man was arrested.Wojdan had a pistol in his glove box with 10 rounds instead of 7 in the magazine. Now, here's the thing. Under the SAFE Act itself, unless a crime is being committed, the police are not allowed to inspect the firearm. From the comments to the article:
“It's not the kind of history I want to make. You know what I mean? But hopefully we can change some things,” said Paul Wojdan, who is facing misdemeanor Safe Act Violation.
"Absent some indication of criminal activity, there is no right to inspect the contents of a magazine to ensure that it meets the requirements under the Safe Act. If an officer has probable cause to believe that a particular magazine is unlawful, he or she may seize and inspect it. If there is founded suspicion of criminal activity, the officer may ask for consent to check the magazine. However, the mere existence of a magazine, which may or may not be legal, does not provide probable cause to believe that any law is being broken.So, the only way the police could have checked the magazine would have been if Wojdan hadn't had a permit for the firearm in his glovebox. Since he had the permit, they were not justified in checking the magazine. Of course, that didn't stop them, and now Wojdan has a legal fight on his hands. It should be a slam dunk to prove that the police had no reason to check the magazines and therefore the arrest was no good, but he's still out a good chunk of change in a legal defense.
If the weapon is one for which a permit is required, police will be justified in checking the permit to ensure that the person lawfully possesses the firearm. If a permit cannot be produced, the officer would be legally justified in seizing the firearm and conducting an inventory of its contents. In this case, the inventory would include checking the magazine in order to account for each round. However, if the person produces a permit and there are no indications of unlawful conduct, an inspection of the magazine would be unnecessary. In this case, the weapon should be secured temporarily, in the same condition as it was found, for the duration of the stop and returned to the motorist at the conclusion of the encounter."
I love how the chief hints that the police aren't happy with the law - "there's probably some people in this building that are not in favor of this law" - but they went ahead with an illegal search anyways. This is exactly why we need to remove the police exemptions - I wonder how supportive of these new gun laws the police would be if they had to abide by them like the rest of us peons. Personally, I would love to see Glock, Smith & Wesson, et al refuse to sell anything but 7 round magazines to NYPD. Bet we'd see these idiotic laws repealed quickly.
So, as a cautionary example, be extra-careful in New York - not that you weren't already...
That is all.