Three Arrests Illustrate the Impact of New York's Silly Seven-Round Ammunition Limit

The Washington Free
several cases in which gun owners were arrested for violating New
York’s new limit on the number of rounds you can put in a magazine.
Last May state police pulled over Gregory Dean, a 31-year-old
resident of Hopewell Junction, in New Lebanon because his license
plate was not illuminated. According to a statement from state Sen.
Greg Ball (R-Patterson), “Troopers found Dean with a legally
registered pistol with a magazine that contained nine bullets, two
more than the recently passed ‘SAFE Act’ allows.” It’s a bit
mysterious how the troopers knew the magazine contained more than
seven rounds. According to a
state police guide
issued last September, “Unless there is
probable cause to believe the law is being violated, there is no
justification for checking a magazine to determine whether or not
it contains more than 7 rounds….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.” That may explain why Columbia County District Attorney Paul
not to prosecute Dean for this offense, which is a
Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a
$200 fine.  

Last month’s
of Paul Wojdan in Buffalo seems similarly suspect.
Wojdan was legally carrying a pistol in a car driven by his
girlfriend, who was pulled over for speeding. While the officers
were justified in checking that Wojdan had a permit, it’s not clear
how they determined that his magazine contained 10 rounds instead
of seven. Here is what the state police guide says about a
situation like this:

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. 

Another arrest cited by the Beacon involved a
man whom Utica police also charged
with illegal possession of a loaded handgun. In such cases,
according to the state police, seizing the firearm and inspecting
the magazine would be legally justified.

So of these three arrests, two involved otherwise law-abiding
people whose only crime was exceeding an arbitrary ammunition
limit, while the other one involved someone who would have been
arrested anyway but now faces an additional, relatively minor
charge. Either way, it is hard to see any potential public safety
benefit from this silly rule.

from Hit & Run

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