Less than two weeks ago I reported on the peculiar case of Paul Wojdan. He was a passenger in a traffic stop. When asked if he had any guns he surrendered a sidearm that was then inspected and found to have 10 bullets in a magazine (3 over the SAFE Act limit). The problem is that his 4th amendment rights (illegal search & seizure) were seemingly violated because officers did not follow their own established guidelines.
Here is the important information from the previous article (Another SAFE Act Arrest… Man Faces Up to 6-Months in Prison for Unlawful Search That Reveals 3 Extra Bullets):
These are the guidelines that New York law enforcement officials are supposed to be following in regard to magazines and probable cause:
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. 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.
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.
His gun was legal and not involved in any crime. He was not the offender in the traffic violation. He was a passenger. He did not try to hide his weapon, he surrendered it willingly. From the outside looking in it would seem that there was no reason to check that magazine.
This is a case of cops not respecting the constitution. Those guidelines were published for a reason. You can’t search someone’s private property without probable cause.
Did that magazine violate the New York Safe Act? Yes it did.
But we have rights for a reason. Those 3 extra bullets could have saved someone’s life someday and if Mr. Paul Wojdan gave them no reason to inspect his magazine then it should not have been inspected.
At any rate, his punishment has been handed down. Mr. Wojdan has been ordered to surrender all handguns in his possession and must also surrender his permit.
The Buffalo News reports:
Last weekend, Niagara County sheriff’s deputies were sent to Wojdan’s home to confiscate his pistol permit and handguns.
Wojdan told deputies he had received a “notice of objection” from the Niagara County Pistol Permit Office. Handguns seized included a Glock 9 mm pistol, a Walther .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a Springfield 40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a GSG .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol and an Iver Johnson .22-calber semiautomatic pistol.
Niagara County Pistol Permit Investigator William Ingham said that it was a judicial decision to suspend Wojdan’s pistol permit and that both the suspension and gun seizure were unrelated to the state’s controversial Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
Ingham said that in “any arrest, a permit is subject to a review.”
Let me get this straight. They use a bad interpretation of the procedures to be followed and violate a man’s 4th Amendment rights. Then they use the SAFE Act to charge him with “unlawful possession of an ammunition feeding device.”
Now they are taking his permit and handguns and saying it had nothing to do with the SAFE Act? Had it not been for a very blatant violation of his rights this would have never happened.
Now they are using this as an excuse to take away his 2nd Amendment rights. We can argue that the SAFE Act is already unconstitutional and we would be right. But when the cops do not follow procedures I call that a police state. Laws are in place for a reason. Rights are in place for a reason. Proper police procedures are in place for a reason.
We certainly don’t know every detail of this case but from my perspective this looks like a case of very unlawful gun confiscation.
What do you think?