The District Attorney for Columbia County in New York is fulfilling his promise not to prosecute anybody arrested under the highly controversial Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE Act). Paul Czajka said earlier that he would defy the law, and now that a man has been arrested under the law’s new strict measures he has an opportunity to take a stand.
Gregory Dean Jr. was pulled over by police in Columbia County because one of his lights was out. Police discovered that Dean was transporting a handgun with nine rounds, which is two rounds more than what is allowed under the SAFE Act.
Things might have gone badly for Dean, but Czajka simply dropped the charges. “Although I believe that it is not for a district attorney to determine or make blanket policy,” Czajka said, he would “decline to prosecute the unlawful possession of ammunition feed devices.”
This might seem awfully political, but the district attorney is well within his right to drop charges. He explained, “There are a lot of factors that go into a decision that a District Attorney makes. Given the circumstances of this case, it was my decision to exercise my prosecutorial privilege.”
Czajka’s stance isn’t particularly unique among employees within the New York justice system. Other government employees have publicly declared their distaste for the SAFE Act. In fact, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association and five individual sheriffs asked U.S. District Judge William Skretny to add their names to the record against the law.
The New York SAFE Act is one of the strongest pieces of gun control legislation in America right now, but it won’t amount to much if members of the NY justice department constantly undermine the law by overlooking infractions and dropping charges. Legislators may need to rethink the SAFE Act – not because it violates the rights of gun owners, but because it divides the loyalties government employees.