Probably the only person who feels worse than Paul Wojdan about the gun owner’s arrest for having more than seven rounds in his magazine is Andrew Cuomo.
The governor has practically taken up residence in Western New York in trying to win the only region of the state he lost last time around, counting on a 2014 sweep to buttress any presidential bid two years later.
But any traction he has gained with his repeated visits is undermined every time another otherwise legal gun owner is ensnared by one of the more ridiculous provisions of New York’s SAFE Act. Wojdan is the latest.
The Lockport resident got arrested two weeks ago when the car he was in got stopped, the cop asked about guns, and Wojdan revealed he had a pistol in the glove compartment. Alas, the 10 rounds in the magazine violated the law rammed through earlier this year dropping the legal limit from 10 rounds to seven.
It’s one of the provisions that has led to lawsuits, protests and pillorying of the governor.
In the meantime, Cuomo is here regularly to bask in the glow of the $375 million University at Buffalo Medical School being built downtown, the continuing Canalside development, the Buffalo Sabres’ $175 million HarborCenter project and the momentum created by his “Buffalo Billion.” And who can forget – amid all the reminders – the state’s investment in Ralph Wilson Stadium to keep football here for now.
It’s an impressive Western New York bouquet from a rejected suitor, enabling Cuomo to keep his promise – a rarity for any politician.
The last thing he needs now is the SAFE Act back in the news, with Wodjan’s arrest, the suspension of his pistol permit and the court order to turn in all of his guns. State officials say that such an order is standard procedure pending “a fair hearing.” Having more than seven rounds in a magazine is “an alarm bell,” said David Bookstaver, spokesman for the state court system.
Admittedly, in an era drenched in blood from gun violence, law enforcement would be castigated if a person stopped for violating gun laws was allowed to keep a weapon and then did something crazy.
But gun rights advocates will hear their own alarms bells in a rationale that seems to view every gun owner as a potential mass murderer. They will wonder why the cop even asked about weapons – rather than just license, registration and insurance – during a traffic stop. Was it because of some Big Brother database that cross-referenced the license plate number to a residence with a pistol permit?
More likely, it was because Wojdan’s wife tried to flee while driving without a license. But cases such as this only fuel gun owners’ suspicions about government – even a government bearing gifts. That’s the last thing Cuomo needs.
On the other hand, maybe the SAFE Act isn’t so bad for Western New York. Every time someone gets nabbed for filling a magazine, it puts the controversial law back in view, riling residents and undermining whatever inroads Cuomo has made.
That means the governor will have to compensate by bringing more and more resources here to drive his poll numbers back up.
Let’s hope he has lots of money.