The unintended consequences of bad law can foster some amusing ironies, especially when they ensnare one of its most vocal advocates. Such is the case in Buffalo where a prominent gun control crusader who publicly lobbied for New York’s draconian SAFE Act was arrested Feb. 6 on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, including having a loaded weapon on school grounds.
When an anonymous call to the school office reported a man with a gun on school grounds, police — including 20 officers, a SWAT team, K-9 patrols and helicopters — locked down Harvey Austin Elementary School for several hours to conduct an exhaustive, expensive search that resulted in the arrest of Dwayne Ferguson, 52, who mentored students in an after-school program on campus.
Buffalo Police Department Spokesman Mike DeGeorge said Ferguson was in possession of a handgun inside the school. Although Ferguson has a permit to carry, New York’s SAFE Act makes it a felony — elevated from a misdemeanor — for anyone under any circumstances to carry a firearm onto school grounds other than a law enforcement officer on duty.
Ferguson told WGRZ-TV that he frequently carries the gun and did not realize he had it on him when he went to the school as part of the after-school program. He pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance, despite a request by prosecutors who wanted $10,000 bail. He was, however, ordered to turn in all of his weapons and to stay away from the school until the case is resolved.
News of Ferguson’s arrest spurred an outpouring of support from many in the community, who said the well-known gun-control activist made “an honest mistake” in going into the school armed and, obviously, is not a threat to the students or anyone else.
Others say Ferguson and fellow gun control advocates have made their bed and, therefore, should sleep in it — fleas and felonies included.
“What’s telling is the reaction of Ferguson’s apologists, offering excuses and justifications,” writes Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea in a Feb. 8 blog. “While the observations of some, coming to the realization that a good person with a gun on school grounds can provide protective benefits, is hopeful, it also seems fair to wonder if the same support would be offered should a gun rights advocate be caught in similar circumstances.”
“Honest mistake or not, Ferguson is accused of committing a felony and now faces prison,” writes Thomas Lifson on Feb. 9 in American Thinker. “Ferguson sounds like a well-intentioned man. I doubt he was ever a threat to the students. But he pushed for legislation that makes felons out of people who carry firearms onto campus for any reason whatsoever, including by accident, or a wish to protect students from ill-intentioned intruders. Perhaps Ferguson and his supporters could use his prison years to reflect on the irrationality of the law they pushed for.”
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— Karma catches up with school gun ban activist