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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 11 Feb 2014

-Gun Control Advocate Arrested for Gun Offense to Go Before a Jury


IMG_1132cropGun control advocate Dwayne Ferguson is facing two felony charges of criminal gun possession after being discovered in possession of a holstered firearm during a lockdown at Harvey Austin Elementary School. Ferguson, of Buffalo, New York, is well-known locally for his efforts in pushing for the post-Sandy Hook passage of New York’s SAFE Act, bumping carrying a gun on school grounds, which was already classified as a crime, from a misdemeanor to a felony. He was on campus that day when police responded to two anonymous tips that a man with a gun had been seen in or near the school. In addition to locking down the school and conducting a room to room search in association with the tips, police also patted down everyone on campus, at which time they discovered he was carrying. Ferguson says he had forgotten that he was armed.

GUN STUN: Gun control activist swears he forgot he was carrying gun while visiting school

A Buffalo, N.Y. community activist who is well known locally for pushing for a highly restrictive 2013 gun control law has been arrested for — wait for it — carrying a gun illegally at a public elementary school.

The arrested gun-control advocate, Dwayne Ferguson, caused quite a scene at Harvey Austin Elementary School, reports local CBS affiliate WIVB.

Ferguson, 52, was at Harvey Elementary because he works as a mentor in an after-school program for disadvantaged students.

He said he frequently carries a pistol. He has a license but the license does not matter under the strict state law Ferguson helped pass.

Among much else, the 2013 law, deemed New York’s SAFE Act, made it a felony to carry a gun on school property, according to The Buffalo News.

While it was always illegal to carry a gun on school grounds, the new law bumped the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The community activist has claimed that he forgot he was carrying his gun in a felony gun-free zone he helped create.

This case illustrates how easy it is for people to get caught in the traps that are set by criminalizing victimless offenses. Ferguson’s weapon was not discovered until he was patted down by police and was holstered when it was found. He did not use, nor threaten to use, his weapon against anyone. Even the local chief of police acknowledged that Ferguson had no intent to harm anyone. Yet, in part due to his own efforts, Ferguson now faces up to four years in prison for two felony charges, including having a loaded weapon on school grounds. He has pleaded Not Guilty to both charges. If he maintains his plea, Ferguson’s case will go to a jury to decide his fate. Whether or not that jury will be fully informed remains to be seen.