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Weapon confiscated by New York State police from Mr. Wassell (courtesy

New York’s SAFE Act has claimed its first scalp. The AP reports that “State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says 32-year-old Benjamin Wassell of Silver Creek was charged Thursday with felonies related to the sale of illegal weapons. Schneiderman says he [Wassell] twice sold weapons that are prohibited under the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, passed by the Legislature in mid-January.” reports that “Wassell is an Iraq War veteran, according to a law enforcement source.” The Observer newspaper in Dunkirk New York has more details . . .

Wassell allegedly sold assault weapons to an undercover police officer on two separate occasions. According to Buffalo news outlets, the first sale started on Jan. 24 when Wassell attempted to sell a DelTon AR15 rifle [above], a banned weapon due to a pistol grip, telescoping butt stock and bayonet mount, to the undercover officer. The sale between Wassell and the officer was finalized at Aunt Millie’s Restaurant for $1,900 and included 299 rounds of ammunition as well as six large-capacity clips.

Following the first purchase, the officer kept in contact with Wassell. A month later in the parking lot of Lakeshore Lanes, Wassell allegedly sold a Armalite AR10 Magnum semi-automatic rifle to the officer for $2,600. Once again, the sale included ammunition – 21 rounds. On this sale, the officer told Wassell about a previous felony conviction.

The State’s AG reckons this is a bad, bad thing.

“By selling these illegal firearms, Mr. Wassell’s actions had potentially dangerous consequences for New Yorkers,” said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “We have seen far too much gun violence in our state in recent months, and the sale of illegal semi-automatic weapons will not go unpunished.”

Wassell was released on his own recognizance. Prosecutors said he didn’t have an attorney. [h/t Tommy Knocker]

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    • Yep, and it’s been clear for some time they intend to go after vets balls out. They’re (theoretically) the best-trained opposition to government gun snatchers, and therefore qualified to train others in resistance tactics. They want to put the fear of Almighty Dianne Feinstein into them.

      • Good luck, there’s millions that are recent vets and 10’s of millions more that served in the last 30 years or so.

      • Pretty sure we’ll be OK? Go read you’re history book my friend. The same thing wend on in 1930’s Germany when Adolf Hitler was rising to power. Also in 1917 right after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. One of the first things they did was disarm the public. We all know how that turned out. Stalin killed more of his own countrymen than Hitler killed Jews. History is repeating it’s self right before our eyes, and people are either too ignorant or just too plain stupid to see it.

        • Alex… You are right on! We are like sheep led to slaughter! That’s what they’re counting on… the complacency and ignorance of our citizens. When we REALLY feel the bite it will be too late!

        • Wooooo! Hyperbolic rhetoric! Should these weapons be illegal? No. Should you complete a private sale to someone who tells you they’re a convicted felon? No. This has absolutely nothing to do with Nazis or Communists, but good job.

  1. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m glad NY is finally getting those hardened criminals off the streets.

    • Thank God that they got this criminal off of the streets! Now the guns can be used by the good guys because no company will sell them ARs anymore! Score one for the good guys! /sarc off

    • The officer told the seller that he had a felony conviction. That is the only thing I see he did wrong, and that was illegal before the SAFE Act anyway.

      • Actually the adjustable stock, and bayonet lug were illegal prior to SAFE… NY mirrored the 94 AWB before it expired. This man was a criminal before the SAFE act…

        • Geoff, as to him being a criminal prior to the SAFE Act, an unconstitutional law currently on the books may infer that however…

          “No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it. The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and the name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose, since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it.” – 16th American Jurisprudence 2d, Section 177 late 2nd, section 256

          I say he WAS a free American exercising his natural rights.

        • (This is supposed to be a reply to Redleg’s post at 15:45)…

          Selling a firearm to a person when he has reasonable cause to believe that person is a felon? Is that prohibition seriously under Constitutional dispute?

        • DonS, if someone is convicted of a NON-violent felony under an unconstitutional law, let’s use SSG Nathan Haddad as a hypothetical here although his case is pending. Let’s say that he serves his time and is released. The way things are today he is banned from owning firearms for the rest of his life. Do you find that acceptable?

          Is his life worth less than you or I because he is a felon?

          Does he no longer have the natural human right to defend himself because he is a felon?

          Does this hypocrisy sit well with those of you who are constantly espousing “YOUR right to bear arms” rather than “the right to bear arms” or do only YOUR rights matter?

          I know all of the milquetoast gun owners agree with barring felons from owning firearms but I would wager that the founding fathers would disagree with our current laws on this. If a criminal is dangerous and unworthy of owning firearms then he should be in prison. Period.

          If he can’t be trusted in society due to the nature of the crime then he should remain in jail. Once released from prison the natural human right of self defense should be restored, it is a universal right and not subject to a vote of the majority.

          Again, if you can’t trust a former felon with guns in society that criminal should remain in prison and not be released. Laws need to be toughened up so that violent criminals don’t get out. If you use a gun in the commission of violent crime you should get a life sentence. Do that and watch how quickly the violent gun crime stats drop.

          There are myriad other non-violent things that can get one labeled a felon theses days like disposing of batteries in your trash can instead of a recycling center.

          So to answer you DonS, yes felons have rights too and should be allowed to own firearms if they are not a menace to society.

      • Did the officer really have a felony conviction? Granted he said he did but would it really be an illegal sale if he said he was a felon but wasn’t?

        If I think I did something illegal, but in fact it was legal, am I still a criminal?

        • I wonder if this might be a case of the blade cutting both ways. I don’t know where to look up the text of the law, but I think the text of it is something like ‘you can’t sell to someone whom you have reasonable cause to believe is a prohibited person’. Which would mean you’d be okay if you don’t have reason to believe they are prohibited, but wouldn’t be okay if you do have reason to believe they might be prohibited (whether or not they are).

        • It would likely still be an illegal sale under federal law.

          18 USC 922 (d) :

          It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person—

          [list of things that make transferee a prohibited person].

          Absent any contradictory information, a buyer falsely telling you he’s a felon probably gives you “reasonable cause to believe” he’s a prohibited person.

        • Psmcd, that is the problem with laws today, they are capricious and arbitrary and make no sense to a rational individual whatsoever. The old interpretation of laws where there had to be a victim in order to have a crime has been completely turned on its head. That is why so many today no longer respect the law or the justice system, it is no longer moral and someone can be law abiding today and a criminal tomorrow although they have done absolutely nothing different on either day.

          The system is broke.

        • The cop actually is likely to be a felon, just never convicted. That’s not saying much though since every american averages 3 felonies per day.

    • The guns have (OMG) adjustable stocks, making them “assault weapons” under their AWB. The gun was already illegal in NY before the SAFE act. They just wanted to put a gold star sticker in the safe act doing something column.

    • You mean for gun grabbers like Christie, Romney, or Bloomberg?

      Democrats = Eurasia
      Republicans = Eastasia

      And neither you nor I are in the Inner Party.

      • Who did you vote for to be president? Because if you didn’t vote for Romney you effectively cast two votes for Obama.

        • Well, if people would stop voting for either democrat or republican, they’d find a real American in the ballots who goes by Gary Johnson, he actually had ~1% of the votes in about every state.

        • Unfortunately, we are a two party system. You put your time and energy in early on a favorite candidate, then vote the lesser of the two evils in the GENERAL election at the end. Mitt was not my favorite either, but I was not STUPID enough to throw my vote away on Mickey Mouse or Hitler, thus electing Barry the clown.

        • Limey, while you may be correct with regards to the 12′ election, there are still plenty of general and state elections in the past where it did matter. I am merely commenting on what SHOULD be done. Could you imagine if it HAD mattered?

      • Exactly. When former governor and presidential candidate M. Romney claimed support for the 2nd Amendment, I was skeptical because of the signing of the bill to banning certain types of guns in Mass. I voted for him because I believed a Romeny administration would be preferrable to an Obama adminstration. Specifically, a R. admin. would not do these things an O. admin. did: 1) Fast and Furious, running guns into Mexico, 2) giving work permits to illegal aliens, 3) reducing the US nuclear weapons and military readiness. (No doubt other things I’m not thinking of now.)

  2. This report sounds fishy.

    1) (As others have stated) This man is being charged for an event that happened in the past under a new law that went in effect today. This part is unconstitutional as he is being charged ex post facto, and breaks article 1 section 9 of the U.S Constitution.

    2) This man sold a firearm to a “felon” a couple of months ago. This person should be charged under the Gun Control Act of 1968 as he sold to a prohibited person. This can also be amended for gun trafficking and a couple of other items.

      • Unconfuse me- The guy sells a gun to a cop who says he has a felony conviction- but how can a felon be a cop? So- our man’s defense is- I can spot a lying cop a mile away- I sold to a liar, not a felon. Now as for the rest of his defense – he needs a lawyer..

        • I think you’re missing the part where the cop was an undercover cop, and did not inform the seller that he was a cop. Because, you know, undercover.

    • He didn’t sell anything to a felon. He sold something to a person falsely claiming to be a felon. Therefore, he didn’t break the law. No actual felon, no foul.

      • Not according to 18 USC 922(d). That subsection prohibits selling to anyone whom you have “reasonable cause to believe” is a prohibited person.

        If your buyer tells you he’s a felon and you have no contradictory information, you almost certainly have “reasonable cause to believe” he is, in fact, a prohibited person. Selling to him would violate federal law.

        Of course, the defense might become “I believed he was a cop, and I didn’t believe him when he told me he was a felon”.

    • An excellent book it is. And don’t forget Matthew Bracken’s Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Both are geared towards today’s situation without the post apocalyptic setting that comes with James Wesley Rawles.

      Can anyone suggest additional books in this category?

  3. Couldn’t he have sold these out-of-state and been in the clear (assuming NY never picked up on the sale)?

    • Maybe. It would absolutely have to go through an FFL in the other state, but then he would have to transport these already banned weapons out and doesn’t NY already want a record of guns being sold elsewhere to track where they go and how did he get these evil feature rifles anyway? Is the potential out of state buyer breaking any laws if the transfer is legal?

      The cop only told him about the pretend felony the second time. Why was there a second sale if he broke the law the first time?

  4. Do those prices seem high? What did those models sell for a year ago?

    Sounds like he was trying to cash in while he could. I wish I had a stock of AR-15’s. I’d be cashing in, too. Course, I wish I had a pile of krugerands, too. 🙂

  5. No big surprise here, it was going to happen sooner or later. However, it would seem that he was in violation of previous law as well, and when the police officer told him that he had a felony conviction, and he still sold him the AR10, he was in violation of long standing federal law. The portent of the police running stings is disheartening and concerning, but this individual was knowingly breaking the law, and therefore gets little sympathy from me.

  6. Hopefully eric “god save the queen” schneiderman charged the NY Swat also because Ben only had/sold firearms that are in “common” use, Randy

  7. Any chance the accused can flee to Texas on the pretense of seeking political asylum from a tyrannical government? 😉

  8. Wassell is a young (no longer active) Marine that attempted to sell one of his frankenstein AR’s to a local gun shop. The rat at the gun shop called the police and they did an undercover purchase from him. His gun and accesories violated the previous NY restrictions. Calling it a SAFE act violation is just a headline grabbing political move. There is a reason they waited to pick him up until 3/14/13 even though they made the buys weeks ago. Thank you for your service, see you in 3 to 5.

  9. It is a “Crime to LIE to a Police officer” but it’s NOT a Crime for a Police officer to LIE TO THE PUBLIC.
    “Tell me what you did, I can HELP you with the Judge”

  10. There are lessons to be learned here, this is the way it will go. While over reaching in some aspects, the grabbers do have public support for few items that they are going to push.

    1/ One is the paralyzing fear that some other nut is going to go off on another large rampage and for this reason even a hint of “mental problems” will be enough to gain approval for anything the police want to do.
    2/ Background Checks. Whether you like it or not this also has massive public backing and must be dealt with. I think the best we can do is to make sure it’s a non-permanent negative one – see Bill of Rights below.
    3/ Straw Purchases and Gun Show Loopholes: The first does have merits. The woman who bought the guns for the two punks of Columbine should have been prosecuted. On the other hand, a dad buying a .22 for his young son to learn with is fine. The two situations must be legally divided but the prosecution of set-ups by LE will not only be tolerated but approved by the public. The so-called “gun show loophole” is more like the “parking lot” loophole and is also something to watch. I’ve never sold anything except through an FFL just to be sure, you never know who your dealing with. Another good opportunity for LEO’s to snag the unwary as well as the criminals.

    All this will provide plenty of activity for the law without the danger, bad publicity and lawsuits of confiscation. I believe the best way to go is to head-’em-off-at-the pass with our own list of objectives to be codified into law, a Bill of Rights which I enclose for your perusal and comment…

    Gun Owners Bill of Rights

    The first of which is, of course, the 2nd Amendment itself:
    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.
    But what does this mean exactly? The Miller, Heller and McDonald cases provide a partial answer but are as yet unfinished. Meanwhile, the more important question for us is what are our goals, what do we want?

    OK, here we go:

    1/ No general registration of gun or ammo buyers or positive background checks. Negative background checks – in the sense that a potential buyer can be checked against a “prohibited” list – may be OK but should be done by a third party and no permanent record kept. Whatever list is maintained has to be carefully monitored for mistakes, typos and the usual junk such lists are ‘er to with easy-to-use appeal and corrective procedures.
    2/ No general registration of any legally purchased and kept non NFA firearms – all FFL records to be destroyed in due time and any government violation of this rule to be held to strict account.
    3/ Although the idea of placing the mentally disturbed on a “no sell” list has it’s merits it must be also be carefully controlled by judicial review to prevent any “medical professional” – who may themselves be “disturbed”- or believe anyone owning or wanting to own a gun is “disturbed” – to have such an arbitrary power, a violation of due process. This can also have the undesirable effect of deterring some people who could use help from seeking aid.
    4/ Any restriction on types of firearms can not fall below that of weapons commonly used as individual weapons by the military or police as specified by the Miller decision of 1939. They can draw the line at fully-automatic and burst features which can be controlled under strict regulation (as they are now) but under revised rules. If the police need over a hundred officers with “assault rifles” and 30 round mags to deal with 1 nut then why do I need less to deal with multiple criminals by myself?
    5/ No restrictions or records on “regular” ammo sales. These have proved themselves to be unworkable and useless and can only be used to compile a troublesome and misleading database of misinformation. A violation of the “Arbitrary and capricious” phrase in the Heller decision.
    6/ No more exceptions for retired police, political pals or whatever without some provision for persons with the same level of qualification and trust. This is plainly a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
    7/ No possession, transfer or technical violation, such as overall sizes or barrel lengths, to be treated as a crime without some showing of criminal intent. The sad history of some hapless or unknowing innocent threatened or actually imprisoned for some unintended violation has just got to stop – period. No Constitutional citation here. just common sense and humanity.
    8/ No criminal prosecutions for travelers passing through “restricted” states or areas who are making an honest effort to comply with the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act even if in violation of some strict interpretation of the same.
    9/ Any “Reporting of Theft or Loss” laws must be carefully crafted so as not to entrap any innocent oversight or ever to include any casual loss of ammo, accessories or parts.
    10/ No more large area “Weapons Free” zones that – in any built up area – cover virtually everything.
    Although banning specific small zones passes Constitutional muster, any attempt to use this as some end run around legal gun carry is unacceptable and in violation of both the Heller and McDonald decisions.
    11/ The carry licenses issued by any one state should be honored by all others. Although a valid States Rights issue they can be “encouraged” to do so by federal law. Basically it’s a violation of the Constitution Article IV, Sec 2 – Privileges of Citizens – under which driver’s licenses, for example, are recognized through all the states.
    12/ Whatever restrictions are passed must always include the “grandfathering” of any existing items. Anything else is a violation of Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment and the deprived of property clause of the 5th Amendment.

    • NO records or lists are EVER destroyed . Any more than anything written in this forum, or transmitted thru any electronic medium EVER goes away. EVER.

      Make a joke about a cop, Obama, alien space invaders. Its all evidence of something or other to someone with an agenda.

      • You are probably right about the permanence of Internet records, etc but the point is that they would have a hard time bringing records to court that should have been “destroyed” and that would help. Also they should be held by a neutral, independent party and not the authorities.
        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they should be kept at all but they are inevitable and we have to do the best we can to control them. Thanks for your input.

    • “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Ayn Rand


      “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.” – Ayn Rand

  11. This is a bad example of the problems with the SAFE Act. I think the author got a little excited and jumped the gun.

  12. First mistake made was trying to sell anything like this in NY. That state is a lost cause, last gun owner to leave please turn out the lights.

  13. from the Buffalo News link above:

    “The complaint states that Wassell was recorded on tape responding: “The whole felony, banned-for-life thing, it’s stupid.’’

    “When Wassell sold the first gun, it would have been illegal even before the NY SAFE Act because the gun had multiple military-style features, authorities said. They noted that second gun sale was considered a SAFE Act violation because the gun had one military-style feature.”

  14. How did this guy get released without bail on a felony charge? I’ve known guys that had to post bail on traffic violations.

    • They require bond for speeding tickets and similar traffic violations in Illinois. We can’t be the only state because AAA cards state they will pay bonds up to $200 or something.

  15. “By selling these illegal firearms, Mr. Wassell’s actions had potentially dangerous consequences for New Yorkers,” said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.


    The joke that we call our criminal justice system — the system that releases violent criminals on our streets — has hugely dangerous consequences for New Yorkers. The criminal justice system should be keeping convicted violent criminals behind bars. Instead they seek to incarcerate citizens and war veterans. That is the failure here, not some citizen selling a chunk of plastic and metal to someone.

    • You nailed it. The fact that a portion of the government allows proven violent criminals back into free society is one of the several reasons I strongly support the 2nd Amendment, especially “shall not be infringed”. The SAFE act and most other gun control laws are illegal.

      Consider how the Obama administration just released thousands of criminal illegal aliens with the excuse of sequestration. When president Obama said the cuts weren’t smart, I think he meant we will cut those things to extort the people into supporting more taxes.

  16. As gun owners, we really have to stop getting dragged into conversations where we end up attempting to defend criminal activity. For one thing it makes us all start looking naive at best and lunatic at worst. That’s not to say that we can’t disagree with the common sense and legality of some of these laws. But lets be clear a case like this one is not a case of defiance aimed to point out the illegitimacy of these laws, its quite simply a case of someone clearly breaking the law. He is not our brother in arms, he is not a good guy swept up by corrupt police, he willfully attempted to do something illegal. Just because the end result was someone arrested for selling a gun, we should not feel any particular need to rise to the defense.

    • You are wrong Racer X. Just because something is wrong “under the color of law” doesn’t mean it is actually wrong. The fugitive slave laws come to mind here. Those who aided a slave to escape were breaking the law, arrested, and prosecuted…all under the color of law. Thankfully JURY NULLIFICATION acquitted them.

      These are the very people we need to stand up for and support. You can go cower in the corner if you choose to but gun owners in general need to support these people today because tomorrow it may be the rest of us.

    • Good and bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral are not decided by the edicts of a group of people who have personal morals so low that they became elected government employees. This whole “law abiding” meme needs to die. Especially now that we have so many laws that most people could be arrested on 3 felonies a day.

      • Good point Chris, that’s why I use the term “peaceable” now INSTEAD of “law abiding” as law abiding these days is the equivalent of being a zombified sheep.

  17. I don’t know about the rest of the people here but I find it’s not a good idea to sell any of my weapons. I believe I’m going to need all of them as well as all the ammo I can round up in defense of my family. Gun are tools and what they say about them is true. You can never have enough of either.

  18. “It was already a crime” – by several contributors.
    Not quite, the old law did ban “assault” weapons but grandfathered any dating from before 1994 or so. The Safe Act continued this BUT made selling them in NY State to a non-FFL illegal, effective immediately – 15 Jan ’13, if I got it right.
    It’s such a mess, I may have missed something. Selling to a felon (or apparant felon) was indeed illegal anyway.
    By the way, what a lovely Guns and Ammo lay-out. Must have hired an artistic director.

  19. It says there’s a bayonet mount on this gun? Why are the people leading this country sooo stupid? They don’t even know what they’re talking about, there’s no mount there!! There hasn’t been mounts on guns like these for decades. Oh but wait there’s a pistol grip which makes it more deadly. Retarded, who put these morons in office. They all need to be taken out of office and shipped to a third world country.

    • If the gun in the picture is indeed one of the guns in question, then it does have a bayonet lug. Take a closer look. Also, since the AWB expired in 2004, new guns sold in “free” states can legally have all of the scary features again (for now).

  20. Horrible reporting. Those are magazines he was trying to sell and not clips. Those are two completely different things.

  21. If anyone thinks this isn’t going to get worse? Go back to school… History, be precise. This is going to come down to the people having to make a serious decision; be disarmed and enslaved, or stand and fight. With the dictatorial laws in New York (State and City), it would be hillarious to see a mass exodus of the inhabitants of that state. Just so long as they learn how to drive properly. Lord knows, they love to drive through Florida as if it were NYC; cutting people off.

  22. Is this going to be the shot that was heard around the world ? Has the 2nd revolution just be-gun !!!!!!!!

  23. Sorry this is NOT A SAFE ACT ARREST this is a ‘Straw man law’ ARREST a law that has been on the books for years, felons are not allowed to purchase fire-arms. This person knowingly sold to someone who said they had felonies and even stated I do not care that is a stupid law. This article only picks and chooses what to tell about the event like all the others to make it seem like the SAFE ACT IS SOMETHING SPECIAL WHEN REALLY IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS ARREST. We need to ENFORCE THE LAWS WE HAVE NOT MAKE MORE THAT WILL DO NOTHING TO COMBAT THE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT FOLLOW THE LAWS ANYWAY.

  24. New York is a disgrace to the United States when their politicians violate the constitutional rights of their citizens. Any city, town, or state that allows their politicians to violate the constitutional rights of their citizens are a disgrace. To add to their disgrace, they arrest someone who has fought for this country and has served this country. These politicians need to learn to respect the constitutional rights, especially the Second Amendment rights, of their constituents. If they refuse to respect these rights, they need to be voted out of office and their laws that infringe on these rights should be repealed.

  25. It is not like this is some resounding success for the SAFE act. The laws that the guy broke existed before this travesty of citizen control got ramrodded through. This is more a case “cop actually gets to do his job”; which while admirable isn’t really news-worthy.

  26. What if some person were to surreptitiously leave spent brass, i.e. fired cartridge cases, in places where they would be likely to be discovered? Wouldn’t this freak out the local hoplophobes and lead to a diversion of J.B.T. resources? Just a thought.

  27. The cop got some really good deals, he should have kept the guns and kept his mouth shut.
    I have no qualms about a non violent felons having a gun, but, I do have a problem with people with violent histories having guns.


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