MAYVILLE – Ben Wassel, basking in a victory against New York State and the SAFE Act, told WNYNewsNow that he has only begun to fight and is working to help others while also fighting to have his pistol permit restored.
Wassel was the first person charged under the SAFE Act after he allegedly sold possibly illegal guns to an undercover officer.
He explained the arrest made his life a living hell and while he is glad it is over, he said many other people are being victimized by what he calls an unconstitutional law.
“I’m going to continue to fight to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I’m going to have to fight to get my permit back,” Wassel said. “I’m not done fighting. My case is over with, but there’s a lot of others out there that need help.”
Wassel said the personal cost of the issue was a heavy burden to him.
“It feels good finally six and a half years later to have this chapter over with. It’s unfortunate that all the stuff I’ve been through, I can’t get that part of my life back, but hopefully something good will come from it,” he said. “This ordeal has caused me to lose my job, I was in consideration for a federal job, a really good federal job, and that was taken away from me after the arrest. I spent three years on probation and I couldn’t leave the county without permission. I missed out on a lot of things with the family. I haven’t been able to hunt with a rifle for six years, I haven’t been able to take my children to the range to teach them how to shoot. Being a weapons instructor in the Marine Corps and not be able to do any of that stuff.”
Wassel called the days since his arrest “a disaster and a nightmare. It has made life hard for the last six years.”
Wassel said his state pistol permit was suspended when he was arrested and that after a certain period of time it was revoked.
The arrest and subsequent ordeal came as a surprise, Wassel said.
“I’d been paying attention to the politics of the situation. I was surprised when the law was passed, but I wasn’t surprised that they were going to start hammering people that hadn’t done anything wrong,’ he said.
“I was surprised that the law enforcement officers were actually enforcing this unconstitutional law, but since then a lot of them have stopped, a lot of the Sheriffs have also vowed not to prosecute, which is why the state took 100 percent control of this trial and the whole case because they didn’t want the county to have any part of it.”
Previously, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled that then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman did not have the legal authority to prosecute the SAFE ACT violations against Wassell.
“The reason for the Second Amendment is to protect Americans from government tyranny and the fact of the matter is it has worked,” explained James Ostrowski earlier in the year. “We don’t have routine masses of protesters shot in the streets, we don’t have coup d’état every couple of months. When the people have the right to bear arms it actually creates political stability and peace.”