January 22, 2017

Gun Control Activist Arrested for Carrying Gun


BUFFALO, NY—Sometimes it’s just fun to see someone who speaks out of both sides of their mouth get into trouble for it. Actually, it’s always fun to see. So, when gun control advocate Dwayne Ferguson was arrested by police for carrying a loaded pistol into Harvey Austin Elementary School, it’s easy to feel smug about it.

At 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, local police got a number of anonymous tips that a black male had just been seen walking into the elementary school carrying a pistol. Within minutes of the calls, the school had been placed on lock-down, surrounding streets had been closed, and police had swarmed the scene.

The school had already released its students for the day and only around sixty remained on campus. Most of them were waiting for Ferguson as he was working as an after school mentor for underprivileged youth.

Ferguson, 52, was apparently scared by the lock-down and collected his sixty students together for protection, ushering them into the cafeteria. He even called the lieutenant, asking if he could help. It wasn’t until police were individually patting everyone down that that he realized who had sent the school into lock-down and called in a battalion of law enforcement — well, so said his friend, Rev. James E. Giles.

Giles, president of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries, said publicly that he is a close friend of Ferguson and knows beyond a doubt that the incident was accidental. “I’m sure Dwayne went into the school not thinking he had the gun on him. We know this for a fact, that he called out to a Buffalo police lieutenant asking why the school was in lock-down, and that they were looking for a man with a gun.“

The problem with this claim is that Ferguson was seen with the gun on his hip entering the building, but had to be patted down to find it upon leaving.

Even School Superintendent Kevin Brinkworth didn’t believe that he was completely innocent in the case. “This is a person well-known in the building. No one expected him to have a gun in the building,” said the Superintendent. However, he went on to express that he felt Ferguson became aware of the gun on his person and didn’t attempt to fix the problem. Brinkworth said, Ferguson “had opportunities” to make the search easy, but forced them to find the firearm through a pat down.

Ferguson’s controversy in the case, however, isn’t due to his carrying a firearm. It’s due to his opposition to guns and that his own lobbying efforts have saddled him with two felony charges.

During 2013, Ferguson was highly outspoken about gun control and has been considered a key activist in the passing on NY’s SAFE Act. In the same law, carrying a pistol onto school grounds was changed from a misdemeanor to a felony. The very act that Ferguson lobbied for has resulted in his two felony charges.

Gun owners have been upset about NY’s gun control efforts for years. Stephen J. Aldstadt, who serves as president of the state Shooters Committee on Political Education, said, “The more they make these gun-free zones, the more they make people vulnerable to mass killers like at Columbine and Sandy Hook.

Now, I can say that Ferguson isn’t a bad guy? Honestly so. He works after school hours with underprivileged youth and has become a regular face in his community as he works to reduce violence, gang activity, and hate. Those are good things and something we should be careful to foster and encourage in a community.

It’s a just good experience to see a bad law catch one of its own creators. I’m not saying that Ferguson should be charged, but I am saying that he should clearly see now that his own law is broken.

The SAFE Act was a bad law when it was passed last year and will always be a bad law. Over fifty counties in the state refuse to enforce at least parts of the act. Some refuse to enforce any part of it. Buffalo, however, isn’t one of those places.

As of now, police will not be dropping the charges against the mentor for his mistake.

Dwayne Ferguson should have been mentally aware of where he was and that he had the gun on his person. His lobby efforts didn’t create the SAFE Act, nor did the act create laws about carrying guns on school grounds. However, the punishment was increased, and Ferguson supported that. Harvey Austin Elementary School will have mixed feelings over the incident. It will be interesting to see if the gun control lobby will still stand behind their own. I seriously doubt they will.

Brian Crenshaw

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