“The AR-15, It’s a powerful weapon. It was fun to shoot.” Mike Benedict, a current candidate for Niagara County Judge said during an interview with Ed Pettitt Sr. of ‘Second Amendment for Ever, Inc.’
Mike added on the AR-15, “It is a weapon that you respect, obviously.” Although, he made clear, “It is just like any other semi-automatic, it’s not a machine gun out there. It doesn’t act the same way as some people are portraying it as.”
While range talk is fun, Pettitt drove the conversation towards constitutional rights, “Now if you were to become a pistol permit judge, what are your thoughts on that and how would you handle that position?”
Benedict was concise, citing an example from the Supreme Court, “I think the decision in Heller would be a guidepost for me in looking at that, and I think that what Heller is saying is that this is a right not a privilege, that is guaranteed under the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment.”
Heller v District of Columbia (Source: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2008/rpt/2008-R-0578.htm)
Note: “By a five to four margin, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms for lawful use, such as self-defense, in the home (emphasis ours). Accordingly, it struck down as unconstitutional provisions of a D.C. law that (1) effectively banned possession of handguns by non-law enforcement officials and (2) required lawfully owned firearms to be kept unloaded, disassembled, or locked when not located at a business place or being used for lawful recreational activities.”
Moving on, Pettitt asked, “As a public defender, did you ever have to defend someone in a gun-related case?”
Responding, Benedict cited a case from his time as Judge Sheldon’s Law Clerk regarding an 18-year-old tourist from Idaho. The man was found with an amount of ammunition in violation of New York State law along with a legally registered pistol in his home state but not in New York. Benedict advised on the young man’s case, explaining how his work with Judge Sheldon secured the individual with a youthful offender’s status.
That status eventually washed away along with any charges, as per the court agreement. This in contrast to the felony charge that action could carry in New York State.
Benedict explained why he empathized with the defendant, noting the amount of ammunition citation, “You can go through 100 rounds very easily, very quickly. It was not an obscene amount of ammunition, but was it in violation of the letter of the law? Yes, it was, but we had a kid who was out of state, not a bad actor, being prosecuted because of the violation, because of the criminal act.”
Lastly, Benedict added, “That’s why we have judges, so they have their discretion when they look at those situations.”