On Thursday, a Long Island man was arrested after police raided his home and found an ‘arsenal,’ which included firearms that the state considers to be ‘illegal guns.’
At an evening press conference, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota discussed the seizure of the man’s private property.
“We see weapons all over the place,” Spota said. “More than 85 illegal handguns and 250 rifles, shotguns and what you will see is a machine gun. This fellow had more firepower than the detectives when they went to search the house. And those weapons, his room overlooks that high school.”
Spota alleged that the man, 66-year-old Jay Steiner, had unsafely stored his firearms around the house and had the conversion parts to turn a semiautomatic rifle into a fully automatic one.
“Just possession of this piece of metal is considered to be possession of a machine gun,” Spota said. As a result, Steiner was slapped with criminal possession of a weapon.
Simultaneously puzzled and outraged by Steiner’s collection, the DA speculated about what could happen if someone where to burglarize his home.
“Had a person, a kid, a professional burglar, whatever, gone into that house,” Spota said, “in no time flat, 85 handguns would be on the street today.”
Authorities are still investigating why Steiner had so many weapons.
Steiner, a former firearms instructor, denied the allegation that his guns weren’t secured.
“They were locked up and unloaded. I taught firearms safety. As an instructor, I know what to do to safeguard firearms,” Steiner told CBS 2. “What they said I’m doing isn’t illegal, not as I did it, not as I understand the law.”
Neighbors were aware of Steiner’s enthusiasm for firearms. They also knew he was running a part-time gunsmithing business from his home. However, they did not know that Steiner’s license or permit had expired a decade ago, according to CBS 2.
“With kids all around. We have the school in the back and it’s scary,” neighbor Eileen Radzisky told CBS 2.
Steiner was released on $25,000 bail.
Commentary and Analysis
Assuming Steiner is a law-abiding gun owner with no criminal history, I wish him the best in his legal battle. I don’t believe in the concept of an ‘illegal gun’ nor do I believe that having firearms near a school is a hazard to public safety.
I’d also like to respond to what the DA said. First off, with respect to his “what if” scenario, what if someone tried to burglarize Steiner’s house while he was at home?
Police would probably have one less criminal to deal with because that burglar would be most likely pushing up daisies. Though, arguing hypotheticals is ultimately reductive. What we do know or can reasonably assume is that Steiner has lived at his residence for years and managed his business without incident.
Also, there’s nothing strange or bizarre about the size of Steiner’s collection, especially considering he is a gunsmith. I reject the notion that owning ‘x’ amount of guns is taboo or weird or crazy, as the DA insinuated.
Lastly, this should be (another) warning to New York gun owners. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are going to continue to crack down on gun owners across the state. I predict the words “gun bust” are going to become more and more prevalent in the months to come.