New Yorker avoids years in prison over Glock mags, vows to appeal conviction

An Army veteran who was convicted of having pistol magazines with a capacity that put him in violation of the New York SAFE Act isn’t going to jail — and he isn’t giving up.

Simeon Mokhiber, 42, of Niagara Falls, was convicted earlier this year of violating the large capacity magazine provisions of New York’s sweeping gun control law, The Buffalo News reported. During a 2016 traffic stop, police found three loaded Glock 17 magazines, a crime which, after a jury trial, left him facing as much as 21 years in prison for three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

However, Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy this week handed down a sentence of 15 hours of community service and about $500 in fines and fees. The judge said he had never received more mail on a case than he had on Mokhiber’s, which has been embraced by Second Amendment advocates, but cautioned his ruling was not “a commentary” on the SAFE Act.

Nonetheless, Mokhiber, a former paratrooper, plans to appeal the conviction. “I think that the SAFE Act is clearly unconstitutional,” Mokhiber said. “The Second Amendment is only one sentence long. It’s written in plain English, that one sentence and the SAFE Act clearly violates it. It’s not a complicated matter.”

Rushed through the legislature in 2013, the SAFE Act originally required that magazines could be loaded in most cases with a maximum of seven rounds, which drew a federal lawsuit. The courts held that 10 rounds, a limit the state set in 1994, was sufficient though grandfathered magazines with greater capacities have been illegal in New York under the SAFE Act since 2014.

Since then, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has signed on to support magazine limits in other jurisdictions, most recently in California, calling it a matter of public safety.