Dwayne Ferguson was arrested back in February for bringing a loaded gun onto a Buffalo, NY, elementary school campus — marked at the time as ironic, since Ferguson was a noted local gun control advocate. The activist was at the school to volunteer in a mentoring capacity. He is known for other volunteer work in the community and regularly keeps his weapon at his side.
In various accounts, Ferguson is said to have either forgotten to remove his gun before heading to the school, forgotten he had it with him, or to have not known he could not take his gun to school.
The gun control supporter’s sentence was handed down on Monday and many say it was too lenient.
Back when the story broke, it was reported that Ferguson was a volunteer of the local chapter of MAD DADS, an antiviolence group. He works with troubled youth in the city and was volunteering at the elementary school. It was also noted that he had been a big supporter of New York’s SAFE Act, a gun control law which was written to increase background checks for gun purchases.
Ferguson is specifically said to have supported a state assemblywoman who was lobbying for gun control laws to make bringing a gun on school grounds a felony charge.
However, the sentence handed down this week was startlingly light: according to WIVB4, Dwayne Ferguson is expected to complete 100 hours of community service and stay out of trouble. If there are no further incidents, he will face no more serious charges.
It’s notable that the activist appeared the very next day after the incident to issue a public apology for the gun incident, but he also plead not guilty to three charges, including the charge of carrying a loaded firearm on school property, according to WIVB4‘s February report. The report also states that Ferguson claimed he wasn’t aware of any law or rule preventing him from carrying his gun on school property, despite reports he joined in lobbying for exactly such a law.
Many are calling the sentence and the charges ironic because of Ferguson’s support of gun control, but the Buffalo News reports that the discharge of the sentence is indeed conditional: Wayne Ferguson must report back to the judge in six months, and if he fails to comply with the conditions inside three years, he will face a year in prison for the misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Should a gun control advocate be charged more harshly for violating the laws he supported or was reducing the charge a reasonable measure for a man who has worked to improve his community and simply made a mistake?
[photo credit: smalbanynewyork.wordpress.com]