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Man ordered to surrender permit, handguns

LOCKPORT – A Lockport man who found himself at the center of controversy two weeks ago when he was charged under an unpopular section of the SAFE Act, limiting ammunition in a magazine, has been ordered by a Niagara County judge to hand over his pistol permit and all his handguns.

Paul A. Wojdan, 26, of Parkwood Drive, was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by Lockport police Oct. 12, when he was charged after surrendering a loaded semiautomatic handgun in a holster retrieved from the glove compartment.

Although the gun was legal, the ammunition wasn’t. He had 10 rounds of 9 mm ammunition in the magazine, violating the new law, which limits a magazine to seven rounds. He was charged with unlawful possession of an ammunition feeding device, a misdemeanor.

Last weekend, Niagara County sheriff’s deputies were sent to Wojdan’s home to confiscate his pistol permit and handguns.

Wojdan told deputies he had received a “notice of objection” from the Niagara County Pistol Permit Office. Handguns seized included a Glock 9 mm pistol, a Walther .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a Springfield 40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a GSG .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol and an Iver Johnson .22-calber semiautomatic pistol.

Niagara County Pistol Permit Investigator William Ingham said that it was a judicial decision to suspend Wojdan’s pistol permit and that both the suspension and gun seizure were unrelated to the state’s controversial Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

Ingham said that in “any arrest, a permit is subject to a review.”

“Guns are seized for a number of reasons, from domestic violence to mental health,” said Niagara County Chief Deputy Steven Preish. “In this case it sounds like his arrest in the city probably triggered the Pistol Permit Office review.”

The night of the arrest, Wojdan’s wife, Tanisha D. Wojdan, was pulled over for speeding, driving 44 mph in a 30-mph zone, on South Transit Street near Strauss Road. Police said she failed to pull over immediately, leading an officer on a brief chase from Willow Street into the city to Strauss Road in the Town of Lockport. She also was driving without a license, police said. Oficer Adam Piedmont asked the two about weapons, and Paul Wojdan was arrested after he turned over his handgun.

State police have released a field guide for troopers addressing SAFE Act issues, including magazines and what constitutes an assault weapon.

The guide notes that if a person produces a permit and there is no indication of unlawful conduct, an inspection is unnecessary.

Troopers are told to secure the weapon temporarily for the duration of the stop and return it to the motorist at the conclusion of the encounter.

After the stop two weeks ago, Lockport City Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said this was the first time the department had made a SAFE Act arrest.

The incident triggered an outburst on social media.

“One of the comments said, ‘When are you going to start loading people into cattle cars?’ ” Eggert said.

But Eggert defended the actions of his officer.

Wojdan, who appears on his Facebook site as a supporter of gun rights and has posted a number of pictures of himself carrying weapons, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. He has posted $250 bail and will return to City Court on Nov. 6.