One of the first alleged violators of New York state’s new gun control legislation pleaded not guilty in Moreau Town Court on Thursday morning.
William Greene, 51, of South Glens Falls, professed his innocence and a strong belief in the Second Amendment after leaving court, where he was officially arraigned on misdemeanor charges stemming from his alleged sale of an assault weapon to an undercover police officer on April 16.
He was charged with the unlawful transfer of an assault weapon and with disposing of the weapon without a background check, which became class A misdemeanor charges as the result of the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
“I believe I haven’t done anything wrong,” Greene said after court.
About a dozen opponents of the SAFE Act assembled at the courthouse in support of Greene, whom they didn’t know. The turnout was arranged by NY2A Grassroots Coalition, a loosely organized statewide coalition committed to overturning the SAFE Act, according to their website.
Ballston Spa resident Helen Bruce, who came out to support Greene, has been actively opposing the law since it was passed in January and feels opposition is growing.
According to the state police, they received a phone call saying that Greene was offering an assault weapon for sale on Facebook. An undercover investigator responded to the post and eventually bought the weapon, a RGuns .223-5.56 caliber assault-style rifle with a pistol grip.
Greene didn’t deny making the sale, but said he thought he had until April of next year to make the sale legally under the SAFE Act. This was the first time that he tried to sell a gun at all, he said.
Before making the sale, he said he tried to review the law. “I still don’t understand it,” Greene said.
Jake Palmateer, a member of NY2A, said he made multiple calls to the state police, who couldn’t clarify for him issues about the SAFE Act.
“A citizen should always know the law,” he said. “But the state set this up in such a way that it’s impossible to know the law.”
Palmateer said NY2A was rallying behind Greene, as opposed to other violators of the law, because the SAFE Act charges were the only ones in this case.
“This is different, because from all accounts, [William Greene] is an upstanding citizen,” Palmateer said. “He’s a good guy … and he wasn’t doing anything else wrong. What he was doing is something New Yorkers have done for decades.”
For his part, Greene said, “I’d like to be left alone and get back on with my life.”
NY2A is not providing money for Greene’s legal efforts, according to Palmateer. At this time, he said, they were only providing moral support and drawing attention to the SAFE Act.
Palmateer said the charges facing Greene, who is due back in court in about 45 days, carry up to a year in prison.