When police showed up at the upstate New York home of 70-year-old Army veteran Don Hall and told him he had to turn over his guns because he was deemed “mentally defective,” he could hardly believe it.
Oneida County sheriff’s deputies delivered a document saying he had to give them his six firearms, but Hall argued that he had no history of mental illness. Still, Hall complied and gave the officers his two long guns and four pistols.
“I’ve never been in trouble in my whole life and never done anything,” Hall told Fox News.
The deputies told Hall that he must have triggered the state of New York’s SAFE Act — Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act. The SAFE Act was enacted in 2013 following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and “allows heath care providers to report patients that they think may be a risk to themselves or others.”
Only in Hall’s case, the police had it wrong. He had not triggered the SAFE Act.
Hall hired a lawyer and collected a number of affidavits that proved he had never been treated for mental illness. He ultimately convinced a judge that a hospital worker must have confused him with someone else. This worked, and Hall soon got his guns back.
Fox News reported that Hall is one of a number of cases in which guns were seized erroneously because of provisions in federal and state laws that are meant to keep mentally ill people and criminals from obtaining firearms.
In April, a California family won its fight to get 500 firearms returned that were seized by the state’s Department of Justice two years ago.
That was followed by a case in June where a New York court sided with a woman whose guns were picked up by law enforcement five years earlier. The woman had her guns seized in 2012 while she was the subject of a protective order filed by her ex-husband.