70-Year-Old Veteran Wrongfully Deemed ‘Mentally Defective’ Gets Guns Returned by Court

Colin Fredericson
By Colin Fredericson
August 17, 2017US News
70-Year-Old Veteran Wrongfully Deemed ‘Mentally Defective’ Gets Guns Returned by Court
Surrendered handguns in a bin. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Police seized the guns of a 70-year-old army veteran after the courts deemed him “mentally defective.”

Don Hall told police that he had never had mental issues when they arrived at his upstate New York home. They still left with four long guns and two pistols. The police referenced New York state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act before leaving, as Fox News reports.

“I’ve never been in trouble in my whole life and never done anything,” said Hall to Fox News.

It turns out that a hospital worker reported Hall to the New York Office of Mental Health in a program set up under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.

Hall hired a lawyer and got his guns back after proving to the courts that he had never had mental issues. He managed to prove hospital staff mistook him for another patient.

There have been more cases across the United States of the government taking away legally obtained firearms. The reason can be traced back to the SAFE Act, implemented in 2013 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act website contains a blurb from Gov. Mario Cuomo that states:

“The SAFE Act stops criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, increases penalties for people who use illegal guns, mandates life in prison without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country. For hunters, sportsmen, and law abiding gun owners, this new law preserves and protects your right to buy, sell, keep, or use your guns.”

Similar laws in other states have led to other gun seizure controversies. In a highly publicized case, the biggest gun seizure ever, 500 guns and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, were seized from a California home in 2015. Authorities eventually had to return the entire stash. The owner claimed he was never informed that he was added to a database prohibiting him from owning guns, as reported by the Miami Herald.

President Donald Trump scrapped a bill that required those receiving any mental health disability benefits be on a national gun background-check database. The law was seen as too overarching, considering that even people with eating disorders could be included.

In some cases guns are seized because of legal action that imposes restrictions on gun ownership. One woman had her guns seized after her husband filed a protection order against her. She had to fight just to get due process to plead her case when authorities seized her weapons. She is still in the process of getting her guns returned even though there was no specific order by the courts that they needed to be confiscated in the first place.

One man had a collection of family heirloom guns that were seized in 2010. Even after court orders to return the guns, police still did not return the weapons. Only after the National Rifle Association and California Rifle and Pistol Association helped him file a federal case could he get money for the confiscated weapons. The weapons themselves had already been destroyed by then.

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