Don Hall, Vietnam Veteran – The Law Took My Guns!
Taberg, Oneida County, New York – Vietnam veteran Don Hall, 70, had all of his guns confiscated by Oneida County Deputies back in February. The paperwork he was shown called him “mentally deficient.” But Mr. Hall had never been treated for anything other than sleep apnea. He recently got all of them back, but not without a long journey of confusion.
“I was guilty until I could prove myself innocent. They don’t tell you why or what you supposedly did. It was just a bad screw-up.” Don Hall
Mr. Hall hired an attorney, who advised him to get sworn statements from the hospitals that proved he had never been treated for a mental health issue.
It was obvious a mistake had been made, but no one acknowledged it. He had no idea why they took his guns and classed him as “mentally deficient.” All he knew was that police showed up at his home one night and took 2 handguns and 4 long guns.
The SAFE act (2013) requires medical professionals to report patients that may be a risk to themselves or others. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993) requires a hospital or medical facility to report anyone who is involuntarily committed or ruled mentally defective by a court.
Either one of those laws could have caused Mr. Hall’s weapons to be be seized…if he had those issues, which he did not.
Once the state Office of Mental Health is alerted through either law, the staff checks records held by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services to see if the person has any guns.
Any matches go to the state police to verify that the identity of the person matches the identity of the gun owner. Once confirmed, the state police takes the case to a local judge who issues an order to confiscate the person’s weapons. Local police usually are dispatched to confiscate the weapons.
Only in Mr. Hall’s case, someone didn’t properly verify the match.
He contacted the court, who told him he could have a hearing “in a few weeks.” But it was one hospital who looked him up that the mistake was found: a patient with a similar name had a social security number slightly different than his. They still didn’t apologize or explain why it happened.
His attorney wrote to Judge Michael Dwyer about the situation, and it was ruled that he could have his guns returned in April. But he was told he could only have the handguns returned, the rifles would have to be given to a gun shop. But “almost immediately,” they told him he could have them all back.
It took him months to get the guns returned, all because of a similar name and slightly different Social Security number.
Sometimes just plain old criminal records get mixed up from similar names, even dates of birth, and it’s a nightmare to straighten them out. Good thing Mr. Hall fought back.
Featured photo: screenshot via Syracuse.com video