AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) - State Police forced an Amherst man to turn in his guns after suspending his pistol permit over anti-anxiety medication. But now they say it was all a misunderstanding.
Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs said, "Today, we all look like fools."
"David," a 34-year-old college librarian, recently had his pistol permit taken away. Erie County's Licensing Officer, Supreme Court Justice William Boller, was following a recommendation from State Police that David's permit be revoked because he used anti-anxiety medication in the past.
But then, just before the close of business Wednesday, County Clerk Chris Jacobs received a voicemail from State Police in Albany, saying it was all a mistake and that they had the wrong man.
"Now we find out that State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice in Albany got it wrong. They did not do their due diligence; they did not appropriately and fully investigate this to make sure it was the right person. And now, we have to quickly act to reinstate that right," Jacobs said.
The NY SAFE Act requires mental health providers to inform the state, when a permit-holder or someone trying to get a pistol permit is receiving mental health treatment or taking medication and is "likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others."
Jacobs believes David's case shows there is a serious flaw with that part of the law.
"If you try to read the legislation on the mental health provision and how this is supposed to work, it doesn't look like it's going to work on paper, and now we know it really doesn't work," Jacobs said. "And as a result, in this case, we had somebody who was, I think, probably embarrassed. Name was dragged out in public; they were deprived of their property and their rights here."
Attorney Jim Tresmond, who represents David, said, "Due process should come before the suspension. That's where due process comes in. Before your rights are taken, due process must occur. That's our constitutional right, not the reverse."
Jacobs is meeting with Judge Boller on Thursday. Most likely, he says, Boller will remove the suspension, and David will be able to retrieve his pistols from Amherst Police.
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