Gun confiscation already underway

by Thomas Lucente

And so it begins.

The gun grab.

Liberal politicians keep telling us they don’t want to take away our guns.

"I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away," President Barack Obama has said.

"There's no way Uncle Sam can go find out whether you have a gun," Vice President Joe Biden said.

Tell that to David Lewis, 35, of Erie County, New York.

On April 1, Lewis received a letter from the New York State Police demanding he turn in his guns or police officers would show up at his door to take them from him.

Lewis, a law-abiding citizen, turned in his guns. In other words, his guns were confiscated by the government.

Fortunately, 10 days later, on April 11, a New York state court ordered the guns returned because, as it turned out, the police said they had the wrong guy.

Or did they?

Lewis' lawyer does not believe so.

"When they targeted David, they not only targeted him by name, they also targeted him by his pistol permit, so they identified him as David Lewis with this particular pistol permit number on the letter that they sent to him," Lewis' attorney, Jim Tresmond, told a news outlet in Buffalo, N.Y.

The problem, under Lewis’ theory, which is probably the correct one, is not that police targeted the wrong guy, but that they obtained their information on Lewis illegally.

New York has a new gun law, New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, which goes by the laughable acronym NY SAFE Act and which only ensures the safety of criminals. It was passed in January and signed into law within a half-hour of its passage. It was the state’s response to the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo boasts it is the toughest anti-gun law in the nation, though, according to him, "This is not taking away people's guns."

Yet, it is widely opposed. Even police organizations have taken issue with parts of it — mostly because it does not exempt active and retired police officers — as have mental health professionals. In fact, 51 of the state's counties have passed resolutions against the law, and some have gone as far as ordering their police agencies not to enforce it.

The law goes so far as to require background checks to purchase ammunition, if you can imagine such nonsense.

Tresmond filed the first legal challenge to the law in January. And a court has ordered the state to prove it is constitutional by April 29 or it will issue an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law.

So, by most accounts, this is a bad law rushed through on the coattails of a tragedy, the murder of children by a mentally unstable man.

But back to our story.

The law has a mental health provision that requires mental health professionals who believe a mental health patient made a credible threat of harming others to report the threat. The Department of Veterans Affairs has already said it would not abide by the state law because it violates federal law.

In Lewis' case, there was no such threat, but he once took anti-anxiety medication, which apparently under the NY SAFE Act could put him on a list of people not allowed to own firearms because of their use of psychotropic drugs.

The mystery in Lewis' case is that no doctor reported him.

That must mean, as Tresmond believes, federal law was broken and Lewis' civil rights were violated. Someone in state government would have had to have violated the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 in order to learn about Lewis' previous usage of an anti-anxiety medication.

In essence, we have a law that encourages people to NOT seek mental health care, encourages violations of HIPAA as well as the Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, uses mental health professionals as stool pigeons, and, despite Cuomo's silly claim, actually results in the confiscation of guns.

Still believe the government is not after your guns?

Thomas J. Lucente Jr.'s column appears in The Lima News on Sundays.

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