In February of this year, sheriff’s deputies in Oneida County, New York showed up at Don Hall’s home at 9:30 p.m. while he and his girlfriend were watching TV. When the 70-year-old Vietnam veteran went to the door, he said in this story from guns.com that his first thought was that something had happened to a family member.
But the deputies weren’t bearing bad news. After confirming Hall’s identity, they announced they had a deposition and were there to confiscate his firearms.
The story says Hall was dumbfounded by the news, but obeyed the orders of the officers and retrieved two handguns he owned.
Then the deputies asked him if he had any long guns.
Hall, a man with no criminal history or history of mental illness, handed over four long guns. When he asked why, specifically, they were taking his firearms, the deputies couldn’t provide an answer.
“In fact, according to Hall, the officers, who apologized throughout the process, admitted that they had never confiscated anyone’s guns before and had no clue why they were there other than the ‘mentally defective’ stamp on the deposition. Their guess was that it had something to do with the SAFE Act, Hall said, which requires health care providers to report any patients whom they believe to be a danger to themselves or anyone else.”
“I was guilty until I could prove myself innocent,” Don Hall told The Post Standard. “They don’t tell you why or what you supposedly did.”
The next morning Hall hit the phones to try and find out what was going on. It didn’t take long for him to realize he needed to hire a lawyer.
After some digging, Hall himself found out what happened.
Four years prior, Hall had undergone a sleep apnea test at the hospital. Apparently there was a patient there with the same name as Hall and a similiar social security number. This patient had been previously treated for mental health issues, and that’s where Hall and his attorney believe the mix-up occurred, the story says.
A judge was convinced of the mistake and Hall’s guns were eventually returned.
The story says that, six months later, no one int he medical community has taken responsibility for the mistake. No apology has been issued either. Except the deputies who confiscated his guns—they apologized.
Digging also turned up that the records were not reported to police as part of the SAFE Act, but as part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
“I’m surprised it sailed through the way it did with a man who has a spotless record,” said John Panzone, Hall’s attorney. “To me, presumption of innocence is the foundation of our system, and this provision doesn’t allow for that.”