Mentally unstable: NY takes guns away from wrong guy

Andrew Cuomo NY SAFE Act
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Photo Credit: Press & Sun-Bulletin

“Oops” doesn’t quite cut it for the epic mistake that caused the wrong man to lose his gun permit under New York’s new gun law last week.

The Erie County clerk suspended Buffalo-area college librarian David Lewis’ pistol permit and ordered him to surrender his seven handguns after mistakenly identifying him as mentally unstable because of anti-depressants prescribed for anxiety.

However, due to a “case of identifying the wrong pistol permit holder,” the New York Supreme Court reinstated Lewis’ permit and ordered his guns returned Thursday, the Buffalo News reported.

According to the article, Judge M. William Boller ruled:

This court has determined that the information received from the New York State Police, which served as the basis for suspension of the licensee’s firearms license, was in error. Specifically, the individual named pursuant to the New York SAFE Act was not in fact the above named licensee.

There has been a lot of finger-pointing going on in Western New York over the case.

Erie County Clerk Christopher Jacobs said the New York State Police gave his office the “wrong name when they notified his office of an individual whose permit should be suspended under mental health provisions in the SAFE Act,” the paper reported.

“Part of the SAFE Act seeks to remove firearms from individuals whom mental health professionals believe could harm themselves or others,” the article said. “Those professional are required to notify authorities.”

But the state police said it was the county clerk’s office that didn’t perform its “due diligence,” the newspaper said:

Law enforcement officials familiar with the case said the county was provided with a name and the age range of a permit holder who possibly fit the definition of the law’s mental health section. But those law enforcement officials said that “due diligence” should be carried out by the county clerk to make sure that the person who was reported as a potential danger is in fact the person who is the permit holder.

In the meantime, the 35-year-old Lewis hired attorney James Tresmond to help him through the process. Tresmond is now suing the state for violating Lewis’ privacy rights.

Watch a report from Buffalo’s WGRZ TV:

More from the Buffalo News.


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