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Attorney: SAFE Act Pulls Client's Pistol Permit due to Medication

1:09 PM, Apr 10, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A Western New York man is taking legal action after Erie County suspended his pistol permit. His attorney says it has to do with the SAFE Act and medication his doctor prescribed.

The man turned in his guns, and now he is trying to get them back.

"He has seven pistols, and he is a target shooter, and he is a person who is engaged in competitions with his firearms," says attorney James Tresmond.

According to Tresmond, his client is a Western New York professional with no criminal record - not even a speeding ticket - who wishes to remain anonymous. He says the man received a letter dated April 1st. telling him he must immediately surrender his seven handguns and pistol license to the Amherst Police Department.

"He got very nervous when he saw this. He didn't know what to do," says Tresmond.

The gun owner hired Tresmond, and the men went to the police department together to turn in the guns.

Tresmond and his client believe the permit suspension is based on the mental health provision of the SAFE Act because a doctor prescribed the man medication.

We searched the SAFE Act and found it says mental health professionals must report patients "likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others," but it doesn't say anything about specific medications.

The letter never mentions the SAFE Act or mental health concerns. It only says the suspension is "based on information received from the New York State Police."

"How did he figure out that this was associated with the medication he's taking?" asked Channel 2's Kelly Dudzik.

"He was called, somebody called him and told him that his guns were going to be, that his license was going to be revoked and it was because of mental health issues which totally, totally false," says the attorney.

The Erie County Clerk explained Tuesday that this letter is the same letter anyone told to surrender their guns would receive and is not specific for the SAFE Act, but he did see another piece of paperwork associated with this case.

"I did see the letter than came from Sgt. Sherman at State Police, and it seemed clear to me that this was using a provision within the SAFE Act, and so, the process is nearly the same as far as our role is concerned," says Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs.

The letter says the man must now request a reinstatement hearing in writing explaining why he wants his license back.

Tresmond says after that hearing, he plans on filing a lawsuit in federal court accusing the government of violating his client's privacy rights.

"It's just ineptitude on all the parts," says Tresmond.

So what is Tresmond's advice for gun owners receiving this letter?

"Obey the law. As difficult as it may be, if you don't obey the law, then you are opening yourself up to criminal prosecution," he says.

The letter also explains that guns held by police for more than one year will be destroyed, so the attorney hopes this case moves through the legal system before that happens.
His client also had to pay a three dollar suspension processing fee.

Tresmond tells us he is now representing more than one client forced to turn in guns.

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