SAFE Act Mistake Leads to Pistol Permit Seizure

10:52 PM, Apr 10, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

AMHERST, NY -- It could be the first foul up involving the state's new gun legislation. Who's to blame? That's still being hashed out.

The attorney for a Western New York gun owner who was told to surrender his pistol permit because of the SAFE Act says his client will get his guns back. The Erie County Clerk is now blaming New York State Police for making the mistake that could have cost the 35-year-old librarian his gun collection.

"Who messed this up?" asked Channel 2's Kelly Dudzik.

"I think that first and foremost, it stems from a flawed law that was passed so quickly without forethought on how something would be implemented. Certainly, I am disappointed on the fact that we were given information from State Police that this was an individual that we needed to act immediately on," says Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs.

That individual is David Lewis. He is a 35-year-old college librarian. His attorney says he has an anxiety-related medical issue which prompted a doctor to prescribe him medication. Lewis owned seven guns until he received a letter from Jacobs' office. That letter told Lewis the New York State Police wanted the County Clerk to suspend his pistol license right away.

"They made the mistake. They handed the mistake to us, to our local judges, and it's really disappointing that they're not standing up and taking responsibility here," says Jacobs.

Jacobs feels the State Police are targeting his office, which he says only serves an administrative role when it comes to enforcement of the SAFE Act.

New York State Police issued a statement Wednesday saying "No guns are being taken because an individual is on anti-anxiety medication" and refused to answer our questions or do an interview.

"Are State Police trying to blame your office?" asked Dudzik.

"Yeah, I think they're saying that it's myself or the Supreme Court judge who's assigned to this that it's our fault, but they were the ones that gave us the information. We're not privy to any of that mental health information that they had and that's what they acted on to send this dictate down to us," says Jacobs.

Jacobs showed us an email indicating a State Police sergeant followed up with his office to make sure the guns were turned in.

Wednesday night, Jacobs said in a news release that the information he got from police about the man in question was incorrect.

"Somebody is not being exactly honest," says James Tresmond who is the attorney representing Lewis.

Tresmond tells us that someone along the way felt his client's personal medical information fell under the reportable mental health provision of the SAFE Act.

"It's negligence on either the State Police or Erie County Clerk's Office. Someone was negligent if my client has been put through this ringer," says the attorney.

Tresmond still plans on filling a lawsuit, but will not say how much he plans on suing for in federal court. He says it will be the maximum, and he doesn't know who he will sue until he knows exactly who is to blame for suspending his client's pistol permit.

"Has he gotten his guns back yet?" asked Dudzik.

"No, but we will get them back. They are his property," says Tresmond.

In order to get his guns back, Lewis still has to go to a hearing in front of a judge.

The Erie County Clerk says he typically sees the State Police as good partners, but he blames them for this mistake.

Most Watched Videos