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New York authorities seize Vietnam veteran’s guns after he was wrongly deemed ‘mentally defective’

August 17, 2017

A 70-year-old Vietnam War veteran had six of his guns confiscated when Oneida County Sheriff’s deputies showed up to his house in Taberg, New York, and handed over a document saying he had to give up his guns because he was deemed to be “mentally defective,” reported.

Don Hall was watching television with his girlfriend, Connie Heidenreich, around 9:30 p.m. EST, when Sheriff’s deputies showed up to his house. Hall assumed that something happened to a family member.

After confirming his identity, the deputies said they had a deposition and that Hall had to give up his guns. Despite being confused and telling the deputies that he had no history of mental issues, Hall retrieved his two handguns and four long guns.

Officers told Hall that they had never confiscated guns from anyone before and they were not sure why they were doing it besides the “mentally defective” stamp on the deposition. The deputies assumed that it had to do with the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE), which allows health care providers to report any patients who could be a danger to themselves or others.

New York’s Office of Mental Health found that Hall’s case was actually reported under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and not the SAFE Act.

After Hall hired lawyer John Panzone, he secured affidavits from local hospitals to prove that he had no mental health issues. Hall then convinced a judge that a hospital he had previously gone to made a mistake because there was a patient at the hospital with the same name and similar social security number.

As a result, the judge ordered that Hall’s guns be returned.

“I’m surprised it sailed through the way it did with a man who has a spotless record,” Panzone said. “To me, presumption of innocence is the foundation of our system, and this provision doesn’t allow for that.”