An Amherst man whose pistol permit was suspended because of “an error” that labeled him as mentally unstable and a danger to himself and others under the new state gun control law can have his permit reinstated a State Supreme Court justice ruled today.
Judge M. William Boller also directed the Amherst Police Department to return to David A. Lewis his seven handguns in what has turned out to be a case of identifying the wrong pistol permit holder.
Lewis, a 35-year-old college librarian, was directed last week to surrender his handguns, which he uses for target shooting.
Erie County Clerk Christopher L. Jacobs sent a letter to Lewis informing him that Boller had suspended his pistol permit and he was required to give up his guns.
In today’s reversal, the judge stated, “....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.”
Jacobs claims that state police contacted him Wednesday to say they had given him the “wrong person” when they notified his office of an individual whose permit should be suspended under mental health provisions in the SAFE Act. The new law was adopted earlier this year in response to the massacre of school children in Connecticut late last year.
State police issued a statement Wednesday saying they do not have the authority to suspend or revoke a pistol permit.
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.
Law enforcement officials pointed out that it is possible that more than one person could share the same name and be pistol permit holders.
Part of the SAFE Act seeks to remove firearms from individuals whom mental health professionals believe could harm themselves or others. Those professional are required to notify authorities.
Although Lewis has taken an anti-depressant medication in the past, he is not the person state police were telling the Erie County Clerk about.
Lewis is represented by attorney James Tresmond, who claims his client’s federal privacy rights regarding his medical records and his civil rights to own guns were violated.
“We are pleased and gratified with Judge Boller’s order restoring Mr. Lewis’s pistol license. However, this is not the end,” said Maximillian G. Tresmond, a law clerk in his father’s law office.