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Elderly Vet's Guns Confiscated After He Voices Concern About Potential School Shooting

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by hps1, Oct 19, 2019.

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  1. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    Just one example of what can go wrong when red flag laws are passed.

    Elderly Vet's Guns Confiscated After He Voices Concern About Potential School Shooting


    By Benjamin Arie
    Published October 16, 2019 at 8:03am
    There’s no reason for Americans to fret over “red flag” laws that give sweeping gun confiscation powers to local governments, right? After all, if you’re not a criminal, what’s the problem?

    At least that’s the general response voiced by many on the left whenever gun owners speak up. But a disturbing incident in Massachusetts is raising hard questions about those firearms seizure laws, especially when it comes to due process.

    According to LifeZette and The Martha’s Vineyard Times, an 84-year-old veteran had his legally owned firearms confiscated by local police after a waitress misheard part of a conversation between him and a friend.

    To make matters worse, the vet was also reportedly fired from his position as a school crossing guard, which he used to keep busy after the death of his wife.

    “Stephen Nichols of Tisbury — in the Martha’s Vineyard area of Massachusetts — got the job as a crossing guard because he loves kids,” LifeZette reported. “After his wife passed away, he reportedly needed something to occupy his time and his heart.

    Now he’s fighting for his fundamental rights as an American. Nichols, a grandfather of 11, was apparently sitting in a local restaurant several weeks ago when he told a friend that he was concerned a school resource officer had been leaving for coffee and other errands instead of staying at the school.

    “Nichols said he was worried somebody would come in and ‘shoot up the school’ while the officer was out on one of his coffee runs,” LifeZette said. “That’s the part of the conversation the waitress overheard — which she reported to the police.”

    Without being charged or convicted of any crime, this Korean War-era Army veteran received a visit from officers who confiscated his personal firearms

    As The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported: “Asked if he was given a letter or any paperwork for the seizure of his license, Nichols said, ‘No he just told me to hand it over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him.’

    “Nichols said he has been licensed for firearms since 1958.”

    Amazingly, it all appears to be based on a half-heard conversation that was taken out of context.

    “Nichols said the waitress made a complaint to Tisbury Police about what she overheard and on the strength of that, [Police Chief Mark] Saloio and another officer relieved Nichols of his crossing guard duties while he was in the midst of performing them and subsequently drove to his home and took away his firearms license and guns,” The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported.

    “Nichols said he never carries guns outside the house and would like to have his license and his guns back, but the fate of the guns may be sealed,” the newspaper added.

    RELATED: California's New Red Flag Law Is So Extreme, Even the ACLU Is Ringing the Alarm

    By all reports, Nichols is an upstanding member of the community. He said he has worked in auxiliary roles with the Tisbury Police for a staggering six decades, and has also been a court officer and constable. And it definitely appears that he was overheard voicing concern for a school shooting, certainly not encouraging one.

    After an outcry from community members, the veteran was allowed to return to his crossing guard duties on Monday, The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported.

    But there’s scant information about if his lawfully owned firearms will be returned, or what process was followed to seize them in the first place.

    The Western Journal contacted the Tisbury Police on Tuesday to request an update on when those guns would be returned, but has so far not received a response.

    This is exactly why the Second Amendment exists: So that citizens do not have their homes invaded and legal firearms seized by power-hungry bureaucrats, all based on hearsay and whispers.

    Every liberty-loving American concerned about “red flag laws” needs to pay close attention to this case, because it’s a disturbing reminder of what happens when fundamental rights are allowed to be casually trampled.

    https://www.westernjournal.com/elde...ns&utm_campaign=websitesharingbuttons&sfns=mo

    Regards,
    hps
     
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  2. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    We are becoming victims of the surveillance society. Sadly, you need to watch what you say and be observant of who can hear it. RFLs are the legislative embodiment of that.

    There is the directive to 'see something, report something'.

    Well, that can be good or bad as illustrated here.

    One would like to think that, if there were a judge involved, The presumption of innocence would be assumed.
     
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  3. unclenunzie

    unclenunzie Member

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    This is a sickening example of how these laws can be abused. The devil is in the details. If what the police did was legal, the law seems overly broad in it powers. At the other end of the spectrum - where persons make credible threats specific enough to warrant police action, I'm starting to think an arrest based on proper probable cause should take place, and not the seizure alone. This would require laws that fit these circumstances making such threats a crime. But it should come with an enforceable guarantee of reversal if the arrest is found to be in error, and of course restoration if the gov't fails to make their case of a crime being committed.

    This is a different opinion from that I expressed in a different thread. I'm starting to think if seizure is warranted, a crime would have to be in evidence or at least probable cause of one. If no arrest is warranted, seizure should not be warranted either.

    4A: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
     
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  4. badkarmamib

    badkarmamib Member

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    I am trying to understand why the SAF or another legal group has not already sued to get these red-flag laws overturned, based on the 4th alone. Maybe it is already in process and I have not heard, or maybe (probably) I simply don't understand law well enough, but this seems beyond unconstitutional to me.
     
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  5. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    I would think that an appellate court would probably overturn the EPO due to vagueness due the lack of specific criteria given by the police for the EPO if the facts of the case are as presented (which is not always the case). A single unsubstantiated complaint by a random witness is not sufficient as probable cause would be necessary at the minimum. Even an arrest or search warrant would require substantiating evidence beyond a simple voice complaint. A FOIA (or its equivalent in Mass Law) would also be in order. Mr. Tisdale Police Chief and employer (the town) just might find himself and his town in legal jeopardy.

    In Wisconsin v. Constineau, 400 U.S. 433 (1971) a woman challenged a Wisconsin law that gave police unbridled power to declare someone a public drunk of which a list distributed by the police to local retailers prohibited them from selling to anyone on the list for one year. In the opinion, "The only issue present here is whether the label or characterization given a person by "posting," though a mark of serious illness to some, is to others such a stigma or badge of disgrace that procedural due process requires notice and an opportunity to be heard. We agree with the District Court that the private interest is such that those requirements of procedural due process must be met."

    and "Where a person's good name, reputation, honor, or integrity is at stake because of what the government is doing to him, notice and an opportunity to be heard are essential. "Posting" under the Wisconsin Act may to some be merely the mark of illness, to others it is a stigma, an official branding of a person. The label is a degrading one. Under the Wisconsin Act, a resident of Hartford is given no process at all. This appellee was not afforded a chance to defend herself. She may have been the victim of an official's caprice. Only when the whole proceedings leading to the pinning of an unsavory label on a person are aired can oppressive results be prevented."

    In this case, the crossing guard has both a liberty and property constitutional interests as well as damage to reputation. I suspect that the individuals involved in the case have a personal grudge against the defendant or something is not being reported here. As he was reinstated to his job as crossing guard, that makes me suspicious that personal vendettas against the guy was involved.
     
  6. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Let's see, 1st Amendment violated, check. 2nd Amendment violated, check. 5th Amendment violated, check.

    Oh heck, let's just tear up the whole dang Constitution.
     
  7. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    He should contact a good attorney to find out if there's any basis for suing the living crap out of the waitress, the restaurant employing her, and the town.

    A few costly settlements or verdicts and people and police may be a little more reluctant to act rashly in these types of cases.

    Good intentions be damned if you're falsely arrested, have your property confiscated, and your good name smeared based on half assed testimony.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  8. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

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    That is the democrat's plan.

    Lets see, I own firearms, AKs, ARs. FALs etc and I'm a Christian which means I'm dangerous to them.

    Guess what, so are any of you here even if you're an atheist, Christian, Catholic or Jew.
     
  9. 748

    748 Member

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    Due process of any kind would likely stop most of the bs.
    But but that would leave a paper trail, attach names of abusive officials to their actions.
    They don't want accountability.
     
  10. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    I said it in a different thread, and I'll say it again here. Red flag laws should include a provision for return of firearms, involuntary commitment to a mental institution or filing of criminal charges within a set period of time (72 hours?), and if that doesn't happen, the judge who authorized the confiscation (or whoever the individual who signed off is) must be liable for significant penalties including violating civil rights and theft of property.
     
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  11. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    The new STASI, coming to a state where you live...:(
     
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  12. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    IMHO that will just result in bogus charges for CYA. Those willing to violate your rights one time won't hesitate to to it twice.
     
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  13. ScrapMetalSlug

    ScrapMetalSlug Member

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    All designed to make people afraid to talk anything about firearms anywhere in public. Creating the mindset that firearms are something to be ashamed about and keep hidden. Looks like it is working as intended. If you own firearms, you waive your due process rights. It is hard to challenge something if you don’t even get a chance in court.

    I don’t understand why people think this Is ok in America.
     
  14. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Red flag laws have one purpose: To illegally disarm the population, to stifle otherwise inoffensive conversation and to accustom us to arbitrary violation of rights.

    Police departments get warrants signed all the time, at all hours of the day and night. Get evidence, get a warrant. Period. Otherwise, leave people the hell alone.
     
  15. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Other than there is no court ruling. This is a magistrate warant, not a trial before a jury (as required by 6th 7th amendments) and is a signficant abrogation of the 5th and 4th.
     
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  16. fireside44

    fireside44 Member

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    I dunno, he's 84 and in competition with the hills for a retirement package. He's talking about school shootings at a restaurant. Probably can't cook for himself any longer. Probably senile. Can he even see to clean his gun or shoot? I think he should have to have some testing or accreditation at that age otherwise I'm leaning confiscation.....
     
  17. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    WOW! You might want to step back and think about that one a bit. I don't presume to speak for Mr. Nichols, but while some of us "old vets" may not run so fast or far any more, don't forget, experience often trumps youth in many endeavors. Having retired just a year or so after the hills myself, I haven't missed many meals, my guns are as clean or cleaner than most, and thanks to modern medicine, eyesight is not too shabby either. ;):D

    Regards,
    hps
     
  18. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    You can sue anybody, but this notion of suing a concerned citizen is preposterous. We have often spoke on this forum about how society failed to stop somebody who engaged in a mass shooting because "there were signs" before the event that nobody bothered to report. She didn't do anything wrong. It was the police who confiscated the gun and the license, not the waitress.

    However, if the waitress should be sued, then should the neighbor who called the non-emergency number out of concern for his neighbor's well being (Atatiana Jefferson, in Fort Worth, Texas) also be sued because the police killed Jefferson?

    The guy is 84 and holds down a job for which he was trained and hired by the police. You are way out of bounds on your assessment.

    https://www.mvtimes.com/2019/10/14/stephen-nichols-reinstated-crossing-guard/
     
  19. JWF III

    JWF III Member

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    Wow! I’m hoping that’s sarcasm, but see no smiley faces to lead me to believe it is. I just don’t know what to say...

    After a few minutes of thinking what to say, Wow! is still all I can come up with. Does that make me senile? Lord I hope not. You’ll be wanting to take my guns next. All because I couldn’t reply to such an asinine comment.

    Wyamn
     
  20. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    And the cops who took them.

    If everybody's too scared of losing their shirts to enforce it, is a law really a law?
     
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  21. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    We're rapidly approaching the stage of Stalinist "denunciations" for fun and profit, which is of course the ultimate goal.

    It's way past time for a few brush back pitches to be thrown in civil court.
     
  22. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    ^^^This. In my state, anytime one reports a threat of school violence, they are protected from any form of prosecution or civil suit, as long as the report was done in good faith. They also are protected from having their name given out. There are harsh penalties for doing so because of obvious repercussions. There are actually very harsh penalties for folks that work for schools and do not report such incidences. While the waitress misunderstood, she did, IMHO, from the facts given, do the right thing as she did think there was a real threat. What she thought she encountered was what is called "leakage". Leakage occurs when “a student/other, intentionally or unintentionally reveals clues to feelings, thoughts, fantasies, attitudes, or intentions that may signal an impending violent act". Why something so trivial led to firearm confiscation and termination of his job before there was more investigation, is a poor reflection on the local PD. Many times the excuse for this is, "we always error on the side of the kids", and I understand this. Still, a simple conversation between the local PD, the Vet and whoever he was speaking to at the restaurant, would have ended this before it got anywhere.
     
  23. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    And who determines if it's "good faith"?

    I was once publicly berated by an elderly cleaner in a McDonald's for wearing an NRA ballcap. I'm pretty sure he was sincere when he told me that the NRA should be "banned". If he turned in a "red flag" report on me, would that REALLY be in "bad faith"? And who determines that, a judge who thinks that Heller was wrongly decided?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
  24. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    There is something called an interlocutory appeal wherein gross constitutional violations can be dealt with by higher courts as the U.S. Constitution and then the Mass. Constitution are the supreme laws of the land (event occurred in Mass.) so that even lower level magistrates actions must conform to it. Constitutional torts are an interesting area of law and even absent an explicit law granting jurisdiction, appellate courts can review (See Bivins v. Six Unknown Federal Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)) constitutional violations by agents of the state. The old equity maxim for every right there is a remedy requires courts to address constitutional violations outside of normal statutory jurisdiction otherwise the provisions are effectively nullified.
     
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  25. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    There is a difference between good faith as applied to government officials and those of the general public. Generally speaking if a statute requires someone to say something, then they cannot be penalized as long as good faith existed at the time that the information they were giving was credible. Citizens are treated differently under the law as are their employers. Police though are theoretically held to a higher standard as they must make a judgment as to whether the information passed to them is credible and then find corroborating evidence as a simple accusation is not enough. For a warrant, which I suppose that the Mass law follows without taking time to look at it, a police officer must give a sworn statement as the the authenticity of the facts to the magistrate issuing the order. The magistrate then makes a separate decision whether or not the evidence presented represents probable cause. Given that a seizure of property exists, any process that falls below the probable cause is constitutionally infirm and lack of corroborating evidence for a warrant would be such.
     
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