NY Police Mistakenly Confiscate Vietnam Vet’s Guns

Don W. Hall, of Taberg. NY. Hall, a 70-year-old Vietnam Vet, had his firearms confiscated by sheriff’s deputies even though he did nothing wrong.

Back in February, Oneida County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home of Don Hall, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired pipefitter who lives in Taberg, NY. It was around 9:30 p.m.

Hall was surprised. Why were they police at his house with their lights flashing? Did something happen to one of his children? One of his grandchildren?

Turns out, the officers were there to confiscate Hall’s firearms.  And they did, all six of them.  Two handguns and four long guns.

To justify the seizure of Hall’s lawfully owned property, the officers pointed to a document that said Hall was “mentally defective.”  Under federal law, anyone adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed is considered a “prohibited person” and may not possess a firearm.

The only problem is that Hall isn’t mentally defective.  He is perfectly healthy.  The police had the wrong guy.  But, in that moment, with the sheriffs in his home, there was nothing he could do but to turn over his firearms.

“I was guilty until I could prove myself innocent,” Hall told The Post Standard, which investigated the ordeal. “They don’t tell you why or what you supposedly did. It was just a bad screw-up.”

Hall would eventually get his firearms back in April.  But it would take time, a lot of work (Hall obtained depositions from all the local hospitals saying that he had not been treated for mental health issues) and the help of an attorney to get the job done.

However, the question of how exactly Hall become a target for confiscation remains unclear.

“To this day, no one at a hospital or the state and local agencies involved in taking Hall’s guns has admitted to Hall that a mistake was made, explained what happened or apologized,” notes the Post Standard.

The only person that did admit that a mistake was made was the county judge who helped Hall get his guns back.

John Panzone, Hall’s attorney, believes that another man named “Don Hall” was recently flagged at a local hospital while being treated for mental health issues.  Presumably. there was a mix up between the two men and their personal information, including their social security numbers, and it set this whole debacle in motion.

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

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • HelixMegaton December 7, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Some one put a hit on this man i wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled a name from a data base and said lets go. Except they didn’t think he would fight back.

  • MJ August 31, 2018, 10:16 am

    It appears that every state is on track to adopt this hearsay law to confiscate a citizens fire arms. Here in California, they even had to pass a law against frudulant reporting, but the damage is already done. Guilty until proven innocent.

  • deyreal01 August 4, 2017, 7:26 pm

    ……New York State weapons laws suck!!…….I think the worst in the Nation!!,…..

  • Robert August 4, 2017, 3:15 pm

    There needs to be clarification to this story as it relates to protocol. The hospital acted under direction of the SAFE ACT which Cuomo enacted a couple of years ago. The notifications were made to law enforcement but a judge is required to sign off on that court order AFTER a hearing is help as to the mental capacity of an individual. So lets look a bit closer….Where and how did the hospital obtain the name and address of: DON HALL? Was it provided to them from the patient? And if so did the patient maliciously receive treatment and falsify his information? Or was he destitute and picked the name of: DON HALL? Sounds like no due diligence done by the hospital. I sense a law suit against the hospital for providing service under false pretenses. And the scary part? NYS=Sanctuary STATE. That means anyone can walk in under the pretense of being someone else and that victim can also lose their 2nd Amendment rights…………scary stuff.
    In closing a LAWSUIT should be brought on behalf of this victim, YES VICTIM, so appropriate measures are put in place to protect his/her rights.

  • Kris August 4, 2017, 1:44 pm

    Mistakes happen. And I am inclined to think this was a mistake. But police departments need to be required to pay for their mistakes. That encourages them to be more cautious in the future. The police department that did this needs to be forced to pay for Mr. Hall’s time, legal fees and mental suffering. I’m thinking $100,000 plus legal expenses for Mr. Hall should be about right.

  • Daddio7 August 4, 2017, 12:18 pm

    For people looking for collusion here it is. So a Don Hall is flagged as mentally deficient. From there where is the paper trail? Is this a HEPA violation? The police ask for Don Hall’s records and they turn over the first Don Hall on the list? When Don Hall protested that they had the wrong man why wasn’t the proper Don Hall visited? ID theft maybe. I have an unusual last name but in my state there are six with my first and last and two with all three names. I have already run afoul of a government flunky hearing that name and then choosing me from a list even though my SS number and address was not the same as the man they were looking for. Luckily is was for taxes but it took three different phone calls to finally get them to look for the right person.

  • Citizen Main August 4, 2017, 12:17 pm

    Typical country bumpkin action…..Maybe they can recognize a veteran better if he dresses in his uniform 24/7,, It seems all the people who answered this item, have a good hand on what’s happening. HOOWAH…..CM

  • Stormrider August 4, 2017, 12:11 pm

    The deputies did not “mistakenly confiscate” the guns. Those obedient, blue collar, street bureaucrats, blundly followed the orders if dome liveral, whire collar weasel prosecutor. Agents of the state will always lick the boots of their superiors.

  • Burgermeister Meisterburger August 4, 2017, 11:44 am

    To prevent thefts or the accidental loss to agents of the fiscal monarchy(lol) every lawful owner should have a cabinet with some cheap, possibly non-working long and short items (throw-aways) so that when that day comes you gladly turn over the items! I prefer the good old glass doors and deer motif set prominently in a hallway, home office, or family room.
    You want them?
    ..here they are! Please take them and leave. How do I get them back?
    Make a scene, act upset, be respectful
    Treat a thief like a thief.

  • RGE August 4, 2017, 10:52 am

    First off, I guess the Sheriff’s office didn’t get the memo that there’s a new president in office and it ain’t Obama.

    Second off, why would anyone want to live in New York State with the high taxes, the uber-liberal-gun-hatin’ crowd?

    Third off, and the most important part of this, today law enforcement doesn’t apologize for anything they do, right or wrong. They don’t apologize for fear of lawsuits, and they don’t apologize for fear of reproachment. They will never admit they are wrong no matter what they do period. Don’t expect anything from them by way of apologies.

    All the above said, there are many people in law enforcement who are decent, honest, upright people who deserve every ounce of credit for what they do every day to protect and serve the public. However, there are some that are just not worthy of the badge, trust or honor. And its those very few who do nothing to correct mistakes made, that don’t deserve to be where they’re at. If a judge had to step in and correct this mess, then someone in law enforcement dropped the ball and as Harry the Houdini used to say, “The Buck Stops Here”. So whoever it is that had authority over this on the law enforcement side, should have ponied up some paperwork indicating that it was a case of mistaken identity and returned the guns pronto! There is no excuse for this. There is, by the way, a possible pair of explanations: (1) the cops that confiscated the guns wanted the guns for themselves; or (2) the Sheriff’s office upper management hates guns so much, they don’t care who they confiscate them from. Pick one or the other, either way they owed an obligation to correct the mistake before this guy had to pony up cash to hire a lawyer and go to court to prove they collared the wrong dude.

    • Burgermeister Meisterburger August 4, 2017, 11:53 am

      New York is a beautiful state. A true sportsman’s paradise. It is also infested with political rats.
      If NY were to cut off that cancerous appendage that dangles dangerously left, the rest of the state could get back to working and living. People from Upstate work and pay taxes so the Rotten Apple does not have to.
      I will never live in NY, but those Adirondacks are tempting.

  • Bob August 4, 2017, 10:18 am

    this is why many doctors ask you when you go to them if you feel depressed and if you answer yes guess what. Say goodbye to your firearms.

  • Tom August 4, 2017, 9:47 am

    This is corruption and insanity at its lowest point! I would be mentally decimated if my collection was taken like this. I wonder how beat up his property was when returned? This is total B______T!

  • Frank August 4, 2017, 9:44 am

    Kinda reminds me of that infamous song.. ” I Love New York “

  • Mike August 4, 2017, 8:03 am

    This is such a bad piece of legislation. Since when is the burden of proof on the citizens?

    • zenmonger August 4, 2017, 12:12 pm

      Sounds like you’ve never heard of civil asset forfeiture. It’s not just your guns the cops can seize without a warrant or charges being filed. You have a lot to learn.

      • Beachhawk October 3, 2017, 12:50 am

        Civil asset forfeiture is a huge racket and one of the worst abuses of the criminal justice system. The idea was to seize the assets from drug traffickers and racketeers, but it allows prosecutors and police officers to seize assets from anyone they believe gained those assets from criminal activity. It is up to the person to prove that the assets are not the product of criminal activity. It turns the criminal justice system on it’s head by saying you’re guilty until you prove your innocence. The concept which says you are innocent until proven guilty in a court does not apply to civil forfeiture. If you want to hear some real horror stories google “civil forfeiture cases.”

  • jstert August 4, 2017, 7:33 am

    the only mistake is a system that allows one’s constitutional rights to be trampled without any due process or remorse. why is the 2a the “red haired stepchild” of the bill of rights? our bill of rights is not a buffet table for casual grazing. we either have all of our rights or we will have none.

    • RGE August 4, 2017, 11:00 am

      The 2nd Amendment isn’t the only one. The Obama administration declared war on the First Amendment too, using lawsuits and even the threat of criminal prosecution against people who wrote articles denying climate change is real. The extreme liberal agenda is to quash any free speech that interferes with their message, any way they can. And what they can’t get through legislation or the abuse of the court system they get through violent acts such as burning down campuses.

      There is a place for quiet, peaceful demonstrations absent violence; and a place for limiting speech when it becomes imminently dangerous. But squashing public debate is the extreme left’s way of getting their message heard over any nay-sayers.

      The 2nd Amendment has been under attack since the days of Dodge City and the rise of big, urban cities. Honestly there were and remain good reasons why people in crowded conditions should not be running around toting guns, but there is time, place and manner restrictions for a lot of things. The key is they have to be reasonable.

      Simply declaring someone mentally unfit without any evidence goes way out there. The gamble on the accuser’s part is that the accused has no money to defend these allegations and will capitulate out of default or mere poverty for inability to hire a lawyer to defend them. Meanwhile all the power and resources of the state comes crashing down on someone who did nothing more than breathe the air.

  • deanbob August 4, 2017, 7:32 am

    Seems like the time to change the law that all but prevents John Q Citizen from suing the government. Or add 1 that makes it easier to penalize those who screw up and cause citizens this much problem.

  • Cyrus August 4, 2017, 7:26 am

    If the Lawyer that represented Mr. Hall to get his guns back did not open up a civil rights case against the State then he is just another useless lawyer! You cannot make mistakes like this and not expect to get sued!

    • RGE August 4, 2017, 11:05 am

      Civil rights cases are dicey. If the cops are acting under reasonable circumstances then they are acting responsibly and therefore they are not acting in a way to deprive a citizen of his/her rights. However, if the cops discover they made a mistake, they owe an obligation to reasonably correct it.

      Proving the cops intentionally acted under the color of state law to deprive a citizen of their rights is a tough case to prove. The burden is high because you need law enforcement just like you need first responders and other emergency personnel. They have qualified immunity. So lowering the bar isn’t the answer.

      However, there are situations where the police owe an obligation to not only admit a mistake was made, correct it, but also put in place measure to insure they have the right person, the right address, and real probable cause. Often times things get swept under the rug. Let’s face it, the truth shall set you free but first it will make you real mad.

  • John August 4, 2017, 6:33 am

    o a person go’s to a shrink and they have a right to confiscate you guns, what about the mentally defective politicians running these states and for the most part this country, why are they allowed to have Armed security , or carry firearms, is that not a brake in the law. Or dose it just apply to the tax payers of these states and not them. This is one reason I left that state long ago, it has become a tyrannical state run by corrupt politicians that should be in jail and not running the state or local governments.

  • Lloyd Dumas August 4, 2017, 6:25 am

    Had my very first shotgun taken, never got it back. It was in the trunk of my car taken down on two parts in the original box. Too long a story how they happen up on it on an unrelated attended vehicle that wife had driven to the mall. I had an owner card issued by the state two weeks expired. Got permit renewed, then they wanted a bill of sale, which I did not have and back in the seventies before computers I could not produce one. Bottom line cops had a beautiful gun to take home. Once they saw it and marveled at beauty of it I knew I was in trouble. The dirty sons of beast !

  • Dilligaf August 2, 2017, 10:10 am

    There was no mistake. NY is like Commiefornia, It is run by libtarded douchebags and they knew EXACTLY what they were doing. That mistake excuse is a cop-out when things are brought to light and into the public view

    • RGE August 4, 2017, 11:14 am

      The Soviet Socialistic Peoples’ Republic of California consists mostly of the coastal cities, namely L.A. and San Francisco. Orange County is heavily conservative as are the central valley, inland empire regions to the East, and go from oh about El Dorado down to rural San Bernardino and you get another tune.

      The suburban, semi-rural and rural areas of California which is about 90 percent of the landmass of California, are all less concerned about gun laws and the rest of the extreme liberal agenda than they are with daily survival and enjoying their lives. The city dwellers are the ones that steal the water from neighboring counties, rob farmers of much-needed water, and tax the less fortunate folks further East, North and even South of them big cities. Bottom line is, a small minority controls enough voting to vote in legislators and politicians that hurt the rest of the state. So they’re held hostage to these cities on the coast. And don’t even get me started on Hollyweird.

      I drive the rural parts of California all the time. Plenty of guns. Gee no one has receipts, bills of sale, etc. Heck half of them still own their grand-parents’ guns. Come across some guy was out in the desert shooting a Boyes anti-tank gun for some fun, once. Plenty of impromptu gun ranges out there known to the locals but totally unknown to the Comisars in Sacramento. They don’t buy ammo in-state. They go over to Nevada or Arizona and get their ammo there. Some are smart enough to store their guns just across the state line, just in case.

      • Jim Thatcher August 5, 2017, 7:40 pm

        This is the same problem that the PRI (People’s Republic of Illinois) has. 85% or better is more concerned with making it through the day without being taxed to death, unfortunately Chicago has a large enough voting block to set the agenda for the rest of the state, and that agenda is usually something to the rest of our detriment.

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