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Veteran’s Guns Seized Due to Insomnia Diagnosis Under New York’s SAFE Act

Navy veteran and former police officer Donald Montgomery filed a lawsuit in federal court on December 17 against New York state officials and Eastern Long Island Hospital after his guns were seized under the newly-passed SAFE Act following a doctor visit in which he sought treatment for insomnia.

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Barry Donegan
Barry Donegan is a writer, musician, and pro-liberty political activist living in Nashville, TN. Donegan served as Director-at-Large of the Davidson County Republican Party from 2009-2011 and was the Middle Tennessee Regional Coordinator over 30 counties for Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential Campaign. Follow him at facebook.com/barry.donegan and twitter.com/barrydonegan

On December 17, retired detective and US Navy veteran Donald Montgomery filed suit in federal court after his guns were seized by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department under New York’s new SAFE Act, a strict gun control measure that anti-gun New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law in 2013 following the widely-publicized and infamous Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took place in nearby Connecticut. Donald Montgomery’s suit names New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Eastern Long Island Hospital, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, and other state officials as defendants. The above-embedded Fox & Friends video contains an interview on the issue with Montgomery and his attorney Paloma Capanna.

The mental health provisions in the SAFE Act were sold to the public as common sense rules aimed at preventing individuals with mental health conditions that pose a threat to others from obtaining a firearm. However, The Daily Caller notes that, in Montgomery’s case, his guns were seized by state officials after he sought treatment for insomnia following a cross-country move in which he changed time zones. In May of last year, the veteran was struggling to get a decent night’s sleep and voluntarily checked into the emergency room on two different occasions at Eastern Long Island Hospital where he was diagnosed and treated for insomnia.

According to American Thinker, healthcare workers at the hospital diagnosed Montgomery as “mildly depressed” and his medical evaluation paperwork states, “Patient has no thoughts of hurting himself. Patient has no thoughts of hurting others. Patient is not having suicidal thoughts. Patient is not having homicidal thoughts… there is no evidence of any psychotic processes, mania, or OCD symptoms. Insight, judgment, and impulse control are good.” Despite these facts, Montgomery’s case was forwarded to New York’s Mental Hygiene Legal Service and State Police, mislabeled as an involuntary psychiatric hold, despite the fact that the former detective and Navy vet voluntarily sought treatment for his difficulty with sleeping.

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State Police then told the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department that Montgomery “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution” and repeatedly pressured the department to seize his guns. On May 30, Suffolk County Sheriff’s deputies visited Montgomery at his home and seized a Derringer .38, a Colt .38, a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380, and a Glock 26 9mm. His pistol license was seized that day and officially terminated in September. The Daily Caller points out the fact that two of his weapons were given to him by his employer during his 30-years of service as a police officer, including one which was a reward for being top of his class as a police cadet. Montgomery had previously received a medal for bravery in the line of duty during his career in law enforcement.

American Thinker writer Michael Filozof notes that Andrew Cuomo once said that “extreme conservatives… have no place in New York.” Filozof characterized Montgomery’s plight as “an effort [by Cuomo] to confiscate firearms from people who ‘have no place’ in his police state.”

In his lawsuit, Montgomery is seeking relief for what he describes as violations of his Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by state officials. He hopes that the judge assigned to the case will strike down the mental hygiene component of the law and is seeking an injunction that would force the state to notify anyone whose medical records have been seized. His suit claims Eastern Long Island Hospital wronged him by sharing his private medical records with state officials without his permission or knowledge. Montgomery says that his efforts to investigate and correct the errors on his own mental health file through Freedom of Information filings were denied and that he was not given the opportunity to contest the termination of his handgun license.

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