NYAPRS Note: Here's an outrageous mistake of the kind advocates warned and worried about. Stay tuned... State Police Mistakenly Enforce SAFE Act Provision Capital Tonight April 11, 2013
Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs said the New York State Police made a mistake when they enforced a mental health provision of the New York SAFE Act. Jacobs said he was ordered in an email from State Police to contact David Lewis, 35, and notify him he had to turn over his firearms.
"On this one I'm disappointed with State Police but I will say more so I'm disappointed with the legislation that was passed," Jacobs said.
Lewis' attorney Jim Tresmond said his client was told to turn over several firearms because he was once prescribed anti-anxiety medication at "one point." Tresmond said his client was told that violates part the new gun control law.
State police ordered his pistol permit revoked and Lewis was forced to turn the guns over to Amherst Police. Wednesday, Jacobs told YNN's Katie Cummings he received a call from State Police explaining that they had the wrong person.
"Whether it's the wrong name, or the mental health source was flawed, they need to go through and flow chart this process. After they called, it became clear that the State did not do their job here, and now we all look foolish," Jacobs said.
Jacobs, a Republican who's been critical of the law, said the error is a symptom of "inherent flaws" in the mental health reporting provisions of the new state law.
"We see more and more provisions within this that are not well thought through because they never talked with anyone on the ground who's going to be implementing it," said Jacobs.
Before the mistake was revealed, Tresmond raised concerns over whether or not HIPPA or Lewis' fourth amendment rights were violated.
"We should all be concerned about it because there are times in all of our lives when we may be prescribed this medication for one reason or another," said Tresmond.
Jacobs said his office does not have a role in the required mental health background screenings nor does the judge who revoked Lewis' pistol permit.
"We're not assuming responsibility on this because we do believe it rests with state police and the flawed legislation. But we will act quickly to get the firearms back to the individual immediately," Jacobs added.
State Police declined to comment.