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Judge orders guns returned to Amherst man mistakenly identified as violating the SAFE Act

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Rochester: Judge orders guns returned to Amherst man mistakenly identified as violating the SAFE Act
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A state Supreme Court Judge has ordered an Amherst man's guns can be returned to him after he was incorrectly identified as violating a mental health provision of the SAFE Act. Earlier this week, State Police say they made a mistake. As YNN's Kevin Jolly tells us, now State Police and the County Clerk's Office disagree on who's at fault.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thursday, a state Supreme Court Judge ruled guns seized from David Lewis, 35, must be returned to him after he was incorrectly identified as violating the mental health provision of the SAFE Act.

"We know that from the health care agency to the State Police, there was some kind of breach," said Lewis' attorney, Jim Tresmond.

Tresmond says his client was ordered to turn in his weapons last week because he was once on anti-anxiety medication, which is a violation of the SAFE Act. Wednesday, State Police informed the Erie County Clerk's Office that it made a mistake when it said Lewis was in violation of the state's new gun law.

But Tresmond says it was no mistake.

"When they targeted David, they not only targeted him by name, they also targeted him by his pistol permit, so they identified him as David Lewis with this particular pistol permit number on the letter that they sent to him," said Tresmond.

In a statement, State Police say they were simply following the law. The statement says, in part:

"The State Police was very clear in its letter to the Clerk's Office regarding the need for due diligence and the need for a positive identification by the County before they removed any weapon. The final determination on whether to revoke or suspend a pistol permit or license rests solely with the County and the licensing officials."
"My impression still stands from when they called last night – they made a mistake," said County Clerk Chris Jacobs.

Jacobs says according to the law, due diligence must be done by the state first, not the county.

"The information they gave us, the letter they gave us with the supporting documentation was the pistol permit of this individual, was incorrect and we need to rely on accurate information from our state partner. The judge who actually issues the permit has to rely on that and they fell down in that regard," said Jacobs.

Meantime, Tresmond says he plans to file a lawsuit in federal court because he believes Lewis' rights were violated.

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