Retired cop sues New York state for seizing guns over insomnia treatment

A U.S. Navy veteran and retired police detective is suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state of New York after his firearms were confiscated under the new gun control laws following medical treatment for a sleep disorder.

The gun owner, Donald Montgomery, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Rochester against Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others in their official capacity for allegedly denying his Second Amendment rights per the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

According to court documents, Montgomery went to his primary care physician on May 6 complaining that he was having trouble sleeping after a move from one part of the state to another to be closer to a young grandchild. That weekend, still unable to sleep, he went to a Long Island emergency room where he was diagnosed with having insomnia and depression and released with a prescription.

Two weeks later, with the sleep disorder still present, Montgomery once again went to the ER and was listed, unknown to him, as an involuntary admission although he did not meet the criteria for an emergency mental health admission under state law. At the time he was found by medical staff to be nether a suicide or homicide risk and one of the attending psychiatrists told Montgomery, “You don’t belong here,” and, “I don’t know why you were referred here.”

Subsequently he was released within 48 hours and, with the proper medications, slept soundly.

By the end of the month, the New York State Police advised the Suffolk County Clerk’s office, which had issued Montgomery his firearms permit in 2005, that he “has been adjudicated as a mental defective,” and therefore prohibited from possessing firearms. The next day local authorities went to Montgomery’s house and confiscated four otherwise legal firearms — all handguns.

Court filings detail that the handguns included a Colt .38 that he had won at the police academy for being the best overall recruit, a Glock 26 that had been his duty weapon when he retired after 30 years in law enforcement, and two others. Suffolk County then in September terminated Montgomery’s permit without a hearing after the hospital refused to correct its records. The former law enforcement officer and military veteran had an otherwise clean criminal and mental health record, passing numerous background checks over the years.

Montgomery’s legal team argue that the new Cuomo-backed SAFE Act, which included a restructuring of mental health reporting guidelines in the state, directly caused the revocation of his firearms permit and denies his civil rights, citing that there is no meaningful process that he can restore his rights under the Second Amendment other than to file suit in federal court.

“To report every person who seeks medical or mental health support services through a government mandate or sponsored program is to fuel the fire of the stigma of a class of persons who are more likely to be victimized than to commit violent crimes with firearms, such as mass shootings,” reads the 56-page filing in Montgomery v. Cuomo as written by his attorney, Paloma A Capanna.

Montgomery’s suit comes on the heels of a historic decision from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found in a unanimous decision that a Michigan man, was denied his Constitutional Second Amendment rights when he was prevented from purchasing a gun in 2011 following a 1986 stay in a mental institution.

In his suit, Montgomery is seeking to strike down the state’s new Mental Hygiene Law as being unconstitutional, correct his mental health records, and restore his firearms rights as well as seeking punitive damages.