U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- On 28 August, 2019, relatives of a former gun dealer called the police because they said, they were concerned the 72-Year-old man might be depressed and/or suicidal. I do not know if the man was suicidal or not, but old white men commit the largest percentages of suicides. They tend to use guns to do the deed. The police raided the house, on the authorization of the relatives. It appears to be a nice home in a nice neighborhood. Bustleton is home to many of Philadelphia's police officers and firefighters.
The wellness check turned into a full-blown media circus. Swat was called “to assist in clearing weapons.” The bomb squad was called. Hazmat was called. Why? Because the man involved, who had been a gun dealer, according to relatives, had a modest gun collection, some inert grenade bodies (easily and legally purchased), a smoke grenade (totally legal), some mercury (totally legal), and about a thousand rounds of ammunition. From abc.com:
According to investigators, officers encountered a 72-year-old man whom relatives expressed concern that he may be depressed or suicidal. The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation. Relatives said the man used to be a gun dealer.
Police say family members authorized them to enter the home, and upon entering, they found more than 50 guns, hundreds of rounds of ammo, 10 hand grenades, a pipe bomb and liquid mercury. The grenades are believed to be inert.
Here is the headline from cbslocal.com:
Philadelphia Police Find More Than 50 Guns, Grenades And Liquid Mercury In Bustleton Home, Officials Say
Watching some video of the raid by Philadelphia's finest, I winced as the nice long guns were unceremoniously, dumped on top of each other in the back of a police van “to have their serial numbers checked to be sure they were legal”. In today's digital age, serial numbers can easily be checked in the field. The former firearm dealer had been taken to the hospital for an evaluation.
This does not require the guns to be taken from the home. Once impounded by the police, try to get your guns back, especially in Philadelphia. The mayor is notoriously biased against gun ownership. The modest collection of pistols, rifles, and shotguns, say, 55, as the number was over 50, and almost certainly less than 60, or the reports would have said “more than 60”, is likely worth 20-30 thousand dollars. It might take more than $30,000 in lawyers fees to fight the city to have the guns returned. The city will be using other people's money, and the city attorney's to prevent the return of the guns.
50-60 guns is a modest gun collection. Many people have hundreds of guns. A thousand rounds of ammunition is only 20 rounds per gun. It could be two bricks of .22 ammunition that sells for less than $40, total.
Hopefully, the rule of law will be followed, and the guns returned immediately if the former gun dealer is not adjudicated as a threat to himself. Proving your self to not be a threat to yourself, is not clear cut and obvious. Some in our society would say merely being old, white, male, and a gun owner shows you to be unfit to have guns.
It only takes one relative who is disgruntled or overly cautious to create this nightmare for the former gun dealer.
In this case, it was the police who turned an ordinary welfare check into a media, anti-gun ownership circus.
If the police cannot, at a glance, tell that an inert grenade body, without fuse or filler, is *not* a grenade, they are incompetent. If they are saying a piece of pipe with, or without endcaps, if there is no explosive filler or fuse, is a “pipe bomb” they are incompetent. If they feel the need to call a hazmat team because someone owns a bottle of mercury, which has numerous legal uses, and is completely legal to own, they are incompetent.
Worse, much worse, is the possibility the police are *competent*, but in this case, and others like it, are malicious in order to secure media propaganda and political kudos. They know the guns, inert grenade bodies, ammunition, and mercury are legal, but see a great opportunity to grandstand, create a media circus, and gain political credit from a rabidly anti-gun ownership mayor. That seems to be the attitude of Chief Inspector Scott Small, in the video.
I do not know Inspector Small. Maybe he really is as clueless as he would be required to be, to avoid the perception as a politically correct party apparatchik.
This country has a serious problem of legal firearms theft from gun owners, by police departments.
I hope it is not happening in this case. I would love to be proven wrong.
Maybe, in a few days, we will see a followup where the former gun dealer was found competent, all his guns and legal possessions are returned, at no cost to him, and the police offer an apology for overreacting, but, of course, claim it was all in concern for his safety. Or, if he is not found competent, the guns are turned over to his relatives or fiduciary, to be cared for as the substantial assets they are.
I will not be holding my breath. The suspicion of potential suicide should not override our Constitutional rights. The suspicion of relatives should not trump all the careful protections provided for in the Constitution, yet that is precisely what is happening. It may take a Supreme Court case to stop this insanity.
Who knows? One or two more Supreme Court appointments by President Trump, and it could happen.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.