There’s no reason for Americans to fret over “red flag” laws that give sweeping gun confiscation powers to local governments, right? After all, if you’re not a criminal, what’s the problem?
At least that’s the general response voiced by many on the left whenever gun owners speak up. But a disturbing incident in Massachusetts is raising hard questions about those firearms seizure laws, especially when it comes to due process.
According to LifeZette and The Martha’s Vineyard Times, an 84-year-old veteran had his legally owned firearms confiscated by local police after a waitress misheard part of a conversation between him and a friend.
To make matters worse, the vet was also reportedly fired from his position as a school crossing guard, which he used to keep busy after the death of his wife.
“Stephen Nichols of Tisbury — in the Martha’s Vineyard area of Massachusetts — got the job as a crossing guard because he loves kids,” LifeZette reported. “After his wife passed away, he reportedly needed something to occupy his time and his heart.”
Now he’s fighting for his fundamental rights as an American. Nichols, a grandfather of 11, was apparently sitting in a local restaurant several weeks ago when he told a friend that he was concerned a school resource officer had been leaving for coffee and other errands instead of staying at the school.
“Nichols said he was worried somebody would come in and ‘shoot up the school’ while the officer was out on one of his coffee runs,” LifeZette said. “That’s the part of the conversation the waitress overheard — which she reported to the police.”
Without being charged or convicted of any crime, this Korean War-era Army veteran received a visit from officers who confiscated his personal firearms.
As The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported: “Asked if he was given a letter or any paperwork for the seizure of his license, Nichols said, ‘No he just told me to hand it over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him.’
“Nichols said he has been licensed for firearms since 1958.”
Amazingly, it all appears to be based on a half-heard conversation that was taken out of context.
“Nichols said the waitress made a complaint to Tisbury Police about what she overheard and on the strength of that, [Police Chief Mark] Saloio and another officer relieved Nichols of his crossing guard duties while he was in the midst of performing them and subsequently drove to his home and took away his firearms license and guns,” The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported.
“Nichols said he never carries guns outside the house and would like to have his license and his guns back, but the fate of the guns may be sealed,” the newspaper added.
By all reports, Nichols is an upstanding member of the community. He said he has worked in auxiliary roles with the Tisbury Police for a staggering six decades, and has also been a court officer and constable. And it definitely appears that he was overheard voicing concern for a school shooting, certainly not encouraging one.
After an outcry from community members, the veteran was allowed to return to his crossing guard duties on Monday, The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported.
But there’s scant information about if his lawfully owned firearms will be returned, or what process was followed to seize them in the first place.
The Western Journal contacted the Tisbury Police on Tuesday to request an update on when those guns would be returned, but has so far not received a response.
Every liberty-loving American concerned about “red flag laws” needs to pay close attention to this case, because it’s a disturbing reminder of what happens when fundamental rights are allowed to be casually trampled.
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