Ralph Gilbertsen has no criminal record and he owns a state gun permit, yet police came to his home without a warrant and confiscated his three pistols.
Officers apparently took Gilbertsen’s weapons because he believes in UFOs, Bigfoot and conspiracy theories.
“I’m confident our officers seized the weapons with the best intention,” Lieutenant Mike Flaherty of the Richfield, Minnesota, police told The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It was a mental health issue, and I think the cops responded appropriately. The process is being followed. If the court rules that we have to return his weapons, then we will return them.”
Police took Gilbertsen’s three handguns at the request of the Hennepin Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (COPE). The managers of Gilbertsen’s apartment building called COPE after he sent them a letter saying CIA agents were watching him.
Significantly, no psychologist or medical professional examined Gilbertsen prior to the weapons being taken last year. Gilbertsen, 74, has been forced to retain an attorney and go to court to get his own guns back. His plight was detailed in a Star Tribune feature story this month. Police took a .40-caliber pistol, a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum and an RG .22 revolver. Gilbertsen’s psychiatrist wrote a letter saying the man poses no threat.
Gilbertsen calls himself a patriot and Christian who has handled guns his entire life, the Star Tribune reported.
“He’s what some people would say is a conspiracy theorist,” Paul Baertschi, Gilbertsen’s attorney, told the newspaper. “But really, the police acted unilaterally in deciding that a person who has these beliefs can’t be trusted with a gun. And so they just took them, without a warrant.”
Flaherty defended the police department’s actions.
“The street cops nowadays have to be a psychologist,” Flaherty said. “People don’t wear nameplates saying ‘paranoid schizophrenic.’ So the police have to go in there and make judgment calls.”
Gilbertsen said he deserves his guns back.
“A lot of people believe these things, but they don’t want to talk about it,” Gilbertsen said. “I could see people being skeptical if I was saying something really outlandish, like space aliens with big heads were visiting me every night. But nobody can believe the CIA is squeaky clean.”
Gilbertsen “is an able-bodied senior citizen who lacks the physical strength to defend himself from an attack and has the constitutional right under the Second Amendment to have a weapon for personal protection,” Baertschi wrote in a court document. “The police have no right to confiscate his weapons based on the speculative worries of anyone.”
Gun Confiscation on the Rise
The use of suspicion of mental illness as a pretext for gun confiscation is on the rise. A typical example is a new California law that allows judges to order confiscation of weapons without giving gun owners a chance to appeal, as Off The Grid News previously reported.
“With as little as a misunderstood Facebook post, your gun rights could be STRIPPED AWAY and your LIFE TURNED UPSIDE DOWN,” a petition on the website of the Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun rights group, states.
“In other words, a judge could issue the order without ever hearing from the person in question, if there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is a threat based on accounts from the family and police,” a Firearms Policy Coalition press release states.
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