A New Jersey man’s simmering dispute with one of his former doctors has led to a “red flag” firearms confiscation order and the seizure of several firearms, after the physician told authorities he felt threatened by some of the man’s comments.
The Asbury Park Press reports a hearing was held Thursday to determine whether or not Alfred Conti should have his guns returned to him, or whether he’ll be subjected to a final order that could bar him from gun ownership for an indefinite period of time.
James Maggs, a Wall-based attorney for Dr. Matthew Kaufman and The Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury, told state Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon Thursday that he received an increasingly agitated phone call from Alfred Conti, telling him he knew where they lived.
“It started out the first few seconds a normal call then quickly he became agitated,” Maggs said. “His overall demeanor I felt became threatening and I became alarmed.”…
Conti, 56, of Middletown, has said Kaufman performed surgery on his neck, but he remained in pain. Eventually, he was dismissed from the practice because, Maggs said, he became aggressive with the staff.
Conti went online to write negative reviews about the doctor. Kaufman and the Plastic Surgery Center sued him for defamation in July.
According to Maggs, Conti continued to call him and ask if the doctor could do anything about the pain that he was in even after the defamation suit was filed. Conti was apparently unaware that after the first call, Maggs decided to take action.
Maggs recorded the second call, which was played in court Thursday. In it, Conti used expletives and threatened to bring the police and media with him to force Kaufman to see him. He also said he knew where Maggs and Kaufman lived.
Maggs said he was worried; he had seen posts from Conti’s Facebook page that included references to guns.
Maggs and Kaufman called the police, who drove to Conti’s home and took his firearms under the state’s red-flag law.
Conti, meanwhile, maintains that he never threatened anyone, and even Maggs had to reluctantly admit that he had heard no direct threat from the man.
“He was very cooperative in assisting us and his conversation with us,” said Dan Campanella, a patrol officer with the Rumson Police Department, said at the hearing. “As far as (discussing) what had occurred, he maintained he never threatened anybody and has rightful grievances with both parties.”
Jason Seidman, Conti’s lawyer, asked Maggs if his client directly told him he was going to inflict violence.
Maggs said no. But after Conti mentioned he knew where he and Kaufman lived, “that, to me, was something that made me very alarmed,” Maggs said
Maggs might have been alarmed, but it sounds like there’s no evidence that Conti is a danger to himself or others. Still, the judge hearing this case didn’t issue a final ruling, but instead scheduled another hearing for early December.Unlike other states with red flag laws on the books, New Jersey’s law doesn’t automatically expire after a specific period of time, which means if the judge approves the order, Conti will be permanently barred from legally owning firearms unlessor until the judge decides at a future point in time that the red flag order can be lifted.
Cases like this demonstrate the dangers of red flag firearms seizure laws. Here’s a man in a dispute with his doctor over what he believes was a botched surgery, who has made no threats against anyone, but who still may lose his right to keep and bear arms along with his good health. It doesn’t appear that Conti’s had any trouble with the law, and even now hasn’t been charged with a crime, much less convicted of anything. Still, one dumb comment about knowing where the doctor and his attorney live may cause him to lose his Second Amendment rights for the rest of his life.
This case should serve as a reminder about how dangerous these red flag laws are to individual liberty, and how ripe for abuse they are in a state that already views gun ownership as a privilege, not a right.