Most of our readers have guns. Based on the average number of guns reported per firearm owner, our readers have a lot of guns. This warms my heart and makes me damn proud to be an American.
However, just imagine that you got really depressed and contemplated suicide. Maybe you’d do it, maybe you wouldn’t, but your family stepped in to help you. After all, that’s what families try to do.
Now imagine that while you were being hospitalized to get better, you learned that the gun collection you’d spent years putting together and spent a lot of money on was likely to be destroyed without your consent.
That’s the reality for one Philadelphia man.
Police who were responding to a report of a suicidal man Wednesday discovered a cache of weapons which included firearms, grenades and ammunition inside the man’s home.
The 72-year-old man, who was not identified, was reported to police by his son who feared for his father’s wellbeing and told officers that there were firearms inside the home, Lieutenant Dennis Rosenbaum of the Philadelphia Police Department said Thursday.
Officers discovered what appeared to be a grenade after the man’s son asked police to remove his father’s weapons from the home, Rosenbaum said. Bomb squad experts who were called to the scene found that the grenade was inactive.
In other words, it was the same kind of dummy grenades you can find at pretty much every army surplus store in the country. They’re common as hell and don’t represent a danger to anyone.
The dummy grenade wasn’t the only inert explosive found in the home, either.
Further investigation of the home revealed a massive stockpile of firearms, an inactive pipe bomb and other grenades, including at least one active military-grade smoke grenade. Some of the weapons appeared to be memorabilia from the World Wars.
Police in all collected 19 handguns and 20 long guns, which can be anything from a hunting rifle to an M-16 military type rifle, according to Rosenbaum. Authorities believe the man had more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition in the home but are still counting for an official number.
Basically, it sounds like you had a collector who had a variety of weapons. Some of which, yes, came from World War II. Without knowing specifics, it’s hard to know for certain.
However, Rosenbaum didn’t say any of the weapons were illegal. In fact, they still have to look to see if any had been illegally modified, but that seems doubtful.
Where there’s a problem, though, is what will happen to the collection.
His family has the right to petition for the weapons, which have been put into storage. If not, or if the police deem the weapons unsafe, they will be destroyed and melted down after a certain period of time.
“I don’t think they’re going to be trying to get the weapons back,” Rosenbaum said. “I’ve talked to the family today as of an hour ago and they just don’t want them to wind up in the wrong hands. They seem to be very nice people.”
No, they’re not nice people. They’re willing to forfeit their loved one’s collection and leave it to be destroyed by police while he’s trying to deal with something. He represents no threat to anyone but himself at this moment. His family has even said as much. So why are they willing to let his collection be destroyed?
Perhaps most troubling, though, is that a hospitalization for being suicidal, even an involuntary one, isn’t necessarily enough to adjudicate someone as a “mental defective.” It takes a bit more than that. There’s a difference between a short-term illness and a chronic condition. So why are the police able to destroy these guns without the owner’s permission?
I mean, if he said to destroy them, that’s one thing. It’s his property, after all. But the only people who seem to have a say in this is the family, not the actual owner of the property.
Perhaps Rosenbaum and the rest of his department need to think long and hard about this one. If I was depressed and thinking of ending my life, telling someone and facing losing all of my guns would be a pretty good incentive to keep my mouth shut. I also know I’m not the only one who feels that way, either.
Stunts like this are likely to lead to fewer people being willing to come and talk about mental health issues, all at a time when we’re trying to destigmatize them so people will seek help. Maybe it’s just me, but threatening to destroy a collection like this just doesn’t seem like the way to do that.