Big win for homesick sailor forced to surrender guns

Big win for homesick sailor forced to surrender guns
(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

If someone feels a little down because they miss their family, is that alarming? So alarming that people should be forced to give up their guns?

That was the question at the heart of the matter in a case involving a Navy sailor stationed in Hawaii who was denied a gun permit and required to turn in his firearms because he acknowledged seeing professional help to deal with that depression.

Some would argue that missing one’s family is a good sign, a sign that they have people who love them and whose love is reciprocated.

Hawaii didn’t really get that.

The state stomped on the rights of Michael Santucci and Santucci responded with a lawsuit.

On Thursday, he scored a big win.

Santucci did everything right and by the book. He sought to register his firearms with the state as required and acknowledged getting help for his depression.

As a result, he was told to hand in his guns and forfeit one of the rights he serves in our military to protect for the rest of us.

It was idiotic.

Luckily, the judge agreed.

The court agreed with Mr. Santucci that he was not disqualified from registering his firearms based on Section 134-7. It determined that Mr. Santucci’s affirmative response to Question 11 of the Firearm Application Questionnaire, which inquired about behavioral, emotional, or mental disorders, did not render him ineligible for firearm registration or ownership under the statute. The court concluded that Mr. Santucci should not have been required to provide a doctor’s letter or compelled to surrender his firearms solely based on his affirmative response to Question 11.

Honolulu argued that it was obligated by law to request a doctor’s letter in accordance with Section 134-3, which mandates firearm registration using forms prescribed by the Attorney General. However, the court found no basis for requiring a doctor’s letter after an affirmative response to Question 11, as neither the statute nor the prescribed form supported such a requirement.

The court granted the preliminary injunction, ordering the return of Mr. Santucci’s firearms, and enjoined Honolulu from demanding specific certifications solely based on an affirmative response to Question 11. It also stipulated legal fees to be paid in the matter, with Honolulu paying $102,500 and the State paying $28,000 more.

So, in other words, it wasn’t just a win for Santucci, but also for gun owners in general.

Look, while I disagree with it entirely, I get the desire to keep guns out of the hands of people suffering from mental disorders. Some people are dangerous, either to themselves or others, and many figure that’s a good enough reason to curtail the rights of others.

Yet most people who seek counseling aren’t a threat to anyone, including themselves. They’re just feeling down and don’t want to anymore, or they’re processing a rough childhood or some other kind of trauma so they can live a better, more fulfilling life.

For authorities to swoop in and decide such people cannot be trusted with guns is wrong.

Moreover, it’s likely to prevent people from seeking help in the first place.

The truth is that if Santucci was dangerous, he’d have just lied on the form. If he was planning to kill himself, he wouldn’t worry about a perjury charge. If he were planning something far, far worse than that, I’m pretty sure perjury would have been the least of his concerns.

Instead, Santucci just wanted to obey the law, and he got screwed for it.

Now, things are being set to right.