As an active duty Infantryman, I faced a challenging situation that no one should ever endure. Stationed in an incredibly toxic environment, I experienced relentless hazing and bullying, which only exacerbated the already painful loss of my mother figure. My depression reached a breaking point, and I knew I needed help.
With the help of a friend and my team leader, I found the courage to reach out for assistance. However, my attempt to get help resulted in an unexpected visit from the local military police, who conducted a welfare check at the request of a concerned friend. During this intervention, I shared my struggles and the toxic environment's toll on me. The police officers offered to transport me to a nearby hospital to receive my desperately needed help. Despite feeling apprehensive, I accepted their offer. The officers informed me that I was not detained or arrested and ensured safe transportation to the nearest hospital.
After spending four days under the care of mental health professionals, I emerged with a newfound perspective on how to cope with the challenges I faced. I continued to see a therapist and carried on with my duties as an infantryman, fulfilling my obligation to serve my country.
After my military service concluded nearly two years later, I was eager to return home and pursue my hunting and sport shooting passion. However, this dream was shattered when I attempted to purchase a firearm, only to be rejected by the NICS system. It wasn't until over a year later that I discovered the reason behind my denial - my four-day stay in the hospital triggered the rejection, all due to the SAFE Act's 9.39 Emergency Observation Hold provision.
Even more alarming is that under New York Law, 9.39 legally defines itself as an "Emergency admission for immediate observation, care, and treatment." But despite 18 USC 922(g)(4) explicitly stating that observation holds are NOT considered involuntary commitments, the New York Office of NICS Appeals and SAFE Act reports them as such to the federal government. This misreporting violates federal law and infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of individuals who may have sought help during a difficult time. New York is weaponizing 9.39 observation holds to violate firearm rights, leaving people helpless and powerless; even more, concerning is the lack of any system to inform these individuals that their rights have been stripped away!
Misreporting a 9.39 evaluation creates a significant barrier to mental health care that many desperately need. It forces individuals to choose between their constitutional rights and mental health should they be in a crisis, an unacceptable decision. Fear of losing their rights prevents individuals from seeking help, leading to untreated mental health issues and potentially dangerous situations. It is an injustice that individuals who seek help for mental health issues are stripped of their right to self-defense in all 50 states, denying them their fundamental rights and creating a culture of fear and shame around mental health. Our veterans, families, and all citizens deserve better.
Here is a list of our demands:
- Declaring that and that inclusion in the state's reporting database(s) based on an MHL 9.39 admission violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments;
- Declaring that being admitted for "emergency evaluation and observation" under MHL 9.39 does not cause the termination of Second Amendment rights;
- Declaring that the actions and failures to act of Defendants Sullivan, Rosado, and the Does in failing to train, supervise and discipline their staff as set forth herein violates the Fourth Amendment;
- Declaring that Defendants' policies and procedures violate the Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process;
- Declaring that MHL 7.09(j)(1) is unconstitutionally overbroad;
- Preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants' inclusion and maintenance of
- Plaintiff's records information in the state database;
- Preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants' reporting to NICS and any other database information concerning Plaintiff that identifies him as a person prohibited from possessing, purchasing, transferring, or receiving firearms in connection with his 2019 admission to Samaritan Hospital;
- Preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants from collecting, retaining, modifying, and transmitting the records and personal identifying information to NICS, the FBI, or any other law enforcement agency and third party of individuals who have been admitted to a mental health facility for emergency evaluation and observation under MHL 9.39 and discharged without conversion to MHL 9.27 or 9.37;
I hope this will raise awareness of this critical issue and ensure that others do not face similar obstacles. Any donation, no matter how small, will be used to cover the costs of litigation expenses, allowing me to continue this fight for justice. Every dollar counts, and every contribution will make a difference. Together, we can make a difference. We can stand up for our fundamental rights and create a society that values and supports the mental health of all its citizens. Join me in this fight for justice; together, we can create a brighter future for all.
Disclaimer: We want to ensure that any additional funds raised during this event go towards a worthy cause. As such, we have decided to donate the surplus to the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC). This organization is dedicated to defending the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. We want to clarify that the proceeds from this donation will be under my control, as my attorney cannot receive the funds raised from this fundraiser directly. However, please rest assured that the funds will be deposited into a separate account dedicated to this purpose, separate from my personal savings accounts. My attorney has also advised me that the cost of this litigation is currently uncertain, as we are unsure how the state's defense will respond. As a result, the goal I have set may be subject to change as the lawsuit progresses. Before contributing, we kindly ask that you carefully consider this information and ensure you are comfortable with this arrangement.
Relevant Files: Complaint: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16WbaPae9-Ticf8GqZN4kKC653OfVILf-/view?usp=sharing