WINCHESTER — A man whose guns were seized in Frederick County’s first enforcement of Virginia’s new red flag law has had them returned.

The man, who The Winchester Star isn’t naming because he wasn’t charged with a crime, appeared at a substantial risk order hearing in Frederick County Circuit Court on Friday. He said his son and father lied about him allegedly pulling a pistol on his son in their home on Sept. 2.

“The red flag law is wrong because anybody who is spiteful can have someone’s guns taken from them,” the man told Judge Alexander R. Iden prior to having his guns returned. “I go hunting every year in Romney, West Virginia, and there’s a chance I might miss hunting season.”

In response to the complaint, the county Sheriff’s Office had seized two semi-automatic rifles, a hunting rifle and three pistols from the man under an emergency risk order. The law, which took effect on July 1, is designed to reduce gun deaths by removing guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. A hearing must be held within 14 days of the seizure to allow the gun owner to request the return of their guns. A judge then decides whether to return them or hold them for up to 180 days under a substantial risk order.

The man’s father had an emergency protective order issued against his son on Sept. 2 that expired on Tuesday and wasn’t renewed. The man said if his father was afraid of him he would have renewed the order. He said he’s returned home, and he and his father are back on good terms. But Deputy Samantha Garrison testified that the elderly father was shaking when he made the allegations to her at the Frederick County Public Safety Building on Sept. 2.

“He told me he had no other option,” Garrison said. “He was afraid when his grandson came home from work that something was going to happen.”

Garrison said she spoke by phone to the grandson. He said he made a sarcastic remark to his father on a stairway in their home and his father pointed a revolver at him. “[He] said he didn’t initially report it because because his dad has done crazy things like that before and he is used to it,” Garrison said.

However, the man told Iden that he was falsely accused. He said it was payback for him calling police in 2018 on his son for allegedly receiving a marijuana THC wax in the mail. The case was dismissed last year. “My son has had a grudge against me ever since, and my father was outraged that I called police on him,” the man said.

The man said his son’s allegation that “expletive would hit the fan” when his father’s bank account was empty was false because he has some $9,000 in the bank. He said he owned eight guns and believes his son stole two of them. He denied his father’s allegation that he said he wanted to get the entire family together to kill them and said he gets along well with his brother and sister.

The man also noted that his father and son didn’t show up in court to testify. Andrew M. Robbins, deputy commonwealth’s attorney, told Iden that was because they were afraid of the man.

In an interview after the hearing, Robbins said the man’s father hadn’t returned his calls about testifying. The son has moved out of the home and Robbins said an investigator was unable to serve the son with a subpoena because he couldn’t locate at him at his job. Robbins compared the civil case to a domestic violence complaint in which accusers contact police but are afraid to follow through with the case.

“It’s discouraging for the commonwealth. All we can do is try and pray that this doesn’t go south,” he said. “The gentleman is having his firearms returned to him, and we just hope that he uses them safely and doesn’t use them to injure himself or anyone else.”

Robbins said he understood the verdict given the lack of witness testimony. Iden said the seizure required “clear and convincing evidence” — a legal standard that is greater than a “preponderance of evidence” and less than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in a criminal case. “There are no witnesses that say a gun was pointed at them,” Iden said in denying the seizure motion.

Virginia is one of about 19 states with red flag laws, passed in response to gun deaths involving mentally ill people and in domestic violence cases. In 2017, nearly 40,000 people — including nearly 24,000 suicides — were killed by guns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But gun rights supporters say the law infringes on their Second Amendment rights. Thousands of protesters, many armed with semi-automatic rifles and pistols, protested in Richmond in January against the law and other gun safety measures. It passed in the Democratic-controlled legislature over Republican opposition.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

(26) comments

adolf

Hey Doc did you know there's a "NEW REE REE" in town? He rides the short bus on east piccadilly st...

Bryan.the.Nuri

This is what you choose to contribute? Some vaguely veiled insult on someone?

Not a surprise, really.

adolf

didnt the guy with multiple comments get kicked out of whats happening in winchester frederick county fb group? I believe he was

Bryan.the.Nuri

Does that mean something significant? Because you realize Facebook isn't the real world, right, "Adolf"?

AuntieEm

So in other words, it worked just like it was supposed to. No "gun grab," no loss of 2nd Amendment rights--a threat was identified, and within two weeks a hearing occurred and the man's firearms were returned. So much for the sky-is-falling squeals of the "cold, dead hands" contingent.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Exactly.

Doc Samson

Not sure if you understand English or exactly what happened but his guns were "taken" and, yes, his 2A rights were quite "infringed"...

The Left never a met a definition they couldn't obfuscate...

Bryan.the.Nuri

Well looky here! Due process was followed and the law worked as intended.

ShruggingAtlas

Well looky here -- a man who was never charged with a crime had his rights violated FOR NO REASON AT ALL.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Can you tell us if people who are served with an emergency protective order are allowed to possess weapons, too?

adolf

The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The liberal sheep must be stopped. Vote november 3rd!!!

Bryan.the.Nuri

So you should be able to carry in a courthouse? Should guns be free?

AuntieEm

"A well-regulated militia." Y'all are always forgetting the REGULATED part.

ShruggingAtlas

Y'all always forget what "shall not be infringed means". The same language is in the state constitution as well. Also, look up what the term "well-regulated" meant at the time those constitutions were written.

Bryan.the.Nuri

"well-regulated" meant trained and disciplined. So if someone is not trained or disciplined, do they have an absolute right to possess weapons?

kfrey

Could you please clarify what "shall not be infringed" should mean? I ask in earnest, because in the context of what we're talking about, where a decision is made based on a potential risk to someone else's safety, if that counts as infringement, are we to suppose that anyone should be allowed to do whatever they want with their guns, anywhere they want, as long as they don't directly use them to threaten or shoot someone?

Doc Samson

And y'all are incapable of understanding words in context. But you don't let that ever stop you from expounding loudly about something in which your knowledge is... limited, at best.

Bryan.the.Nuri

So lemme get this straight, coward. The context of "well-regulated" eludes you, but "must not be infringed" is the only part you understand?

Doc Samson

As an "anonymous source", I have to ask, why don't you believe me? Is it because I believe differently from you? Because you sure bought the "anonymous" story about Trump, didn't you? So, now you can hush. Bry, thy name is Hypocrite.

Bryan.the.Nuri

No, @Doc, it's because you're a coward who likes to make unbelievable statements and then fails to back them up. You're a simp who can't own his own words.

Change to your real name, then you can talk.

Doc Samson

Translation - Anonymous Leftists are allowed and should be trusted and believed because they say what I want to hear. Anonymous non-Leftists hurt my feelings with facts that I don't like and therefore must be eliminated. Correct?

A simp? [lol]

Doc Samson

Livin' in a Leftist Paradise!

This type of misuse occurs with social services as well, i.e. false accusations of abuse/neglect...

Revben

This is EXACTLY why this law, passed by a frenzied Democratic controlled General Assembly intoxicated with their new found power euphoria, is unconstitutional. There is no due process. A Constitutional RIGHT should not be vulnerable to the whim of personal retaliation or peevishness. I suspect that at some point, this legislative overreach will be tossed by the Supreme Court.

Doug

What is a court hearing where a judge makes the determination that a level of proof has not been proven anything BUT due process? A lack of due process would be the unilateral and permanent seizure by the police with no appeal process or hearing.

Bryan.the.Nuri

They don't understand how emergency orders work. If they did, they'd be angry over emergency protective and custody orders, as well...

Bryan.the.Nuri

You do realize that emergency orders exist for a reason, correct?

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