WINCHESTER — "What's the point in living?" "I just want to die."

Those were the comments police said a man made prior to having his guns taken in the first local case involving Virginia’s new "red flag" law. The case was adjudicated on Monday in Winchester Circuit Court.

The 45-year-old Winchester man made the suicidal threats while in possession of a pistol on July 17, according to police. He voluntarily surrendered three guns to police and will not be allowed to possess guns until at least Jan. 30. The man didn't attend the hearing on the "substantial risk order," according to Marc Abrams, Winchester commonwealth's attorney. The Winchester Star isn't naming the man because he hasn't been charged with a crime.

The new law, which went into effect July 1, is designed to keep guns away from potentially violent people. There are approximately 36,000 gun deaths annually in the U.S. including about 1,000 in Virginia, according to the Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which analyzed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. That includes about 22,000 suicides and nearly 13,000 homicides.

Virginia and at least 16 states and the District of Columbia have red flag laws. Virginia's law says a person posing a "substantial risk of injury" to themselves or others can't buy, own or transport guns.

The red flag law and other gun control measures passed the Democratically-controlled General Assembly earlier this year in Richmond, despite fierce opposition from gun rights advocates. In January, about 22,000 gun owners protested the legislation at the state capitol. Resolutions in support of Second Amendment rights were also adopted by many Virginia localities, including Clarke and Frederick counties.

Critics of the red flag law said it could lead to guns being taken away unjustly.

In the local incident, police responded to an unnamed store after a clerk said a man in an "agitated state" in possession of an ammunition clip had left the store and was in the store parking lot rifling through the trunk of his vehicle, according to court documents. When police tried to secure the gun they said was in the trunk, they said the man became angry and made a series of suicidal remarks, including "I'm not going to say I'm going to kill myself, but I'll speed up death," "I'm on the fast track to death" and "I wake up crying every day." He was then taken to Winchester Medical Center.

Under the new law, the man was served with an emergency substantial risk order on July 18, which required him to turn in his guns to police. It gives authorities 14 days to hold a court hearing or return the guns. On July 20, the man turned in two semi-automatic pistols and a pump-action shotgun.

At the hearing, a judge issued a 180-day substantial risk order, which is the maximum time the guns can be held. The order can either expire, allowing the guns to be returned, or authorities can hold another hearing and try to keep them.

Abrams said he understands some Second Amendment supporters dislike the law, but the case met the legal standard for taking the guns. "We'll have to see if it's effective," he said.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

(19) comments

Journey2goremtns1

Red flag laws were made law by radical democrats to harass gun owners! Somebody doesn't like you BOOM. call the police and tell them your next door neighbor is talking about a civil war and he is willing to die! Next thing you know police are kicking down his door and possibly resulting in his death over hearsay! If he's not killed they take his firearms and he is not charged with a crime! He then has to prove he is mentally fit to get them back. Believe me the bar will be high if not impossible you will ever get you guns back.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Shall we also abolish all emergency protective and custody orders?

SFC11BINF

So apparently "Due Process" is now null and void in Virginia now? Sad. I bet the guy was NOT given notice to the hearing and that they made the unlawful order without even giving him a means to defend himself. Seriously, who was threatened here? What did he say that allowed this? The governor and the democrats in my home state should be ashamed of themselves. This red flag law violates four amendments to the Federal and State Constitutions and is therefore null and void. I did not go and fight for this country for 4 tours in two different countries to see this kind of liberal garbage. It's about time the citizens of Virginia take a stand, and not at the polling booth. Enough is enough.

Bryan.the.Nuri

So are emergency custody orders also an abandonment of due process?

Bryan.the.Nuri

Before holding a strong opinion on this, you should really know what these orders actually entail. Less emotion, more information.

winstaruser

Under that rationale, they ought to also use the power of the state to take the man's knives, bottles of Tylenol, and rope.

Doc Samson

@winstaruser - I know, right?! [rolleyes]

WincNative

It's a shame that City Council didn't take a stand against these laws when they had a chance. According to the City Council's website, "Each Councilor mentioned that they could not vote to become a sanctuary city because they swore an oath to uphold the Constitution." The last time I read the Constitution it said "the right fo the people shall not be infringed." Oh and also that whole part about not taking private property without due process of law. The ends cannot justify the means, this is insanity.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Since when do localities get to arbitrarily ignore enforcing laws?

reese2

Guns rights people have objected to these laws as they can easily be used by an ex-wife, girlfriend, or even an employer who simply wants to retaliate against a gun owner. Also, they object because taking away someone guns may not preclude other methods of suicide. A suicidal person is usually suffering from severe depression that requires appropriate treatment. The person in the article was taken to the hospital for initial treatment. We will never know how long he was kept or if he was released after the initial emergency order expired. If the latter case, was he ordered to attend outpatient treatment, did he attend such treatment and for how long? Was the treatment for his depression successful or did he again try to commit suicide? We will never know the answers to these questions due to privacy laws. A very wise professor I had in grad school insisted that we go to the original source to verify information if at all possible. The reporter appears to have used data from a known anti -gun group. How much more effort would it have been to have clicked on www.cdc.gov and looked for stats on deaths from suicide by firearms?

Doc Samson

"Critics of the red flag law said it could lead to guns being taken away unjustly"

It can and has. If someone is displaying that type of behavior and/or verbalizations, I don't think we need MOAR LAWZ to handle it appropriately.

Also, please define "clip". Not sure why the Left has such trouble taking the time to actually learn about the subject since they want to regulate it so badly... [rolleyes]

Valerie78

isn't the internet amazing, a whole world of info at your fingertips..https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clip_(firearms)

Doc Samson

I am more than familiar, ma'am. My point being that very few modern firearms use a "clip", that it is different than a "magazine", and that a reporter writing about firearms (or any subject) ought to at least know what his words mean...

Valerie78

and your point was lost on the use of the word 'ammunition' before 'clip'.

Doc Samson

Ma'am, I was simply noting that the word was used incorrectly. From your own source - " Detachable magazines are often incorrectly referred to as clips."

Both a clip and a magazine hold ammunition... but one is one thing and one is a different thing...

Valerie78

'but one is one thing and one is a different thing' i would think the police relaying the incident to the reporter would know, or maybe they just didn't think it mattered because most people know what is meant when the words "ammunition clip" are put together.

Doc Samson

Yep, either of those explanations is possible... but still incorrect terminology. Similar to a person spending their adult life referring to a podiatrist as a proctologist, getting corrected by those who know him/her every time, and responding with "Well, you know what I mean..." [lol]

skahle

Using Wikipedia as a source is worse than the author of this article using the term “clip” instead of magazine.

Doc Samson

@skahle - You mean Wikipedia doesn't know all? But surely they know more than some uncouth, mean, and yucky firearms site, right? [rolleyes][lol]

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