While red flag laws have grown in popularity in the wake of multiple mass shootings, a disturbing incident arising in Massachusetts – where they are law is raising serious questions about due process.
Stephen Nichols, 84, is a Korea War veteran who served with the Tisbury Police Department for six decades. He fought for his country honorably and has had a license for firearms since 1958.
Yet, he had his legally owned firearms confiscated by local police after a waitress misheard a conversation between Nichols and a friend. The great-grandfather then lost his job as a school crossing guard, a job he got after his wife passed away to occupy his time and soothe his grieving heart.
The conversation that catalyzed these injustices occurred several weeks ago at a restaurant where Nichols told a friend about his concerns over a school resource officer who often left his post. Nichols reportedly worried someone would come and shoot up the school.
All the waitress heard was the last part, which she misinterpreted and reported to the police.
Without being charged or convicted, police officers swooped in, seizing Nichlos’ firearms.
Nichlos says he always complies with the law and would ultimately like to have his guns back, but their fate may be sealed.
Per the Martha’s Vineyard Times:
Dan Larkosh, of the Edgartown firm Larkosh and Jackson, represents Nichols, and said he intends to file an appeal of the decision by Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio to seize guns owned by Nichols, as well as his license to carry.
Saloio declined to comment when approached at the Tisbury Police Station. He later told The Times, “There’s nothing that I can legally discuss about the matter. Period.” The police department has also refused to release the police report from the investigation citing the “personnel” exemption of the public records law.
Nichols said he was unimpressed with the Tisbury School resource officer’s alleged trips to Xtra Mart to get coffee when children came to school in the morning. While dining at Linda Jean’s a couple of weeks ago, Nichols said he told a friend about this and suggested somebody could “shoot up the school” in that officer’s absence, which he described as “leaving his post.”
Nichols said the waitress made a complaint to Tisbury Police about what she overheard and on the strength of that, Saloio and another officer relieved Nichols of his crossing guard duties while he was in the midst of performing them and subsequently drove to his home and took away his firearms license and guns.
The officer who initially approached Nichols claimed the 84-year-old committed a felony but that he wouldn’t be charged.
The owner of the restaurant where the server misheard Nichols told the paper he’s known him for decades and described what happened as “absolutely outrageous.”
Andy Marcus, the patron who conversed with Nichols that fateful day, added that Nichols never made a threat while simultaneously vouching for his integrity.
As of now, it’s unclear if reasonable minds will prevail.