This happened in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago. They don’t need much of an excuse there to take someone’s guns away. Even if they’re antique guns with no ammo. One of them was a musket that was over a century old. Arthur Lovi said he didn’t even know how to load the thing, but it didn’t matter. Police were just doing their jobs. Public safety is their number one concern, and an unloaded antique musket could cause someone harm.
So here’s the lowdown on Lovi. He’s a 72-year-old Vietnam vet who served as an Air Force crash rescue pilot with understandably a lot of bad experiences and memories. Within the past several years, he lost his mother, his 3-year-old granddaughter to drowning, his son-in-law to a drug overdose and his wife of 33 years to leukemia.
Because of all these things, he had been seeing a VA therapist once a month. (Probably not the best place to go for counsel, but whatever.) Not surprisingly, his wife’s death 9 years ago took the biggest toll on him: The Daily Herald reported:
“Cindy had died nine years ago, but to Lovi it was still raw. She was always tired and bruised easily. When he finally persuaded her to get checked out, she was told she had a cold, probably caught from one of her students at Forest View Alternative Center. Unsatisfied, the next day Lovi made her see another doctor who gave her the correct, but heartbreaking, diagnosis: leukemia. Cindy died a few weeks later. She was 53. Lovi told the therapist about Cindy’s death and his bitterness over the incorrect diagnosis.”
Apparently, during one of their sessions, Lovi had some harsh words for that first doctor who said that his wife Cindy simply had a cold. Even though the therapist didn’t really think that Lovi was a threat to that doctor or to anyone else or himself, she still had to call it in to the Arlington Heights Police Department. It was her job as a mental health professional to alert law enforcement anytime one of her clients makes a threat against another person or himself.
The police took it from there, and within a few hours, they called Mr. Lovi and asked him if he had any guns. He told them he had 3 antique guns, and that none of them had any ammo. He also informed them that he had a valid Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card.
That seemed to satisfy them, but later that night at 11:00, about 4 or 5 officers showed up at his house. As to what exactly happened from here is dependent on whether you’d prefer to believe the police reports or Mr. Lovi’s statements. For instance, according to The Daily Herald:
“Lovi and his lawsuit, filed by lawyers at Chicago-based Meyer & Kiss LLC, say the officers entered his home without his consent and seized his three guns and FOID card. When Lovi asked if they had a warrant, he was told ‘they could go get a warrant and if he insisted they do that, they would come back and tear the (expletive) out of his house,’ according to the suit. The police report, dated Aug. 30, says, ‘Lovi was cooperative and voluntarily handed over the weapons.’”
What we do know is that his guns were taken, and he wasn’t arrested or charged with a crime. A couple days later, Lovi called the police about his guns, and an officer came to his house. Again, the police report differs from the man’s statements, but the man said that the officer turned the conversation to his wife Cindy. Obviously, this made Mr. Lovi upset, and then the officer told him he had to submit to a psych evaluation. According to the lawsuit that Lovi filed against the police department, the officer threatened to handcuff him and force him in the ambulance if he didn’t comply. However, the police report said that Lovi voluntarily submitted himself.
Whatever the case, he was subjected to a psych evaluation, and because they found that Lovi was not a threat to anyone or himself, he was released.
For the next 2 months, the police department gave him the complete run-around about getting his possessions back. Finally, he hired a lawyer he found through his membership with the NRA, and shortly thereafter, he was able to get his guns and his FOID card back. He and his lawyer filed suit against the department for violating his 2nd and 4th Amendment rights and causing him great emotional distress.
I think this is something that we can all look forward to. It’s not something that can be pinned on any one person. It’s not the police officers’ fault. It’s not the therapists’ fault. They were all just “doing their jobs.” It’s the whole system.
Therapists and police are saying that if they didn’t do something, and then Lovi ended up committing a crime, then people would be mad that the “warning signs” were ignored. And this is the exact argument they’re using to justify the NSA surveillance. “If we don’t monitor and store every piece of digital data, and then something bad happens, we’ll get blamed for not preventing it when we could have.”
I think the Constitution should supercede people’s fears about what might happen if we don’t violate people’s liberties. If police wanted to search Mr. Lovi’s house, they should’ve gotten a warrant to do so, and the warrant should have been based on probable cause. Without probable cause, there is no legal basis for a search warrant, and at that point, they’d have no legal basis for investigating Lovi at all.
Prior to that, should therapists really be expected to report each and every statement to the police that might be construed as threatening another person? Even the therapist said that she really didn’t think he was threatening, but because she could get in trouble for not reporting it, she reported it. It’s the entire system that needs to be revamped, and unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.