Could You Be Deemed a Prohibited Person By Mistake?

Imagine you are applying for a loan, and you get turned down. You know you have a perfect credit score, so you go investigate, and your bank tells you that you owe $15,000 on a car that you know you have never owned. Now you have to keep digging to find out what’s going on, so you go to the dealer that is cited as selling you the car, and they have no record of you ever purchasing that vehicle, or any other vehicle from them. You take that information in writing back to the bank in an effort to clear your name and correct their erroneous records, at which point they investigate it themselves, and come to the conclusion that their records are in fact, incorrect. However, instead of apologizing and correcting the error, the manager informs you that the only way to set the record straight, and fix your credit score, is to sue them. That makes a lot of sense, right?

arrestDo you think that lawsuit would end very well for the bank? How much do you think they might eventually settle for? $400? I don’t think that covers the attorney’s fees for a single day! Here is a real case in which something very similar happened. On May 24, 2012 Jeffrey L. Burtner tried to buy a hunting rifle in ButlerCounty but was denied, and told that he was a prohibited person. Having purchased firearms in the past, and knowing full well that he was not a prohibited person, Burtner filed an appeal, only to learn that the records showed that he had been involuntarily committed to ButlerMemorialHospital in 1992.

In an effort to disprove the “mental defective” designation, he approached the hospital and provider that were cited in the state police report, and both indicated that they had no records of such a commitment. Burtner’s attorney then forwarded that evidence to the state police who acknowledged that they possessed no evidence of the involuntary commitment.

One would think that would solve the problem, right? State police would recognize their mistake and immediately work to correct their records? Wrong! Burtner was told that to have the incorrect information removed from the government database he would have to sue the state. Fortunately this lawsuit did not drag out eternally, and in November of 2013 the state agreed to settle the lawsuit, allow him to purchase a gun, and pay him $400.

Please keep in mind that I am not an anti-government extremist. I believe that the government is necessary to a certain extent. However, I also believe that the government should be held accountable by the people it claims to serve. Most Americans who oppose stricter gun control measures do not do so simply because they oppose sensible gun laws, but because the administration of these programs is not run with competence, common sense, or accountability.