When we talk about “Possession and Transfer” issues there are many special circumstances that come into play based on individual situations. While many can be worked through with some careful planning, there are still those that are perplexing and require some very special attention. Medical issues are one of those that can really create some special actions.
Let me share a story with you of someone who was dealing with just this kind of situation. Her father had been a lifetime gun owner and had always had guns in the house. As he got older, most of his firearms were given away to family and friends…other than the one hand gun he kept in the house…somewhere. This was the issue…
You see, Bob (not his real name) now has dementia. A very debilitating disease that erodes a person’s memory and creates a great deal of fear in their mind because they don’t understand what is around them and what is happening most of the time. While Bob’s daughter, Sally, (not her real name either) had his Power of Attorney, the gun was still an issue. First they had to find it. While this doesn’t seem to be a big issue on the surface, it is really very significant.
When you have someone who doesn’t really remember who they are themselves, seeing someone else in their house they don’t recognize at the time is very unsettling. Add a firearm into the mix and you have the potential for something really bad to happen. In this case, Bob required care from outside caregivers and they normally came in during the day. But one day they found some ammo in the house that belonged to the hand gun. But they couldn’t find the gun.
This meant that either there wasn’t a gun or that it was hidden and they just didn’t know where it was hiding. In either situation, the care givers couldn’t take the chance that Bob might find it and think of them as intruders in his house and use the firearm in a very harmful way against them. So the caregivers told Sally they couldn’t come back until the gun was found and removed from the premises.
Add in one more point of contention…possession and transfer. Based on different states laws around this issue, it could be potentially illegal for someone, including an attorney appointed by the Power of Attorney to take “temporary possession” of the firearm even for the simple act of removing it from the house. Take Washington State’s latest law passed, I-594, and other state laws restricting anyone from touching another person’s firearm without the proper background check and other paperwork in place. In this case, even myself, an attorney couldn’t take possession of the firearm under the rules in some states.
So what do people like Sally do in this type of situation? It isn’t as clear as you might think. Sure, she might be able to get away with some of it as long as the officials don’t find out. If they do, she, and others could be possibly conducting illegal activities because they don’t own the firearm. Lots of questions with answers which aren’t easy or straightforward.
So when you are dealing with people that have certain health and medical issues, it is wise to see your attorney early in the process so you can map out a “legal” course of action for today and into the future. This will end up saving you and many others not only possible legal charges but possibly their lives. In the case of Bob, the gun was found and locked in a safe where he didn’t have the keys and combination. At least it was put away while his attorney and law enforcement could figure out the right and “legal” way to treat this going forward. The good news is the care givers were now coming back in and taking care of Bob…which was everyone’s primary concern.