Seventy-four-year-old Ralph Gilbertsen is not a felon or domestic abuser, and has never been ruled dangerous to others, despite being ‘mildly bipolar,’ but Richfield Police in Minnesota confiscated his firearms anyway. He also has a concealed carry permit holder, which means he passed the in-depth background check required to get such a permit.
The retired Marine believes in Bigfoot, UFOs and thinks the government is spying on him.
“A lot of people believe these things, but they don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “I could see people being skeptical if I was saying something really outlandish, like space aliens with big heads were visiting me every night. But nobody can believe the CIA is squeaky clean. The people who think these things can’t happen, I think they’re the ones living in Alice-in-Wonderland world.”
It’s a fact that the National Security Agency is collecting electronically transmitted data on the American people and storing it in Utah.
His belief’s came to the attention of authorities in 2015 after his apartment manager expressed concern to the Hennepin Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (COPE). Following a complaint, COPE called police to escort them to Gilbertsen’s apartment, where they confiscated a .40-caliber pistol, a .357 magnum and a .22 revolver.
His attorney Paul Baertschi says the police took away a citizen’s guns simply because of his beliefs.
“He’s what some people would say is a conspiracy theorist. It is an unusual situation,” Baertschi said. “But really, the police acted unilaterally in deciding that a person who has these beliefs can’t be trusted with a gun. And so they just took them, without a warrant.”
“Officers are often forced to make snap judgments about an individual’s mental health,” Richfield Police Department spokesman Lt. Mike Flaherty said, “The street cops nowadays have to be a psychologist. People don’t wear nameplates saying ‘paranoid schizophrenic.’ So the police have to go in there and make judgment calls.”
There is a huge difference between bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.
Minnesota law allows the seizure of firearms on mental health grounds only if an individual has been committed to a mental institution or has been ruled by a judge to be a public danger. That requires a legal finding that the person has tried to harm others or that there’s “a substantial likelihood” of harmful behavior.