family heirloom revolver

'Family Heirloom' Revolver From 1917 Almost Destroyed by New York Officials

Erie County officials classified the firearm as a "nuisance weapon."

When retired Army staff sergeant Andrew Ciepiela went to the Old County Hall in Buffalo, New York, to register his .38-caliber Iver Johnson revolver from 1917, he didn't expect to hit any roadblocks. After all, it was a family heirloom that had been passed down through his family for generations.

However, according to a report from The Buffalo News, someone else had registered the firearm years ago, causing the Erie County Pistol Permit Department to classify it as a "nuisance weapon."

Ciepiela, 46, submitted a request to add the gun to his permit, which the department refused right before the West Seneca Police Department got the green light to destroy it.

The West Seneca resident decided to file a legal petition, go to court and argue the case all on his own, despite the Pistol Permit Department's recommendation to hire a lawyer.

"I wasn't expecting any issue," Ciepiela told The Buffalo News. "It took me by great surprise."

According to the report, authorities discovered it was an Orleans County doctor who registered the gun back in 1951. He was 65 years old at the time, though.

"If this firearm had been legally owned and missing from a registered owner for well over 30-plus years, why is there no record of theft or letter of lost firearm?" Ciepiela asked in his legal documents.

Assistant County Attorney Thomas Navarro said authorities don't know how the firearm made its way to the Ciepiela family. But, Ciepiela says he doesn't know either; he just knows it was his grandfather's at one point.

Navarro said there was really no reason to destroy the gun, but that they did need to go through the legal process.

"We don't want guns out on the streets unlawfully possessed," he said.

Navarro added that because a judge's order will be necessary for Ciepiela to get his gun back, he offered to draft one and submit it to a judge.

Apparently, the judge seemed willing to sign it, so it appears Ciepiela will get his revolver back after all.