Get Baker Acted, Keep Your Gun
TAMPA — John Judd Thomas came to the attention of law enforcement last March, when he fired six shots from a 45-caliber handgun in his Seminole Heights home.
The 76-year-old, who told police he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, said he was shooting at “rats as big as squirrels.” He seemed “mentally unstable,” officers said, telling them he “could shoot a cop with all he has been through lately.”
Police held Thomas under the Baker Act, a state law that allows for the temporary detainment of someone who may be a danger to themselves or others. They took two of his guns and drove him to a mental health center in east Tampa.
On Wednesday, Thomas went to the Hillsborough Circuit courthouse to get his guns back. He had filed a petition and, according to Hillsborough County rules, needed only a judge’s okay.
“I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t,” he told a reporter.
He was right. After a hearing that lasted about five minutes, Administrative Judge Claudia Isom said Thomas could have his guns.
Two other men who had been detained under the Baker Act also got their guns back Wednesday after quick hearings. Like Thomas, they have no felony record. None of their guns was used in a crime. None had ever been involuntarily held for mental health treatment longer than 72 hours, the maximum duration of a Baker Act detainment.