Chicago veteran, Arthur Lovi, had all his antique guns seized from him after a visit to a grief counselor. He seems like an altogether okay individual — sans the bad memories he’s had from having served in war.
Arthur Lovi sat down with a therapist one day last August to talk about some things that were bothering him. He had high blood pressure, and his physician suggested he talk to someone.
He already spoke to a VA psychiatrist once a month — he has persistent memories from his days as an Air Force crash rescue helicopter pilot in the 1960s — but he agreed. He’d been through a lot lately and figured it couldn’t hurt to get some of it out.
“I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders,” he said.
Lovi told her about the loss that had been all around him the past few years: his mother, a 3-year-old granddaughter who drowned, a son-in-law lost to a drug overdose, and worst of all, his wife of 33 years…
…After the session, Lovi’s therapist was concerned. She called the Arlington Heights police to report he had made a threat against the first doctor who saw his wife.
She told them she didn’t think he would carry it out or that he was dangerous to himself or others, but she just wanted to do her job and report it.
A few hours later, Lovi, 72, got a call from the police. They asked if he had any weapons in his home.
Lovi, who is retired and whose son lives with him, told them yes, he had three antique firearms, including a musket that was more than 100 years old, but no ammunition.
Lovi’s home is decorated with antiques: Old teakettles, ancient telephones, kerosene lamps. The guns, which sit on his fireplace — unloaded, he says, because his grandchildren often visit — are part of the collection. He says he’s never fired any of the guns and wouldn’t know how to even load the musket.
The police seemed satisfied after Lovi told them he had a valid FOID card.
According to an Arlington Heights police report, officers contacted the doctor who diagnosed the cold. The doctor told police he “did not feel like his safety was in immediate jeopardy.”
But that night about 11 p.m. there was a knock at Lovi’s door. His son answered and saw four or five police officers standing outside.
“Dad, you better come out here,” he said.
This is where the story starts to diverge between Lovi’s account of the hours and days to follow and what is recorded in Arlington Heights police reports, but the events set off what is now a federal-court case that pits one man’s civil rights against the police’s need to protect the public.
The village of Arlington Heights and the police department would not discuss why they took the guns and continued to hold them for several months because Lovi has a lawsuit against them pending, said assistant village attorney Robin Ward. The Daily Herald received police reports through Freedom of Information Act requests that help piece the police side of the story together.
Lovi and his lawsuit, filed by lawyers at Chicago-based Meyer & Kiss LLC, say the officers entered his home without his consent and seized his three guns and FOID card. When Lovi asked if they had a warrant, he was told “they could go get a warrant and if he insisted they do that, they would come back and tear the (expletive) out of his house,” according to the suit.
The police report, dated Aug. 30, says, “Lovi was cooperative and voluntarily handed over the weapons.”