Owner of lost gun is charged

Clerk-magistrate finds probable cause for a threat, failure to report.

Edgartown Police have charged Catherine Tobin with a threat to commit a crime and failure to report a missing firearm. — Courtesy Sig Sauer

An Edgartown woman who lost a handgun has been charged with failure to report the loss of that gun, and also threatening to commit a crime.

Edgartown District Court Clerk-Magistrate Liza Williamson found that facts derived from a Feb. 9 hearing supported sustaining those two charges.

The owner of the gun, Catherine Tobin, 65, previously had her license to carry firearms suspended by Edgartown Police after she allegedly waited too many days to report a .380 caliber Sig Sauer pistol missing. Tobin appealed that suspension, and appeared before Edgartown District Court Judge Benjamin Barnes at a hearing on Jan. 6. Following that hearing, Judge Barnes upheld the suspension. In his ruling, Judge Barnes wrote in part, “Tobin has demonstrated a complete lack of accountability for her firearm, which is a public safety risk.” 

Edgartown Police went on to pursue a criminal charge against Tobin for her alleged failure to report the loss of the pistol promptly. Edgartown Police sought another charge against Tobin for allegedly threatening to shoot a neighbor.

According to an Edgartown Police report, Tobin and a neighbor encountered each other outside a garage. Tobin allegedly told the neighbor, “I should have shot you when I had the chance,” a report states.

However, the report also states that Tobin’s previous attorney, Casey Dobel, informed police Tobin “never” said she would shoot the neighbor, and that the neighbor had been “ranting” at Tobin and teasing her about appearing in a newspaper article concerning her lost pistol. 

In an email statement accompanying the police report, the neighbor alleged that Tobin said, “I’ll shoot you. I should have shot you when I had the chance,” after he “politely” asked her to leave him alone. 

In a finding of facts and order signed Feb. 14, Clerk-Magistrate Williamson found that Tobin “did not report [her] firearm missing or lost for 11 days,” that the whereabouts of the pistol in question “remain unknown,” and waiting as long as she did to report the pistol missing “created a grave risk to public safety.” 

Williamson further found that while having a “verbal dispute” with her neighbor, Tobin “did yell, ‘I’ll shoot you. I should have shot you while I had the chance.’”

The findings in probable cause determinations by a clerk-magistrate, such as these, are not proof of guilt. The findings and associated order merely determine if charges can proceed to a court. 

Tobin is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in May. Her attorney, John Amabile, didn’t immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.


  1. Maybe the Honorable Liza Williamson could spare a few moments in her busy schedule and consider the filing of charges against those lovable rascals at 32 Water St for their bungling and mismanagement of department firearms?
    “Selective prosecution” much, Cape& Islands DA Office?

    • I’m sure if the one of the In-Crowd cops pushes that under her nose, Liza will dutifully rubber stamp it, like she does everything else.

      But I wouldn’t expect charges in the matters of our firearms being lost (stolen?). Surely, the local police have investigated themselves, and found no wrongdoing.

      In fact, if a cop, or even a former cop, especially if they’re a local good ol’ boy, gets in a jam, for something like assault, let’s say, the clerk’s office might mysteriously neglect to forward the public record of the arraignment to the local newspaper for publication in the court report.

      These are the principles to which they kling.

    • Here we go. The courthouse employees are under attack again for doing their jobs.

      1. These comments are mostly from men who just don’t like to see a woman in power.

      2. Clerk magistrates do not file charges their job is judicial.

      3. The DA’s office is a different branch of government and they file criminal charges and not a district court clerk magistrate.

      We are so lucky that we have Liza at the wheel, she is an attorney, fair, impartial and knows Massachusetts Law better than anyone. Just an FYI, she worked in the DA’s office and was a prosecutor assigned to the homicide and gang units in Boston before she was appointed a Clerk Magistrate.

      This smear campaign is shameful. Perhaps if you do not like the laws in Massachusetts or a woman in power you should consider moving? Also I recommend that you stop getting your news and information from programs like Fox News. This is 2022.

  2. We can expect more gun losses. Americans are stocking up on guns. They bought more than 23 million firearms in 2020, up 65 percent from 2019. First-time gun purchases were notably high. The surge did not abate in 2021. In January 2021, Americans bought 4.3 million guns, a monthly record.
    Last year was also a high-water mark for gun violence—more people were shot dead than at any time since the 1990s. Conceal carry is a deterrent.

    • Andrew logic. You say conceal carry is a deterrent. Yet, after a record-breaking year of gun purchases, there was a record-breaking year of gun deaths. So tell me, when does the deterrence kick in? How many more millions of guns will it take before gun deaths start going down? Here’s a thought. More guns=more gun deaths.

        • Unless you consider 60 years old to be young, I think you have me confused with somebody else…are you saying the article you cite contradicts what I said? This is from that article…
          In contrast to the U.S. and Latin America, gun deaths are extremely rare in countries like Japan, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Australia. These countries have implemented incentives or passed legislation to decrease the number of firearms in circulation.

      • I would think that the owner of the garish piece, pictured above, far more likely to die of embarrassment.

      • Jonathan. States that permit concealed carry have significant reduction in rape robbery murder and assault. Criminals will ponder if they will get kick back when they plan.

      • Mr Jonathan. Ordinary people are buying guns for protection. Most gun homicides are done by criminals and gang members and drug runners. There is no correlation between gun purchases and gun crime. Criminals are not going into gun stores and buying guns. The majority of them are gotten illegally. You have no evidence that more gun purchases equals more crime.

          • Chatinover. So if we eliminate school shootings and suicides. then murder and violence would not be statistically relevant. Is that what you are saying? Mother Jones straight from Lenin and Marx never gets it right.

        • Untrue
          Far too many gun owners have guns loaded at their bedside, this is why children are shooting themselves friends and or family members.
          Maybe in another time gun owners were responsible, just look at the hillbilly trailer park swam people who are collecting em to fight a imaginary war for a fake president who was unable to handle the fact that he lost. Seriously far too many mentally unstable wannabes are arming themselves.
          I guarantee none of them will ever be signing up to join the military but they like playing as IF.

    • 4.3 million? I think your numbers are way off, engelman. After the January 6th white suprematist insurrection, the attempt to overthrow the free and fair election, Americans bought 2 million guns that month, (January, 2021). Stats I see show American households with guns to be between 37 and 42%— for several decades. No big jumps as you claim. Do you have a link showing your numbers? I wouldn’t want anyone to think you make up garbage to post here.

      • Jackie I am wrong. The FBI made 4.288million background checks in January 2021.The SAAF’s (small arms analytics)adjusted FBI figures indicate that just over 2.2 million guns were sold in January 2021, a 79% increase from the same month in 2020. The ”Statista” link you cite agrees with household percentage being essentially static but what it also says is more guns in each household. An average of 8 per household if there are 393million guns and 118million households and 42 percent having guns. I love it when i say gas prices were up 50 percent in 2021 and you correct me and say it is only 49.6 percent.

    • Andy– Did you read what you wrote before you sent it ?
      Let me summarize what I think you said

      Gun sales are up
      Deaths from gun shot are up
      Conceal carry is a deterrent.

      Am I reading that correctly , or do you want to clarify that a little ?

      What exactly are you suggesting we conceal when we carry it ? Doughnuts ? Fruit ?

      But it sounds like you are suggesting we conceal guns when we carry them.
      Of maybe you just forgot to tell us what concealing a gun when we carry it is a deterrent to.
      Does it deter safer cities and streets ?
      Does it deter the average life expectancy form rising ?
      Does it deter medical insurance premiums from dropping ?

      Sometimes, Andy, you have to bear with the intellectual lightweights here (like myself) who don’t have a clue how you can put those 3 statements together and think it makes any kind of sense.

      • Keller, I will give you an analogy. Cities that pass a law that shoplifting is criminalized only after 900 dollars of goods are stolen will have more stolen. States that don’t have that law will have less stolen. States that have ‘’shall issue’’ laws for concealed carry have fewer crimes of violence and murder than those who don’t have that law. If we had public hangings for murder in say Ohio there would be fewer murders. Doesn’t mean that violence and murder would decrease in Chicago, Detroit, LA and NYC. Yes there are suicides and accidents from more guns but bad guys commit violence and murder not good guys. If we had curfew laws in Chicago from say 10pm to 6am do you not believe crime would go down? Deterrence exists Keller and where it is practiced it deters. When it doesn’t exist crimes continue. Covid shots are a deterrent for Covid serious sickness. Doesn’t mean Covid doesn’t increase. Do you not believe that homes that have burglar alarms wont have robbery visited upon them?

        • Keller. You must have learned Latin in Catholic school so here goes:
          “exceptio probat regulam,” if exceptions are made under specific conditions, it must mean there is a rule that applies when those conditions are not in effect. If I aim to prove that teenagers are incapable of cleaning their rooms and I find one who loves to clean his room and does it every day, my case is not helped at all but damaged. The exception is evidence against my rule. You do this all the time.

    • Really ? Not putting the public’s safety as first priority over the behavior of an irresponsible gun owner would be a dereliction of duty. A misplaced weapon in the wrong hands can have tragic consequences. We read almost daily about such occurrences. No one is trying to take away your right to own arms. Any gun owner should applaud actions to censor those who are unable to ensure the safe keeping of their arms.

    • Do you think it’s a shameful abuse of trust to overstep the requirement to use your real first and last name here? Why do white, pro-Putin/Trump, antivax, antimask, gun(gho) cowards do that to George and Times readers? Asked you last time, but you didn’t answer.

    • Clerk magistrates, assistant clerk magistrates, clerk of courts do not file criminal charges because their jobs are judicial.

      • We know what a clerk magistrate is, and what they do, Ms. Silva.

        The problem is that Williamson fails to use her judicial discretion, and is relied upon by Martha’s Vineyard’s toxic police subculture to advance whatever cockamamie gotcha they can concoct against their enemies list.

        It’s not a big deal, until it happens to you or someone close to you.

        Plenty of us here know that.

        I pray you never have to find out.

        She doesn’t serve the law, she serves the cops, and she needs to go.

        • No, most of us who’ve never made it into the Court Report do not actually know what a court magistrate is and does. There are lots of things I don’t know about, like guns, because these things are not in my world, so I appreciate someone taking the time to explain.

          • Yes. The free exercise of my First Amendment right was somehow conflated into felony charges by Tisbury’s finest thugs.

            All of my matters have been disposed in my favor, either through dismissal or acquittal, which is fortunate, seeing as how I didn’t do anything illegal.

            But… I had previously criticized the Tisbury Police and certain officers in these pages, so I guess I had it coming.

            I spent a loooong time in that courthouse, seeing my neighbors’ lives chewed up, their liberties devoured, and their families’ fortunes dissolved by our exceptionally outrageous outpost of an irredeemably corrupt system.


    • How is a probable cause hearing a misuse of power???

      “…A Probable Cause hearing is one of the pre-trial stages of a criminal case. During a probable cause hearing, a clerk-magistrate or judge will determine whether probable cause existed, usually in relation to an arrest or a search for evidence. Probable cause is a reasonable belief, based on objective facts, that the suspect has committed or is going to commit a crime.”

      • Thank you for explaining what a clerk magistrate is and does, Jennifer. Those of us law abiding citizens who don’t work within the courts or write about it, don’t know these things. Those others, who are, shall we say, more intimate with charges, sentencing, and verdicts that don’t go their way, will oftentimes blame the toaster for their bad behavior that had them arrested in the first place. When I hear certain specific complaints about “goggle her”, it sounds more like a disgruntled person who found himself in trouble and didn’t accept responsibility. I did google Ms Williamson and found nothing derogatory except by the person posting here.
        Ms Tobin, who carelessly lost her gun and recklessly failed to report it, deserves the charges against her. And then some. Take guns out of the hands of idiots.

        • Agree 👍.
          To have the PRIVILEGE to be a licensed owner (in your state) of a firearm.
          To be licensed to carry IN ‘YOUR STATE’ which I believe is what you applied for.
          Is a great responsibility.
          Not reporting misplaced your lost or stolen is an excuse for…..

          • A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  3. This is clearly a case of basic idiocy and harassment by the Edgartown Police and their puppet Liza, there is no way those charges will stick… maybe someone should investigate the investigator Mr. DeRoche and see what sins he may be guilty of that haven’t been ‘forwarded’ as Mr. Langhammer so eloquently stated…

    • It sounds as if Anthony has had a negative interaction with the Police.
      The details would be interesting so that we may know just how wrong they can be.
      Why we should be defunding the Police?

  4. Is there any question whatsoever that if this gun was registered to a Brazilin or a black person who had not reported it missing for 11 days, that there would be a different conversation going on here ?

  5. I don’t have any of all your “facts and statistics” to back up what I want to say. All I know is that more and more innocent people are dying because of handguns and it’s shameful that we as a country condone it. I don’t think this is why my grandparents escaped czarist Russia to come here 125 years ago. I know it’s not the country they came to and loved.
    Also, be careful whose reputation you smear unless you’re sure you know who and what you’re talking about! It’s definitely not Liza Williamson.

  6. From the April 27, 2022 edition of the MV Times: An unarmed Edgartown resident was shot and killed outside of their home early yesterday, after an ongoing dispute with a neighbor spiraled out of control. The authorities had been previously advised of a threat made by the neighbor but chose to do nothing, for reasons which remain unclear.
    Picture the comments section on that one.

  7. Read the article. It will make more sense if you do and prevent the circulation of misinformation. I am really bothered by the fact a clerk magistrate in this small, close knit community is under attack for doing a probable cause hearing. It was recently brought to my attention that you can post a comment here even if you do not have access to read the news article in it’s entirety. This leads me to believe that some of you are grossly misinformed and do not have all the facts.

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