BREAKING: Court Rules It’s Unconstitutional to Ban Former Mental Patients From Gun Ownership

December 19 2014
by GSL Staff
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A federal appeals court seems to have ruled that people who have been committed to mental institutions in the past, even involuntarily, can still own firearms.

According to Fox News:

The three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that a federal ban on gun ownership for those who have been committed to a mental institution violated the Second Amendment rights of 73-year-old Clifford Charles Tyler.

Tyler attempted to buy a gun and was denied on the grounds that he had been committed to a mental institution in 1986 after suffering emotional problems stemming from a divorce. He was only in there for a month.

According to the decision, the court drew a difference between someone who is mentally ill and anyone who has ever been committed to a mental institution.

The Court’s “assurance” that Heller does not cast doubt on prohibitions on the possession of firearms by the mentally ill does not resolve this case. For § 922(g)(4) prohibits firearm possession not just by the mentally ill but by anyone “who has been committed to a mental institution.” That these two categories are not coextensive is made clear by the very fact that the language of § 922(g)(4) expressly refers to two separate groups. See Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105, 113 (2001) (presumption against redundancy).

Although it is plausible that the two groups overlap, the point is that we presume they are not identical. Heller’s assurance that the state may prohibit the “mentally ill” from possessing firearms may provide solid constitutional ground for § 922(g)(4)’s restriction as to an individual “adjudicated as a mental defective,” but it is insufficient—by itself—to support the restriction as to individuals who have been involuntarily committed at some time in the past. Therefore, we cannot resolve this case by relying solely on Heller’s “assurances,” as we did in rejecting a Second Amendment challenge to a denial of an expungement motion in a case involving § 922(g)(1)’s bar on possession of firearms by felons. See United States v. Carey, 602 F.3d 738, 740–41 (6th Cir. 2010).


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