Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Federal District Court: Simple Involuntary Commitment not a Disqualifier for Second Amendment Rights

There has been a major win for Second Amendment supporters in Pennsylvania.

On February 16, 2016, Alton C. Franklin filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He contended that a prohibition against his ability to acquire or possess firearms because of a brief involuntary commitment in 2002, was unconstitutional.  With a partial summary judgment in his favor, and a re-submission in January of 2017, Mr Franklin prevailed. The law was not struck as unconstitutional, directly. Rather, the Pennsylvania law was ruled to be insufficient to meet the Constitutional requirements of the Federal law.

From princelaw.files:
This case arises from Defendants' determination that Mr. Franklin's less-than-24-hour involuntary stay in a hospital for an involuntary emergency mental health examination pursuant to Section 302 of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act ("Section 302 of the MHPA"), 50 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 7302, resulted in a complete prohibition of Mr. Franklin's ability to ever legally acquire, possess, or use a firearm in his private capacity for the purposes of federal law, namely for the purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4)("Section 922(g)(4)"). Mr. Franklin challenges Defendants' position on numerous grounds - on most of which the Court will not now offer an opinion. However, the Court is persuaded that, by its own terms, Section 922(g)(4) does not restrict Mr. Franklin's ability to possess firearms based on a brief emergency mental health examination pursuant to Section 302 of the MPHA that was justified by only the ex parte decisions of a police officer, an unspecified official in the county administrator's office, and a single physician.
Here is the actual order From justia.com:
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER - upon consideration of the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 31 , 36 ) and for the reasons set forth in the Memorandum Opinion accompanying this Order, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 

1. Plaintiff& #039;s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 36 ) is GRANTED only as to the inapplicability of the restrictions of Section 922(g)(4) to Plaintiff. Judgment is entered in Plaintiff's favor to that extent. 

2. In all other regards, the parties 9; cross-motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 31 , 36 ) are DENIED AS MOOT at this time. 

3. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4) is not implicated by Plaintiff's involuntary emergency treatment on September 22, 2002 pursuant to 50 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 7302 and, as it pertains to that event, Plaintiff's ability to acquire, possess, and use firearms and/or ammunition is unaffected. 

4. Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employee, and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of this Order are ENJOINED from enforcing 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4) against Plaintiff based on his involuntary emergency treatment on September 22, 2002, and as more fully stated in said Memorandum Opinion and Order. Signed by Judge Kim R. Gibson on 12/21/2017. (dlg)

It makes perfect sense that a enumerated constitutional right, found in the Bill of Rights, may not be taken away from someone merely on the opinion of a physician, a police officer, and an administrative official.  A court proceeding is necessary for due process.

This is a step toward restoring Second Amendment rights and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law for all Americans.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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