Federal Court: Involuntary Commitment Not a Disqualifier for 2A Rights

By CTD Blogger published on in General, News

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.

ATF Form 4473

By Dean Weingarten

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.

Mental Health and Guns

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.

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.

What’s your opinion about Mr. Franklin’s case? Are there cases in which you believe the state should suspend a citizen’s Second Amendment rights, or do you believe “Shall Not be Infringed” means exactly what it says? Share your answers in the comment section.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten

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Comments (15)

  • NotAdjudicatedNorCommitted


    Oh, and another note: I was NEVER even advised that their “Involuntarily Committing” me would affect my Rights, in Any sense.
    The Psychiatrist whom spoke with me, some hours after my being transported, even questioned WHY I was there. The person whom Completed the MMPI2, and Psych Interviews, on me, years later, for use in my fight against this prohibition, and whom reviewed all possible files, and situational facts, questioned WHY I was “Involuntarily Admitted.”
    Further, I had no indication that this False Imprisonment would affect my life, in any meaningful way. I was simply admitted, under the direction of a “Dr” that never bothered to even listen to me, nor indicated she had any Concern for anything stated in response to HER OWN questions, as she continually walked in and out of the room, presumably distracted by other issues occurring in the Hospital.
    I was never advised this had any bearing on my Degree Field, nor my Life. I simply woke one day, as explained, to find that I was retroactively considered a criminal, because I had, without knowing, been purchasing and owning, cleaning, shooting, and carrying for defense, and for employment, as a Prohibited person, and was essentially a criminal. I found my Degree had been turned into Toilet Paper. I found that by marking “No” to ever being Mentally Adjudicated/Committed, I was apparently, a “Criminal.”
    All of this, based upon information never explained to me, never granted the opportunity to fight, nor given the information about the need to fight. All of this because I had no idea that a short, and contrary-to-fact forced hold for basic Psych. Review, followed by doubt that I should even be there, then very quick release, would meet the definition of “Prohibited.”
    Also, according the NICS Improvement Act, it DIDN’T meet the requirements for Prohibition, but because PA would not grant Expungements anymore, and PA’s Plan for Federal Relief was not approved by the Federal Govt., and because the Federal Government would not accept a Local PA Judge’s ruling, which only applied to PA, for any kind of True Relief, I had no means by which to obtain any TRUE RELIEF.
    Whether you think I should, or should NOT have my rights restored, is irrelevant. If you believe in the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, you should at least believe I should have had a Reasonable, Logical, and Lawful means by which to utilize Due Process, both During the initial process, and later, when I had to begin this fight with J. Prince.
    That’s my position.
    If you think this type of scenario can never happen to YOU, i’d think again. There are other scenarios, in which you might find yourself on the receiving end of this style of “Catch-22″ result.


  • NotAdjudicatedNorCommitted


    When you deprive someone of any semblance of “Due Process,” you begin a “Slippery Slope.”
    I had none. I proclaimed my “innocence” numerous times, to a “Dr” whom never listened, and walked out halfway through every conversation.I told them I would not “voluntarily” commit because I had classes/exams upcoming.
    I had no reason to. I was held less than 24 hours, around 12, to my recollection, though it was long ago. I went on to own many weapons, not knowing I was considered prohibited, and since PA never sent the record in until 11 years later. I had a CCW Permit for 10 years (5 yr original, 5 yr renewal). I never used illegal drugs. I rarely drink. I continued my college, and Graduated. I worked in Corrections. Then, one day, BAM, i’m told i’m prohibited, and i’m now a “criminal.” No DUE PROCESS. No Right to Contend. No Pathway to prove otherwise.
    People just don’t get it. They believe themselves immune to this type of situation occurring to them, until it does. A Medical Doctor, and/or a Police Officer is NOT a Trained Authority, and even the basic training received should NOT permit Circumvention of one of the most basic enumerated rights of the person…Due Process.
    If we keep heading in this direction, one day, all of those whom cheer at this type of action, and approach,m will wake, or their children, or children’s children will wake, to a knock on their door telling them they’ve been accused of something, and the Government has decided that no Trial, nor Right to Face Accuser, nor Right to Present Evidence, nor Right to Argue, is NEEDED.
    They will simply be expected to “Get in the back of the car, Sir/Madam, it is time to take your punishment.”


  • Scooter from ORE


    I commend you on your fight for your rights (and mine)!
    I have a friend with a foreign conviction in a craptastic 3rd world country that is on his record and effects his right to work in certain fields…. But due to “Small vs. the US”, he can own an purchase as many firearms as he wants! He has fought the good fight and has a half win.
    I wish you the best if this is Mr. Franklin!
    Beware that many millions of the “Lib-Dorks” want you to fail!
    Be on guard my friend!


  • Russell Lampe


    It would be far to easy for law enforcement or others to cause a person to be involuntarily committed just as Mr. Franklin was for no reason other than to cause future distress as in this case.


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