Mentally Unfit? Who Says So?

The Second Amendment is my gun permit

On January 13, 2012, the First Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals ruled in United States v. Rehlander that the mentally ill should be able to own guns until there is a hearing “declaring them unfit.” The court stated that the right to bear arms cannot be revoked by the government without due process. The 14th Amendment, called the Due Process Clause, means that the government must follow fair procedures before taking away a constitutional right.

The Second Amendment is my gun permit
The Second Amendment is my gun permit.

In March 2007 and in April of 2007, Nathan Rehlander was involuntarily hospitalized under Maine’s “emergency procedure” for “suicidal impulses.” He was later discharged via court order stating that Rehlander needed treatment, but posed no risk of serious harm. In December 2008, during a response from an assault complaint, Rehlander was found in possession of a 9mm pistol. Under Maine law, Rehlander’s involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital meant that his right to own a firearm had been stripped away. He was indicted on the charge of possession of the firearm in September 2009. He pled guilty to the charge, but has since appealed the court’s decision.

The appellate court found that because there was no follow up from Rehlander’s hospitalization deeming him “mentally unfit,” there were no procedures in place to restore Rehlander’s rights to own a gun. “Thus, Maine treats its temporary hospitalization procedures as insufficient to nullify the right to possess guns.”

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Comments (4)

  1. The article above is technically incorrect. Maine’s section 3863 of which Rehlander was admitted to a mental hospital does not prohibit a person from possessing a firearm. It is the ATF that interprets “admitted” to mean committed. In Maine unless you want to wait 3 months to see a therapist, and you feel the need for mental therapy, you have to go to an emergency room voluntarily. Now in order to get admitted (notice I said admitted) to a mental hospital for some help the only way that happens is if the emergency room writes a “Blue Paper” which comes from section 3863. They do NOT ( DO NOT) tell you what that means. They just tell you that the only way you can go to the mental hospital is by ambulance and in order to do that they have to get appropriate approvals. At no time do they tell you that this results in you being a prohibited person (which legally it does not), however the great ATF run by Holder sees it that way. So the moral of this story is if you have a need to see a therapist in Maine wait the three months if you want to hunt in the future. I am sure you know someone that has had a need to see a therapist – Do all of them warrant being a prohibited person???? i would say yes if they were committed to a mental hospital because they were ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial, or if they had actually threatened someone with a gun in hand while doing so, but other than that, we cannot be randomly taking that right away.

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