When Can We Deny Gun Rights to Mentally Ill?

This is a discussion on When Can We Deny Gun Rights to Mentally Ill? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; http://www.opposingviews.com/i/when-...o-mentally-ill First off I don't think this guy qualifies as "mentally ill." California Welfare & Institutions Code § 8103 provides that once someone has been ...

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    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    When Can We Deny Gun Rights to Mentally Ill?

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/when-...o-mentally-ill

    First off I don't think this guy qualifies as "mentally ill."

    California Welfare & Institutions Code § 8103 provides that once someone has been evaluated or taken into custody as being “a danger to himself, herself, or to others,” he may be barred from possessing guns for five years if the government “show[s] by a preponderance of the evidence that the person would not be likely to use firearms in a safe and lawful manner.”

    Yesterday’s People v. Jason K. (Cal. Ct. App.) upheld this provision, with a pretty thorough constitutional analysis; it concluded that the government didn’t have to prove dangerousness by clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Although Jason and his family did not want him to remain in the hospital, a treating psychiatrist concluded that he must remain in the hospital for the evaluation.
    Who do you appeal to when a Doctor decides to hold you against your will? NOBODY! You have no legal recourse. You are locked up in a mental ward.

    At the time of his discharge, Jason was advised of the law prohibiting him from possessing firearms for five years and his right to request a hearing to obtain relief from this prohibition.
    I’m just as dangerous with the razor I shave my face with in the morning as I am with ... a gun.” …
    OK so our buddy "Jason" is a bit of a jerk and a hothead. A CA appeals court found that denying him access to a firearm for an arbitrary five years is legal, and does not require evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, but by a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard. Never mind that someone who will go to this extent to get their rights restored is probably not going to go out and kill themselves. If they were they have plenty of other options, since they are free to roam in society.
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    Several things have always interested me about this legalized power afforded to docs: the absolutist nature of it all; the way in which leveled claims effectively carry much the same weight as convicted guilt; and logic that borders on "Well, if Johnny can't see it (as the rest of us can) ... then, he must be crazy."

    Yesterday’s People v. Jason K. (Cal. Ct. App.) upheld this provision, with a pretty thorough constitutional analysis; it concluded that the government didn’t have to prove dangerousness by clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt.
    A conveniently low standard that falls neatly into the hands of the docs pushing for "commitment." Claim it, and it's practically so.

    Good to know such "thoroughness" was done. That's good enough for the reporter, apparently. It will be interesting to read the transcripts or decision, to follow the analysis. Heavy-handedness in a sort of "wash my back / I'll wash yours" type of deal with docs, or reasonable and legitimate? Hm.
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    Well except for putting the shotgun in his mouth the young man admitted the records were correct but he had no intention of killing himself although he grabbed a loaded handgun cocked it and stated that he was going to kill himself.
    He admitted to using alcohol to excess, smoking medical marijuana for pain, having severe depression, episodes of crying, insomnia, violent outbursts that caused injuries to himself. If this is not a mental health issue please tell me what is.
    I have done dozens of mental health pickups and commitments over the years and this is somewhat typical. Guy/Gal has problems they go to or brought to a mental health intake, they have interview and when told they need to be held nope they don't want to do that. He was seen and evaluated and determined to be a danger to himself, the part about grabbing a gun and cocking it and telling your spouse you are going to kill yourself seems to do that sometimes, and after being evaluated was released within the 72 hour limit.
    Should this guy have firearms, probably not with this type event occuring. Is five years a long time to be without a firearm, yep. Can he now legally buy a firearm without lying on the yellow sheet? Don't know.
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    Who do you appeal to when a Doctor decides to hold you against your will? NOBODY!
    Incorrect. Substantial safeguards exist through the system to ensure that instances of the Baker Act are applied correctly. You won't get locked up and lose gun ownership rights unless you do something that warrants it. Since we're a nation of some 300 million people, it is possible that some exceptions will occur from time to time, but they only prove the rule.
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    Incorrect. Substantial safeguards exist through the system to ensure that instances of the Baker Act are applied correctly. You won't get locked up and lose gun ownership rights unless you do something that warrants it. Since we're a nation of some 300 million people, it is possible that some exceptions will occur from time to time, but they only prove the rule.
    Not in some states, and not in this one. Our concealed handgun law specifically states that if you have been institutionalized either voluntarily or involuntarily for ANYTHING, whether is be drugs, alcohol, or just being a mental case, you are disqualified for 3 years from that date. I have dealt with several people that voluntarily submitted themselves to an alcohol rehabilitation center for several weeks that was a condition of their employment where they worked, the company footing the bill, and they cannot get a CHL for three years from the date of discharge. When that day occurs and they submit their application, they must include a detailed letter of why they were in and when. It is then up to the State Police to either issue or not issue one, so they are making the judgment call.

    You won't get locked up and lose gun ownership rights unless you do something that warrants it.
    Also not correct. Those days are long gone. All it takes is a reference from someone in your family to make it happen. I've done welfare checks, where people had experienced a meltdown and wouldn't respond to anything or anyone. We are required to take them to the state hospital for evaluation and its a minimum 2 week stay. Some people never get out. Those that maynot ever be able to buy a gun or a handgun permit ever again, depending on the state of mental health and the reasons that they were admitted.

    Granted,some of them don't need to be around weapons at any time. Others, like the guy that gets caught at work coming in with a hangover that get busted by his supervisor and must submit to a "for cause" urinalysis that tests positive and must go to alcohol rehab to keep his job may have a long uphill battle to restore their ability to protect themselves.
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    Hotguns - there's nothing in your comment that strikes me as being problematic in any way. That's exactly how things are supposed to work. I wouldn't change any of that. No guns for druggies, alkies, or the mentally unfit.

    And you are just plain flat-out wrong with this:

    All it takes is a reference from someone in your family to make it happen.
    Nope. See the text:

    A physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, or clinical social worker may execute a certificate stating that he or she has examined a person within the preceding 48 hours and finds that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination and stating the observations upon which that conclusion is based.
    As a matter of fact, the Baker Act was specifically enacted in order to prevent abuses, such as children committing an elder to an institution so that they could seize control of estate and assets.

    Of course, various particulars will be subject to state law, which varies, but no I don't think you can just snap your fingers and have someone committed on a lark.
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    Of course, various particulars will be subject to state law, which varies, but no I don't think you can just snap your fingers and have someone committed on a lark.
    Thats true if you don't happen to exhibit any of the usual signs of mental duress. If you are even close, then the "physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, or clinical social worker may execute a certificate stating that he or she has examined a person within the preceding 48 hours and finds that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination and stating the observations upon which that conclusion is based" and they will issue it to cover their butts.

    Lets say someone, anyone has a question about the state of someone elses mental health, and they call 911 with their concern. Its up to the Cop that gets there to either confirm or deny that anything is wrong. In the majority of cases, there is nothing wrong. If the Cop chooses to move it on up the latter, he will do so. This might include arresting the person for their own well being and placing them under observation or simply calling the State Health Dept, that will send out a counselor and let them make a determination. I can state for a fact, that if they don't know you and don't know how you normally act they will act conservatively and place you under observation, because there have been too many cases where they did not and later got burned for failing to act.

    So, although you cant just snap your fingers and have someone committed, IF the person involved displays any abnormal behavior at all, sometimes it doesn't take a whole lot more than that. It's usually a family member that starts the ball rolling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    Hotguns - there's nothing in your comment that strikes me as being problematic in any way. That's exactly how things are supposed to work. I wouldn't change any of that. No guns for druggies, alkies, or the mentally unfit.

    And you are just plain flat-out wrong with this:



    Nope. See the text:

    As a matter of fact, the Baker Act was specifically enacted in order to prevent abuses, such as children committing an elder to an institution so that they could seize control of estate and assets.

    Of course, various particulars will be subject to state law, which varies, but no I don't think you can just snap your fingers and have someone committed on a lark.
    Shockwave, this may be one of the extremely rare instances in which I will offer a qualified disagreement with you.

    First, I'm uncertain what you are referring to as the Baker act. Mental hold laws are individualized by state and each state has its own law, procedures etc. And yes, the shrinks can basically just snap their fingers, at least in some states, if only because judges tend to give preference to the testimony of "authorities."

    Second, in a different part of my life I moderate a bulletin board which offers assistance to people with a particular disability.
    From time to time some are disturbed, some are depressed, some are suicidal because of the suffering they are going through. Some very understandably wish they were dead because of the seemingly intractable suffering.

    Although mental health holds have only been posted about at the site I moderate 2 times in 17 years, and so I don't have a broad view of them, I do know that BOTH which were reported to us happened in California and in both instances (the second happened last week) were highly questionable.

    The first person who posted about it was clearly the victim of a naive shrink who clearly misunderstood what the man had told her. She said nothing to him at the moment he spoke. She allowed him to leave her office without offering any assistance to him whatsoever, and behaved "pleasantly." Later, when the victim of her neglect was at home, the police barged in and hauled him off for a 72 hour hold. It was totally unjustified. He had gone to the shrink voluntarily, was not suicidal, was not threatening anyone, was not a threat to himself, but had vented his frustration in terms which he later found out were used against him. Something casual, along the lines of "I'm suffering so much that sometimes I think I would be better off dead." Be careful how you say things.

    The second instance was in a somewhat more gray situation, happened last week, and could easily have been handled as an ordinary voluntary hospitalization into a general hospital and not a 51 hold into a psychiatric hospital. The victim had taken herself to the hospital and was willing to be admitted, in fact wanted to be admitted. By placing the individual in a psych hospital against her will the ER docs and her own shrink proceeded to neglect the real physical-medical issue which was driving the person to despair, and they made that problem much worse through neglect and stupidity. They removed a medical device that was providing the victim with symptom relief because they said they couldn't take care of it in a psych hospital. Stupid. Just stupid.

    I have advised her to fire her shrink (no trust left), seek legal advice (to seal the 51 hold), and file a complaint with the medical directors of both involved hospitals. Sadly, I doubt if she has either the money or the emotional wherewithal to defend herself at this particular time. Instead of getting some help and support she got screwed over.

    With only two instances to comment on over 17 years, I can only say that both happened in California and both were not justified. Perhaps there is something in the water in Souther California, but bad to poor judgment was used in both cases and yes indeed, the people were held on no more than the say so of an individual shrink operating in either panic mode or power trip mode.

    So, maybe they have safeguards in place in Florida. Maybe they have them in CA as well, but they aren't working where the rubber hits the road.

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    Considering the guys antics, it's probably best he be committed. I do disagree with the 5 year statutory term. Not all mental illness takes this long to cure.
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    So, maybe they have safeguards in place in Florida. Maybe they have them in CA as well, but they aren't working where the rubber hits the road.
    Like I said, exceptions only prove the rule. Given the size of the mental health community and the population, every now and then you can find an outlier, but those aren't illustrative of the general state of practice. At the end of the day, a medical professional and a court will have to be involved and there will have to be some evidence supporting the request for involuntary commitment. It's not like you could be walking down the street, minding your own business, and suddenly a white van is going to pull up and haul you off.

    Because we're discussing mental illness, we really are looking at a broad gray area - there won't be clear lines in many cases, if any. The protocol has to be rigorous enough in every state so that innocent, well persons are not committed against their will. At the same time, it has to be effective enough so that people like the Virgina Tech shooter don't fall through the cracks. We can get tragedies either way, and those risks have to be balanced.

    One of the more problematic cases we saw recently was that guy (where was it, in Massachusetts?) who had his guns confiscated because he'd bought a fair number of weapons right after being fired from his job. I still don't know what to think about that. The basic premise we should uphold, however, is that firearm ownership should be restricted solely to persons of good character in good standing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/when-...o-mentally-ill

    First off I don't think this guy qualifies as "mentally ill."

    Bingo. Frustrated yes. Angry, yes. Impulsive, yes. Foolish, yes. Mentally ill? Not so clear at all.

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    I doubt I'll be able to say this eloquently, so I'm just going blab here. But I think there maybe another element to this issue.

    By denying a person there 2A right for *X* years after seeking mental help, is the system cutting off many people who need help, but will not seek it out simply because they will loose (quite possibly) thousands of dollars worth of property (firearms).

    Granted, some people should have there property removed if they show they are a danger to themselves or others. However, in questionable instances some people should have a quicker means of relief to get there property back.

    I also think there is a lot of Insurance money involved here. Although being a Doctor is a noble profession, they are not without problems such as a Doctor on a power trip

    What happens in California when a person has thousands of dollars worth of firearms and the state comes in and confiscates the property? Does the state now have the responsibility to hold said property for 5+ years? what happens to the property in the mean time.
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    Here's an LEO who I assume by the details of the story lost his 2A right because his superiors and coworkers conspired against him, and had him involuntarily committed, with the hospital possibly complicit.

    http://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...-false-arrest/

    As several armed officers entered the apartment, a ranking NYPD officer found Schoolcraft resting on his bed — and gave him a scolding.
    His description of being taken in handcuffs to a psychiatric ward that night suggests the nation's largest police force could have a vindictive underbelly. He claims that cops risk retribution when they try, as he did, to blow the whistle on supervisors' faking of crime statistics to make the stats look better.
    Legitimate whistleblower or not, Schoolcraft would pay dearly following the Halloween encounter. After what he describes as a frightening, involuntary hospital stay, he was suspended from the force.
    Parts of his story — like the deputy chief's foul-mouthed order to have him hauled out of his home — might sound sketchy. But there's one thing: It's all on tape.
    Finally, he spoke to a departmental therapist, confessing all his concerns about the alleged stat fixing and about his declining health. The therapist's report had a result he didn't expect: He was stripped of his gun and badge and put on desk duty.
    The NYPD and Schoolcraft agree that he walked off the job on that Halloween afternoon.

    How and why are open to interpretation, just like the scene it caused.

    The department says he wasn't authorized to leave, and that an AWOL cop always must be accounted for. His supervisors also were aware that he'd seen a therapist, and that his guns had been taken away.
    When ESU finally used the landlord's key to enter his home, several officers stormed in, accompanied by Marino, the deputy chief.
    The more Schoolcraft resists, the more Marino grows irritated. The chief warns the officer that he could be labeled an "EDP" — an emotionally disturbed person — and hospitalized by force.
    "Adrian, get up."

    "I don't feel good."

    Finally, Marino gives the order for the officers to put Schoolcraft in an ambulance.

    "He's EDP. In cuffs."
    According to the same report, the patient "says this is happening because he has been reporting to his superiors and commissioners about internal affairs of police department. Says he knows his supervisors are hiding robbery and assault cases."

    His superiors told doctors he barricaded himself inside his apartment and they had to force their way in. And once they pulled him out, Schoolcraft ran from them once he was outside and had to be chased down before he was brought to the ER. That version of events is fabricated, says Schoolcraft's attorney, Jon Norinsberg.

    Doctors advised continued observation for "unpredictable behavior and escape risk."

    Schoolcraft spent the next several days confined to Pysch Unit 3.

    He said he kept to himself, ate bad hospital food. He spoke briefly to a social worker, but little else happened. His father, who had to call several hospitals before locating his son, eventually collected him.

    Schoolcraft says his dad had to fight with the hospital administration to release him. He finally was evaluated and diagnosed in discharge papers with job-related "adjustment disorder with anxious mood."
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    Here's an LEO who I assume by the details of the story lost his 2A right because his superiors and coworkers conspired against him, and had him involuntarily committed, with the hospital possibly complicit.

    http://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...-false-arrest/
    Sorry if this offends anyone, but hey, NYPD, what do you expect?

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    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    Incorrect. Substantial safeguards exist through the system to ensure that instances of the Baker Act are applied correctly. You won't get locked up and lose gun ownership rights unless you do something that warrants it. Since we're a nation of some 300 million people, it is possible that some exceptions will occur from time to time, but they only prove the rule.
    Actually, I believe you are mistaken. The Baker Act is only one of multiple ways to keep someone against their will. A person could walk or drive themselves to a facility, be interviewed by the intake team, and sign themselves willingly into the facility for an undefined period of time (not nec. 72 hours as mentioned earlier in this thread. 72 hours is the minimum if it was an involuntary admission from the start). Once inside, the staff can basically do whatever they want to administer any kind of care they want. If the voluntarily admitted patient has an issue with any single act or selection of the staff, the patient can with the flick of a pen be transformed from a voluntary patient into an involuntary one, which appears to me to take place without the involvement of the Baker Act.

    Then, a patient may (if they are together enough and informed enough, and able to communicate effectively enough, which is all a factor of what medications and treatments they are or are not getting at the time of the request) they can request a grievance form and begin filing written documents against the treatment they are getting.

    I'm interested in what exactly are the state by state differences in treatments of this issue. In the big picture, it seems that when big scary multiple-death shootouts take place (VA Tech, Columbine, Etc.) the integral part of each story is how the shooter had some sort of mental health issue which was known and for which they took medications. Here's my question: does that mean that, necessarily and/or by definition, everyone in this country who suffers from any sort of mental health issue should not have the right to defend themselves, or perhaps better said should not enjoy the benefits of the 2nd Amendment?

    There are literally millions and millions of folks who suffer from depression and take medications for it. There is an admittedly not small subset of those that do have suicidal tendencies. But, others, the majority, do not. I think that the issue of whether or not 2nd Amendment Rights should be revoked at all should happen in front of a judge with the presence of the patient/petitioner and at least one staff member in addition to the doctor. That's not what happens now, though.
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