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Beers v Barr (US) - Once involuntarily committed means permanently prohibited?


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#1 Euler

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:38 PM

Docket

...
Fourteen years ago, when he returned home from college in winter 2005, nineteen-year-old Bradley Beers ... contemplated suicide, remarking that he had nothing to live for. Mr. Beers's mother contacted his pediatrician, who recommended bringing him to the Lower Bucks Hospital, a facility offering both voluntary and involuntary commitment for inpatient treatment of mental illness. ... However, Mr. Beers was overwhelmed, and the employees at the hospital were frustrated. As a result, his mother filled out the paperwork instead; the form the employees gave her was for involuntary commitment. Consequently, Mr. Beers was involuntarily committed by Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, for a period not to exceed seven days. This was later extended, and Mr. Beers soon returned home. Since that temporary experience with teenage depression fourteen years ago, Mr. Beers has never needed treatment for his mental health. It is undisputed that he is mentally healthy and not a danger to himself or to others.

In 2013, Mr. Beers saw psychiatrist Dr. Mark Bernstein, M.D., who concluded after a thorough medical examination that Mr. Beers was able to "safely handle firearms." Later, the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County issued an Order declaring that Mr. Beers was not a danger to himself or others, restoring his state firearm rights pursuant to 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6105(f). This did not restore Mr. Beers's federal rights, however, as Pennsylvania's relief-from-disabilities program had not been approved by the ATF.

Mr. Beers therefore filed this suit [in federal district court], seeking declaratory and injunctive relief barring the government from enforcing § 922(g)(4) against him on the grounds that it violated the Second Amendment, his right to due process, and his entitlement to equal protection of the laws. The district court dismissed, holding that evidence of rehabilitation played no role in the Second Amendment analysis.

The Third Circuit affirmed, concluding that "[p]assage of time and evidence of rehabilitation" are categorically irrelevant. According to the panel, those who have been involuntarily committed are "unvirtuous" and irrevocably "forfeit" their Second Amendment rights in precisely the same manner as felons.
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The court gave no reasons for asserting that the Founders viewed felons and the mentally ill as equivalent, or that they believed that mental illness demonstrated "unvirtuousness" characteristic of those who committed "'serious' crimes."
...


Edited by Euler, 24 January 2020 - 10:44 PM.

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.

- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1960.


#2 Euler

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Posted 16 April 2020 - 03:37 AM

On April 15, the US Solicitor General responded with Barr's opposition brief.

... Petitioner brought this suit to challenge the constitutionality, as applied to him, of ... restriction on the possession of firearms by people who have been committed to mental institutions. But federal law allows state programs that satisfy certain criteria to relieve a person of that restriction; Pennsylvania has certified that its program satisfies those criteria; ATF has approved that certification; and Pennsylvania has restored petitioner’s rights under that program. ... The upshot ... is that petitioner is no longer subject to the federal statutory restriction whose constitutionality he challenges. Indeed, petitioner states ... that he has now secured a firearms license and acquired a firearm. As a result, this case is now moot.
...
Petitioner suggests that "it is not clear that ATF’s approval of Pennsylvania's law is permanent" and that "ATF maintains the discretion to rescind its approval of a state rehabilitation program" as a result of future "'changes in the state's mental health law.'" ... This Court has explained, however, that a case remains live only so long as the threat of injury is "sufficiently real and immediate to show an existing controversy," and that a mere "speculative contingency" does not suffice. ...

At a minimum, the threshold dispute regarding mootness makes this case a poor vehicle for considering the question presented. ...

In District of Columbia v. Heller ... this Court ... cautioned that "nothing in [its] opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by * * * the mentally ill." ... In McDonald v. City of Chicago ... a plurality of the Court again emphasized that nothing in Heller casts doubt on the constitutionality of "prohibitions on the possession of firearms by * * * the mentally ill." ... "[F]elons, children, and the insane were excluded from the right to arms." ... "Colonial and English societies of the eighteenth century, as well as their modern counterparts, have excluded infants, idiots, lunatics, and felons [from the right to keep and bear arms]." ... the term "the people" has traditionally been interpreted in certain contexts to exclude "the idiot, the lunatic, and the felon" ...

Petitioner observes ... that New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n raises issues relating to mootness and voluntary cessation, but those issues have no apparent bearing on this case. There, a city unilaterally amended a local ordinance after this Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari in a case challenging that ordinance. In contrast, this case has become moot as a result of a combination of actions taken by the federal government, the state government, and petitioner himself, all before the filing of the petition for a writ of certiorari.


Edited by Euler, 16 April 2020 - 03:39 AM.

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.

- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1960.


#3 JTHunter

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 09:58 PM

In other words, NYC gets to "keep" their restrictions because the matter was resolved before the petition was filed?


“We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution.” - - Abraham Lincoln

“Small minds adhere to the letter of the law; great minds dispense Justice.” - - S. C. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

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#4 Euler

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 10:16 PM

In other words, NYC gets to "keep" their restrictions because the matter was resolved before the petition was filed?


No, in other words, NYC is irrelevant. Beers attempting to invoke the specter of NYSRPA does not add weight to his case.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.

- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1960.


#5 Euler

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 01:54 PM

SCOTUS granted the petition, but vacated the CA3 decision and remanded the case back to CA3 with instructions to moot the case, since Beers has been able to purchase firearms since the previous (now vacated) CA3 decision.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.

- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1960.


#6 JTHunter

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Posted 27 May 2020 - 08:05 PM

Good.

Having been through this, Mr. Beers might have a greater appreciation for the B.o.R. as well as look less favorably on things like the so-called "red flag laws".


“We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution.” - - Abraham Lincoln

“Small minds adhere to the letter of the law; great minds dispense Justice.” - - S. C. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Life member NAHC, Endowment member NRA




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