6th Circuit Court Rules Permanent Gun Ban for Mentally Ill Is Unconstitutional

Photo: WSJ

(Photo: WSJ)

Should a one-time commitment to a mental health facility result in the permanent revocation of one’s Second Amendment rights? According to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, maybe not.

The Court ruled in a divided 10-6 decision that the mental health portion of the Gun Control Act of 1968 may be unconstitutional. The section in question bans anyone from owning a firearm “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution” involuntarily. The problem, according to the court, is that the law places no time limit on the gun restrictions.

“None of the government’s evidence squarely answers the key question at the heart of this case: Is it reasonably necessary to forever bar all previously institutionalized persons from owning a firearm?” Judge Julia Smith Gibbons asked in her majority opinion.

The suit was originally brought in 2011 by a 74-year-old Michigan man named Clifford C. Tyler. Tyler was placed in a mental institution in 1986 after his wife ran away with another man and filed for divorce. The experience, according to court documents, left him “emotionally devastated.” The court committed him to a mental health facility for no more than 30 days, and he was released within four weeks.

See Also: Appeals Court: Non-Serious Convictions Do Not Permanently Erase Right to Keep, Bear Arms

Since then he held a job for nearly two decades, remarried, and passed a psychological evaluation in 2012. Doctors noted that Tyler’s response to his divorce was a “brief reactive depressive episode,” but he has shown no signs of depression for the last thirty years.

Despite this evidence, Tyler still found himself on the prohibited persons list when he tried to purchase a firearm in February 2011. His attempts to appeal the background check results failed, and he sued the U.S. attorney general and his local sheriff in Hillsdale County, Mich., in 2012.

A federal trial court dismissed his lawsuit, so Tyler appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to The Wall Street Journal. Now the case is set to go back to the District Court in Michigan.

It’s unclear how Tyler will fare as his case moves forward, but gun proponents are hoping the court will acknowledge the non-static nature of mental illness. As Circuit Judge David William McKeague noted in his opinion, “Mental illness is not static, so it cannot be constitutional to permanently prevent Clifford Tyler from exercising his Second Amendment right without affording him some sort of process to demonstrate that the non-permanent label of  ‘mentally  ill’ no longer applies to him.”

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Patriot September 24, 2016, 7:15 pm

    I feel sure the liar Hillary would not agree with this, but someone who has had a mental or emotional problem due to one of life’s major traumatic events and has recovered should be given a CCP. Some people cause a traffic accident where people are killed or injured and usually do not have a permanent loss of a drivers license.
    Hillary has mishandled State Department classified emails and lied about it and still has not provided the subpoenaed emails, Hillary as Secretary of State made no effort to help the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi and later when asked about it before a Congressional committee, stated “JUST FORGET ABOUT THAT !!!” Also, this applies to that incident, BENGHAZI – WE HAD THE TIME, THE SHIPS AND THE PLANES. WE DID NOT HAVE THE LEADERSHIP !!!! Yet Hillary feels that she is qualified to be president of the United States !!!!

  • Brett T September 23, 2016, 5:12 pm

    Brovo 6th Ckt. court! About time we see the 2nd amendment judgement on the positive side. .If the man’s doctors find him as normal now, he should be given his 2nd amendment right back! If not, then if Clinton is a liar then she is always a liar and can not be running for the Presidency! Come on court and convict the real fake, HC! I hope this statements are apples to apples. Thx

  • DRAINO September 22, 2016, 8:08 am

    Agreed! Very important case! We need to get this establishment dismantled….get some fresh new blood….clean out the stagnant greedy politicians of the “good old boy” club and get some real folks who are ready to serve. They are using every trick they can think of to whittle away at our 2A rights. Pretty soon they will try to have ALL vets put in an asylum claiming we all have PTSD, just from serving in the military. Then they will claim proxy voting power for all us committed vets and will have their elections in the bag from now on. Vote Trump or this will be a definite possibility!!

  • Will Drider September 19, 2016, 9:09 pm

    This IS a very important Case. I had not heard of one of this type before. With the Gov pushing the mental health restriction on vets, mil retirees, Social Security Recipients and many more citizens there must be a accessible way to fight the assignment to a mental health restriction AND a path to get off it.
    On the other hand John Hinckley Jr. 35 years “clean” and has been released to the streets full time. I wonder if wants his gun rights restored?

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