In order to have one’s firearm rights restored after an involuntary civil commitment, a restoration hearing must occur. The judge must consider:
(1) the petitioner’s mental health and criminal history records,
(2) the petitioner’s reputation, developed at a minimum through character witness statements, testimony, or other character evidence, and
(3) any changes in the petitioner’s condition or circumstances since the original determination or finding.
Practical Issue #1: The Need for a Cooperative Mental Health Professional
If the Involuntary Commitment occurred in a different state or city, the motion to restore firearm rights will occur in that location. I have encountered a refusal on the part of treating psychiatrists to travel to another state to testify.
Practical Issue #2: Expensive fees for record review, report preparation, travel time and testimony
The treating psychiatrist must agree to review all previous psychological and hospital records as well as their own in order to properly opine as to any changes in the petitioner’s condition since the involuntary commitment. The moving party must pay for all the expert’s time in reviewing records, traveling to court and testifying. This fee can be extremely expensive.
Practical Problem #3: Petitioner’s continuing need for psychotropic medication, treatment and therapy
In cases where firearm rights have been successfully restored, the facts typically portray the involuntary commitment as an aberration in the life of a person who otherwise has no mental health issues. Other courts have refused to consider the effect of the passage of time or the effect of rehabilitation on the issue of restoration of gun rights.
If the petitioner continues to seek mental health treatment and takes psychotropic medication, the prosecutor can argue that the petitioner’s mental stability is precarious and uncertain.
The law of the state at issue will dictate whether a motion can be brought and whether the petitioner’s post-commitment mental state can be considered or whether rehabilitation is relevant.
These issues must be considered before a petition to restore firearm rights can be brought.