Decades-old struggles shouldn’t strip you of your gun rights today

Decades-old struggles shouldn't strip you of your gun rights today

A Pennsylvania resident loses his gun rights if he has been adjudicated as an incompetent or has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care and treatment. It is a crime in Pennsylvania for certain classes of people to possess firearms. Persons convicted of violent felonies like burglary, rape, robbery, and murder is one class. Fugitives, illegal aliens, serious drug offenders, domestic abusers, habitual DUI offenders are another. Things then get problematic. Painful experience teaches that some “common sense” gun control legislation has hidden consequences that in the long run wrongly strip citizens of constitutional rights. The victims of the chicanery often do not realize their rights are gone until it’s too late. For instance, a Pennsylvania resident loses his gun rights if he has been adjudicated as an incompetent or has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care and treatment. To the casual observer or lawmaker under pressure to “do something” about gun violence, this proscription may appear perfectly reasonable. But in practice, this proscription has ensnared thousands of law-abiding Pennsylvania residents who decades ago were involuntarily committed to mental health facilities, generally by hapless parents. Despite leading crime-free, productive lives for the intervening two, three, and four decades, these people learn that they don’t have the same civil liberties as their neighbors when, at the point of purchase, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, flags their name. Almost 30 years ago, a friend’s parents committed him to a psychiatric […]

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