I notice Larry Pratt keeps bringing up a Pennsylvania case where a man was committed involuntarily for observation under Section 302 of Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Procedures Act. This provision is described as follows:
Section 302 is the part of the Act relating to treatment without consent for observed behavior constituting a clear and present danger to the individual and/or others. The behavior must have occurred in the past 30 days. Under Section 302(a) any responsible party can petition for an involuntary evaluation by stating that an individual may be severely mentally disabled.
Now, it should be noted that for purposes of a federal firearms disability, this section is insufficient. The regulations specifically exempt persons held for observation.
Committed to a mental institution. A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily. The term includes commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution.
But that’s federal. The PA Uniform Firearms Act is also a controlling law:
A person who has been adjudicated as an incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care and treatment under section 302, 303 or 304 of the provisions of the act of July 9, 1976 (P.L.817, No.143), known as the Mental Health Procedures Act. This paragraph shall not apply to any proceeding under section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act unless the examining physician has issued a certification that inpatient care was necessary or that the person was committable.
So unless the person actually ends up being involuntarily committed to a mental health institution, there’s no prohibition under federal or state law that prevents him from owning a firearm in the future, unless he’s committed. It should be noted that Pennsylvania already has a mechanism in place for restoration of rights for commitments and adjudications. In the editorial I mentioned last, a PA district attorney was quoted as saying:
“I contacted the sheriff and had his license to carry a firearm revoked. And I asked police to commit him under Section 302 of the mental health procedures act and that was done. He is now ineligible to possess firearms [for life] because he was committed involuntarily,” the district attorney reported.
I think that particular DA needs to read the law, because he’s wrong.
10 Responses to “A Bit on Section 302 of MHPA”
- "NEW" Form 4473 - Need Some Help - [...] have ever been 302'd in Pa you lost your gun rights Not necessarily true. I looked into this…