Court overturns denial of gun permit to man once detained in mental ward


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Jeff White
April 12, 2006, 08:05 PM
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/EA730BD542F4CA3D8625714E001409F5?OpenDocument
Court overturns denial of gun permit to man once detained in mental ward
By William C. Lhotka
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
04/12/2006

As a Missouri corrections officer for more than 10 years, David Nelson is authorized to carry a gun on the job. But a year ago, he was denied a state permit to buy one.

The contradiction became a court dispute that reached all the way to the seven judges of the Missouri Supreme Court, who ruled unanimously Tuesday in Nelson's favor.

The issue dates to Sept. 11, 2003, when a judge in Callaway County ordered that Nelson be detained, evaluated and treated at a mental institution for 96 hours, against his will, because a Fulton police officer alleged that Nelson had talked about suicide.

In that period, the Mid-Missouri Mental Health Center determined that Nelson did not suffer from mental illness and needed neither medication nor psychiatric care. He never got a court hearing to protest the police officer's claim.

On April 27, 2005, Nelson applied for a permit to acquire a concealable weapon, which is different from a concealed-carry permit but is bound by similar rules. The Callaway County Sheriff's Department said no. Sheriff Dennis Crane, and later Prosecuting Attorney Robert Sterner, cited a state law that denies permits to felons or people having been committed to mental institutions.

Nelson sued, losing before Associate Circuit Judge Joe Holt, who had issued the detention order, and then before Circuit Judge Ellen Roper.

Nelson's attorney, Geoffrey Preckshot, took the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the ruling was unfair to his client and others in a similar situation. "Each of these persons is caught in an almost classic 'Catch 22'; never again to be trusted by society to be allowed to acquire a concealable firearm, but not crazy enough to justify a (commitment) proceeding," he said.

Writing for the unanimous court, Judge Richard B. Teitelman said Nelson had been put under "detention," which he said is different from "committed."

blhotka@post-dispatch.com 314-615-3283

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LSCurrier
April 12, 2006, 08:32 PM
Good for him.

Luke

Kim
April 12, 2006, 08:37 PM
I can not believe a Judge does not know the difference is a 96 hour legal hold for evaluation and being legally committed to a mental institution.

Big Gay Al
April 12, 2006, 08:53 PM
I don't think it's a case of not knowing the difference. I think it's a case of the judge not wanting to ADMIT to the difference. Probably one of those "only the police and military" type judges.

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