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Mental illness/concealed carry question--all states

Discussion in 'Legal' started by BridgeWalker, Jan 23, 2008.

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  1. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    I'm currently working of sorting out a topic for a seminar paper on some aspect of gun law. In trying to discern my topic, I am researching various states' requirements for concealed handgun/weapon licenses.

    See, MI, where I am located, disallows issuance of a CPL to anyone with a diagnosed mental illness. With the recent passage of the NICS improvement bill, mental illness and guns a hot topic and I'm interested in potentially exploring this requirement of MI's, particularly in how it may act as a disincentive for seeking treatment.

    I'm slowly going through each state's websites looking to see if any other (shall issue) state has a similar requirement. Some require getting an application in person, some are difficult to find. Some I've already found. In any case, it's a big project.

    I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts on this, or lives on or knows of another state that places mental health based limitations on concealed carry licensees other than the standard restriction for those adjudicated insane/incompetent or involuntarily committed.

    Thanks in advance for your comments.
     
  2. Kipling79

    Kipling79 Member

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    That is a very interesting paper... although it's subject does raise the hair on my neck. I know far too many psychology students who are willing to pin a "mental illness" on anything and anyone. Does your state regulation differentiate between higher disfunctions and some of the more mundane disorders? (like psychotic/cognitive disorders v. personality/anxiety disorders). Just curious.

    FYI & paper:
    Illinois does not have any concealed carry for private citizens... but the application for our FOID card which is required for all firearm/amunition purchases/possessions asks whether the applicant has been a patient in a mental hospital in the preceding five years".

    Not sure if this question covers voluntary commitment though, and am not sure if checking "yes" is an instant denial... i guess that is for your research, if this regulation even applies to your study.

    And.. like i said, I am not sure whether the illinois law is applicable to your study, but i would think that a permit to possess a gun would affect the behavior of a larger sample of gun owners than a permit for concealed carry would. So maybe I can get a footnote. ;)
     
  3. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    Well, first, to clarify, I don't yet know if checking that box equals an instant denial, but I do know that one the MI State Police annual CPL report there is a category of denials for "mental health--other" (as opposed to adjudications). Obviously, it's not even a well-formed topic yet, and I don't even have a thesis at all.

    And no, the Michigan CPL application does not distinguish between different types of disorders. It asks about "any diagnosed mental illness, whether in treatment or not". Since severe PMS is now treated with anti-depressant medication, this is bad news for a lot of women.

    It also seems a strong disincentive to seeking treatment. I know some people who are not a danger to no one or nothing, but who would be a lot happier if they would figure out how to get their emotional lives sorted out a bit better. I guess the message in MI is DON'T--if you ever want to carry a handgun.

    In any case, clearly, I gotta do some more research and analysis.
     
  4. Kipling79

    Kipling79 Member

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    I think that your point does deserve a paper, especially if less-dangerous disorders might prevent a truly sane & safe person from seeking treatment in order to keep their 2nd amendment rights.

    I would suggest talking to someone trained in law in MI, maybe faculty/staff at a law school, or a friend who happens to be a lawyer and owes you a favor. Statutory interpretation is a field unto itself, and looking into this particular regulation's legislative history and subsequent case law might help determine what the actual result of the regualtion was supposed to be. (it could very well have been mis-worded and intended only to keep lunatics from packing heat). But we can only hope for so much.
     
  5. TAB

    TAB Member

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    There is not a single person in the US that does not have a mental illness...


    Mental illness, can also be cuased by physical conditions as well as Rx. Not to mention all the drug/alcohol addicts that get sent to mental health hospitals. There are also those that check themselfs in of thier own free will.

    Lots of grey area here.
     
  6. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    Yep, it's actually a law school paper, so plenty of research getting started. I'm just trolling for any tidbits of knowledge or thoughts on what direction to go in that members here might have.

    Still deciding if I want to work on the law itself or do more of a policy oriented paper. Requirements are very loose, so I can do more or less what I want.
     
  7. TAB

    TAB Member

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    Not really shall issuse state, but you might want to look into CAs 5150 and 5152... and the load of crap that they are. :barf:
     
  8. Grandpa Shooter

    Grandpa Shooter Member

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    Hi, Delta 9, wondered where you went?

    I believe that what you would need to be focusing on is the behavioral component of a diagnosed condition. A diagnosis of "mental illness" alone would not necessarily be reported as the defining issue in being a prohibited possessor. If however it were also reported that the condition were so severe or involving that the patient had delusions, was combative, or suicidal, and if in the opinion of the "professional" making the diagnosis, the patient were likely to act out as a result of the illness, it could result in being placed on the NICS list.

    Not every woman with PMS is a danger to herself or others, any more than a Vet with PTSD is necessarily a threat to himself or others. If someone were to act on the depression, or rage, or delusion in a manner indicating they were "dangerous", a temporary injunction against them would be understandable. A permanent negation of their ability to defend themselves and others is ridiculous.

    If I were back in college and doing a paper like that for my degree, I would focus on the undue prohibitions placed on the people in the PP's life. Not many people on this forum seem to realize that prohibiting one person also involves prohibitions on every person that individual comes into contact with. For example, if I were to become a PP, which I am not now, I would not be able to have firearms in my house, thereby affecting everyone living in my house. I could not be in the company of anyone carrying a gun, could not visit in a house where there were guns, could not go with anyone who was at a sporting event or out hunting etc. The designation of being a PP is not limited to the one person who has been labelled, it carries over to every aspect of that person's life and of the people in that person's life. It does not seem to me to be anything close to a "fair" ruling.

    Good luck and have fun with your paper.
     
  9. strat81

    strat81 Member

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    Wasn't homosexuality on the list of APA mental illnesses just 20 or 30 years ago?

    And while this is getting into the philosophical (and may be worth mentioning in your paper), sanity is relative.

    Galileo: crazy
    Christopher Columbus: crazy
    Louis Pasteur: Crazy
     
  10. The Tourist

    The Tourist member

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    A few weeks ago I started a thread on this very issue in another gun forum. I am bipolar.

    The majority of the members in that forum told me I was paranoid because forms like the 4473 use the term "adjudicated." I do not see that disclaimer in your post.

    Obviously, I was diagnosed. I am BP II, which means that I go through a "blue mood" every four years, but I am a superior card player. Like we always say, "Ted Kennedy's one car has killed more people than my entire firearms collection."

    So while I am distinguished retired financial manager and Christian living in an upscale suburban community amid firearms that have never fired a shot in anger in over 30 years, I would immediately be "unfit" by simply moving to Kalamazoo.

    Gee, that's enough to drive someone crazy. :neener:
     
  11. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    That's a great point, Grandpa Shooter. And yeah, I'm still here, just a new name :D

    I had been thinking mostly of concealed carry, but now that I'm seeing that states seem to have a variety of ways of covering the "grey areas" between "normal" and adjudicated, I am going to pull back a bit and survey all the various grey areas and how they are handled.

    Some have gradations: wait five years after an involuntary stay with no adjudication, two years after any mental hospital stay, exception for "observation only" patients. MI just leaves it wide open to exclude any mental illness, with no guidelines, but not for possession, only for carry (which has somewhat fewer lifestyle resctrictions, except of course for the big one, the ability to defend oneself).

    I had been ignoring may issue or no issue states, but I'll expand it to look at all states and all sectors of firearms possession/carry and try to make some sense of the big picture before I settle on a narrow topic to explore.

    I'd love to hear personal experiences, here or via pm, or stories or comments on laws in your state. Of course, I can't merely write a paper deploring the situation; that's just too obvious. Gotta choose a narrow area to analyze, discuss, propose solutions, etc.
     
  12. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    Yes, you would have to check that box on the MI CPL application, and I'm willing to bet it would disqualify you. It's not for all firearms possession--that is just NICS, like in most states, but for concealed carry. It is so maddening that you would be placed in that position in MI.

    I too have some personal experience, which is undoubtedly why this has piqued my interest. My experiences were mostly transient, although there is always that doubt "any mental illness"? I dunno...I was diagnosed once...

    It is a very strange law. Yeah, don't move to Kalamazoo.
     
  13. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

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    Virginia Code § 18.2-308 covers concealed carry. Disqualification due to mental illness is covered in sections E3 and E4. It only applies if you were adjudicated mentally defective, and how long you have to wait after being declared competent before you're again eligible for a permit.
     
  14. TallPine

    TallPine Member

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    You might also look into the MI "commitment" system - they just have a "hearing" right in the hospital and the "judge" is one of their MH "professionals" who is wearing a different hat for a while :uhoh:
     
  15. Blacksmoke

    Blacksmoke Member

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    Grandpa is on the money. The details and definitions are the key. "Mental Illness" is an insubstantive non-medical term. Some conditions that are treated by psychiatry are disabling and some are not. Depression, Panic disorder and Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder are hardly disabling in the legal sense. Psychosis and Psychopathic behavior are two conditions that ought to preclude gun ownership. I imagine there would have to be a hearing before a judge to determine competency before a persons rights can be stripped away. Then that person's name could be entered to a database of "Nuts Without Guns" that could be searched as part of the background checking process.

    I hope you post your paper on this website. It would be highly constructive.
    Good luck!
     
  16. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    Well, I've now had a chance to do some preliminary research:

    Michigan is far from alone in restricting people from a dimension of firearms ownership or use on the basis of such amorphous and ill-defined terms as "mental illness".

    Arkansas restricts those with "...mental infirmity which prevents safe handling of a handgun" as well as those who have attempted or threatened suicide. So far, I've found no indication that it expires--that is, that the state recognizes a person's ability to get well.

    California restricts "present or former mental patients"

    Idaho prohibits from concealed carry only those who are currently mentally ill, but does not limit or further define mental illness at all. Apparently if it's in the DSM-IV and you have it, no permit for you!

    Louisiana stipulates no CCW permits to people with "a mental illness which prevents safe handling of a firearm. Again, no limitations on what those mental illnesses might be. On the whole, it is nice to have it limited. As a parctical matter though, it is a pretty meaningless phrase.

    Mississippi is pretty terse, and pretty bizarre: No CCW's for people with "mental problems"

    Montana says that one carry may be restricted if there is reasonable cause to believe that te applicant "is mentally ill....or otherwise a threat...". Someone needs to get the news to Montana that mentall ill does not equal a threat.

    New Jersey is very generous: to get a FID one must disclose complete mental health history and requires a doctor's certification that disorder is no longer present. A few other states have these medical documentation requirements, which are, ne presumes, neither cheap nor easy to obtain, whether mentally healthy or not.

    Connecticut, by contrast, offers a very well-defined, non-punitive attempt to protect people from themselves. If one recognizes that as a valid state function, then its restrictions limiting those who have "been confined by court order for mental illness within the previous twelve months" is quite reasonable.

    Florida also allows mental disability to lapse after a period of time.

    Nevada also allows CCW to persons once five years has elapsed after a mental hospital stay.

    Well, I gotta go to class now.

    Comments, experiences?
     
  17. Nomad101bc

    Nomad101bc Member

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    How about looking into how many "mentaly ill" concealed carry holders have actually injured or killed someone in a sitaution other than self defense. I am curius if there is even one incident of such happening.
     
  18. Jaenak

    Jaenak Member

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    Some states vary to an extent but the "industry standard" is if you have a history of mental illness you CAN NOT buy a gun or get a concealed carry permit.
     
  19. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    Jaenak: thanks for your comment, but you're incorrect. That's what we're discussing: the extent to which restrictions exist and are useful, fair, and enforceable. Very few states have such a blanket proscription, especially for possession. Most states have no limitations on possession for those with a history of mental illness beyond those imposed by Federal law (adjudication, mentioned by pp's). More states place restrictions on carry, but again, very few have such a blanket proscription.
     
  20. TAB

    TAB Member

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    the other side of that is what about a cancer patient that is in extreme pain and says they want to die, to a medical proffessional... well in CA that would be an instat 51-52 and most likly a 51-50. Now these are not a court determing rahter some one is sane or not, but DRs. Well if they get the 51-52 they are prohibitated for 5 years, the 51-50 is for life. What if they get better? Does that mean becuase they though about killing themselfs in the depth of a very tring event that they should not be allowed to own fire arms for the rest of thier life?
     
  21. Grandpa Shooter

    Grandpa Shooter Member

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    You are getting closer to the big picture!

    Are you starting to see a trend here? As with many other laws pertaining to firearms, the wording of the laws are, in my opinion, purposefully vague. While they may have been well intentioned when passed, they are far too open to interpretation to be uniformly enforced. There is a far difference between the bills which were introduced for consideration and vote, and what actually gets voted into law and enforced. Try getting a consensus among gun owners on what a particular ATF reg is intended to mean, and then look at the history of enforcement.

    It feels wonderful to think to oneself that the laws don't apply to you, yet another reality to discover they indeed do just on the turn of a phrase. When I was "visiting" with a VA psychiatrist on the issue of PTSD, one of the questions he asked was, "Have you ever considered suicide?" I have an MS ED in rehabilitation counseling, and so am very wary of such questions. My reply was blunt, "No, I have never seriously considered suicide." He asked why not. My answer was that it would be a violation of the covenant I have with God. At that point he dropped that line of questioning.

    If I had answered with an unqualified yes, he would have noted it in his report and it very likely would have been reported. The fate of a lot of current or potential gun owners can hang on a very thin thread of meanings.
    A person less versed in terminology could easily have simply said yes and been hung by their own words. To have the wording simply be "mentally ill" is far too vague and inclusive. As I said earlier a woman with PMS and a Vet with what once was called "combat fatigue syndrome" are not necessarily "crazy" or a potential threat to themselves or others.

    Best of luck with your research, and please do keep us informed as it is a critical issue to a lot of us.

    Grandpa
     
  22. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    TAB raises an interesting point. Although I have yet to plumb the depths of the PRK's laws, several states ultimately leave the matter up to a doctor. Many, many doctors are anti-gun. Many doctors think wanting a gun is a sign that one is too crazy to have a gun.

    Personally, while not sharing too much of my own mental health history in a public venue, I would like to comment that I have no idea what my psychiatrist's opinion of guns is. I stopped seeing him about seven years ago, when I stopped taking medication. I wasn't pursuing gun ownership or concealed carry at that time. To go to him, have an evaluation of my current status, and get a letter about my mental health typed up and sent to the state would have been time-consuming and expensive. It can takes a couple months to get an appointment with a decent psychiatrist. If one has moved a substantial distance, one may need to establish a relationship with a new doctor, solely for the purpose of certifying that his services are not needed. And in all those scenarios, if he is anti-gun, it would have been utterly futile.

    All this provides a heavy disincentive to seeking mental health care.
     
  23. BridgeWalker

    BridgeWalker Member

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    Grandpa, I've had that experience several times today--realizing that there are several states in which it would be impossible for difficult for me to get a concealed carry permit.

    You have a point too about those flagging questions. Blanket restrictions on people with mental illness not only prevent some people from seeking treatment, but they also prevent people from being fully open and honest when in treatment.

    The fact is that thinking of suicide, or having thoughts of suicide, is so far from committing suicide that the two cannot really be equated. Most people have transient thoughts of suicide. Most people do not commit suicide. A person should be able to share disturbing thoughts with someone providing medical care without being automatically assumed to be in danger of acting on those thoughts--whether for the next twelve months, the next three years, the next five years, or for the rest of his life.

    Thought crimes....
     
  24. TallPine

    TallPine Member

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    Yeah, you'd have to be crazy to do that ;)
     
  25. Soybomb

    Soybomb Member

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    I hope when the paper is finished you'll share it with us, it sounds like it will be a good read.
     
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