State trooper can’t have gun while off duty due to mental health record

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Freddy’s Note:

This makes absolutely no sense. Either he should be allowed a gun all the time or not at all. It makes no sense that he can carry a gun when he works as a Polcie Officer, but not when he  off-duty.

Pennsylvania State Trooper Michael L. Keyes is in an odd situation.

When on duty, he can carry a gun.

Yet while off duty, he is barred by law from possessing any firearms, because seven years ago he suffered from deep depression, repeatedly tried to kill himself by taking drugs and was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.

Keyes’ latest attempt to be allowed to have a gun all the time was rejected this week by the state Superior Court.

That court upheld an earlier ruling by Perry County Senior Judge Keith B. Quigley that Keyes’ involuntary mental health commitment constitutes an unsurmountable legal barrier to his ability to possess a gun while off duty.

An attempt to reach Keyes’ attorney, Joshua Prince, for comment on the case wasn’t successful Thursday. Keyes has been involved in legal battles ever since completing his mental health treatment. He also had to fight to be reinstated to the state police.

He was serving as a state trooper in Newport, when he was placed on temporary leave and ordered into mental health treatment in 2006. He finished treatment in less than a year and had to battle to get his job back, even after his doctor cleared him to go back to work.

An arbitrator’s decision ordering his return to limited duty was fought by the state police, but ultimately was upheld by Commonwealth Court. The state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that ruling, and he was placed back on duty in 2010. In 2012, Commonwealth Court also ordered that Keyes be awarded nearly $16,000 in back pay.

Keyes began battling for full reinstatement of his ability to carry firearms in 2008. The problem, according to court filings, is that the federal Gun Control Act bars those who have been subject to involuntary mental health commitments from possessing guns.

In its ruling issued Tuesday, the Superior Court found there is no way for Keyes to have the record of his involuntary mental health commitment expunged. That means Keyes cannot surmount the federal ban on his having a gun off-duty, President Judge Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott wrote in the state court’s opinion.

That prohibition does not amount to a breach of Keyes’ rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Ford Elliott found, because it applies only to an “extremely small” class of citizens and has a solid public safety basis.

“The dangers inherent in the possession of firearms by the mentally ill are manifest,” the judge wrote. And while Keyes argued that he is no longer mentally ill, “a present clean bill of health is no guarantee that a relapse is not possible,” Ford Eliiott noted.

“Given the extreme potential harm attendant to the possession of deadly weapons by the mentally ill, and the risk of relapse,” the judge wrote, “we see an important government interest in controlling the availability of firearms for those who have ever been adjudged mentally defective or have ever been committed to a mental institution but are now deemed to be cured.”

It is “rational” for Keyes to still be allowed to have a gun on-duty because then he is under the supervision and observation of superior officers and his fellow troopers, Ford Elliott concluded.

“Were [Keyes] to again fall into a depressive state with suicidal thoughts it would be much more likely to be discovered while he is on-duty and his superiors could then restrict his access to state police firearms,” she wrote.

The Next Gun Rights Assault

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Freddy’s Note: This is the slippery Slope Approach. Once in place, they they ad new classifications.  For example, if you think you need guns to protect you from the government, then you are paranoid an get put on the list. This is important, so i am reprinting this article from Jeff Know of the Firearms Coalition.

by Jeff Knox  ©2013 The Firearms Coalition, all rights reserved. Reprinting, posting, and distributing permitted with inclusion of this copyright statement. http://www.FirearmsCoalition.org.

Rights advocates around the country need to be on the lookout for an insidious new tactic being launched by Mike Bloomberg and his mercenary minions. Their latest line of attack is mental health. This actually isn’t so much a new approach as a refocusing and turbo charging of an older plan.

The strategy is to use the wide acceptance of the idea that the mentally ill should not have access to firearms, as a front for prohibiting a broad array of “normal” people from possessing guns or ammunition. As with most things, the devil is in the details. What is mental illness? Who is mentally ill? How mentally ill must one be to warrant revocation of a fundamental human right? Who makes that determination? Who is “normal,” and how “normal” do they have to be to own guns?

Recently, one of Bloomberg’s pet politicians, Ralph Northam, whom Bloomberg spent over a million dollars to get elected as Lt. Governor of Virginia, spelled out the plan during a “gun violence” symposium. The event turned out to be a gun control meeting discussing a strategy of trickery and deception to get firearm restrictions passed through legislatures by hiding it in bills dealing with mental health. My friend Philip Van Cleave, the President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, was at the meeting and reported that Northam was very candid about the plan and the sneak attack strategies for bypassing committees and public comment, and preventing rights groups from being able to mount opposition until it’s too late. He particularly lauded the Connecticut and New York models where both states used “emergency” legislation to pass draconian bills with no hearings, no committee votes, and no public input. He also discussed strategies to gain support from rights leaders by quietly negotiating deals to keep a bill “clean” and leave out overt anti-rights provisions, while concealing the provisions that seriously threaten rights.

It isn’t often that we hear anti-rights extremists openly admitting their true strategies and objectives. Someone has probably since suggested to Mr. Northam that the first rule in executing an effective, secret plan might be to not announce the details of the plan in advance. Thankfully that advice can only come too late because the cat’s out of the bag and rights advocates are mobilizing.

VCDL is taking a very smart approach to this challenge. They have already begun assembling a working group of mental health professionals and civil rights attorneys to review all mental health-related legislation and make recommendations. Other grass roots organizations will undoubtedly be following their example and seeking out knowledgeable assistance. The ACLU, a group, which has historically shown animosity or indifference towards the Second Amendment, is seriously concerned about threats to privacy, due process, and equal protection that often arise in mental health bills, and they could be an important ally in the coming fights.

While this anti-rights sneak attack is just getting underway, you can be sure it is well planned and well-funded, so expect to see a flood of bills dealing with mental health in general, and firearms access by the mentally ill in particular, introduced in Congress and state legislatures nationwide in the coming months. These bills will be promoted as “common sense,” but they will contain definitions so broad that hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of regular folks who have been, or are being, successfully treated for common, minor, mental and emotional issues will be denied their right to arms as “mental defectives.” People suffering from mild depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, even women treated for PMS, could be lumped in with violent schizophrenics and the criminally insane.
In Connecticut, they banned firearm possession by anyone who voluntarily checks themselves into a mental health facility for any reason. While that ban is temporary for now, expect it to be incrementally increased in the future, just as the new law increased the duration of bans for people involuntarily committed. The result of the prohibition for voluntary commitments will undoubtedly be that some people who should remove themselves from the troubles of the outside world for a time to get needed help, will choose to forgo that option rather than be treated like a criminal. This is of particular concern for our returning veterans.

Rights advocates are going to have to be extremely diligent to catch the threats that are on the way. One advantage we have is the arrogance of our opponents. Just as Northam arrogantly described the sneaky plan – without anyone in the “legitimate” media taking note of the proposed chicanery – expect Mike Bloomberg to make his support for the bad bills rather obvious. An easy way to tell if any legislation is bad – or at least that it deserves extra scrutiny – will be support from Bloomberg and his various front organizations.
Liberty is a never-ending struggle. Be prepared to respond to these bills, and take action now to warn your elected representatives about the coming sneak attacks.