An involuntary mental health commitment is a life changing event in many ways. When it comes to your right to possess a firearm, an involuntary commitment means you are prohibited from possessing firearms forever. The ability to expunge those records is extremely difficult. In the past, if you had a commitment under section 303 or 304 of the mental health code, there was no way to restore your firearm rights completely. While there was an avenue of relief under PA law, that relief was not recognized under federal law.
As of very recently, there is a new mechanism to restore your rights if you are prohibited from possessing firearms due to involuntary mental health examination, treatment or commitment in Pennsylvania. By filing a petition in the Court of Common Pleas under 18 Pa.C.S. 6105 (f), the court can restore your rights if it determines that “the applicant may possess a firearm without risk to the applicant or any other person.”
As state above, this method could only restore your Pennsylvania rights because the federal government had long refused to recognize this kind of restoration. Consequently, you could have restored your Pennsylvania rights, yet remain prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law.
In a positive turn of events, on July 1, 2019, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“BATFE” or “ATF”) officially issued a Certification of Qualifying State Relief from Disabilities Program. Through this decision, BATFE has determined that the Pennsylvania Relief from Disabilities under 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f) will be recognized as relieving that person’s disabilities under 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4) and (g)(4). As a result of this positive change in the law, those who seek relief from their Pennsylvania firearms disability under 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f) can also simultaneously restore their federal rights if successful.
A successful petition under 6105(f) will restore your rights to own and possess firearms, however, the records will not be expunged. That means that the records of your commitment will still exist.
If you have suffered a loss of your firearms rights because of a brief involuntary commitment under section 302, please fill out the form below today to start working to get your rights restored.