Restoring Your Firearms Rights
People often call our office about expunging involuntary mental health commitments to which they’ve been made subject. Such commitments disqualify the person committed from possessing firearms under state and federal law. However, the statute of limitations on a petition to expunge is six years from the date the commitment was certified by the committing physician. In such a case, it’s too late to file a petition to expunge.
However, there is an available alternative: It’s a petition to restore firearms rights under Pennsylvania’s version of the Uniform Firearms Act. Under Section 6105(f) (1) of the UFA, the court may grant such relief as it deems appropriate if the court determines that the applicant may possess a firearm without risk to the applicant or any other person. Note the use of the word “may.” The court is not required to grant such relief; it has discretion to do so, and its decision will only be overturned for an abuse of that discretion. There is no guarantee of receiving relief.
Under a Section 6105(f) (1) petition, the records from the commitment, if still available, are relevant to the petition, and will be submitted to the court. The passage of a significant period of time between the commitment and the petition generally favors granting the petition. Often, a commitment is the result of a statement made or action taken at a moment in time, the result of some particularly strong stressor, and not indicative of a persistent condition.
My goal is to present to the court a person who is peaceable, reliable, and responsible. Character witnesses can be important in proving those facts.
Section 6105(f) (1) concerns a state procedure, which is designed to restore state firearms rights. There is also a federal provision, under which the FBI and the ATF will recognize the decision of a qualifying state procedure.
If you’d like to have your firearms rights, but are outside the six-year statute of limitations, contact our office for an initial consultation at 717-657-7770.