It sucks to say, but Americans live in constant fear of gun confiscation.
Even Americans who’ve followed all the laws correctly, and dotted every I and crossed every T.
And cases like what happened to people like Alton Franklin support our paranoia.
Alton Franklin is like most normal Americans. He lives in a culture that supports hyper-masculinity and where even a small chink in his armor is perceived as weakness. That’s why in 2002 when he showed up at a police station in need of someone to talk to about a problem he was having he was quickly labeled mentally unfit to own a firearm.
Franklin had recently broken up with his girlfriend. In an act of misguided therapy, he had cut himself on his arms while drunk. While at the police station the officer on duty felt Franklin may be a threat to himself or others and had him involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for 120 hours to help treat him from what they perceived as an obvious mental defect.
Franklin only spent 24 hours in the facility before being released. Since the time of his involuntarily lock up Franking never once exhibited similar behavior. In fact, over the ensuing 15 years, Franklin has lived a very normal life.
He’s received a bachelor’s degree, acquired a paralegal certification and even worked as a corrections officer for the state of Kentucky.
All that withstanding, when he tried to buy a gun in 2013 he was denied possession of a firearm when the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System showed he had an active file which prohibited him from gun ownership.
All that because he spent 1 day in a mental hospital.
Franklin ended up suing to restore his right to own a gun, which ended up being a lengthy ordeal.
And only recently did the courts finally support his ability to own a gun.
Challenging the Pennsylvania record in a county court in 2015, a judge found in his favor, noting that he “no longer suffers from the mental health condition that was the basis of the original civil commitment,” and ordered his firearms rights under state law restored. Nonetheless, the ATF maintained Franklin was still prohibited from possessing firearms under the federal statute even while the state said he wasn’t. To this, the federal court took exception last week, saying he was never “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to a mental institution” as it applied to federal law.
“The decision to submit Mr. Franklin to a 120-hour involuntary mental health examination was made by a police officer, an unspecified officer in the county administrator’s office, and a physician– not a court, board, or commission,” said U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson in his decision, enjoining the government from using the 2002 involuntary emergency treatment against him.
In speaking with The Legal Intelligencer, Prince said the ruling speaks to the constitutionality of stripping a person of their gun rights without due process, and “now sets the foundation for challenging Pennsylvania’s state prohibition on those very grounds.”
Truthfully, this ruling is a huge boost to Americans who are mentally ill but don’t seek treatment out of fear of losing their ability to own a gun.
With as many as 18% of Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, it should be the case that Americans who look to defend themselves with guns should have the support of their government to get treatment without compromising their second amendment rights.
With the right pharmaceuticals and therapy, many of Americans are able to fully rehabilitate and live entirely normal lives that would not interfere with their ability to own and operate a gun without issue.
And this ruling gives support to the notion that even a lengthy stay in a mental institution for weeks or months, it shouldn’t be grounds for denial of gun ownership.