[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] that a law prohibiting individuals who have been committed to a mental institution for any amount of time from possessing a firearm is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment [text]. The challenge to the federal gun law arose out of a case involving a man named Clifford Charles Tyler, who was committed to a mental institution for one month 28 years ago, after an emotional divorce from his wife. Although the law in most states provides that a “mentally-disabled” person should be granted relief by the state and his or her gun rights restored “if the circumstances surrounding the disabilities and the person’s record and reputation are such that the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety,” Michigan, the state in which Tyler resides, has not enacted such a relief-from-disabilities program. According to Judge Danny Boggs, who delivered the opinion of the court:
The government’s interest in keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill is not sufficiently related to depriving the mentally healthy, who had a distant episode of commitment, of their constitutional rights.
The court thus decided that the law as it applied to Tyler is unconstitutional.
This court was the first to strike down a federal gun law under the Second Amendment since the Supreme Court [official website] effectively struck down [opinion] Washington, DC’s ban on firearms ownership six years ago. However, mass shootings in Colorado, Connecticut and elsewhere have spurred some state legislatures to create and adopt gun control laws. In August a federal judge for the US District Court for the District of Maryland [official website] upheld [JURIST report] portions of Maryland’s gun control law, which banned certain types of “assault weapons” and a limited gun magazines to 10 rounds, explaining that the law served a legitimate government interest of ensuring public safety. In June a judge for the US District Court for the District of Colorado [official website] upheld [JURIST report] two Colorado statutes that expanded mandatory background checks and banned high capacity magazines.