America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 56

N R A

H. Q.

B U L L E T I N

ILA REPORT
NRA LEGISL ATIVE ACTIVIT Y

Federal Appellate Court Finds
Application Of Gun Control Act
Violates Second Amendment

I

n a groundbreaking opinion examining the Gun Control Act's categorical
prohibition on firearm possession for persons who have been "committed to a
mental institution," the u.s. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit determined the
Second Amendment prohibited application of the ban to an individual who had been
committed 28 years earlier and had no viable option for seeking restoration of his
rights. The case is Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriff 's Department.
Clifford Tyler is a 73-year-old man who does not currently suffer from mental
illness and has no history of violence, unlawful behavior or substance abuse. In 1985,
when Tyler was 45, his then-wife of 23 years left him for another man, depleted
his finances and filed for divorce. Tyler became distraught and suicidal, and he was
involuntarily committed by a Michigan probate court after his daughters called police
for fear of his safety. Less than a month later Tyler was released, and he returned to
the workforce for nearly two decades. A psychologist who evaluated Tyler in 2012
determined the 1985 commitment "appeared to be a brief reactive depressive episode
in response to his wife divorcing him."
Unlike other federal appellate courts, the 6th Circuit evaluated Tyler's claim under
strict scrutiny. This is the highest level of scrutiny in constitutional law that deals
with situations in which the court examines whether the government's regulation
relates to a sufficiently important governmental interest and is sufficiently "tailored"
to achieving that interest. To satisfy strict scrutiny, the government's interest must be
"compelling," and the regulation must be "narrowly" tailored to achieving it.
Before turning to the "means-end" analysis, the court first concluded that the ban
on individuals committed to a mental institution did not have a long pedigree in
American law, noting that mental institutions were virtually unheard of in America at
the time the Second Amendment was adopted.
NRA INSTITUTE for LEGISLATIVE ACTION

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56

America's

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Freedom

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March 2015

With regard to the strict scrutiny
analysis, the government asserted the
interests protected by the prohibition were
"protecting the community from crime"
and "preventing suicide," which the court
readily recognized as compelling. Thus,
the case turned on whether the regulation
was narrowly tailored to that end.
The court found that as applied to
Taylor, it was not. First, unlike other
categorical prohibitions on firearm
possession in the Gun Control Act, the
commitment prohibition could apply to
non-violent, non-criminal individuals,
who were prohibited based on conduct
that was not under their control. The
court also reasoned that Congress did
not intend for all previously committed
people to lose their Second Amendment
rights for life, because it created two
roads to relief. One is a petition process
administered under federal law, and
another is federal recognition of certain
state relief from disability procedures.
In Tyler's case, however, neither option
was available. Congress has defunded the
federal relief procedure since 1992, and
Michigan has not enacted a state relief
procedure that complies with federal law.
Thus, as applied to Tyler, the
prohibition for previously committed
individuals was "overbroad," and
therefore not narrowly tailored. "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," according to the
court's opinion.
The opinion demonstrates the
outcome of a scholarly, inquisitive
analysis of the issue before it.
Unfortunately, few other federal appellate
courts have demonstrated a similar
commitment to a thorough review of
Second Amendment claims, instead
treating the issue with condescension
and superficiality, if not outright
hostility. Indeed, the court itself stated,
"We do not believe that any other court
of appeals in a reasoned opinion has
reviewed a firearm restriction as severe
as this one" (emphasis added).
The 6th Circuit covers portions
of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and
Tennessee.


http://www.NRAILA.org/2015TAGPoll

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - March 2015

Contents
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - CT1
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - CT2
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - Cover1
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - Cover2
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 1
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - Contents
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 3
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 4
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 5
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 6
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 7
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 8
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 9
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 10
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 11
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 12
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 13
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 14
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 15
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 16
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 17
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 18
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 19
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 20
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 21
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 22
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 23
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 24
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 25
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 26
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 27
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 28
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 29
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 30
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 31
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 32
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 33
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 34
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 35
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 36
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 37
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 38
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 39
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 40
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 41
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 42
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 43
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 44
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 45
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 46
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 47
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 48
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 49
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America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 56
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 57
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 58
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 59
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 58b
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 59b
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 58c
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 59c
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 58d
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 59d
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 58e
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 59e
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 58f
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 59f
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 60
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 61
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 62
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 63
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 64
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 65
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - 66
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - Cover3
America's First Freedom - March 2015 - Cover4
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