August 8, 2019 – Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced today an important victory in the federal Second Amendment lawsuit Wilborn v. Attorney General William Barr, et al. The Court’s order granting summary judgment to Mr. Wilborn can be downloaded at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/legal.
The case, which challenged a ban on gun possession that the federal government was imposing against the plaintiff and other individuals under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4), was brought by attorneys Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut, FPC’s Director of Legal Strategy.
“Section 302 of [Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Procedures Act, or “MHPA”] does not meet 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4)’s permanent restriction on an individual’s ability to acquire, possess, or use a firearm,” the Court held. “While Section 302 . . . may be enough to justify an involuntary examination and treatment, the nature of  its non-adversarial ex parte procedure without notice, or opportunity to present evidence, does not constitute an ‘adjudication’ under Section 922(g)(4); nor does Section 302’s 120-hour maximum ‘involuntary emergency examination and treatment’ constitute a ‘commitment to a mental institution’ under Section 922(g)(4).”
Ex parte proceedings, where usually only one side is present or heard by a court, are a major issue in the current nationwide debate over so-called “red flag” laws.
The court ruling continued, “Mr. Wilborn’s brief involuntary emergency examination and treatment under Section 302 of the MHPA does not trigger [18 U.S.C.] Section 922(g)(4) because Mr. Wilborn was never ‘adjudicated as a mental defective’ or ‘committed to a mental institution.’” Thus, it says, the Court finds “that the ex parte decision by a single physician following a Section 302 examination is insufficient to meet the requirements to permanently prohibit Mr. Wilborn from legally acquiring, possessing, or using a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4).”
“This important Court ruling reverses the federal government’s infringement on the rights of potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in Pennsylvania as a result of a mental health evaluation that did not provide due process,” said Chief Counsel Joshua Prince of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C. “We are thankful for this ruling that vindicates our client’s rights and remedies this serious constitutional violation. I hope that this ruling will cause governments at all levels to reassess their laws and proposal to ensure that all people are provided with real due process of law.”
“We are delighted that the Court reached this common-sense decision to protect the fundamental human rights of Pennsylvania gun owners and future gun owners,” said Kraut. “This ruling underscores that due process has been and remains a cornerstone of our Republic.”
“We are thrilled with yet another victory for human rights and individual liberty,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “We look forward to continuing our work of supporting challenges to government infringements, participating in litigation, and providing briefing for important cases throughout the country.”
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom. Gun owners and Second Amendment supporters can join the FPC Grassroots Army at JoinFPC.org.