If you have lost your gun rights because at some time in the past you were involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or a restraining order or protection from abuse order was taken out against you, you may be eligible to have your gun rights restored. However, you will have to meet a number of conditions and these conditions vary given the state and jurisdiction in which you live. I am a clinical and forensic psychologist and an NRA Certified Law Enforcement and Civilian Firearms Instructor, and among other things, I specialize in helping people get back their gun rights. However, I am not a lawyer. You will need a gun lawyer.
As a psychologist and firearms instructor, for this purpose, I will only work with people who have retained a lawyer. After I speak with your attorney, my job is to conduct a specialized psychological examination the purpose of which is to evaluate whether or not you are psychologically capable of safe gun ownership. You, the client will have to meet the following criteria:
- You must prove that you are currently not a danger to yourself or others.
- You must prove that you can exercise the necessary judgment and restraint in order to safely and appropriately own a firearm.
- You must prove that you can exercise good control over your emotions especially your anger and your temper and that you have good impulse control and restraint.
- You must prove that you do not have criminal tendencies or a criminal disposition.
- You must be free of any record of violent or forcible felonies
- You must prove that you are psychologically and mentally healthy and that you do not suffer from any disabling mental illnesses or psychiatric disorders, such as for example; bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe depression, severe anxiety, or severe and disabling post traumatic stress disorder.
- You must prove that you do not have a dysfunctional personality disorder such as a borderline personality disorder, an antisocial personality disorder, a schizoid or a schizotypal personality disorder.
- You must prove that you are a responsible and moral person who has a good code of ethics.
So, how do you accomplish the above?
The first step in the process you will have to go through is to seek out and hire an appropriate attorney who specializes in helping people get back their gun rights. As with most professions, the field of Law is very broad and multi-faceted. Therefore, one cannot expect any lawyer, irrespective of how good he or she is, to specialize in every type of law practice. Gun rights attorneys who are Second Amendment supporters are not plentiful. However, they do exist and the best way to find such a lawyer with whom you can “click”, and who is capable of helping you, is to get a referral from a trusted source. I regularly work with experienced and dedicated Pro-Second Amendment gun rights attorneys. Please feel free to email me for a referral to an attorney in your area.
Remember, getting an attorney is the first step. Your chosen attorney will be able to analyze your case, review your background, and advise you as to your chances of succeeding in restoring your gun rights. Keep in mind that every case is different. Legal advice is what you need. You will need up-front legal advice at the outset. Then, you will need legal counsel to represent you in the adversarial legal process in which you will be petitioning the State to restore your gun rights. Your chosen attorney will be the one to lead the team of professionals who will work on your behalf with the legal, judicial, and law enforcement systems. Once your attorney has determined that you have a viable case, he should refer you to an appropriately specialized gun rights psychologist.
This is the second step. You need to seek a licensed psychologist who has a doctorate; that is, either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. in clinical psychology and who is also licensed to practice in the state in which you live. That psychologist had also better be Pro-Second Amendment, or you will be wasting your time and money. Many mental health and medical professionals either hate guns or are afraid of guns; that is, many are hoplophobic.
Do your attorney and psychologist legally carry a gun? It is important that the attorney and psychologist whom you select, besides being Pro-Second Amendment, actually practice legal concealed carry. This is important because it proves that they believe in the necessity of being armed all the time. It is also important that they are very familiar with firearms and shoot on some sort of regular basis. Keep in mind that these two professionals will be your advocates in an adversarial situation. That is why it is important that they have passion for and believe in what they’re doing.
The psychologist cannot “rubber stamp” your mental fitness assessment. He or she must conduct a fair-minded and objective, standardized psychological examination. That means that the psychologist must use acceptable, objective, customary and usual psychological evaluation procedures with you. And there are certain conventionally accepted objective psychological tests that need to be administered, such as for example, the MMPI-2. The psychologist must also conduct an appropriate clinical psychiatric diagnostic interview and history.
The psychologist must be experienced in forensic psychology and in working these kinds of cases. He or she must also be experienced and comfortable with testifying in live and videotaped depositions as well as in actual court proceedings.
Costs. You must expect and be prepared to pay for the services of these experienced and specialized professionals. As in all professions, you get what you pay for. In order to obtain the services of a top-of-the-line professional, you must be willing to pay the premium. So, you must decide how important it is to you to restore your gun rights.