Appeal from the Order entered January 11, 2011, in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Criminal Division, at No. 2010-2677.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Allen, J
BEFORE: MUSMANNO, ALLEN, and MUNDY, JJ.
In this case, J.C.B. ("Appellant") was denied a permit to purchase a hunting rifle by the Pennsylvania State Police, based on a mental health record indicating a prior involuntary commitment. On appeal, Appellant challenges the order denying the expungement of his mental health record and the reinstatement of his firearm rights, and presents a constitutional challenge to 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105(c)(4) of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act. Finding no trial court error of law, we affirm.
The trial court recounted the pertinent facts of this case as follows:
The above-referenced case came before the Court on a Petition to restore firearm rights pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f)(1) and to expunge mental health record of the petitioner, [J.C.B.], pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.1(g)(2).
In April of 2007, [Appellant] went to Sewickley Valley Hospital emergency room for pain he was experiencing in his foot. [Appellant] told the emergency room nurse that he had tried to commit suicide the night before and that he was depressed. [Appellant] was involuntarily committed based on the petition of said nurse and pursuant to 50 P.S. § 7302. The nurse's petition stated, "[Appellant] is very depressed and last p.m. put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger but no bullet came out. He presents today at the [E.R.] very depressed." [Appellant] was then seen by the attending physician whose emergency department report mirrors the report of the nurse and adds, "[Appellant] has expressed suicidal thoughts and wishes to me, especially holding a gun to his head and pulling the trigger."
The physician also stated [Appellant] had stopped taking his Lexapro. From his examination, the physician found [Appellant] to be "severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment," as the statute requires. 50 P.S. § 7301. The discharge diagnosis was major-depression-moderate-recurrent, alcohol abuse and prior history of opiate abuse in partial remission. [Appellant] denies putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
At the hearing, [Appellant] had a board certified psychiatrist testify that [Appellant] did not present a risk to himself or others as is required by 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f)(1).
However, the doctor made this statement without the knowledge of [Appellant's] involuntary commitment as stated above and without seeing any of the medical records from the involuntary commitment. The doctor stated at the hearing that knowledge of said event would increase [Appellant's] potential risk of harm to himself. Trial Court Opinion, 9/24/10, at 1-2.
On appeal, Appellant raises the following issues for our review:
I. Did the lower court properly interpret the Firearm
Prohibition Statute, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105(c)(4), when it found the physician's certification required to invoke a firearm prohibition was executed by an emergency room doctor conducting the initial exam under § 7302(b) of the Mental Health Procedures Act and not by the examining psychiatrist?
II. If the lower court properly interpreted 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105(c)(4), does it violate constitutional rights to procedural due process, substantive due process, right to ...