United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
BARRY L. SIMPSON, Plaintiff,
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES and THOMAS E. BRANDON, DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS, and EXPLOSIVES, Defendants.
Jeffrey L. Schmehl, J.
the Court is the motion to dismiss of Defendants, Jefferson
B. Sessions, III, Attorney General of the United
States, and Thomas E. Brandon, Director of the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(hereinafter “Defendants”) (Docket No. 6).
Plaintiff, Barry L. Simpson (hereinafter
“Plaintiff”) has filed an opposition to the
motion, and Defendants have filed a reply.
Complaint asserts an as-applied challenge to the
constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4) under the
Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Having
read the parties' briefing, and after oral argument, for
the reasons that follow, I find that Plaintiff cannot rebut
the presumption that he is disqualified from possessing a
firearm. Therefore, I will grant the motion to dismiss.
law includes “longstanding prohibitions on the
possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill.”
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 635
(2008). Particularly, restrictions provide that any person
who “has been committed to a mental institution”
may not possess firearms or ammunition. 18 U.S.C. § 922
4, 2002, Plaintiff in this case was involuntarily committed
to a mental health institution pursuant to Section 302 of
Pennsylvania's Mental Health Procedures Act
(“MHPA”), 50 Pa. C.S.A. § 7102, which allows
for involuntary emergency examinations and treatment not to
exceed 120 hours. According to Plaintiff's Complaint, on
May 4, 2002, he and his wife were at their Delaware beach
house, where Plaintiff had been drinking and they began to
argue. (Compl., ¶ 9.) Plaintiff directed his wife to
take him home to Lancaster, when they both thought they were
to meet with Plaintiff's doctor, Dr. Russo, at Lancaster
General Hospital, to mediate the argument. (Id.,
¶¶ 10-11.) Upon arrival at the hospital,
Plaintiff's wife executed a Section 302 petition and,
after medical examination, it was determined that Plaintiff
should be admitted to a facility for a period of treatment
not exceeding one hundred and twenty (120) hours.
(Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff was then transferred to
Ephrata Community Hospital and was discharged on May 6, 2002.
(Id., ¶ 13.)
January 7, 2014, Plaintiff petitioned the Court of Common
Pleas of Lancaster County in an effort to expunge the record
of his involuntary commitment and to obtain relief from state
prohibitions on possessing a firearm arising out of his
involuntary commitment. (Docket No. 6, Ex. 1 at 1.) On
September 11, 2015, the Court of Common Pleas issued a
Memorandum Opinion, denying Plaintiff's request to
expunge his records and granting Plaintiff's request to
relieve him of the Pennsylvania firearm disability.
(Id. at 11, 14.) Lastly, the Court denied
Plaintiff's request to “strike the federal
law” and “discharge the federal ban as well,
” because it was not within the state court's
jurisdiction to grant such relief. (Id. at 13-14.)
In denying Plaintiff's request to expunge the record of
his involuntary commitment, the Court stated that the record
supported a finding that he was reasonably found to be
“severely mentally disabled” at the time of his
commitment. (Id. at 11.)
March 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action, alleging
that he has “refrain[ed] from obtaining a firearm
because he reasonably fears” enforcement of 18 U.S.C.
§922(g)(4) “should he follow through with his plan
to obtain a firearm.” (Compl. at ¶ 20.)
Plaintiff's Complaint sets forth a cause of action for
declaratory and injunctive relief for an
“Individualized, as Applied Claim for Relief Right to
Keep and Bear Arms” under the Second Amendment.
(Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.) Plaintiff alleges that
because he is a “responsible, law-abiding American
citizen” and “because of [his] unique personal
circumstances, including the passage of time since his
hospitalization, his law-abiding record over the years, his
trustworthiness with firearms, and the lack of danger that
his possession of firearms would pose, it is unconstitutional
to apply against [him] personally the firearms probation of
18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1).” (Id. at
filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint on June
27, 2016, and after multiple extensions allowing for a
response and a reply brief, oral argument was held on this
issue on October 28, 2016.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A claim satisfies the plausibility standard when the
facts alleged “allow the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Burtch v. Millberg Factors, Inc.,
662 F.3d 212, 220-21 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678).
Court of Appeals requires us to apply a three-step analysis
under a 12(b)(6) motion: (1) “it must ‘tak[e]
note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a
claim;'” (2) “it should identify allegations
that, ‘because they are no more than conclusions, are
not entitled to the assumption of truth;'” and, (3)
“[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
[the] court should assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for
relief.” Connelly v. Lane Construction Corp.,
809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 675, 679); see also Burtch, 662 F.3d at 221;
Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d. Cir.
2011); Santiago v. Warminster Township, 629 F.3d
121, 130 (3d. Cir. 2010).
must address the opinion of the Court of Common Pleas of
Lancaster County that Plaintiff briefly referenced in his
Complaint that was attached by Defendants as an exhibit to
their Motion. “[D]istrict courts are bound not to
‘go beyond the facts alleged in the Complaint and the
documents on which the claims made therein [are]
based.'” Bruni v. City of Pittsburgh, 824
F.3d 353, 360 (3d Cir. 2016)(quoting Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009)). I may,
however, “consider matters of public record, exhibits
attached to the complaint, and undisputedly authentic
documents attached to a motion to dismiss.”
Delaware Nation v. Pennsylvania, 446 F.3d 410, 413
(3d Cir. 2006). Further, “judicial opinions and docket
sheets are public records, of which this court may take
judicial notice in deciding a motion to dismiss.”
Zedonis v. Lynch, 2017 WL 511234, * 3 (M.D. Pa.,
Feb. 8, 2017)(referencing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v.
White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1197 (3d Cir.
1993)). Accordingly, I will take judicial notice of the
opinion of the Honorable Jay J. Hoberg of the Court of Common
Pleas of Lancaster County that was issued on Plaintiff's
state court challenge to the firearms disability, which is
attached as an exhibit to Defendants' motion.
move to dismiss the complaint in its entirety. For the
reasons that follow, I will grant Defendants' motion in