from the Order Entered December 28, 2018 in the Court of
Common Pleas of York County Civil Division at No(s):
BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., MURRAY, J. and STRASSBURGER, J. [*]
Jr. (Appellant) appeals from the December 28, 2018 order that
denied his petition for restoration of firearm rights,
wherein Appellant sought to have his firearm rights restored
under 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f)(1). We affirm.
has twice been committed involuntarily for treatment pursuant
to 50 P.S. § 7302 (section 302) of the Mental Health
Procedures Act (MHPA). First, in 2003, Appellant presented at
the hospital via emergency medical services (EMS) as having
overdosed. See Pennsylvania State Police (PSP)
Exhibit 1, at 7. The treating physician noted that Appellant
was "tired of the pain - has referred to suicidal
ideation[, section] 302 petition reviewed. [Appellant]
clearly aching to harm himself and possibly others (wife has
concerns)[, plus] gun in house." Id.
"Under 'treatment needed' the doctor noted
' admit/ tx [sic] possible medication.'
Finally, the doctor concluded that '[t]he patient is
severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment[, ]'
and directed [Appellant's] admission for a period not to
exceed 120 hours." Order Denying Motion for Relief,
12/28/2018, at 2, citing PSP Exhibit 1, at 7.
2005, Appellant once again presented at the emergency room
and was subsequently involuntarily committed for a second
time. See PSP Exhibit 2. The physician set forth the
following findings, as summarized by the trial court:
[T]he doctor not[ed] that "[Appellant] has a history of
violence. [Appellant] was disoriented, agitated[, ] and
having visual hallucinations at time of admission." The
doctor suspected [a] possible [b]enzodiazepine withdrawal.
The doctor recommended "inpatient psychiatric therapy to
gain insight about depression/anxiety/painkiller addiction.
Needs to work on anger management, as well as impulse
control." Finally, this doctor also concluded that
[Appellant] was severely mentally disabled and in need of
Order Denying Motion for Relief, 12/28/2018, at 3,
citing PSP Exhibit 2, at 7 (unnecessary
2, 2017, Appellant filed a petition in which he sought
expungement of his mental health records pursuant to 18
Pa.C.S. § 6111.1 or alternatively, restoration of his
firearm rights pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f)(1),
based upon the claim that his involuntary commitments were
improper. A hearing was set before the Honorable John S.
Kennedy on July 24, 2017. On that day, Appellant withdrew his
request for expungement, seeking instead to "focus"
solely on the restoration of his firearm rights. N.T.,
7/24/2017, at 4.
addition to testifying on his own behalf, Appellant presented
the testimony of his wife, S.G. Both parties testified that
Appellant's prior troubles and commitments were due to a
host of medications Appellant was prescribed after a work
injury, which he subsequently began to misuse. Id.
at 6-9, 17-18. Both Appellant and S.G. testified that
Appellant stopped taking pain medications in 2005 and
Appellant has not had any issues since. Id. at 8-9,
11, 18-19. Appellant was in therapy for a few years after the
2005 commitment, but S.G. testified Appellant had not
"seen anybody since 2008[.]" Id. at 14. In
addition to the foregoing, Appellant also testified about two
separate incidents where there were confrontations between
store clerks and Appellant, in which the police were
called. Id. at 30-31. At the conclusion
of the hearing, the trial court stated that it would defer
its decision, and the record in this matter would remain
open, pending the inclusion of a report from a psychologist
or psychiatrist, which the trial court directed Appellant to
submit. Id. at 33-34.
September 20, 2018, Appellant submitted a psychological
report from a privately-retained practice. The evaluator
opined that "[c]urrently, [Appellant] is not
experiencing significant psychological distress that would
cause him to be a harm to himself or to others" and that
at the time of the evaluation, Appellant did not "have
suicidal or homicidal ideation and [was] not a risk to
others." Psychological Evaluation, 9/20/2018, at 5
(unnumbered). The evaluator further concluded that the
"reinstatement of his gun permit does not increase this
risk." Id. The evaluator did, however, state
that Appellant would, inter alia, "benefit from
psychotherapy sessions" with the hopes of "learning
coping and relaxation strategies to alleviate
[Appellant's] anxiety symptoms." Id.
second hearing was held on December 20, 2018. Again, Appellant
and S.G. testified. Appellant reiterated that his
"problems" stemmed from his prior addiction to pain
medication. N.T., 12/20/2018, at 15. In addition to
testifying about his previous commitments, Appellant also
testified that he is currently taking, inter alia,
two anti-anxiety medications, an antidepressant, and a sleep
aid. Id. at 22. No other witnesses were called.
After the hearing, and upon review of the record and
applicable filings, the trial court entered an order denying
the motion. Appellant timely filed a notice of
appeal, Appellant claims that the trial court erred in
concluding that Appellant failed to present sufficient
evidence to sustain his burden that Appellant was "fit
to possess firearms pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. §
6105(f)(1)." Appellant's Brief at 4 (unnecessary
Our well-settled standard of review in cases involving a
motion for expunction is whether the trial court abused its
discretion. However, [q]uestions of evidentiary sufficiency
present questions of law; thus, our standard of review is
de novo and our scope of review is plenary. In
conducting sufficiency review, we must consider the evidence