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Greensburg, PA 15601-2300
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House Committee Approves Nelson Bill Addressing Gun Rights of the Mentally Ill
6/19/2018
HARRISBURG – The House Judiciary Committee today reported out legislation sponsored by Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Hempfield) that would balance the right to bear arms with the need to prevent those with mental health issues from possessing firearms.

“The mental health exclusion for possessing a firearm can cause a person or their family to not seek treatment,” Nelson said. “We need to remove this barrier to help. Instead, the focus should be on assisting people to get the treatment they need. Once they are recovered, the issue of possession of firearms can be dealt with separately. Of the 23,000 involuntary commitments last year, after evaluation about 9,000 of those were found to have no mental health issues. However, they still all lost their Second Amendment rights forever. This means no hunting or sporting with their children or grandchildren.

“I have worked with all stakeholders to reach a balanced, common ground to remove mental health from the Second Amendment business and enable full focus on treatment,” Nelson added. The bill has received support from the National Rifle Association, CeaseFirePA and Firearm Owners Against Crime. In addition, he worked with county mental health and addiction recovery professionals during drafting of the legislation.

House Bill 2463 would remove the prohibition against firearm possession for those subjected to emergency involuntary mental health treatment. Next, the bill would establish a procedure for a person ineligible to possess a firearm due to a mental health issue to have the person’s rights reinstated. Third, the bill would require anyone subject to an emergency involuntary mental health commitment to face a six-month prohibition against owning a firearm. This prohibition would automatically expire after six months. Finally, the bill would require the Pennsylvania State Police to send to the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) within 72 hours any record relevant to a determination of whether a person has had his or her Second Amendment rights restored or disqualified due to an adjudication of incompetency or an involuntary commitment.

“For some, decades have passed since they received important mental health care,” Nelson said. “They are on firm footing now and should no longer have a lifetime ban. For others, they will continue to need mental health assistance and should not possess a firearm. My bill strikes a balance between the two.

“Furthermore, by bringing Pennsylvania in line with federal standards for restoration of Second Amendment rights, Pennsylvania will receive federal funding that it does not get due to current law,” Nelson added. “This change makes sense on all sides.”

The bill now goes to the full House for its consideration.

The 57th Legislative District includes the following Westmoreland County communities: the city of Greensburg; the townships of Hempfield (part) and Salem; and the boroughs of Delmont, Hunker, New Stanton, South Greensburg, Southwest Greensburg and Youngwood.

Representative Eric Nelson
57th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tracy Polovick
717.260.6358
RepNelson.com / Facebook.com/RepNelson

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