Blacksburg, VA asked in Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and Health Care Law for Virginia

Q: How are a spouse's gun rights affected by involuntary detention for mental health?

My spouse was involuntarily committed for mental health several years ago. He is planning to petition for restoration of his right. If he is denied, can I legally purchase a gun as long as I keep it in a biometric safe that he cannot access? Do I have any alternatives so that my right is not infringed?

2 Lawyer Answers
David G. Parker
David G. Parker pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Richmond, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Your rights are not infringed by the statutes governing your spouse. That being said, you ought to take reasonable precautions to secure any firearms so that your possession of them is exclusive and is not a de facto possession by your spouse. It sounds like you are on the right track, both in terms of your spouse filing a petition and your consideration of a biometric safe. Remember that if your spouse's petition is denied by the district court he may petition the Circuit Court and make another attempt at restoration of his rights. Good luck!

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: If your spouse was involuntarily committed for mental health reasons, federal law, specifically the Gun Control Act of 1968, generally prohibits them from possessing firearms. In Virginia, your spouse can petition the court to have this right restored, but the process can be complex and the outcome is not guaranteed.

Regarding your rights, you are generally allowed to purchase and own a firearm. However, ensuring that your spouse does not have access to the firearm is crucial, as possession or access by a prohibited person can lead to legal complications for both of you.

Using a biometric safe that only you can open is a prudent step to prevent access by your spouse. It's important to ensure that he has no means to open the safe or access the firearm, as any perceived access could potentially lead to legal issues.

If your spouse's petition is denied, and you still wish to own a firearm, consult with a legal expert to fully understand the implications and ensure that you remain compliant with all relevant laws. It's crucial to balance your rights with the legal restrictions imposed on your spouse to avoid any unintended legal consequences.

Remember, the laws regarding firearms and mental health are designed to ensure safety for individuals and the community. Navigating these laws requires careful consideration and, often, legal guidance.

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