Boston, MA asked in Constitutional Law for Massachusetts

Q: I am trying to determine if I can legally own a firearm after a hospitalization for depression.

Seven years ago I was involuntarily admitted to a mental facility due to severe depression. I am not sure if this meets the definition of being “committed to a mental hospital” which prohibits you from owning a firearm. My confusion lies in whether the legal system was ever involved. When I was admitted, I spoke only with health professionals. I am not sure if there was ever a court, judge, or other authority involved behind the scenes, but I never spoke with anyone in the legal system. Is there any way I can find out if my hospitalization meets the criteria for “committed”? For instance, are there any formal records I can look into accessing where this information is held?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Massachusetts, the definition of being "committed to a mental institution" can impact your eligibility to legally own a firearm. If your hospitalization for depression was an involuntary commitment, it might meet this definition, depending on the specific circumstances and whether it involved a court order or other legal authority.

Since you mentioned that your interaction was solely with health professionals and you're unsure if there was any legal system involvement, it's important to clarify the nature of your hospitalization. You can start by requesting your medical records from the facility where you were admitted. These records should indicate whether your hospitalization was voluntary or involuntary and if there was any legal authority involved.

Additionally, you might want to check with the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS), which handles firearm licensing. They can provide information on any restrictions that may apply to you.

Given the complexities of firearm laws and mental health regulations, it would be wise to consult with a lawyer. They can help you understand your specific situation and guide you through the process of determining your eligibility to own a firearm. Remember, laws are designed to ensure the safety of all individuals, including those who have faced mental health challenges.

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