If you ever needed clinical proof that our nation’s gun laws are certifiably insane, here’s a prime example. A Pennsylvania State Trooper, who carries a gun on a daily basis while enforcing the laws of the Commonwealth is federally prohibited from carrying – or even possessing – a firearm while off-duty with no way to restore his firearms rights. Ever. Of course, there are two ways of looking at any story. The first paragraph is only the nice way of describing this gun law fustercluck. If you’re more cynical (like me), read on . . .
Michael L. Keyes is a PA State Trooper with a history of mental illness. Seven years ago he repeatedly tried to kill himself by overdose and was involuntarily committed. After a year of mental health treatment, he was cleared by his psychiatrist and started a long legal battle to get his job back. An arbitrator ordered the Pennsy State Police to return him to limited duty and the State Police lost their appeal of that decision in 2010. If that doesn’t sound fishy enough for you, Keyes also won $16,000 in back pay. And he’s been allowed to carry a gun while on duty ever since.
But a Pennsylvania appeals court just ruled that Keyes’ involuntary commitment constitutes a permanent and irrevocable revocation of his right to possess firearms while off-duty. Judge Kate Ford Elliott wrote that this lifetime ban was reasonable under the 2nd Amendment because…
“Given the extreme potential harm attendant to the possession of deadly weapons by the mentally ill, and the risk of relapse,” the judge wrote, “we see an important government interest in controlling the availability of firearms for those who have ever been adjudged mentally defective or have ever been committed to a mental institution but are now deemed to be cured.”
So it’s too dangerous to trust a once-committed person with a gun . . . but it’s rational for the Pennsylvania State Police to issue him a government-owned gun every morning? According to Judge Elliott, this makes perfect sense:
“Were [Keyes] to again fall into a depressive state with suicidal ideation, it would be much more likely to be discovered while he is on-duty and his superiors could then restrict his access to state police firearms.”
Yeah, just like they tried to do years ago? Before the Police Union arbitrator ordered them to put him back on the job? Judge Elliott must have unique mental, er, skills to be so cognitively flexible. Michael Keyes cannot be trusted with a gun, so we’re going to put him back in a uniform and hand him a firearm?
Nicely done, your honor. I’m not much of a lyricist or songwriter myself, but Gilbert and Sullivan had a field day with judges like you.
Read more at the Central Pennsylvania Patriot-News.