01 February 2008

Statutese

Read part A of the statute:
A. It shall be unlawful for any person involuntarily committed pursuant to [a temporary detention order] to purchase, possess or transport a firearm during the period of such person's commitment. A violation of this subsection shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Let's do a plain reading analysis on that. You can't buy or have a firearm while you are being temporarily detained in order to check your mental state.

Personally, I am very hopeful that my friendly local mental health clinic isn't allowing arms dealers to come in and hand out free samples. This does not make much sense.

The key word here is "during", which sets out a clear time period within which it is illegal to buy or possess a firearm.

During - 1 : throughout the duration of 2 : at a point in the course of

Now let's look at part B of the statute
B. Any person prohibited from purchasing, possessing or transporting firearms under this section may, at any time following his release from commitment, petition the circuit court in the city or county in which he resides to restore his right to purchase, possess or transport a firearm. The court may, in its discretion and for good cause shown, grant the petition.
BUT AFTER HE HAS FINISHED HIS COMMITMENT HE'S NOT FORBIDDEN TO BUY OR HAVE A FIREARM.

Y'know, I get that the members of the General Assembly probably don't have the time to read every statute they vote on. But what the heck are they paying their staffers for? Somebody had to advise the Delegates and Senators that this law made sense and they should vote for it.

If anybody knows a Virginia legislator ask him to please fix this.

6 comments:

Tom McKenna said...

Kenny:

A defense attorney called my attention to this just last Friday. I had to agree with him that section (B) makes no sense in light of the plain meaning of section (A). I'm going to check the earlier versions of this statute to see if it ever made sense. I have to think something got screwed up in an amendment somewhere along the line.

Definitely of some interest given the current climate post-VT shooting.

Ken Lammers said...

It seems pretty obvious that this is supposed to take the right to purchase or have a firearm away when TDO and continue to deny it until restored by a court.

After all, who worries about someone buying a firearm during a TDO?

A should probably read:

A. It shall be unlawful for any person who has been previously involuntarily committed pursuant to [a temporary detention order] to purchase, possess or transport a firearm [deleted]. A violation of this subsection shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Jeff said...

In Rhode Island, (and presumably in other states) you can be involuntarily committed to a day program. (In other words, you live at home, or in a state-provided apartment, and you are required to attend treatment during the day.)

Maybe this is what the statute is intended to cover?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ken, seems to have been mis-written. The intent from the entirety of the law seems to revoke the right until restored. Although Part 1 doesn't say that.

Anonymous said...

Just to add some clarity since this topic has been visited in the years since its posting, the GA indeed took care of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, the General Assembly took care of the problem in and amendment in 2008. Seems that Ken holds some sway with that body.