Proposes to expand mental health definitions and violate rights...

Nobody wants those who are a danger to themselves or others to possess firearms or other weapons. Based on a long history of supporting gun control, it is clear that neither the head of ATF & DOJ, Attorney General Eric Holder or his boss, President Obama want even sane Americans to bear effective weapons that enable them to defend themselves and their families.

This makes it unsurprising that they are now proposing to expand the definition of "mental defective" and "committed to a mental institution" to capture more Americans, most of whom pose no danger to themselves or others. Spurred by Obama’s Executive Order, the ATF is now proposing changes that will increase the number of prohibited persons under federal law by expanding the statutory definitions of both "mental defective" and "committed to a mental institution."

Expansion of “committed to an institution” is the most problematic feature of ATF’s proposal. In 1996 the ATF defined this phrase as: "A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily, and for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term currently does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution.

The ATF rule changes will expand this definition to explicitly include both inpatient and outpatient commitments to treatment – making it conceivable every American that receives any sort of mental health assistance would become subject to having Second Amendment rights revoked, if mental health professionals turn to the courts to enforce their treatments.

This might include veterans with a history of PTSD, citizens who have suffered from ergot or other food poisoning, citizens suffering temporary depression following death of a family member or other tragedy that every person experiences from time-to-time.

ATF will claim that they have no intention of applying expanded definitions to cases such as these. Intentions don’t matter. Definitions do. Expansive definitions that are threats to fundamental liberty WILL be used by malicious regulators as soon as the political climate allows.

GRNC Submits Official Comment

ATF is currently soliciting comments on it's proposed rulemaking. This comment period will remain open through April 7. GRNC Director of Legal Affairs, Edward H. Green, III, Esq., and GRNC President Paul Valone have submitted a detailed analysis of the problems with ATF's plans. You can read their expose HERE.

GRNC Supporters Are Urged to Comment

ATF must consider citizen input before it makes the types of regulatory changes currently proposed. They have set-up a website (linked to below) to collect comments. We must take advantage of this opportunity to flood them with commonsense input. As mentioned above, the comment period will close April, 7, so time is of the essence. For the sake of the mental health of Americans, they need to focus on those who are a danger to themselves or others. Their current proposal will discourage citizens from seeking appropriate treatment for problems that are not related to dangerous behavior. Using the mental health system to revoke rights of those who are not dangerous is insane!


  • Submit a comment summarizing problems with ATF’s proposed rule (Docket No. ATF 51P): Definition of Adjudicated as a Mental Defective and Committed to a Mental Institution.

  • Help GRNC continue to defend your rights by joining and/or donating HERE or go to:

Contact Information

Use the “” web form to submit your comment HERE.

If your browser doesn't take you immediately to the comment entry page, enter "ATF 51P" in the search box. Find the result, "Definition of Adjudicated as a Mental Defective and Committed to a Mental Institution" and click the "Comment Now!" button.


Use the copy/paste message below to complete the Comment section of the web form. You may need to search for ATF 51P.

Docket No. ATF 51P

Comment on proposed redefinition of “committed to a mental institution”

The ATF proposes to dramatically expand the interpretation of the statutory phrase “committed to a mental institution” from its common-sense meaning of inpatient commitment to a mental health facility, to also include – without limitation or differentiation of any kind – all forms of outpatient commitment to mental health services.

Rather than the indiscriminate and overbroad sweep of making every subject of an outpatient commitment a prohibited person under the GCA, the statutory phrase “committed to a mental institution” should be interpreted to encompass individuals found to pose a danger to themselves or others, and upon whom some form of mental health treatment is judicially imposed.

Revoking rights of those directed to find treatment on an outpatient basis will discourage citizens from seeking intervention, generally harming the mental health of Americans.

You may think that expansive and imprecise definitions are not a problem because ATF does not intend to apply them broadly. History repeatedly demonstrates that if a rule can be interpreted to restrict freedom, it will be. Americans have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Any suspension of this right must remain subject to the most careful due process and strictest scrutiny possible. Restrictions must be tailored to directly address the problem at hand – which in this case is those deemed a threat to themselves or others.

It is the goal of every sane American to prevent dangerous people from possessing weapons. Expanding definitions does not directly address this issue, and creates other problems that will further degrade the US mental health system. It is a poor approach that will do more damage than good. This proposal should be rejected.

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