When he’s on duty, Pennsylvania State Trooper Michael L. Keyes is packing heat. When he’s off duty, he isn’t. That would be a crime.
When on duty, he can carry a gun.
Yet while off duty, he is barred by law from possessing any firearms, because seven years ago he suffered from deep depression, repeatedly tried to kill himself by taking drugs and was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.
Keyes’ latest attempt to be allowed to have a gun all the time was rejected this week by the state Superior Court.
That court upheld an earlier ruling by Perry County Senior Judge Keith B. Quigley that Keyes’ involuntary mental health commitment constitutes an unsurmountable legal barrier to his ability to possess a gun while off duty.
Federal law prohibits Keyes from having a gun off-duty. And President Judge Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott indicated in the court’s opinion that the ban does not breach the 2nd Amendment.
“The dangers inherent in the possession of firearms by the mentally ill are manifest,” the judge wrote. And while Keyes argued that he is no longer mentally ill, “a present clean bill of health is no guarantee that a relapse is not possible,” Ford Eliiott noted.
“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.”
It is “rational” for Keyes to still be allowed to have a gun on-duty because then he is under the supervision and observation of superior officers and his fellow troopers, Ford Elliott concluded.
“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,” she wrote.
Don’t you feel safer knowing that a man who was once involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital because he repeated attempted suicide is now on patrol and carrying a weapon?