MPR 3.5 - Notice of RestrictionsComments for MPR 3.5 must be received no later than August 29, 2008.
New Mental Proceedings Rule 3.5
RCW 9.41.047 was enacted in 1994 as part of an omnibus violence reduction program. See Laws of 1994, 1st Sp. Sess. §§ 101 and 404. This statute provides, in pertinent part, that
At the time a person is . . . committed by court order under RCW 71.05.320, 71.34.090 [recodified in 2005 as RCW 71.34.750], or chapter 10.77 RCW for mental health treatment, the . . .or committing court shall notify the person, orally and in writing, that the person must immediately surrender any concealed pistol license and that the person may not possess a firearm unless his or her right to do so is restored by a court of record. . . . .
The convicting or committing court also shall forward a copy of the person's driver's license or identicard, or comparable information, to the department of licensing, along with the date of conviction or commitment.
Providing committed individuals with information regarding the impact of the commitment upon their ability to possess a firearm is only fair. While the failure to provide such notice may present a defense to a state firearms charge, the federal law recognizes no such defense. See United States v. Milheron, 231 F. Supp. 2d 376, 378-81 (D. Maine 2002) (ignorance of the law is not a defense to prosecution for possession a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4)). Cf. United States v. Napier, 233 F.3d 394 (6th Cir. 2000) (failure to notify the person restrained by a DV order that federal law bars their possession of a firearm is not a defense to federal prosecution for unlawfully possessing a firearm); United States v. Kafka, 222 F.3d 1129, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2000) (same).
Adding a new court rule to the Mental Proceedings Rules that outlines the duties mandated by a statute that is buried in Title 9 RCW, will increase the likelihood that individuals who are committed for mental health treatment will receive information that can assist them in avoiding criminal liability and that the government will receive information that can assist it during gun purchase background checks.
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