Mental health weapons prohibition: demographic and psychiatric factors in petitions for relief

J Forensic Sci. 2008 Jul;53(4):971-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2008.00756.x.


Federal law and most states prohibit possession of firearms by individuals with a history of certain psychiatric diagnoses and/or treatment. In California, an involuntary 72-h hold can trigger a 5-year ban on firearm possession. Individuals so prohibited may petition for early termination of the ban. We report on the demographic and psychiatric characteristics of a sample of individuals petitioning for early relief in Los Angeles County, and on the results of their petitions. The majority of petitioners were Caucasian men over age 40. Sixteen percent of petitioners were employed in law enforcement or armed security, and all of their petitions were granted. Individuals for whom there was greater evidence of mental disorder were significantly less likely to petition successfully. The results are discussed in terms of the benefits of involving a forensic expert in the petition process, which is not presently required under California law.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Police
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Control, Formal*
  • State Government