A relative found [Sam French] face down in his carport “talking gibberish”. . . .He later told medical personnel that he had been conversing with a bear in his backyard and hearing voices. . . .After a brief hearing, in which Mr. French’s lengthy history of relapses never came up, he walked out with an order reinstating his right to possess firearms. The next day, Mr. French retrieved his guns.“The judge didn’t ask me a whole lot,” said Mr. French, now 62. “He just said: ‘How was I doing? Was I taking my medicine like I was supposed to?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ ”
- "Some With Histories of Mental Illness Petition to Get Their Gun Rights Back" (New York Times, July 2, 2011)
The Bear in the Backyard
Your Honor, my client appears before the court today to petition the court to do its duty by allowing him to repossess firearms that were unlawfully taken from him by well-meaning but overzealous relatives. My client assures the court that he bears nothing more than an unspecifiable free-floating malice toward his daughter and son-in-law; and if the court will allow, he reminds the court that his people are not conversant with the principles of psychiatry. We also submit to this court that other court records attesting their familiarity with modern pharmaceuticals do not constitute evidence of medical expertise.
Prozac, the gun owner's neighbor's best friend
We also insist - well, suggest, Your Honor - that my client's medical history is not relevant to this hearing, should not be a part of the record and should play no part in your ruling on this matter, which should be limited to the incident under discussion without reference to any past episodes - however similar they may seem to the inexpert eye. My client is not on trial here, and certainly not on trial for his past lapses. A firm grasp of reality, clear memory or coherence have never heretofore been criteria for the freedom of gun ownership any more than they have been a reqiuirement for the constitutional exercise of free speech.
As to freedom of speech, we further submit, Your Honor, that seeing as the court permits our nation's young people unlimited access to video games under their First Amendment rights, it is no leap of argument to presume further that an adult's history of relapses and involuntary commitments should not prejudice the court's favorable decision in my client's Second Amendment suit. Every American, man and boy, has the constitutionally guaranteed right to pwn noobs [sic] in the privacy of his or her own home; the same guarantees should apply to gun owners across this great nation.
As to my client's lying face down in his carport, my client submits that while in the process of changing the oil in his treasured Monte Carlo, he lost a very small screw - literally lost a screw, Your Honor, no manner of speaking intended here. While searching for the missing part, we submit that his daughter came into the carport, started the aforementioned automobile and drove it away. We have time-stamped receipts for two corndogs and a pint of Crown Royal purchased from a Stop-n-Shop, and a witness who will testify that she saw my client's daughter at the convenience store. My client also submits that the "gibberish" he was supposedly talking was merely the regrettable if understandable profanities that escaped him as his prized "classic" backed over him and drove down the street.
If I might approach the bench, Your Honor? May I also hasten to remind Your Honor that this is only the General District Court for the Commonwealth of Virginia - I respectfully submit that the proper mandate of this body is small claims, traffic infractions - you see my point? Any ruling in these chambers that would remove or impair the constitutional rights of any citizen in otherwise good standing should be undertaken with due caution. My client's medical history is not on trial here today. I am certain that Your Honor need only recall the generous services of the National Rifle Association in your recent reelection to the bench to make your course clear in this matter.
Point it at me.
To conclude, Your Honor - regarding the bear incident - my client admits that this wasn't exactly Red Sovine talking with Teddy Bear. He tells me that the bear was a frequent visitor to his yard. My client forebears to name the bear in question, but assures the court that in future the aforementioned bear will present no further difficulties.