I received notice this week in the mail that my pistol permit application was denied. I was slightly apprehensive about being denied due to an "aggravated
unlicensed operation" charge which I plead guilty to with charges dismissed in court. "Aggravated" not exactly the reason, more of a forgetfulness to renew my license. Regardless, it is a "misdemeanor" and I felt that the level of impact it would have on my character would be negligible when considered. After all it was not a felony, and was non-violent.
I also take the medication, welbutrin. This is a mild antidepressant medication that can also be beneficial for improved attention in some like myself. I voluntarily take this medication as I find that improves my mood and my day to day work. Every three months I see a psychiatrist to obtain a new prescription. The application asks if you have been treated for mental illness or depression. I circled depression. The permit office demanded that I provide these medical records from my doctor. When applying for a permit you essentially give up your right to patient doctor confidentiality. You give up a right in order to exercise another. The reason this confidentiality right exists is so that patients are not fearful of seeking treatment under scrutiny of the government or any private organization. Nonetheless, I turned over my psychiatrist's notes. I felt, if anything, these documents would actually confirm the stability of my mental state. After all, plenty of people take psychiatric meds, right? It's not uncommon.
On both of these assumptions, I was incorrect. My permit was denied for the two reasons above. I was declared to have a mental disorder based on these documents, and that I had not been truthful and lack the required candor. How this was possible evades me considering I gave them these documents and they are in no way a legal definition of a "mental disorder." You may look this up for yourself and find that common "symptoms" such as mine are almost never considered to be in this category. As far as the misdemeanor goes, this was considered to be a clear lack of judgement on my part. With both of these in consideration, my permit was denied.
There's a few disturbing revelation in this.
The first is an issue of what types of misdemeanors or violations, if any, should and will be considered. A speeding ticket, a record of repeated accidents, or running a red light would be traffic violations, and I suspect would most likely not be considered in any way when issuing a permit. But a suspended license misdemeanor is. A misdemeanor that did not exist until 2006. At what point does one draw the line? What is considered to be bad judgement and what isn't? How far and how deeply will we look into a person's past and make a judgement about who they are as a person? There are no clear cut definitions and an applicant is merely at the mercy of a judge and licensing officer to make this determination.
The second is more disturbing. Essentially, any current or would be holder of a permit should be aware that they could now be listed as "mentally ill" by the county of Westchester merely for voluntarily seeking treatment for anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive behavior, or substance abuse. Legally mentally ill persons typically suffer from psychosis, a severe and difficult to control mental illness, and now anyone could potentially be determined to exist in this same category. The county has now essentially put fear into any individual who wishes to voluntarily seek treatment for psychiatric concerns, lest they be labeled and denied a permit.
I hope this sheds some light on the Westchester process and serves as a cautionary tale for any of you who are thinking of applying or reapplying. I plan on appealing my case, and will keep you posted. Until then, I am still a proud and responsible owner of a Sig 556, S&W M&P 15-22, and Browning BPS, and you can still find me at the trap or rifle range whenever I find the time. Thanks for reading.