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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27758
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Hi i have a question regarding gun laws. If someone has

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i have a question regarding gun laws. If someone has been diagnosed with depression, and are taking a perscription anti depressant or are seeing a therapist for depression, would they be allowed to buy/own a firearm, or would they be considered "mentally ill" and barred from owning a gun under Federal or TN state law? Would the law be different in Virginia if I moved there?




You may not be able to get a carry permit if the state knows you are in therapy, but you still have your gun rights. You would lose the right to own a gun if you were at any point involuntarily committed to a mental institution, if it has been judicially determined that you are disabled as a result of your mental health condition, if you've been adjudicated a mental defective or if the court has had to appoint a conservator for you as a result of mental illness.

If none of the above apply, the fact that you have depression and it is controlled lawfully by prescribed medication should not cost you your gun rights. If any of the above does apply however, it would bar you under Federal as well as state law. Moving to Virginia wouldn't change the picture. Federal law trumps state law everywhere in the country.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you


So, just to clarify, I WONT have to give up the guns I own currently if I get treated for depression via either a therapist or perscription medication, but I wont get a carry permit, correct?


Also, can you please define the word adjudicated? Is that a legal desicion made by a Judge in a state/federal court of law, or is that something a doctor can deceide to do just on a whim? Say I go to a doctor, and he deceides that I am depressed, but I disagree. Can he make the desicion to "adjudicate" that I am mentally defective or is there some sort of legal process through the courts?


Also, if I am diagnosed as having depression and start taking a perscription medication, do I lose any legal rights, such as the right to vote in elections? Would I be considered legally mentally ill? Would any of this show up on background checks for jobs, or visa applications to foreign countries?



Hello Guy,

An adjudication in this case is a judicial determination, so yes, it would require a legal decision made in a court of law. A doctor can make a diagnosis, but that has nothing to do with an adjudication.

If the doctor were to commit you involuntarily, and the psychiatric evaluation proved that you were a danger to yourself or others and needed to be confined and treated, then yes, you would lose your gun rights.

Depression is an illness and not a crime. You lose no legal rights unless there is, as I have said, a judicial determination that you are not competent to exercise your rights. That's not the case here.

This should not show up in a background check. It's a diagnosis by your physician and it's confidential as well. You would have a mental illness but again, there's no legal determination in your fact pattern -- only a diagnosis and treatment. This would be different if the authorities committed you to an institution. That would be discoverable on a background check.

You should not have to give up your guns at this juncture. As for whether you'd get a carry permit, that's discretionary with the state. Your rights to own a gun are fundamental, that is, protected by our Constitution. A carry permit, on the other hand, is a privilege and the state has discretion to deny it for any reason they see fit.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you !

You're very welcome.