BATF v. Galioto,
477 U.S. 556 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

BATF v. Galioto, 477 U.S. 556 (1986)

United States Dept. of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco and Firearms v. Galioto

No. 84-1904

Argued March 26, 1986

Decided June 27, 1986

477 U.S. 556


Appellee, who had been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for a period of several days in 1971, was unable to purchase a firearm from a store in 1982 because of the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 922(d) prohibiting sales of firearms to such persons. Section 922(d) and other federal statutes prohibiting persons who have been committed to mental institutions from possessing, receiving, or transporting firearms also apply to felons. However, under 18 U.S.C. § 925(c), certain felons could apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for administrative relief from the disabilities imposed by federal firearms laws, but no such relief was permitted for former mental patients. After unsuccessfully seeking a special exemption from the Bureau, appellee brought suit in Federal District Court, challenging the constitutionality of the firearms legislation. The court held that the statutory scheme was unconstitutional as violating equal protection principles because there was no rational basis for singling out mental patients for permanent disabled status, particularly as compared to convicts. The court also concluded that the statutory scheme unconstitutionally created an "irrebuttable presumption" that one who has been committed, no matter what the circumstances, is forever mentally ill and dangerous.

Held: The equal protection and "irrebuttable presumption" issues are now moot because, after this Court noted probable jurisdiction over this appeal and heard arguments, Congress amended § 925(c) to afford the administrative remedy contained therein to former mental patients ineligible to purchase firearms. Since appellee's complaint appears to raise other issues best addressed in the first instance by the District Court, the case is remanded for further proceedings. Pp. 477 U. S. 559-560.

602 F.Supp. 682, vacated and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 477 U. S. 557

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