Escamilla v. United States, No. 22-2208 (7th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
In 2018, Escamilla was stationed at Fort Drum. During an on-base medical appointment, he complained of hearing voices that were telling him to commit suicide. He agreed to seek treatment at Samaritan Hospital, where he was admitted to the inpatient mental health unit under New York State Mental Hygiene Law, 9.39(a), which permits the director of a hospital to “receive and retain therein as a patient for a period of fifteen days any person alleged to have a mental illness for which immediate observation, care, and treatment in a hospital is appropriate and which is likely to result in serious harm to himself or others.” Escamilla was discharged 11 days later, with diagnoses of mild depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and autism spectrum disorder.
A year later, Escamilla attempted to purchase a handgun from an online retailer, who shipped the gun to a federal firearm licensee in Wisconsin. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System generated a response denying the firearm transfer. Escamilla was prohibited from possessing a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4), as a person who “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed a judgment for the government. Escamilla’s admittance to Samaritan constituted a “commitment” under section 922(g)(4). The court rejected Escamilla’s argument that his hospitalization did not qualify as a commitment because he was there on a voluntary, informal basis.