The Fight for Gun Rights and Mental Health Access

Campaign Created by: Isaac Richey

The funds from this campaign will be received by Isaac Richey.

Goal: USD $8,000
Raised: USD $ 1,541

As an active duty Infantryman, I faced a challenging situation that no one should ever endure. Stationed in an incredibly toxic environment, I experienced relentless hazing and bullying, which only exacerbated the already painful loss of my mother figure. My depression reached a breaking point, and I knew I needed help.

With the help of a friend and my team leader, I found the courage to reach out for assistance. However, my attempt to get help resulted in an unexpected visit from the local military police, who conducted a welfare check at the request of a concerned friend. During this intervention, I shared my struggles and the toxic environment's toll on me. The police officers offered to transport me to a nearby hospital to receive my desperately needed help. Despite feeling apprehensive, I accepted their offer. The officers informed me that I was not detained or arrested and ensured safe transportation to the nearest hospital.

After spending four days under the care of mental health professionals, I emerged with a newfound perspective on how to cope with the challenges I faced. I continued to see a therapist and carried on with my duties as an infantryman, fulfilling my obligation to serve my country.

After my military service concluded nearly two years later, I was eager to return home and pursue my hunting and sport shooting passion. However, this dream was shattered when I attempted to purchase a firearm, only to be rejected by the NICS system. It wasn't until over a year later that I discovered the reason behind my denial - my four-day stay in the hospital triggered the rejection, all due to the SAFE Act's 9.39 Emergency Observation Hold provision.

Even more alarming is that under New York Law, 9.39 legally defines itself as an "Emergency admission for immediate observation, care, and treatment." But despite 18 USC 922(g)(4) explicitly stating that observation holds are NOT considered involuntary commitments, the New York Office of NICS Appeals and SAFE Act reports them as such to the federal government. This misreporting violates federal law and infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of individuals who may have sought help during a difficult time. New York is weaponizing 9.39 observation holds to violate firearm rights, leaving people helpless and powerless; even more, concerning is the lack of any system to inform these individuals that their rights have been stripped away! 

Misreporting a 9.39 evaluation creates a significant barrier to mental health care that many desperately need. It forces individuals to choose between their constitutional rights and mental health should they be in a crisis, an unacceptable decision. Fear of losing their rights prevents individuals from seeking help, leading to untreated mental health issues and potentially dangerous situations. It is an injustice that individuals who seek help for mental health issues are stripped of their right to self-defense in all 50 states, denying them their fundamental rights and creating a culture of fear and shame around mental health. Our veterans, families, and all citizens deserve better. 

Here is a list of our demands:

  • Declaring that and that inclusion in the state's reporting database(s) based on an MHL 9.39 admission violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments;
  • Declaring that being admitted for "emergency evaluation and observation" under MHL 9.39 does not cause the termination of Second Amendment rights;
  • Declaring that the actions and failures to act of Defendants Sullivan, Rosado, and the Does in failing to train, supervise and discipline their staff as set forth herein violates the Fourth Amendment;
  • Declaring that Defendants' policies and procedures violate the Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process;
  • Declaring that MHL 7.09(j)(1) is unconstitutionally overbroad;
  • Preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants' inclusion and maintenance of
  • Plaintiff's records information in the state database;
  • Preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants' reporting to NICS and any other database information concerning Plaintiff that identifies him as a person prohibited from possessing, purchasing, transferring, or receiving firearms in connection with his 2019 admission to Samaritan Hospital;
  • Preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants from collecting, retaining, modifying, and transmitting the records and personal identifying information to NICS, the FBI, or any other law enforcement agency and third party of individuals who have been admitted to a mental health facility for emergency evaluation and observation under MHL 9.39 and discharged without conversion to MHL 9.27 or 9.37;

I hope this will raise awareness of this critical issue and ensure that others do not face similar obstacles. Any donation, no matter how small, will be used to cover the costs of litigation expenses, allowing me to continue this fight for justice. Every dollar counts, and every contribution will make a difference. Together, we can make a difference. We can stand up for our fundamental rights and create a society that values and supports the mental health of all its citizens. Join me in this fight for justice; together, we can create a brighter future for all.

Disclaimer: We want to ensure that any additional funds raised during this event go towards a worthy cause. As such, we have decided to donate the surplus to the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC). This organization is dedicated to defending the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. We want to clarify that the proceeds from this donation will be under my control, as my attorney cannot receive the funds raised from this fundraiser directly. However, please rest assured that the funds will be deposited into a separate account dedicated to this purpose, separate from my personal savings accounts. My attorney has also advised me that the cost of this litigation is currently uncertain, as we are unsure how the state's defense will respond. As a result, the goal I have set may be subject to change as the lawsuit progresses. Before contributing, we kindly ask that you carefully consider this information and ensure you are comfortable with this arrangement. 

Relevant Files: 





Update #4
July 13, 2023
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I'm back with another update on my lawsuit regarding the mental health database and its impact on firearm ownership. I wanted to share some essential information about the deadlines and procedures set by the court.

Here are the important details:

  • Firm Deadlines: The deadlines set in the court's scheduling order supersede Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(3) and cannot be extended without good cause, even if the parties agree. This ensures that the case proceeds within a specified timeframe.
  • Venue Motions: If any party wishes to file a venue motion, it must be done within 60 days of the date of the court's order. The action should follow the procedures outlined in Local Rule 7.1(a)(2) and be made returnable before the assigned Magistrate Judge.
  • Jurisdiction Motions: Similar to venue motions, jurisdiction motions must be filed within 60 days of the court's order. The procedures specified in Local Rule 7.1(a)(1) should be followed unless a party who is not an attorney is appearing pro se, in which case L.R. 7.1(b)(2) applies. These motions will be made returnable before Judge Nardacci.
  • Joinder of Parties: If any party wishes to join another person as a party to the lawsuit, they must file a motion to participate on or before September 29, 2023. This motion allows for the inclusion of additional individuals involved in the case.
  • Amendment of Pleadings: Any motion to amend a pleading in the lawsuit must be filed on or before September 29, 2023. This provides an opportunity to modify or update the initial claims or defenses presented in the case.
  • Discovery: All discovery in this matter must be completed on or before February 2, 2024. The parties are responsible for serving discovery requests with enough time before this deadline to allow for timely responses. Local Rule 16.2, which governs the discovery cut-off, should be referred to for more guidance.
  • Expert Witnesses: The court has established special procedures for managing expert witnesses. The identity of expert witnesses, along with their written reports, must be disclosed within specific timelines.- Plaintiff(s) must identify any expert(s) and serve their written report on November 6, 2023.
  • Defendant(s) must identify any expert(s) and serve their written report no later than December 19, 2023.- All parties must identify experts who will contradict or rebut evidence by January 3, 2024.
  • Experts' deposition can only occure after the exchange of expert report, unless agreed upon by the parties.
  • Motions to preclude expert witness testimony must be filed and served by the motion deadline.
  • Motions: All other activities must be filed on or before April 2, 2024, except for venue and jurisdiction motions. Non-dispositive movements require a conference with the Magistrate Judge, and dispositive motions should be made returnable before Judge Nardacci.
  • Trial Dates: The trial ready date will be determined based on whether or not a dispositive motion is filed. When no dispositive motion is filed, the motion filing deadline becomes the trial-ready date. For cases with a filed dispositive motion, the trial-ready date is marked upon issuance of the motion decision.

These are the significant updates regarding the deadlines and procedures set by the court. I'll let you all know about any new developments in the case. Thanks for your support throughout this journey!

Update #3
June 26, 2023
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Hey everyone,

I couldn't wait to share some thrilling news with you all! Thanks to John Petrolino, an incredible contributor at, I've had the fantastic opportunity to connect with my local Gun Owners of America representative. Over the past few weeks, we've been engaging in meaningful discussions, and guess what? They have confirmed that they will file an amicus brief supporting our case! But wait, there's more. In addition to this remarkable development, I've also been in contact with the Second Amendment Foundation. They have informed me that they are also considering filing an amicus brief, though it's still under consideration.

Now, let's take a moment to appreciate the significance of an amicus brief. An amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," brief is a legal document filed by individuals or organizations who are not directly involved in a case but possess expertise or a vested interest. These briefs allow these entities to contribute valuable insights, knowledge, and arguments to support one side of the case. The fact that both the Gun Owners of America and the Second Amendment Foundation are considering filing amicus briefs underscores the gravity of our issue. It demonstrates the broad support we have garnered within the gun rights community. Their involvement amplifies our cause and strengthens our position by presenting compelling arguments and relevant perspectives to the court.

While the Second Amendment Foundation's decision is still pending, the possibility of their participation is a testament to our case's significance and potential impact. The combined weight of these influential organizations adds substantial credibility and enhances the likelihood of a favorable outcome. I'm incredibly grateful for our support thus far, and I wanted to keep you all updated on this positive development. Let's stay optimistic as we forge ahead, knowing that our cause is gaining momentum and attracting prominent advocates who believe in protecting our Second Amendment rights.

Thank you all for being a part of this journey, and please feel free to share any thoughts, questions, or suggestions in the comments!

TL;DR: The Gun Owners of America will file an amicus brief in our case, with the possibility of the Second Amendment Foundation doing the same. Amicus briefs allow organizations to contribute their expertise and support to a topic. This support significantly strengthens our position and increases the chances of a favorable outcome. Let's stay positive and continue fighting for our Second Amendment rights!

Update #2
June 9, 2023
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Dear community,

I am providing you with a significant update on the progress of my lawsuit, and recent developments have taken an unexpected turn. As we talked about, they have denied every allegation we put forth. However, how they have done so carries a tone of dismissiveness that is rather disheartening.

While delving into the extensive paperwork, a few noteworthy points caught my attention and prompted disbelief and frustration. The defendants repeatedly assert that they lacked sufficient information to form an opinion on most of our allegations. They are conveniently evading the substantive issues and deferring responsibility to the courts. Such an approach can understandably lead one to question their commitment to addressing the concerns raised. Moreover, the state of New York has put forth a sweeping claim, contending that they have not violated any of my constitutionally protected rights, privileges, or immunities. Furthermore, they argue that I failed to state a claim that warrants relief, effectively downplaying the validity and importance of our lawsuit. One particular claim struck a nerve: their assertion that restricting my right to own firearms due to the terms of my hospital observation is "fully supported by law, history, and tradition." To compound matters, the defendants request the denial of all relief sought and the outright dismissal of our complaint. This stance suggests an unwillingness to acknowledge potential wrongdoing, which can be disheartening for those seeking redress and accountability.

From now on, our focus will be on the initial conference, where we will determine a suitable date and time for the discovery process. Although the meeting was initially scheduled for June 26th, it appears that the attorney general representing the defendants will be unavailable on that day. We are committed to progressing with the case and will let you know a rescheduled date. For those interested in exploring the details further, I have included a link to the court listener docket at the end of this post. This resource allows you to follow the case and access their response, enabling a more comprehensive understanding of their arguments.

In summary, the defendants, representing the state of New York, have responded to our lawsuit by firmly denying all allegations. Their approach carries a sense of dismissal, leaving me concerned about the depth of their engagement with the issues at hand. We will continue to advocate for justice and navigate this complex legal landscape. Thank you for your unwavering support, and I will provide further updates as the case unfolds.

TL;DR: The defendants in my lawsuit, representing the state of New York, have responded by denying every allegation. Their dismissive tone raises questions about their commitment to addressing the concerns raised. We will persevere in pursuit of justice, and I appreciate your ongoing support throughout this process. Please stay tuned for additional updates.

Court Listener Link:

Update #1
April 23, 2023
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On April 13th, 2023, we received a letter from the New York Attorney General's office representing the defendants in the case, Ann Marie Sullivan, New York State Office of Mental Health, and New York State Office of NICS Appeals and SAFE Act requesting a 45-day extension of time to answer or respond to the complaint. However, my attorney, Amy Bellantoni, has asked for a 30-day extension instead of a 45-day one. We await a response from the New York Attorney General's office regarding this matter. In addition to the request for an extension of time, mandatory mediation was set forth as a requirement in the case. This means that before the case proceeds to trial, the parties must attend mediation to resolve the matter outside of court. This is a common requirement in civil cases, saving time and money for all parties involved. However, it also means that there is a possibility that we may not proceed to trial if a resolution is reached through mediation. I will let you know if any more developments are related to this case.


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