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Michigan man wins big appeal in gun ownership case

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HILLSDALE, Mich. (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a Michigan man who can't buy a gun because he was briefly treated for mental health problems after a divorce in the 1980s.

Clifford Tyler of Hillsdale says his constitutional right to bear arms is violated by a federal law that prohibits gun ownership if someone's been admitted to a mental hospital.

A Grand Rapids federal judge ruled in favor of the government. But the Cincinnati-based appeals court sent the case back Thursday. The court says the law is unconstitutional as it applies to Tyler, unless the government shifts gears and argues that the 73-year-old is dangerous.

The government during oral argument last March said it had no evidence. Tyler has no criminal record.

The appeals court says the government's interest in keeping guns away from the mentally ill doesn't fit with depriving the Second Amendment rights of the "mentally healthy."

Tyler was deeply upset by a divorce in 1985. But he recovered, continued working for another two decades and remarried in 1999.

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