Calif. Lawmakers Unveil Federal Bill To Restrict Guns for Mentally Ill
Three California lawmakers have introduced federal legislation aimed at preventing individuals who are suspected of having mental health issues or who pose a risk of committing violence from owning guns, Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
The measure comes nearly two weeks after a half dozen people were killed in Isla Vista, Calif., by an individual with suspected mental health issues (Tate, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/5).
Background on Killings
On May 23, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six individuals by stabbing or shooting them and wounded 13 others. Rodger had legally purchased three semi-automatic guns and ammunition used in the attack.
The incident occurred after Rodger's family members had contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department on April 30 with concerns about his mental health. Police conducted a welfare visit and concluded that Rodger did not pose a risk (California Healthline, 5/28).
Details of Bill
The Pause for Safety Act was introduced in both the House and Senate by:
- Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.);
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.); and
- Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/5).
The measure would:
- Allow families and others to seek a gun violence court prevention order to temporarily prevent individuals who pose threats to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm;
- Allow courts to issue a gun violence prevention warrant that would let law enforcement take temporary possession of firearms that are in the possession of individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others; and
- Ensure that law enforcement officials use all existing state and local gun databases when evaluating tips, warnings or requests from concerned family members or others.
The bill also would create a grant program to help support gun safety efforts. States that implement such preventive measures would be eligible for the grants to provide resources for courts and law enforcement (Feinstein release, 6/5).
Zachery Coiles, a spokesperson for Boxer, said the senator hopes the federal legislative push will encourage other states to pursue similar measures.
Christian Heyne, legislative director for the Coalition to End Gun Violence, said that while he was pleased to see the federal bill, such measures have been more successful at the state level (Montero, Orange County Register, 6/6).
Similar Bill Being Considered in California Legislature
Three California lawmakers are pushing a similar measure in the state Legislature ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/5).
Assembly members Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) introduced a bill (AB 1014) that would allow temporary restraining orders to prevent individuals who are potentially violent from purchasing guns. Under the bill, family members and friends could contact law enforcement if they believe an individual could be a threat to themselves or others, and officers then could ask a judge for the temporary restraining order (California Healthline, 5/28).
The state Legislature has until Aug. 31 to approve the measure (Orange County Register, 6/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.